OMBE’s Skincare Issue: Summer Sunscreens

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO…

So-you finally feel like you’ve kicked your sun-worshipping habit. You quit the tanning bed and apply an SPF 30+ moisturizer before you even think about braving the outdoors. You’ve found the perfect bronzer and this weekend you restocked the serious stuff-SPF 50+ for all that anticipated beach time. Now-an ideal sunscreen would block all those UVA/UVB rays that cause free radical damage, immune suppression, and sunburn. It would remain effective for hours in the water and wouldn’t contain harmful ingredients. It wouldn’t feel like paste, make you look like one of your favorite vampire characters, and certainly wouldn’t smell like grandma’s medicine cabinet.

Well, guess what? Nothing like that exists in the US. That’s right-as a consumer you can choose between chemical sunscreens and mineral sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens aren’t always stable in UV light causing them to penetrate the skin and disrupt the body’s endocrine system. Mineral sunscreens contain zinc and titanium which often contain micronized or nano-particles of those minerals which can again penetrate the skin. There is very little evidence about nano-particle safety and relative efficacy although the Environmental Working Group has concluded that the mineral sunscreens have the best safety profile of today’s choices.

What are some other good options? Look for sunscreens containing Mexoryl SX or avobenzone (3 percent for the best UVA protection). These formulas are few and far between especially if you want to avoid other unsafe chemicals. Remember to avoid the sun during those peak hours and cover-up!

To make it easy for your summer sunscreen hunt, we’ve included a list of the top performing sunscreens rated by the Environmental Working Group and a list of ingredients you should avoid while shopping for sunscreens and other skincare products. For more details on why you should avoid certain ingredients in all of your skincare products, visit the Environmental Working Group’s website:

Check out this Treehugger article:

Top 5 Sunscreens:

1. Badger SPF 30:

2. California Baby Suncreen Lotion SPF 30 w/out Fragrance:

3. Marie Veronique Organics:

4. Soleo Organics:

5. Devita International:

Avoid These Ingredients:

Fragrance Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
Retinyl Palmitate (a form of Vitamin A)