Non-Toxic Sunscreen to Protect the Whole Family

The best non-toxic sunscreen products for the whole family, including mineral sunscreen lotion, sticks and safe sunscreen sprays for kids and babies, athletes, sensitive skin, facial care and more. 


Non-Toxic Sunscreen Brands

Swim suits, towels, organic snacks – check! Sounds like you’re ready to head out for some fun in the sun. But what about the sunscreen?

If you still using conventional, chemical-based sunscreens – the kind found at most drugstores or mass merchants – now’s a good time to make the switch to a natural, non-toxic sunscreen brand.

Why Non-Toxic Sunscreen Matters

Most sunscreen products on the market contain worrisome chemical ingredients that may lead to health problems like hormone disruption, allergies or even ironically, cancer, which sunscreen purportedly is trying to prevent. Many sunscreens also make misleading SPF claims that may put you at risk of sun damage.

One of the most troubling aspects of chemical sunscreen ingredients is that they are absorbed into the bloodstream after only one use, and can be detected in blood weeks after application. 

To be safe, you should avoid the following chemical sunscreen ingredients as much as possible:

  • Oxybenzone (this one is the WORST!)
  • Octinoxate
    (Octyl methoxycinnamate)
  • Homosalate
  • Octisalate
  • Octocrylene

Fortunately advocacy groups like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have evaluated thousands of sunscreens for safety and created a ratings scale that allows us to make safer choices. Each year the EWG comes out with a Sunscreen Guide, which is definitely worth a read. Sunscreen ratings range from 1 – 10, with 1 being the gold standard and 10 meaning don’t touch it with a ten foot pole!


RELATED: 4 Important Reasons to Buy Natural, Non-Toxic Products for Your Family


What to Look for in Non-Toxic Sunscreen

I may receive commissions from purchases made through links in this article including Amazon Affiliates. Full Disclosure

With guidance from the EWG, here are some things to look for in a non-toxic sunscreen product. 

Active Sunscreen Ingredients

The active ingredients in a sunscreen should be minerals, not chemicals. Mineral sunscreens like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are physical sun blockers, meaning they act as a barrier on the skin, but are not absorbed into the skin.

It’s also important the the minerals used are non-nano sized particles, due to concerns that extremely small nanoparticles may be absorbed into the skin and bloodstream.

Inactive Sunscreen Ingredients

Even when you are buying mineral sunscreen, you need to pay attention to the other, inactive ingredients in a sunscreen lotion or spray. Beware of paraben preservatives, artificial fragrances  and all the other ingredients to avoid in personal care products

Instead, look for natural, plant-based ingredients that have beneficial properties for your skin. The safest sunscreen brands will be either unscented or lightly scented with natural essential oils. 

Broad Spectrum

To properly protect skin from the sun, a sunscreen needs to provide protection from both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are associated with skin burning and UVA rays are associated with skin aging and damage. Sunscreens that protect from both types of rays are known as broad spectrum sunscreens.

In addition, avoid sunscreens with SPF over 50 because high SPFs give us a false sense of security and can lead to overexposure of both UVA and UVB rays.

Water Resistance

If you are active and/or planning to be in the water, it is important to consider the water resistance of the product. All water resistance claims must be tested in water for either 40 or 80 minutes.  

Clear Sunscreen Formula

One of the biggest complaints about mineral sunscreen is that it is difficult to rub into the skin. I’ve found that there’s been a huge improvement on this front – even compared to a few years ago. It is now possible to find mineral sunscreen that is easy to apply and rubs in easily – yay! Look for clear zinc sunscreen formulas to ensure they are easy to rub in without leaving a white residue on your skin. Find my favorite sunscreens for kids that rub in easily here.

A quick note about spray sunscreens – the EWG recommends that we avoid all spray sunscreens due to inhalation concerns, as well as concern that it may not provide an adequate coating on the skin to ensure proper protection. But I get it – spray sunscreens are super easy and sometimes the only way we can get sunscreen on our kids. My kids used to BEG me for spray sunscreen! Both Goddess Garden and Beautycounter are the safest sunscreen sprays I’ve found. 


