Updated: Jul 31, 2021
We've been told for a long time now, to make sure we wear sunscreen. I've always found the message interesting: apply tons of sunscreen and you're basically good. Yes and no. Conventional sunscreen ingredients are not great for our bodies.. or our planet.. which, if you think about it, both humans and the environment are intimately connected. A small amount of exposure to the sun's rays can be good for our immune system. I have never been one who lathers up in sunscreen. It is a balance. I do allow my skin a small amount of sun exposure. 10-15 minutes is all you need for your body to create the necessary nutrient of Vitamin D.
A tan and a sunburn are definite signs of sun damage. But it doesn’t stop there. Sun exposure causes a variety of unsightly effects on your skin including sun spots (darkened pigment on our skin), uneven skin tone and redness. (If you are looking for some facial care items to help with sun damage from our 20s, click here or here!) So what do we need to watch for in sunscreen? Conventional (traditional) sunscreens contain the chemicals: oxybenzone and octinoxate (Octyl methoxycinnamate)2, which are commonly used to absorb UV light. Side effects of these ingredients include rashes, acne, contact dermatitis and hormone disruption. Look, I can handle a rash (not really) but the minute I hear hormone disruption— I'm out.
Mineral sunscreens, which typically contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are thought to be better. The FDA is reviewing the 16 ingredients available in the U.S. but so far, only two — zinc oxide and titanium dioxide — have been designated as “generally recognized as safe and effective."
Particle size matters, too. Many traditional sunscreens contain nanoparticles. Nanoparticles can be absorbed by coral reefs. Nanoparticles can disrupt coral's reproduction and growth cycles. Research suggests that larger non-nanoparticles are better for the environment. A clean sun screen company will list: non-nanoparticles on their label, which is what you are looking for.
The European Union regulates sunscreens as cosmetics. There are at least 27 different approved sunscreen ingredients, many of which offer a better degree of protection against UVA rays. Some of these ingredients have cult followings among U.S. customers looking for better offerings. A brand that I have researched that not only cares about skin health but also the environment is All Good. I have looked over their ingredients and feel this is a true, clean brand of sun care. Also, it should be noted that 'spray-on' sun protection items are hard to formulate while using clean ingredients. I realize these are convenient but even clean sunscreen companies have a hard time keeping these spray-on products truly clean. I know it feels like a ways off but soon summer will be here, warming up our hearts, souls and bodies :)