We advocate for sunscreen all year long. Seven days a week, 365 days a year—or at least on days when you leave the house. (We get it. Sometimes winter calls for hibernation.) We also advise our clients to use natural products with safe sunscreen ingredients. A recent study by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. showed that the ingredients in chemical sunscreens were absorbed into the bloodstream.
There are no studies that outline the exact effects of chemical sunscreens floating around in your blood. But the existence of unnatural chemicals in your bloodstream can’t be good, right? And if you’re following our advice and applying SPF daily? That’s a lot of questionable chemicals in your body. Even the FDA declares that only two ingredients are generally recognized as safe and effective.
So, what is considered a safe sunscreen?
Safe sunscreens contain simple, natural, mineral ingredients as their active SPF. Figuring out which sunscreens to buy is easy because there are only two ingredients to look for: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Both are considered physical sunscreens. They literally physically block the sun from making contact with your skin.
Which ingredients aren’t so safe?
The FDA considers two ingredients, PABA and trolamine salicylate, as unsafe. The other 12 ingredients have insufficient evidence to declare as either safe or unsafe, despite the fact that they are absorbed into the blood. The Environmental Working Group considers five ingredients unsafe for people and the environment. They are: oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, octisalate and octocrylene. Oxybenzone and octinoxate, specifically, were recently banned in Hawaii because of the damaging effect they have on coral reefs.
What to look for when buying sunscreen?
Start, of course, by looking at the active ingredients. You want to see only zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or both. No other ingredient should be listed. But don’t only look at the active ingredients. You’ll also want to scan the label for potentially harmful inactive ingredients like fragrance, parabens and pthalates.
The sunscreen we love? We carry Coola sunscreen. They are cruelty-free, 70% certified organic, antioxidant-enriched and eco-friendly. Plus, they feel great on our skin and don’t look chalky like other natural sunscreens.