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Best Sunscreens & Toxic Ones to Avoid

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2018 best sunscreens - Dr. Axe

It’s no secret that the sun (in moderate doses) provides all sorts of health benefits, including helping our bodies manufacture vital vitamin D. With warmer weather right around the corner, though, many people are looking for the best sunscreens to cut their risk of sun overexposure, sunburns and possibly skin cancer

Environmental Working Group’s 15th annual Guide to Sunscreens is a mix of good and bad news when it comes to the state of sunscreens sold in American and beyond. For instance, oxybenzone — a suspected hormone-disrupting chemical that is readily absorbed into the body — is now present in 40 percent of  the 1,800 products EWG investigated. While that may seem high, consider this: two years ago, about 60 percent of sunscreens contained this concerning chemical.

In December, the National Toxicology Program released findings linking oxybenzone exposure to a higher risk of thyroid tumors in female rats. And at the end of March, the European Commission, which reviews ingredient safety in Europe, published a final opinion finding oxybenzone unsafe for use at current levels.

“Yet again, the sunscreen market is flooded with products that use potentially harmful ingredients and provide poor UVA protection,” said Leiba. “EWG’s guide is one of the only tools available to help consumers find products that provide adequate protection and are made without ingredients that may pose health concerns.

“U.S. sunscreens will not sufficiently improve until the Food and Drug Administration sets stronger regulations, restricts the use of harmful chemicals and approves new active ingredients that offer stronger UVA and UVB protection without concern of causing harm,” says Nneka Leiba, EWG vice president of Health Living Science.

Sunscreen Chemicals Build Up in Your Blood

The effects of sunscreen may linger longer than expected, too. An FDA-led 2020 study found that “chemical sunscreen ingredients are systemically absorbed after one application, and some ingredients can stay in the blood for at least three weeks.”

The sunscreen chemicals tested include avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate and octinoxate, and all six active ingredients tested readily absorbed into the bloodstream of humans in the study — and at concentrations that surpass an important FDA safety threshold.

This builds on previous research showing that sunscreen chemicals hit the bloodstream within a day of using them — and at levels high enough to prompt a government investigation on safety.

“We slather these ingredients on our skin, but these chemicals haven’t been adequately tested,” Leiba says. “This is just one example of the backward nature of product regulation in the U.S.”

Beyond safety issues is another question: Does sunscreen even work? Environmental Working Group’s found that nearly 75 percent of sunscreens don’t work and/or contain concerning ingredients that are readily absorbed by the body.

Things may be slowing moving in the right direction, but for now, the onus is still on the consumer to find sunscreen that’s safer and actually works.  

Are You Using the Best Sunscreens?

A past EWG report cited research of Brian Diffey, PhD, emeritus professor of photobiology at the Institute of Cellular Medicine at Newcastle University. He’s shown that, on average, U.S. sunscreens allow about three times more UVA rays to transfer through skin compared to European sunscreens. In fact, Americans sunscreen choices are fewer and often offer worse UVA protection compared to those available in the European Union.

This matters because UVA rays are more abundant than UVB rays, and UVA damage is more subtle than the sunburns induced mainly by UVB rays. UVA rays can damage your skin invisibly by suppressing the immune system and aging the skin over time; overexposure of these rays are also linked to the development of melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, too.

According to EWG, most sunscreens sold in the U.S. would not be sold in Europe, which sets much more stringent UVA standards.

In the U.S., sunscreen regulations haven’t been updated since 2011. And while the FDA signaled it would take on the issue of UVA exposure, its recent proposal was withdrawn in the first coronavirus relief bill. The agency is due to propose its long-awaited rules on sunscreens again this fall.

Sunscreen Is Only One Tool in the Sun Safety Toolbox

Now, it’s important to note that there is no perfect sunscreen. Many contain harmful chemicals, and even mineral-based ones often contain nanoparticles, minute ingredients that can cross the blood-brain barrier and also harm aquatic life. Beyond that, sunscreen is unique compared to many other personal care products because you coat it thickly onto your skin, often multiple times a day. You don’t get that type of hours-long, skin-absorbing exposure with something like, say, shampoo you quickly wash off.

