Only 8% of sunscreen safe – find your best eco-friendly summer sun protection

Sadly, there aren’t many safe sunscreens on the market. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released fourth annual Sunscreen Guide and some of best eco friendly summer sun protections are available on the market. EWG gave low marks to almost all the current crop of sunscreen products, with very few notable exceptions. In total, EWG researchers recommend only 39, or 8%, of the 500 beach and sport sunscreens on the market this season.

Some sunscreen facts from the 2024 EWG Sunscreen Report include

There’s no consensus on whether sunscreens prevent skin cancer and in fact the EWG reports that some researchers have detected an increased risk of melanoma among sunscreen users. It’s speculated that perhaps sunscreen users stay out in the sun longer or that free radicals released as sunscreen chemicals break down in sunlight may play a role.

Recently available data from an FDA study indicate that a form of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions (NTP 2009). This evidence sucks because the sunscreen industry adds vitamin A to 41% of all sunscreens.

This is now officially the 33rd summer in a row here in the United States without sunscreen safety regulations. The FDA has been working on setting enforceable guidelines for consumer protection related to sunscreen for over 32-years now. That’s so lame.

Best Eco Friendly Summer Sun Protection: Which sunscreen to choose?

First of all, EWG notes that because sunscreens are unreliable the best UV protection includes protective clothes, shade and timing. You should wear long, light sleeves, a hat and sunglasses at least and your kids should do the same. In fact, May is actually UV awareness month and it’s very important to protect your little one’s eyes from harmful UV rays. Remember that UV rays pose a risk year round, not simply in the summer.

You and your family should try to avoid the sun at peak times (midday) and do most of your outdoor activities during the mornings and evenings. When you can, spend time outside in the shade not right in the sunshine’s glare. After taking these first safety precautions, aim for a safe, non-toxic sunscreen.

According to the EWG

Mineral sunscreens have the best safety profile of today’s sunscreen choices. They are stable in sunlight and do not appear to penetrate the skin. They offer UVA protection, which is sorely lacking in most of today’s sunscreen products. Mexoryl SX (ecamsule) is another good option, but it’s sold in very few formulations. Tinosorb S and M could be great solutions but are not yet available in the U.S. For consumers who don’t like mineral products, we recommend sunscreens with avobenzone (3 percent for the best UVA protection) and without the notorious hormone disruptors oxybenzone or 4-MBC.

The safest top-rated sunscreens for adults and older kids:

Beyond Coastal Lip & Face Screen, SPF 30

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Marie Veronique Organics Moisturizing Face Screen+, SPF 30, Light Tint

Keys Soap Solar Rx Cosmetic Moisturizing Sunblock, SPF 30

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EltaMD UV Clear Face Sunscreen, Oil Free Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide, Dermatologist Recommended Sunscreen, Travel Size, 1.7 oz Pump
  • EltaMD UV Clear Face Sunscreen is a lightweight oil free sunscreen made with transparent Zinc Oxide that leaves no white cast after applying and helps block damaging UVA and UVB rays from the sun
  • Dermatologist recommended face sunscreen for acne prone skin is oil-free, protects against breakouts, and is an essential acne sunscreen for those with acne prone skin care concerns and other sensitive skin types like rosacea and hyperpigmentation

Badger Sunscreen SPF 30

Badger SPF 30 Lavender Sunscreen Cream - 2.9 fl oz Tube
  • Protects against UVA and UVB rays with Zinc Oxide, a safe, physical blocker. No oxybenzone, octinoxate or other chemical actives—ever.
  • Water and sweat resistant for 40 minutes. Biodegradable—coral reef safe and planet-friendly.

Soleo Organics Sunscreen SPF 30

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La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt In Milk Body & Face Sunscreen SPF 60

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Milk Sunscreen SPF 60 | Sunscreen For Body & Face | Broad Spectrum SPF + Antioxidants | Oil Free Sunscreen Lotion | Lightweight & Fast Absorbing | Oxybenzone Free
  • Multi-award winning body sunscreen with advanced protection in a fast-absorbing, velvety texture that leaves skin hydrated and smooth. Broad Spectrum SPF 60
  • Allure 2022 Best of Beauty Award Winner. Water resistant (80 minutes)

thinksport Sunscreen, SPF 30+

Thinksport Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30 Clear Zinc Oxide Sunscreen, 3 Fl Oz, Water Resistant Reef Safe Sunscreen, Vegan Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Sun Screen
  • SAFE, NATURAL PROTECTION: Thinksport mineral sunscreen provides high performance SPF 30 sun protection for outdoor adventures. The broad spectrum UVA/UVB body & face sunscreen sun lotion offers clear sun defense against the sun's rays
  • EASY APPLICATION: This moisturizing natural sunscreen is quick & easy to apply, and is suitable for daily use on sensitive skin. Protection begins instantly for long hours in the sun. This mineral sunscreen’s active ingredient is non-nano Zinc Oxide

