Did you know that most of the sunscreens you find in the store are toxic and downright ineffective?
Yep, you heard me right.
According to a report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG)
almost 75% of sunscreens you find at the store are completely ineffective (1).
Not only do they not protect your skin from damaging UVA rays, many of these sunscreens contain chemicals that can cause our body a significant amount of harm (more on this later).
Why these “sunscreens” are even allowed in stores is a complete mystery to me.
That means all those summers you spent soaking up the sun, you were instead soaking up harmful chemicals while still enduring the harmful effects of prolonged sun exposure.
It’s infuriating. We’ve been misled, tricked, and scammed.
And as a result, we’ve wasted our money on ineffective sunscreen only to be exposed to harmful toxins.
As more people become aware of this unfortunate truth, there’s an increasing demand for natural and safe sunscreens.
So to help you out, I dug deep into the research to find the best natural sunscreens of 2017—a list of sunscreens that actually work and aren’t loaded with a cocktail of toxic chemicals.
All products I hand-picked are
- Affordable (under $20)
- Block UVA and UVB rays
- Free of known harmful chemicals
- They actually protect you from the sun’s damaging effects
- They received a 5-star rating for safety by the EWG.
This is the list of the best rated sunscreens for general use.
But I wouldn’t suggest using these on your face. Instead use a natural face sunblock. They’re usually more gentle, less oily, and contain moisturizers. If you’re looking for a face sunscreen, click here to jump to the best Face Sunscreen List.
#1 All Good Sport Sunscreen
The Best Natural Sunscreen For Your Face
It’s important to get sunscreen that’s made specifically for your face because they’re designed to be more gentle on the skin.
Most of these sunscreens contain moisturizers and antioxidants to keep the skin on your face looking healthy and happy.
#1 Kiss My Face Sunblock for Face & Neck
The Best Natural Sunscreen For Sensitive Skin
A number of people who have ultra-sensitive skin seem to struggle with standard sunscreen.
I compiled this list of sensitive-skin friendly sunscreens that moisturize the skin while containing a minimal amount of common skin irritants. And of course, all these sunscreens are natural, effective, and free of harmful chemicals 😊.
The following products are the only ones I could find with an exceptional rating.
#1 Goddess Garden Organics Baby Sunscreen
Why Normal Sunscreen is Toxic
Most sunblocks you will find in the store contain chemicals that can
- Disrupt your hormones
- Trigger allergic reactions
- Significantly increase the risk of developing skin cancer–ironic, huh?
And with the rise of spray sunscreens, the risk of harm could be greater considering you inhale these chemicals when it’s applied.
To give you a better understanding of how bad it actually is, let’s take a look at some of the harmful chemicals found in standard store-bought sunblocks:
If you glance at the ingredients list of a popular brand of sunscreen, you’ll likely a chemical called oxybenzone.
And it’s added to the majority of sunscreens you’ll find in the store.
Oxybenzone is added to nearly 65 percent of the non-mineral sunscreens in EWG’s 2017 sunscreen database (2).Environmental Working Group
But how exactly is oxybenzone harmful?
Oxybenzone acts like estrogen and suppresses testosterone production in the body.
In other words, it disrupts the balance of your hormones.
For example, several studies have shown that oxybenzone can significantly reduce testosterone levels (3).
This can negatively affect both men and women.
You see, when your testosterone is low, it can result in several issues such as
- Weight gain
- Fragile bones
- Decrease in muscle mass (4).
In men, it’s possible oxybenzone exposure can cause decreased sperm counts and sperm abnormalities (5). It can also significantly impact the development of teenage boys in a negative way.
In women, studies show that oxybenzone can increase the risk of endometriosis–a painful condition that occurs when the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside the uterus.
Other hormone-disrupting chemicals found in sunscreen include octinoxate and homosalate. Both of which can cause undesirable side effect much like oxybenzone.
Several compounds found in sunscreen are also known to trigger allergic reactions.
This often results in an unpleasant eczema-like rash that can get incredibly itchy.
That being said, here are some of the most common chemicals that cause allergic reactions in standard sunscreens:
- Oxybenzone (common)
- Octinoxate (moderately common)
- Octocrylene (common)
- Avobenzone (common when chemical breaks down)
So if you have sensitive skin, you may want to keep an eye out for these chemicals if you don’t end up getting any of my recommended products.
Chemicals That May Trigger Cancer
Another common ingredient found in commercial sunscreens is retinyl palmitate–a form of vitamin A made in labs.
What’s concerning is that several animal studies show that tumors can form at very low dosages of retinyl palmitate (5). This means it doesn’t take much to potentially cause tumor growth.