That’s why it’s very important to look for safer sunscreens if you use them and to recognize that you can’t only rely on sunscreens alone to prevent sun overexposure.

No product is going to be fully protective and no product will last on your skin for more than two hours max, EWG has noted in the past. They recommend thickly applying sunscreen coatings, reapplying every time you’re out of the water and choosing a better product to begin with are all key. But other sun smart methods to avoid overexposures are a must. In fact, sunscreen should actually be your last line of defense against the sun after adopting other more effective measures. More on those later.

In the EWG’s 2021 best sunscreens report, the group analyzed the ingredients and labeling claims of more than 1,800 products with SPF. “The majority of sunscreen products sold in the U.S. don’t offer adequate protection against both UVA and UVB rays,” notes Carla Burns, a senior Healthy Living Science analyst at EWG. “But the good news is there are more than 400 SPF products that meet our rigorous standards.”

So what are the best sunscreens out there? Let’s take a look.

The Best Sunscreens of 2021: For Recreation 

“Based on the best current science and toxicology data, we continue to recommend sunscreens with the mineral active ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, because they are the only two ingredients the FDA recognized as safe or effective in their proposed draft rules,” Burns says.

Here are some of the most highly rated sunscreens that met EWG’s criteria for safety and effectiveness:

  • 365 Everyday Value Mineral Sunscreen Sport Lotion, SPF 30
  • 3rd Rock Sunblock Sunscreen Lotion, Aromatherapeutic, SPF 35
  • ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen, Fragrance Free, SPF 30
  • All Good Sunstick, Unscented, SPF 30
  • All Good Sunscreen Butter, 50+
  • Badger Sunscreen Cream, Unscented, SPF 30
  • Badger Clear Zinc Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30 & 40
  • Block Island Organics Natural Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • BurnOut Natural for Family Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
  • BurnOut Ocean Tested Physical Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Butterbean Organics Simple Healthy Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • C’est Moi GENTLE Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Earth Mama Tinted Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 25 & 40
  • Eco Logical Skin Care All Natural Face Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
  • Eleven By Venus Williams On-The-Defense Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Erbaviva Organic Skincare Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Erin’s Faces Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Body, SPF 32
  • Green Goo Plants With Purpose Solar Goo Zinc Oxide + Shea Butter + Coconut Oil Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30
  • Just Skin Food Natural & Organic Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
  • Kabana Organic Skincare Green Screen Sunscreen Lotion, Original, SPF 32
  • Ke Ko Organics Ko’a Sun Cream, Tinted, SPF 31
  • Laguna Herbals Face & Body Sunscreen Stick, Coconut, SPF 30
  • Love Sun Body Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Fragrance-Free, SPF 30 & 50
  • Loving Naturals Clear Body Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
  • Maui Natural Organics All Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Nurture My Body Pure and Simple Organic Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 32
  • Nuori Mineral Defence Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Olita Kids Mineral Sunscreen Sunstick, SPF 30
  • Pacific Beach Organics Riptide Sunscreen Lotion, Tinted, SPF 32
  • Rocket Pure Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Raw Elements Face + Body Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Sea Kind Alive Reef Safe Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • Star Naturals Natural Sunscreen Stick, SPF 25
  • Summer Lotion Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • SunBioLogic Men’s Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
  • Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Sport, SPF 30
  • Suntribe Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Sunumbra Family Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
  • thinksport Body & Face Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
  • thinksport Kids Body & Face Sunscreen Lotion, Sport, SPF 30
  • Waxhead Sun Defense Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
  • Waxhead Sun Defense Skin Nourishing Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30

Also of note, many sunscreen powerhouse brands are now offering safer options, although not all of these brands’ offerings are considered safer EWG picks. (Scores of 0-2 are considered safer, while higher scores indicate poorer safety ratings.) EWG has been analyzing and pushing for safer sunscreens for more than a decade, and positive shifts are occurring even within big brands and store brands. For instance, the following products made EWG’s best sunscreen list with a score of “2:”

  • Banana Boat Kids Sport Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50+
  • Coppertone Water Babies Pure & Simple Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50
  • Coppertone Defend & Care Face Sunscreen Lotion, Oil Free, SPF 30
  • Equate Kids Mineral Based Sunscreen Stick, SPF 5
  • Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Neutrogena Clear Body Breakout Free Oil-Free Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Trader Joe’s Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 40

Related: Propanediol for Skin: Dangerous Additive or Multipurpose Solvent?

