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An Esthetician’s Guide to the Safest Sunscreens

The weeks between spring break and summer vacation always fly by the quickest in our household. Before we know it, we are packing goggles and towels and heading for the beach or pool.

Sunscreen should not be an afterthought when packing your beach bag. Research and choose carefully, as your family’s health depends on it. It’s far too common to find ourselves racing to enjoy the sun, only to discover our options are limited at the local drugstore.

An Esthetician's Guide to the Safest Sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens contain one or more of the following active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. These ingredients are known to cause cancer and disrupt the normal functioning of hormones. On the other hand, mineral sunscreens contain titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide to physically block the sun’s rays.

Some tips on finding the safest sunscreens:

Plan Ahead. Healthy choices are unfortunately slim to none at most local drugstores. Not only will stocking up ahead of time enable you to find the best price, but you can do research on which sunscreens are safest.

Read the Labels. I cannot stress this one enough! Just because a sunscreen claims to have mineral ingredients does not mean it won’t also have chemical ingredients. Read the active ingredients label carefully.

Get Used to Reapplication. I’m not going to lie, safe sunscreens do not last as long as those chemical products where you can just spray on your kids and not have to reapply for hours. Most sunscreens that are safe for kids (and really all of us) don’t last longer than 80 or so minutes.

Research. The best resource for finding safe sunscreens is the EWG website, specifically their annual sunscreen guide, which lets you search most sunscreens and find out its rating. The lower the rating, the safer it is. I recommend sticking to 1’s only if at all possible, a 2 if you have to.

Skip the Spray. Unfortunately spray sunscreens are not as safe as creams and lotions. The safest spray I have come across is still only rated a 3 by EWG.

An Esthetician's Guide to the Safest Sunscreens

Some favorite sunscreens in our house and how they stack up:

For the Face

Drunk Elephant is rated a 1, comes in both tinted and untinted, and both are SPF 30. This is my personal go-to sunscreen every single day; you cannot beat its hydration and protection.

Juice Beauty Tinted Mineral Moisturizer comes in a range of shades, is rated a 1, and is SPF 30.

For the Face and Body

Kiss My Face Organics Face & Body SPF 30 is rated 1, however not all sunscreens by this brand rate as well, so stick to just this specific one or research others before buying.

For the Kids

Think is the go-to sunscreen brand for our vacations and beach trips. Their whole line rates a 1 and ranges in SPF from 30 to 50. Their sunscreens range from baby safe to water resistant for sports.

For the Whole Family

Blue Lizard Sensitive SPF 30 is rated a 1 by EWG. This brand too has a large range of sunscreens, but only this particular sunscreen is rated safest.

Badger is also a phenomenal brand, with almost all of their products rated 1, and only one product rated a 2. Their products provide great coverage and protection.

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