And to make matters worse, when retinyl palmitate is on the skin and you’re exposed to sunlight, it can speed the growth of cancerous tumors (6).
There’s also limited evidence that suggests retinyl palmitate damages the skin.
Why Most Sunscreen Doesn’t Work
As I mentioned earlier, the EWG found that up to 75% of sunscreens don’t provide adequate protection.
Now you may be thinking, “but when I put sunscreen on, I don’t get burned. So it must be working.”
This is a common misconception.
You see, the there are two primary types of radiation that come from the sun: UVA and UVB radiation.
UVA radiation, which is more abundant, is thought to be the main culprit behind skin cancer (melanoma).
That’s because UVA radiation can damage your DNA which can lead to melanoma down the road (7).
Studies also show that UVA, not UVB, radiation can suppress the immune system and cause your skin to age faster from free radical damage (8).
The thing is, UVA radiation damage is subtle. It’s nearly impossible to detect by the human eye.
UVB radiation, on the other hand, is responsible for sunburns and vitamin D production.
Even though UVB radiation causes sunburns, most of the long-term damage comes from UVA radiation.
This is a critical distinction to make because most sunscreens are ineffective because they don’t protect your skin from UVA radiation–the harmful radiation.
In fact, about half of the sunscreens sold in the U.S. wouldn’t pass the more strict European standards because they don’t provide enough UVA protection.
This would explain why it’s illegal for most sunscreens to make claims that their product prevents skin cancer.
Don’t Forget to Get Some Direct Sun
Not only does basking in the sun feel amazing, it also provides tons of benefits.
The most well-known benefit of course is it helps your body produce vitamin D. It’s a vitamin that’s essential for a healthy
- Immune system
And vitamin D plays a critical role in the prevention of cancer, and much more.
Getting sunshine also significantly impacts the quality of your sleep by affecting your circadian rhythm.
We all love summer for vegging out at the beach or spending more time outdoors in general.
And out of conditioning, we lather on sunscreen to protect our skin from sunburn and avoid skin cancer in the future. That’s the idea at least.
But sun lotion blocks the beneficial UVB rays, so it’s also important to get moderate doses of sun exposure without any sunscreen.
Experts recommend that you get at least some direct sun exposure every day to get the most benefits. The time of exposure, however, depends on your skin tone.
For light skin: 10-15 minutes will do.
For olive skin: 20 minutes is suggested.
Now that you know standard sunscreens can cause significant harm and you know which sunscreens are safe to buy, there’s a few more things you should be aware of.
- Pay attention to expiration dates: Expiration dates are really important to watch with sunscreen. That’s because when a sunscreen gets old, the chemicals begin to break down. When this happens, it can render the sunscreen completely ineffective.
- If the sunscreen is lumpy or separated, throw it away: If your sunscreen looks “off” in any way, there’s a chance the chemicals have broken down from heat or old age. Again, this can make the sunscreen completely useless. If this happens, throw it away or ask the company for a refund.
- Even the best sunscreen doesn’t provide 100% protection: There’s no sunscreen in existence that completely protects you from the harmful UVA radiation. But on the other hand, it’s completely healthy to get a little sun every day. In fact, it’s ideal. Try to avoid getting your sun fix all in one weekend. Also, try to get shade in the afternoon when the sun is its strongest to avoid UVA damage.
- No sunscreen is perfect: Even the safest sunscreens often contain nanoparticles that are not regulated or studied for their potential long-term impact. But the point here is to make safer and better choices.
- Decrease sunscreen use when possible: Sunscreen should ideally be used as a last resort. Use umbrellas, hats, and sunglasses that block UV radiation. But by no means am I suggesting that you test your luck out in the sun without sunscreen for a whole day. Just use sunscreen with moderation when possible.
- Be smart: if you’re unsure about how careful you need to be with the sun, check the UV index for the day. Also take your skin tone into consideration.
The Bottom Line
The truth is most sunscreens you’ll find in the store don’t work and are loaded with harmful chemicals.
These chemicals can damage your skin, increase the risk of skin cancer, and even disrupt your hormones.
While there’s no perfect sunscreen out there, you can at the very least purchase a sunscreen that works and contains a minimal amount of harmful chemicals.
And because there’s so many products out there, it can get really tough to figure out what’s the best product to buy for effectiveness and safety.
That’s why I created this list of the best and safest sunscreens of 2017.
That way you can buy your sunscreen with confidence, knowing it will protect you without causing harm at the same time.
Have any sunscreen brands that you’re not sure about? Comment below and let me know! I would be happy to analyze it for you to see if it’s safe to use.