I used to be a freak about avoiding the sun. I fell for all the uninformed, but well-meaning medical scares about the sun causing skin cancer, from which you must protect yourself at all times. Read this article to discover my top non-toxic sunscreen recommendations!
I wore driving gloves and used an umbrella when I walked outside. In other words, I was a freak. It’s up for debate as to whether I still am. And I never left the house without a generous coating of toxic sunscreen.
Today, I actively seek out daily sun exposure without sunscreen for its numerous health benefits, including Vitamin D production. The truth is you do not need, nor want sunscreen for sensible sun exposure.
But if you’re sunning your buns for longer than your individual burn time, you’re going to need a natural sunscreen. Like everything in life, too much of a good thing is harmful.
I wanted to give you a list of my favorite nontoxic natural sunscreens for a few reasons.
One, there are a lot of ‘natural’ sunscreens out there that have harmful ingredients.
Two, some natural sunscreens make you look like a ghost (they aren’t formulated well) and I assume you’d prefer to not look white as a sheet on the beach.
Three, I want you to avoid chemical sunscreens because they are toxic to you and your hormones (and let’s not forget the fish and coral reefs).
Let me help you avoid and sort through all this nonsense.
The alternative to chemical UV-filter sunscreens are mineral sunscreens, namely zinc and titanium dioxide. These are the products you see on white-faced surfers and beach-goers. You might have just thought they were really, really bad at rubbing in their sunblock, but they were just avoiding oxybenzone and other chemical sunscreens by using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Zinc oxide is the most effective and safest mineral UV-filter. Zinc sits on top of your skin and prevents UV damage, acting as a physical barrier. It’s just as effective as a chemical filter like oxybenzone without the toxic side effects.
If you’ve already got enough unfiltered sunlight for the day’s vitamin D needs and want some UV protection, zinc oxide is your best, safest bet.
Mark Sisson thinks that nanoparticle zinc is safe. “If you’re worried about looking silly with white streaks all over your face and body you can opt for safe nanoparticle zinc oxide that disappears on your skin. There is some concern that these nanoparticles of zinc oxide can cause health problems, but the evidence seems to weigh heavily toward the ‘all safe’ side.
One study found that while zinc oxide does penetrate some of the outer layers of the epidermis (more so when the skin is sunburnt), it does not achieve transdermal penetration for systemic distribution.”
Titanium Dioxide – Toxic or Not?
There is some debate as to whether titanium dioxide is safe. It is found in many natural sunscreens. Environmental Working Group says that, “Titanium dioxide is a possible human carcinogen, but only for inhalation and products that may be aerosolized (airborne). It appears to have low skin penetration but inhalation is a concern.” So, I think it is likely safe in a sunscreen lotion.
Nanoparticle or micronized titanium dioxide, however, is concerning. Nanoparticles of titanium dioxide are used in sunscreens because they are colorless at that size and still absorb ultraviolet light. While many are praising this new technology, others are warning of its inherent dangers to our bodies.
A study by Churg et. al. at the University of British Columbia “Induction of Fibrogenic Mediators by Fine and Ultrafine Titanium Dioxide in Rat Tracheal Explants” (1999) found that ultrafine particles of the anatase form of titanium dioxide, which are less than 0.1 microns, are pathogenic or disease causing. Other studies have found that the smaller the particle size, the more toxic the mineral.
Nanoparticle titanium dioxide penetrate the cells and can cause DNA damage after exposure to sunlight (Powell, et. al. 1996). The fear is that this could lead to cancer in the skin.
Coarse or fine particles of titanium dioxide are safe and effective at deflecting and absorbing UV light, but consumers should avoid using micronized titanium dioxide, either in sunscreens or cosmetics.
My Top Non-Toxic Sunscreen Recommendations
Annmarie Skin Care – All of Annmarie’s products are fantastic and their sunscreen is no different. I like it because it has a tint to hide the whitening effect of zinc oxide
Sun Protection from Beautycounter – The Sun Protection collection from Beautycounter uses non-nano zinc oxide, a safer and effective alternative to oxybenzone, and keeps you covered without the concern.
MyChelle Sun Shield SPF 28 Coconut Sunscreen – I love the mild pleasant coconut scent but they have unscented as well. I DON”T like their spray sunscreen as it turns your skin pure white. I hope they tweak the spray formula soon to fix this!
Goddess Garden SPF 30 Everyday Natural Sunscreen Continuous Spray – I love this one because it doesn’t go on WHITE like other natural spray sunscreens. I like all the other goddess garden line of sunscreens
Badger Balm – All their products are good, but the sunscreens are the most renown. They are very thorough with the science behind their sunscreens, and they run regular tests to confirm the safety of their zinc oxide formula. Best of all, they’ve managed to minimize the whitening without increasing the potential for toxicity.
Raw Elements Eco Formula – Active ingredient is zinc oxide. It’s thick, but stays on well even with water exposure and activity. Not too whitening either.
Kabana Skincare – Another good sunscreen source that uses zinc oxide. They’ve even got a formula with added vitamin D, presumably to make up for the UVB you’re blocking. Not sure if that actually works, but it certainly can’t hurt.
Sunscreens Forms to Avoid
When it comes to sunscreen you’re going to have to get your hands dirty – or ask your friend or a hot lifeguard to apply your sunscreen. These sunscreen forms should never make it into your beach bag. They contain nasty chemicals to get them into the following forms:
- No Loose Powder Sunscreens
- No Sunscreen Towelettes
- No Tanning Oils
Picking Your Non-Toxic Sunscreen
Sunscreen is one of the most controversial topics in health.
On one hand, sun exposure is healthy. BUT avoiding overexposure is key.
Overexposure can damage the skin’s fragile oils and make photodamage, acne and irritation worse, so even if you hate sunscreen, get some safe stuff for your face.
Most of us are in the sun for much longer than our skin prefers, which means we need a SAFE sun barrier.
How Toxic Are You? Consider a Hair Mineral Analysis
If you’ve been using toxic sunscreens for a long time or “natural” sunscreens with nanonized titanium dioxide, you may have titanium toxicity. This can be detected with a Hair Mineral Analysis (HTMA).
A Hair Mineral Analysis is the easiest way to determine if you have heavy metal toxicity and mineral deficiency — so you can get on the fast track to optimal energy, vitality, and health.
The reason a Hair Mineral Analysis is a good idea (and something I do at least three times a year) is because we live in a highly toxic world.
Toxic sunscreen is just a tiny part of the bigger picture. It’s just one thing in your bathroom you need to detox!
I hope this article has given you some helpful information and suggestions for the best types of sunscreen for your skin – an your health!
Please let me know what you think in the comments below. And share your favorite sunscreens as well!