Best Sunscreens: Non-Mineral

This year’s rankings also includes the top picks for non-mineral brands. This is perfect if you’re someone who can’t get onboard with the zinc oxide or titanium dioxide-based sunscreens. Most of these aren’t rated quite as safe as the above list, but you can compare to see what fits your needs best:

  • Alba Botanica Hawaiian Sunscreen Lotion, Aloe Vera, SPF 30
  • Australian Gold Sport Lotion, Ultra Chill, SPF 30
  • Banana Boat Kids Sport Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50+
  • Banana Boat Ultra Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 15
  • Coppertone Defend & Care Face Sunscreen Lotion, Oil Free, SPF 30
  • Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • CVS Health 30 Ultra Sheer Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Daylogic Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Equate Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • JASON Facial Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 20
  • Kiss My Face Sport Hot Spots Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
  • Neutrogena Clear Face/Body Breakout Free Oil-Free Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • No-Ad Suncare General Protection Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 15
  • Panama Jack Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Sonrei Sea Clearly Sunscreen Gel, SPF 30
  • Walgreens Sport Sunscreen Lotion, Fresh Scent, SPF 30
  • Wegmans Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30

The Best Sunscreens of 2021: Daily-Use/Moisturizers

For its 2021 sunscreen report, EWG rated these products to be among the best:

  • Algenist Alive Prebiotic Balancing Moisturizer, SPF 15
  • AKT Therapy Elemental Sun Balm, SPF 30
  • Andalou Naturals Men Face Guard Daily Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Ao Skincare 6000X Elemental Screen, SPF 30
  • ATTITUDE Mineral Sensitive Skin Sunscreen, Fragrance Free, SPF 30
  • Beautycounter Countersun Daily Sheer Defense for Face, SPF 25
  • Biossance Squalane + Mineral, SPF 45
  • Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • Block Island Organics Natural Face Moisturizer, SPF 30
  • Cyberderm Every Morning Sun Whip, SPF 30
  • Earth Mama Lady Face Mineral Sunscreen Tinted Face Stick, Light/Medium & Medium/Dark Tints, SPF 40
  • Eleven By Venus Williams Unrivaled Sun Serum, SPF 35
  • Juice Beauty Oil-Free Moisturizer, SPF 30
  • Kari Gran Essential SPF Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 28
  • Keys KPRO Tinted Moisturizer with Sunscreen, SPF 30+
  • Love Sun Body Moisturizing Mineral Face Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Loving Naturals Daily UV Cream, Unscented, SPF 20
  • MDSolarSciences Mineral Tinted Creme, SPF 30
  • Marie Veronique Everyday Coverage Tinted Sunscreen Lotion, Extra Light Tint, SPF 30
  • Raw Elements Daily Moisturizer, SPF 30
  • Solara Suncare Clean Freak Nutrient Boosted Daily Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 30
  • Solara Suncare Time Traveler Ageless Daily Face Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 30
  • Suntegrity 5 in 1 Natural Moisturizing Tinted Face Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • Sunumbra Daily Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 15+
  • thinksport Everyday Face Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Naturally Tinted, SPF 30+
  • White & Elm Everyday, SPF 15

While the products above rated “1” (remember, 0-2 are considered safest and most effective by EWG — the lower the score, the better), it is important to note that large beauty companies are creating safer options, too. For instance, EWG analysts scored Olay’s following three products scored “2.”

