How I Choose a Safe Sunscreen
I recently shared my skincare routine for aging skin, and decided that as the summer takes off, this is a good time to expand on what I said and talk about how I choose a safe sunscreen. Sun protection is vital to avoiding skin cancer, of course, but also other unwanted impacts like photodamage (why add avoidable wrinkles?) and various types of spots and pigmentations.
Choose a Safe Sunscreen for Your Skin and the Water
When I say that I choose a safe sunscreen for myself, I’m not just talking about my skin health. That’s certainly a priority, but I now also focus on what is safe for water quality and reef health. Did you know that some chemicals in sunscreen are responsible for harming – or even killing – coral reefs? I find that heartbreaking.
Since there are wonderful alternatives to those chemicals, I do my best to choose a safe sunscreen for everything that could be affected by my choice.
What I Look for When I Choose a Safe Sunscreen
When I choose a safe sunscreen, I have two main categories.
- The face one I wear all day, all the time, which I mentioned in my recent skin care blog.
- The type I apply when I know I’ll be outside for more than fifteen minutes or so. This is what I wear when I go for a walk, head out to the beach, do some gardening, or spend some time on a patio.
When I choose a safe sunscreen, I also look for two main factors in the product, before even dreaming of adding it to my shopping basket.
- A good rating from the Environmental Working Group.
- Broad spectrum protection.
Those two things tell me that it doesn’t contain any dangerous ingredients for myself or the world, and that the ingredients it does contain will protect me well.
Other Features I Consider
As I choose a safe sunscreen, I’ll typically sidestep anything containing oxybenzone or retinyl palmate, as well as any of the “Dirty Dozen” skin care and cosmetic ingredients that I avoid in all the products I buy. These include things like fragrance/parfum, PEG, phthalate, parabens, and sodium lauryl sulphate and sodium laureth sulphate (SLSs).
The forms also play a role. I’ll only choose a cream, stick or butter form of product. Powders and sprays are no longer on my allowable list. Not only are their packages typically worse than those of creams and sticks, but they also don’t apply very evenly. Even worse, apparently, we inhale far more of the sprays than we realize, and that stuff is awful for our lungs. Not to mention the fact that from the lungs, many ingredients can enter our bloodstream! Terrible!
I tend to aim for SPF 30. The product I use on my face on beach days is an SPF 50, but that’s only because it doesn’t come in an SPF 30. I don’t see any difference with anything higher than an SPF 30, because by the time I’ve been outside in the sun, sweating or swimming, I’ll need to reapply anyway. I just don’t need – or fall for – the false sense of security that higher SPFs pretend to offer.
The Sunscreens I Currently Use
When I decided to choose a safe sunscreen this season, the products that ended up in my basket were all from the All Good company (not sponsored/affiliated and all that – just a personal opinion and choice). I purchased the tinted zinc oxide sunscreen in both the lotion for body and the butter for face. The butter is particularly handy because it comes in a little tin I can easily toss into my bag when I head out the door. Since it’s a solid, it travels well in carry-on luggage, too. I can’t wait for that to become a concern again! Peter and I are already planning to head away to the Mexico beach house we rented a while back.
I like that it’s slightly tinted so it doesn’t make me look like I’ve got white clown paint on my face, which some zinc-based products can do. I also like the SPF 15 lip balm from the same brand. I have the unscented and the spearmint, and it’s the minty one I’ve found I prefer.
I hope this information helps you to choose a safe sunscreen, too. There are lots of great options out there, especially as consumers like us show that we care about our health and the environment, too.