Episencial Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35

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Desert Essence – Age Reversal Sunscreen Mineral Daily Face Protection SPF 30

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Brickell Men’s Element Defense Moisturizer with SPF45

Brickell Men's Element Defense Moisturizer with SPF45 for Men, Natural & Organic, Zinc SPF45 Sunscreen, Hydrates and Protects Skin Against UVA/UVB Rays, 8 Ounce, Unscented
  • What It Does: The light, non-greasy sunscreen with SPF45 hydrates, moisturizes and protects your skin against harmful UVA/B rays. Created with all natural ingredients, this SPF moisturizer is easy to rub into your skin without leaving a white residue and won't clog your pores. Perfect for being outside at the beach, playing sports, or for any extended time outdoors. Now available in easy to dispense tube packaging.
  • Who It’s For: Men of any age with any skin type. Men with normal, oily, sensitive, dry, or combo types skin will benefit from this natural men’s face and body SPF moisturizer.

The safest sunscreens for babies and young children:

Choosing a safe baby sunscreen can be tricky. Many are full of toxic goop and worse won’t protect your baby. Here’s what to look for…

  • Get an SPF 30 or higher.
  • Get a sunscreen with at least 7% zinc oxide or titanium dioxide for broad spectrum protection.
  • Avoid Oxybenzone and benzophenone which are both linked to allergies and hormone problems.
  • Avoid spray and powder sunscreens because little ones may inhale the sunscreen.
  • Avoid any added fragrances which can cause allergic reactions.
  • Avoid sunscreen / bug spray combos because the sunscreen will need to be applied more than the bug spray.

According to the EWG, the following are the safest sunscreens you can buy for your baby or child…

thinkbaby Sunscreen, SPF 30+

Thinksport Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30 Clear Zinc Oxide Sunscreen, 3 Fl Oz, Water Resistant Reef Safe Sunscreen, Vegan Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Sun Screen
  • SAFE, NATURAL PROTECTION: Thinksport mineral sunscreen provides high performance SPF 30 sun protection for outdoor adventures. The broad spectrum UVA/UVB body & face sunscreen sun lotion offers clear sun defense against the sun's rays
  • EASY APPLICATION: This moisturizing natural sunscreen is quick & easy to apply, and is suitable for daily use on sensitive skin. Protection begins instantly for long hours in the sun. This mineral sunscreen’s active ingredient is non-nano Zinc Oxide

Thinkbaby SPF 50+ Baby Sunscreen

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Thinkbaby SPF 50+ Baby Mineral Sunscreen – Safe, Natural Sunblock for Babies - Water Resistant Sun Cream – Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Sun Protection – Vegan Baby Sunscreen Lotion, 6 Oz.
  • SAFE, NATURAL PROTECTION: Thinkbaby sunscreen provides effective SPF 50+ sun protection for babies. The broad spectrum UVA & UVB baby sunblock is suitable for daily use on infants’ sensitive skin, offering gentle defense against the sun’s rays
  • EASY APPLICATION: The hydrating sun cream is quick and easy to apply to even the most active babies, and protection begins instantly. The fast absorbing kids sun lotion won’t leave skin feeling oily or sticky, and has no unpleasant chemical scent.

All Terrain Sunblock Kidsport SPF 30

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Caribbean Solutions Sol Kid Kare SPF 25

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California Baby SPF 30 + Sunblock Stick – No Fragrance

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California Baby Sunscreen Lotion No Fragrance, SPF 30+

California Baby SPF 30+ Sunblock Stick
  • VERY EFFECTIVE PHYSICAL SUNSCREEN - BROAD SPECTRUM PROTECTION: Our Broad Spectrum baby sunscreen blocks both UVA + UVB rays and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. Our mineral sunscreen is highly rated by Consumer Reports for effectiveness.
  • MINERAL SUNSCREEN - BABY SAFE INGREDIENTS: This sunblock is highly rated by EWG for ingredient safety. The active ingredient is non-nano Titanium Dioxide. California Baby makes benzene free sunscreen that are independently lab tested.

California Baby SPF 18 Everyday/Year-Round

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Don’t forget to protect your lips:

Badger SPF 15 Sunscreen Lip Balm, Unscented

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Jack Black Lip Balm

UV Natural Lip Sun Screen SPF 30 

Oh and just for kicks, (and knowledge) I’d check out EWG’s sunscreen hall of shame – these are the worst of the worst sunscreens on the market. Make sure they’re not in your home.

PLEASE NOTE: I posted a selection, but not all of the safest sunscreens available. To see all your options visit Skin Deep and look for sunscreens with a score of 0-2. Also, read the entire 2010 EWG Sunscreen Report to learn more.

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