  • Olay Regenerist Mineral Sunscreen Hydrating Moisturizer, Fragrance Free, SPF 15 & 30
  • Olay Total Effects Whip Face Moisturizer with Sunscreen, Fragrance-Free, SPF 25

And if you’re looking for lip balm with SPF protection, EWG suggests these picks

Top Picks for the Best Baby Sunscreens (and Overall Kid-Friendly Picks)

  • 3rd Rock Sunblock Sunscreen Lotion, Infant, SPF 35
  • Adorable Baby Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30+
  • Badger Baby Active Sunscreen Cream, Chamomile & Calendula, SPF 30 & 40
  • California Baby Everyday/Year-Round Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30+
  • California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30+
  • Earth Mama Baby Baby Face Mineral Sunscreen Face Stick, SPF 40
  • Earth Mama Baby Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 40
  • Erbaviva Organic Skincare Baby Sun Stick, Lavender Chamomile, SPF 30
  • Erbaviva Organic Skincare Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Just Skin Food Baby Beach Bum Sunscreen Stick, SPF 31
  • Nurture My Body Baby Organic Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 32
  • Raw Elements Baby + Kids Sunscreen Lotion Tin, SPF 30
  • Raw Elements Baby + Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
  • Star Naturals Baby Natural Sunscreen Stick, SPF 25
  • TruBaby Water & Play Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
  • UV Natural Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
  • Waxhead Sun Defense Baby Zinc Oxide Vitamin E + D Enriched Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 35
  • MADE OF Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • thinkbaby Body & Face Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30

Most Toxic Sunscreens to Avoid

Here’s a big takeaway that’ll make things somewhat less complicated. EWG recommends avoiding all spray sunscreens. Not only are they very difficult to apply effectiveness and evenly, but there’s some concern the ingredients could potentially cause irreversible lung damage. The truth is, the ingredients just haven’t been tested in the aerosol capacity for long-term impact on human health, like so many other everyday chemicals, unfortunately. 

When it comes to sunscreens, here are some of the other worst overall offenders scoring in the Red Zone (10) for major safety concerns. Overall, these products tested poorly in the EWG analysis and are considered bad choices for sun protection. Just remember, this list is not exhaustive. To check your favorite sunscreen or to peruse the database, click here.)

  • Walgreens Dry Touch Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
  • Panama Jack Sunscreen Continuous Spray, SPF 100
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 85+
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100+
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen Spray, SPF 100+
  • Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 60+
  • Neutrogena Age Shield Face Oil-Free Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 110
  • Equate Beauty Ultra Light Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
  • CVS Health Ultra Sheer Lotion, SPF 100
  • CVS Health Sensitive Skin Sun Lotion, SPF 60+
  • CVS Health Ultra Protection Sun Lotion, SPF 100
  • Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
  • COOLA Classic Body Sunscreen Spray, Peach Blossom, SPF 70
  • Banana Boat Ultra Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
  • Banana Boat Ultra Defense Clear Sunscreen Spray, SPF 100
  • Banana Boat Kids MAX Clear Sunscreen Spray, SPF 100
  • Australian Gold Botanical Natural Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70

This is by no means a complete list. Be sure to check your individual product’s safety assessment at EWG.org. 

