Summer is coming and we need to keep our skin safe from harmful UVA/UVB rays. We also shouldn’t be lathering on harmful chemicals. Instead, it’s best to use a natural sunscreen.
When I was 14 years old I applied sunscreen to my chest for a day outside. The rash that appeared left me miserable. I was protecting my skin from the sun and as a result, my skin was left covered in itchy pink bumps. I didn’t realize it was the sunscreen at first, so I continued to use sunscreen every time I went to the beach or pool. After a few more rashes occurred, each after applying sunscreen, I realized I was reacting to the sunscreen.
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The Chemicals in Sunscreen
Sunscreen is made up of both active and inactive ingredients. The active ingredients are those that are blocking the sun’s harmful rays. The inactive ingredients are what the active ingredient is mixed into so that we can easily apply the sunscreen to our skin.
Though many sunscreens contain inactive ingredients that are harmful to our bodies. The below list is the top 5 active ingredients in sunscreen that are harmful to our bodies.
5 Ingredients To Avoid In Sunscreen
Oxybenzone is a commonly used chemical sun protectant. It also has higher rates of penetrating and being absorbed by our skin than some of the other chemicals sun filters. Oxybenzone also has high rates of causing negative skin reactions, or skin allergies. Oxybenzone has also been found to disrupt our hormones including estrogen and androgen. It has also been found to have an effect on birth weights of the newborn in human studies.
Octinoxate is another chemical sunscreen that has been found to be absorbed by our skin. It is not absorbed in as high of rates as oxybenzene, but studies are finding it in mother’s breastmilk. Octinoxate also causes skin reactions and is a known hormone disruptor. It has been proven to have negative effects on reproductive systems, as well as negative impacts on thyroid and behavior.
Homosalate is a chemical sunscreen found in numerous sunscreens. It also has been found to be absorbed by our skin, though not at the same rate as oxybenzone. Homosalate disrupts estrogen, androgen, and progesterone. It is found in a women’s breastmilk. It has not been directly linked to skin irritation.
Octisalate is a safer chemical sunscreen but it has been found to be absorbed by our skin into our bodies. It also may rarely cause a skin reaction.
Octocrylene is another one of the safer chemical sunscreens. However, studies have shown that it is being absorbed by our skin into our bodies and is being excreted into breastmilk. Though it has not yet been shown to be a hormone disruptor it does have very high rates of causing skin allergies.
Safe Natural Sunscreen
The safe natural sunscreens listed below do not contain any of the above chemicals and are considered safe by the Environmental Working Group. These sunscreens are all ones that I have either used or have heard first-hand personal accounts about how great they are. Additionally, this list is sunscreens that are marketed and developed for babies and children. Though they are marketed for children, they are wonderful options for any age.
All of the below images are clickable.
Badger Kids Sunscreen
The Safety of Spray Sunscreen
I advise against using a spray sunscreen and prefer a lotion natural sunscreen. The reason behind not using a spray sunscreen is that the spray is a mist consisting of tiny particles of sunscreen. Whenever you are exposed to a mist you are likely to inhale the mist. Though the sunscreens listed above are amongst some of the safest to apply to your skin, they still do contain ingredients that I would recommend against inhaling into your lungs.
Aside from the risk of inhalation, spray sunscreen often cannot provide as thick of a layer of coverage as a lotion. This is also why I recommend a lotion over a stick for initial application. When applying a lotion sunscreen you are able to apply a thick layer, coating the entire surface.
Sunscreen should be applied before going outside for activity. I do personally like having a stick as well, therefore I included one on the list, to keep in the bag for once we are out and I want to reapply.
At the time of this writing, the five natural sunscreens listed above are some of the safest sunscreens developed and marketed for children. However, as more and more companies move towards safer consumer products the science behind sunscreens is further developed. We can expect to see more and more safe sunscreens entering the market each year. The important thing is to remember to avoid the top 5 chemicals and choose a sunscreen that uses zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient.
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