Natural Sunscreen Guide
View our sunscreen guide to learn about what sunscreen is best for you and your family.
What to know about sunscreen
What is 'Broad-spectrum" sunscreen?
SPF refers only to the ability to block UVB rays, which cause sunburn. However, the sun also emits UVA rays. UVA rays cause skin damage, such as signs of aging, wrinkles and dark or light spots. Both increase your risk of skin cancer. A broad-spectrum sunscreen provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
Which sunscreen is the safest?
You’ll find two main types of sun protection ingredients on store shelves: chemical sunscreens (e.g. oxybenzone, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane), which absorb UV-A, UV-B rays or both; and mineral sunblocks (titanium dioxiode and zinc oxide), which physically protect the skin from both UV-A and UV-B rays. While some chemical sunscreens have been deemed relatively safe by experts, mineral sunblock are generally regarded as safer because they don’t penetrate the skin and they’re inherently broad spectrum (zinc oxide is the only approved sunscreen ingredient in the U.S. that protects against UV-A 1, UV-A 2 and UV-B rays). Make sure when you’re picking out a mineral sunblock that it is in a non-nano form (nano minerals are ultrafine particles that can be absorbed into skin). Perennial favorites for the whole family are Badger Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Unscented Sunscreen Cream and California Baby Super Sensitive Broad Spectrum SPF 30+ Sunscreen. Check out Environmental Working Group’s 2017 Guide to Sunscreen for more safe and efficacious options.
Why use chemical sunscreens if mineral blocks are so great?
Mineral sunblock has a drawback that may be a deal breaker for some: they tend to be difficult to apply and leave the skin with a thick milky white coating. Instead of going sans-protection, there are some healthy alternatives for those that just can’t handle the ghost look. EWG has a list of non-mineral approved sunscreens, one of which is Alba Botanica Hawaiian Dry-Oil Sunscreen SPF 15 (a LHC staff favorite, it smells great and has a coconut oil base which leaves your skin glowing). As far as facial sunscreens, a way to wear minerals and not get the white look is to use a tinted moisturizer. Check out Andalou Naturals All-in-One Beauty Balm Sheer Tint with SPF 30—it leaves you with a glowing, even complexion. If you do go chemical, just be sure to avoid oxybenzone (an endocrine disruptor, among other things) and retinyl palmitate.