Best sunscreens - Dr. AxeBest sunscreens - Dr. Axe

Key Findings in EWG’s Sunscreen Report

  • About 40 percent of sunscreens in EWG’s 2021 Guide to Sunscreens contain oxybenzone, an ingredient linked to thyroid cancer in female rates; it’s a suspected hormone disruptor.
  • Your skin is your body’s largest immune system organ. Excess sun exposure can impair the immune system, but many sunscreen chemicals are readily absorbed into the bloodstream, where they could cause ill effects, too. 
  • Stanford University dermatologists concluded that people who relied solely on sunscreens for sun protection got more sunburns than people who reported infrequent sunscreen use but wore hats and clothing to shield themselves from the sun. 
  • An EWG analyst warns: “Sunscreen is only one form of sun protection and should not be relied on alone. It’s also important to wear sunglasses, hats and t-shirts, stay in the shade, and avoid the midday sun.”
  • The rate of new melanoma cases amongst American adults has tripled since the 1970s.
  • Evidence is increasing that UVA exposure causes skin cancer. Despite that, sunscreen rules requiring adequate UVA protection are lacking. 
  • FDA proposed to strengthen UVA requirements for U.S. sunscreen, but the improvements were put on hold as part of the legislation passed within a coronavirus stimulus bill. 
  • About 75 percent of sunscreen products reviewed by EWG either didn’t work adequately to protect from UV rays and/or they contained dangerous ingredients. Some of the most worrisome ingredients include oxybenzone, one of the known endocrine disruptors, and retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that may harm skin and possibly lead to skin tumors.
  • Oxybenzone is in widespread use in American chemical-based sunscreens. Lab testing shows skin penetration rates of 1 to 9 percent. That’s concerning, given the fact that it acts like an estrogen in the body and is linked to abnormal sperm function in animal studies and endometriosis in studies of women. Oxybenzone also acts as a skin allergen in a significant number of people. (So does methylisothiazolinone, a common sunscreen preservative found in the majority of products surveyed.) Thankfully, places like Hawaii and Key West have banned oxybenzone in sunscreen due to its ability to bleach and kill coral reefs.
  • In a previous EWG review, about 40 percent of sunscreens contained vitamin A ingredients. This type of ingredient can react with UV rays and increase the risk of skin tumors, according to government animal testing data.
  • Scientists don’t know for sure if sunscreen helps prevent melanoma. In fact, as EWG notes in its executive summary of the sunscreen guide, “Sun exposure appears to play a role in melanoma, but it is a complex disease for which many questions have not been answered. One puzzling fact: Melanomas do not usually appear on parts of the body that get daily sun exposure.”
  • Be wary of ultra high SPF claims. There are more of them today than several years ago. The U.S. hasn’t approved modern sunscreen ingredients that would do a better job of broad-spectrum protection. Because of this, UVA protection is often lacking in SPF 70+ products. In other developed countries, SPF is usually capped at 50.
  • Avoid spray sunscreens. It’s very difficult to apply in a thickness that will provide adequate protection, plus, it increases the risk you’re sending potentially damaging sunscreen chemicals directly into your lungs (and the lungs of everyone sitting around you.)
  • Nearly 25 percent of sunscreens tested in 2021 were sprays.The FDA is proposing that all sprays and powders undergo additional proposes that all spray products undergo additional safety testing to ensure they can’t be inhaled deep into the lungs and cause irreversible damage. 
  • Inactive ingredients often make up 50 to 70 percent of sunscreen formulations, and EWG urges the FEA to investigate the safety of these ingredients, too.
  • FDA pilot testing uncovered spray sunscreen products that would not meet proposed standards. 
  • EWG recommends that consumers avoid all spray and powder sunscreen products.
  • If you’re opting for sunscreen for protection from overexposure to the sun, EWG advises to opt for mineral-based sunscreen products with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide active ingredients and avoid products with ingredients like oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. 
  • If you avoid the sun, get your vitamin D levels checked at your healthcare provider. A growing number of the population is deficient, thanks to sunscreens and spending more time indoors.

The good news is you can get enough vitamin D and protect yourself from burns without always turning to sunscreen.

How to Avoid Too Much Sun

Getting some sun exposure is vital for good health because it helps your body create vitamin D. There are multiple ways to get vitamin D, but your best bet is to get it from standing in the sun or eating vitamin D-rich foods. In fact, sitting in the sun unexposed for about 10 minutes helps your body create roughly 10,000 units of natural vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to certain cancers, autoimmune diseases, heart disease depression, osteoporosis and many other ailments, so it’s important to get enough. Like almost anything, though, you can get too much of a good thing and want to make sure you avoid sunburns.

You should consider sunscreen your last resort to prevent sunburns, though. In fact, there’s no clear evidence that using sunscreens actually prevents skin cancer — including in the best sunscreens — and some ingredients may actually fuel skin cancer.

Avoiding overexposure during peak sunlight hours, use sunglasses, and sun-protective hats and clothing (Solumbra is a good brand). These things reduce your risk of burns without sunscreen.

Final Thoughts

  • When direct sunlight hits our skin under peak conditions, our bodies manufacture high levels of vitamin D. Not getting enough vitamin D has been linked to all sorts of health problems, including cancer, arthritis, depression and other diseases.
  • However, you can get too much of a good thing, which is why it’s important to take steps to prevent overexposure and sunburns.
  • There is no perfect sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens generally rate safer, but they often contain nanoparticles that are not tightly regulated or studied for long-term impact on human or aquatic health. Chemical sunscreens often contain hormone-disrupting chemicals or even an ingredient that could trigger skin cancer. Still, EWG’s report helps consumers seeking sunscreen find safer choices while avoiding the most poorly rated brands.
  • Sunscreen should be used as a last resort. Sun-protective measures like hats, sunglasses, seeking shade and avoiding peak sunlight for extended periods of time should be used before turning to sunscreen, and when you do choose sunscreen, make sure it’s one of the best sunscreens.