Related: Non-Toxic Shampoo for the Whole Family


Favorite Non-Toxic Sunscreen Products

If you’re ready to make the switch to safe, non-toxic sunscreen products, here are some that my kids and I have tested out over the past few years. Since we all have different needs for sunscreen, I put together this sunscreen guide covering products for babies and kids, active folks, bargain brands, sensitive skin and even my favorite facial sunscreen brands. ​​ 

All of these sunscreens are mineral-based formulas made with good quality, plant-based ingredients, by reputable companies. They all rate well on the EWG sunscreen database – with either a 1 or 2 rating. The one exception is the spray sunscreen, which is rated a 3 due to concerns about spray inhalation. 

Badger

Why it’s great: Clear zinc oxide provides mineral protection without the whitening – this one rubs in very easily.

Fav product: Badger Sport Clear Zinc SPF 35

Best for: Families with kids

EWG rating: 1

Beautycounter Countersun Sunscreen SPF 30

Beautycounter

Why it’s great: A luxurious formula with a lovely light scent that rubs in more easily than any other sunscreen I’ve found. 

Favorite product: Beautycounter Countersun SPF 30

Best for: Moms who want the good stuff

EWG rating:

ThinkSport Sunscreen SPF 50

Think Sport

Why it’s great: Formulated for athletes and active people. Water resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Favorite product: ThinkSport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

Best for:  Active people

EWG rating:Earth Mama SunscreenEarth Mama

 

Why it’s great: Specific formulas for babies, kids, adults and people with uber-sensitive skin. NSF organic certified.

Favorite product: Earth Mama Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 40

Best for: Babies and anyone who is pregnant

EWG rating: 1

Alba Botanica Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen

Alba Botanica 

Why it’s great: Easy to find and lower cost than many mineral sunscreens

Favorite product: Alba Botanica Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Lotion

Best for: Budget minded 

EWG rating: 2

Goddess Garden

Why it’s great: Continuous spray is much safer than aerosol sunscreen sprays but is still very kid-friendly. 

Fav product: Goddess Garden Kids Continuous Spray SPF 30

Best for: Squirmy kids

EWG rating: 3 (To be extra safe, spray in well-ventilated areas and never directly on the face.)

Thinkbaby sunscreen stick

Think Baby

Why it’s great: Handy sunscreen stick is great for throwing in a purse or beach bag.

Favorite product: Thinkbaby Sunscreen Stick SPF 30

Best for: Babies

EWG rating: 1

All Good Sunscreen Butter Tin SPF50

All Good

Why it’s great: Water and sweat resistant formula in an easy to carry tin

Fav product: All Good Sunscreen Butter SPF 50

Best for: zero wasters (comes in a reusable tin container)

EWG rating: 1

California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen SPF 30

California Baby

Why it’s great: Fragrance-free for baby’s super sensitive skin

Fav product: California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen SPF 30

Best for: Babies and kids with sensitive skin

EWG rating: 1

Suntegrity Body-Sunscreen_Unscented

Suntegrity

Why it’s great: Unscented formula 

Fav product: Suntegrity Unscented Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30

Best for: Anyone who doesn’t want fragrance

EWG rating: 1

Mad Hippie Facial Sunscreen

Mad Hippie

Why it’s great: Creamy, lightweight formula for face that rubs in well.

Fav product: Mad Hippie Facial SPF 30

Best for: Daily facial care with no tint

EWG rating: N/A (but would be a 1 or 2 based on the ingredients)

Juice Beauty Tinted Moisturizer

Juice Beauty

Why it’s great: Super moisturizing and gives skin a subtle glow. My go-to tinted facial SPF moisturizer!

Fav product: Juice Beauty Tinted Mineral Moisturizer SPF 30

Best for: Daily facial sunscreen with a tint

EWG rating: 2

 

Do you have a favorite safe sunscreen brand? Tell me why you love it and I’ll add it to the Non-Toxic Sunscreen Guide!

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