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Comments

67 Comments

  1. Lyn Solander on

    Thanks for your post. I make my own screen using raspberry seed oil which has a natural spf 25 which I add powered zinc oxide and bees wax to thicken. It works wonderfully and also great for baby bun cream! Clears rash FAST!

  2. Julieanne on

    Has anyone included Rocky Mountain Sunscreen in the research? I would love to know how it stakes up.

    I would like to know if the ingredients are safe or harmful.

    It is the one sunscreen that has consistently worked well for me and doesn’t irritate my skin or clog my pores.

    I am fair skinned, prone to burning. So I generally try to limit my need for sunscreen and get my 10-15 min a day of Vit D. I do however need some protection on days when out and about in outdoor adventures or swimming.

  3. Roy Parker on

    I have a question, Are Our Sunscreens Really Water Resistant? Water-resistant sunscreen products are much less effective when they are worn in the sea. The products that have been claimed to be water resistant showed a decrease in the sun protection factor (SPF) by up to 59% after being in the salt water for 40 minutes. This research has been welcomed by the Cancer Research UK, who warned the public that no sunscreen is effective 100%.

  4. Margaret A. Gunter on

    GREAT Article! Am changing my sunscreen today. THANKS MUCH for the great LIST! Looks like all the major manufacturers need to reformulate their sunscreens.

    Keep up the good work!

  5. Kira on

    I’m concerned by the mention of sunglasses without also saying sunglasses need to have 100% UVA UVB protection. Sunglasses that don’t are actually worse than none, as the darkness causes your pupils to dilate, and then more sun rays can reach your retina. Only buy sunglasses with 100% UVA & 100% UVB protection!

  6. Yvonne on

    Hi Dr Axe, Thank you for your very informative article. A question: Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen, SPF 50 is listed as one of the best kids sunscreens but Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen, SPF 60+is listed as one of the worst. Why? What is the dramatic difference between the two?

  7. Brittany Parker on

    Young Living’s Mineral Sunscreen Lotion is amazing! Non-toxic, powered by essential oils! WIN WIN!

  8. Clare on

    Can you do a review of deodorants and skin care products? I think the information you provide is amazing. THANK YOU

  9. C on

    Has Sun Bum been tested?? My daughters elementary school has it out for their students to apply at will, and it’s extremely popular in Southern California… could you please give some research to this one?

  10. Amie on

    I have a question on the part where the government studies show that vitamin A ingredients could speed the development of skin tumors and lesions. Then why do you find those ingredients in a great deal of skin care products promoting just that exactly. Am I missing something here?

  11. Dee Dee Crowe on

    I don’t think this statement was made in error: “Despite strong evidence to show sunscreens can even prevent skin cancer, it’s still legal for most sunscreens to make cancer prevention claims.”
    Is it supposed to read: “… can even CAUSE skin cancer…” OR should it read …”CAN NOT even prevent skin cancer…”

    Please clarify which is accurate;
    this article was very helpful!
    (and you might want to fix that statement – it seems to be a key statement)
    THANKS! let me know

  12. Dee Dee Crowe on

    I believe you did not mean to make this statement: “Despite strong evidence to show sunscreens can even prevent skin cancer, it’s still legal for most sunscreens to make cancer prevention claims.”
    I believe it is supposed to EITHER read: “… can even CAUSE skin cancer…” OR should read …”CAN NOT even prevent skin cancer…”

    I would like to know which is accurate; this article was very helpful!
    (and you might want to fix that statement – it seems to be a key statement)
    THANKS! let me know: [email protected]

  13. Susana Rodrigues on

    Glad to know my sunscreen is on the list! Juice Beauty is great, a little thick but i apply my face oil before and works great !!

  14. Tanya on

    I use Absolutely Natural a brand I order online from Florida. I love it because it works and I think it’s safe. Is there any information on this brand?

  15. Cynthia Hadley on

    Dear Dr. Axe,
    Which sunscreen will look clear on the skin. My husband won’t wear them b/c they make his fair skin look ghost like.
    Which one do you actually use if you are not making your own?
    Sincerely,
    Cynthia Hadley

  16. Prasanna on

    I’m using lakme sunscreen with spf50 it is safe sunscreen or not if not pls suggest safe sunscreen

  17. Monette on

    Dr axe, thank you!

    Please rate the supergoop mineral sunscreen spf 40!? Carried by Sephora.

    Would be ever so grateful.

  18. Madelyn Finley on

    This is all very helpful the k you so much but I was also thinking about the effects sunscreen has on our oceans? Just a thought

  19. Ash on

    Thank you for this informative article Dr. Axe. It is very helpful and life-changing. After reading this, I am changing sunscreens.

  20. Bud Gillan on

    EWG’s Listings of Recommended Sunscreens includes all of Raw Elements products with a 1 Rating. You left Raw Elements out, Certified Organic Zinc Oxide Sunscreen. I am sure it was a slipup. Please add it to your list. It is EWG Top Ten list as well. ANd has been for several years.

  21. jo makaylor on

    It didn’t mention on the list, but definitely deserve a pot on the best sunscreen list.

    I surf in the summer and ski in the winter and one of the best sunscreens I’ve used is the Biore sarasara http://amzn.to/2aJtxHZ. I was introduced to it by a friend when skiing in Hokkaido couple years ago. Highly recommended if you’re in the market for one.

  22. Penny on

    So, it’s extremely hot here in the Mid-west. Our heat index for this week is to be around 107-110 for several days. I LOVE the sun and love to be warm. However, as a 50 year old, I developed skin cancer from sun damage and was diagnosed in November. I am not sure how this skin cancer occurred, since I used to tan as a teenager. I have not laid out for over 30 years. But here’s the thing: last week I was prescribed some skin cancer gel (Picato), to try instead of having my skin sprayed with liquid nitrogen. I had a serious allergic reaction and chemical burn from this gel. So now, I’m still doctoring this burn, keeping it covered and using Silvadean cream.Just driving the car and feeling the sun beat on my wounded hand makes me crazy.

    I want to use a safe sunscreen on the rest of my skin, but after this reaction to the cancer gel, I’m afraid to try anything. I have many allergies to scents, lotions, sprays. The one thing I love to use is Lubriderm . I also love Vanicream lite lotion. But, I have not seen either of these with sunscreen. Any suggestions as I am quite the mess? !!

  23. Rita on

    Hi Dr Axe,

    What’s the used by date of the homemade sunscreen?

    2 tbsp Zinc Oxide, powder or cream?

    Shea butter raw, organic?

    Thank you

  24. linda on

    With so much out there about nutrition that is conflicting this article is a VERY interesting contrast to what consumer report has to say about natural sunscreen.
    Being that I swim laps in summer in Arizona and lap lane hours are not the best for sun protection I have started wearing rash guard and swim tights and rotate using natural vs chemical sunscreens :)

  25. klp on

    Not to mention…all but natural sunscreens are toxic to the environment. They really should be banned.

  26. Marysol on

    Should I be concern about the light coming from the screen of my computer to my face everyday? Thanks!

  27. Nicole on

    Or buy homemade sunscreen on Etsy with beeswax, shea butter, coconut oil, non nano zinc oxide, essential oils, etc.

  28. Cheryl on

    Growing up I spent time playing in the sun when I was young. I was not a “sun worshiper” like may other teen age girls. I couldn’t just lay there. I noticed that in my late teens my skin became more sensitive to burning. Fast forward to my late 40’s when I began to juice for health and drank lots of carrot juice. I began to notice that my skin seemed to tan quicker and deeper, no more burning. This was fantastic as I really love being out on our boat in summer in the San Juan Islands.
    I read somewhere that carrot juice is like sunscreen from the inside. I wonder if you knew much about this.
    With much gratitude,
    Cheryl

  29. Lisa on

    The links go to products on Amazon, never buy anything like sunscreen on Amazon, the last beauty product I purchased there was tampered with by the seller. Many of them dilute and/or create counterfeit products to make more money. They also tamper with them by changing the expiration dates and you have no way of knowing because nothing sold through Amazon is regulated in any way.

    You can’t trust the reviews either, many of the reviews are faked. You have to buy from a reputable retailer if you want you products to be safe. Amazon is made of up 3rd party sellers so it’s just by chance if you get a reputable one or not and the odds are not in your favor.

  30. Tomas on

    Dear dr. Axe,

    I do agree with most what you have written here. Only about avoiding sun exposure at noon, might be controversial. Here is an article by Mark Sisson: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-engineer-a-successful-day-of-sunbathing/

    He claims that you should expose yourself at noon, when the sun is the strongest, as you will have more UVB-radiation, which is less during the morning or evening, when UVA is strongest. UVB indeed causes sunburn, but also helps producing Vitamin D. UVA isn’t causing sunburn, but goes deeper and will actually reduce Vitamine D production. Also is UVA radiation a bigger risk for diseases. You need both UVA and UVB and the best time is at noon, at least according to Mark Sisson.

    I am interested in your response.

  31. Sandra McKenna on

    I am wondering about the sun screen/ sunblock made by Melaleuca.
    They claim their products are safe…. curious what you think!

  32. Lori on

    Where do you get these off the wall brands of sunscreens? I never heard of any of them. They should list links on where to buy them.

      • Penny on

        I also have skin cancer,,, squamous cell, on my hands, and have had SEVERAL trips to dermatology to spray the AK(s), and even MOHS surgery. I’d like to know the best for our skin too

  33. Laura Oliver on

    I am a consultant with Beautycounter and our Sunscreen lotion and stick are rated with EWG. I am wondering if you are familiar with Beautycounter products or if our sunscreen was left off of your safe list for another reason. I appreciate your input.

    • Shelley on

      Alba tested a “4” on EWG testing for the product Very emollient body lotion “daily shade spa 15” they rate on a scale of 1 to 10. You can download their app and scan the bar code. Not all products have been tested, so other that I scanned did not yet have a rating. Their app is helpful because you can pull out your phone in the store and scan the barcode before you even purchase. Also, I liked that Dr. Axe listed some of the ingredients that are extremely horrible for us so that we can keep and eye out for those.

      • Caroline on

        Alba is free of oxybenzone, octinoxate, PABA, nano-sunscreens and Vitamin A, so I guess it’s not that bad.

  34. Janice on

    Sunscreens. I have known for years that most had a list of unhealthy and even toxic ingredients. Several years ago I was cooking to a crisp while selling at a swap meet. I went in search of sunscreens and I found only one brand (you usually get through a rep) and they had 2 types. I got the least expensive which was a spray. I sprayed it on fairly liberally and it melted my nail polish. I was horrified. How could any company use ingredients in a mix for skin that would melt nail polish? I know that could not be good.

  35. Sherry Jaskowiak on

    What about Absolutely Natural … I’ve been using it on myself and kids for years. Would like to know if it was included in the study or not and if so, why it is not considered safe

  36. Katya Dennis on

    I wish a website on healthy ways of doing things would discuss the use of natural cold pressed oils and butters (shea, cocoa) to extend the time fair skinned people can be in the sun, instead of giving the impression that only manufactured, processed things can do that. I’m searching high and low for this information.

  37. Linda on

    I am wondering about the Green Beaver Company natural mineral sunscreen. Has it been tested?

  38. Maria on

    I have a question.. I’m always low in vitamin D, due to the fact that I’m allergic to it. I break out in a rash when my skins is exposed to sun.. I always tried to cover with rush guard shirts and hats when I go to the beach, but driving around can be difficult too. I am olive skin color and also the only one in my family with this problem. At this time I have been diagnosed with immune hemoletyc anemia, I don’t know if they are related. What sunscreen do you recommend, since every thing I have being using are toxic. I would love to hear your opinion. Thanks!

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