Safe Summertime Sunscreens

 Get out and enjoy the Summer!

feet1But keep a few points in mind before slathering up. All sunscreens are definitely NOT created equal.

1. Avoid Spray Sunscreens

Aerosol spray sunscreens are problematic for a few reasons: They are, in many cases, full of chemicals potentially harmful to you when applied directly to your largest organ – your skin – let alone ingested or inhaled; even if the product is organic, breathing in nano or micro titanium/zinc particles is not advised; and finally, half the product goes into the air making adequate protection iffy – if not expensive!

2. Be cautious of high SPF’s (above 50)

A range of 30-100 SPF has shown marginal difference in protection, making the higher labeled SPF’s misleading. Sunscreens are most effective at blocking UVB rays, while the more deeply penetrating UVA rays are more difficult to protect against – so, a 50 SPF and a 100 SPF are comparable. All “broad spectrum” sunscreens must protect against UVA & UVB exposure and water resistance must be clearly marked as to reapplication time for safety. Broad spectrum sunscreen products will be clearly labeled as such – if not, the product is required to offer a clearly marked disclaimer that it may protect you from sunburn but NOT from skin cancer or pre-mature aging of the skin.

The FDA has long contended that SPF higher than 50 is “inherently misleading” (FDA 2007). Australian authorities cap SPF values at 30; European and Japanese regulators at 50, and Canada allows a maximum of “50+”. In 2011, the FDA proposed a regulation to prohibit labels higher than SPF 50+, but the agency has not completed work on this rule and put it into force.     – Environmental Working Group 2015 Sunscreen report

3. Avoid Sunscreen/Bug Spray combos

Chemicals that filter UVA rays can react with chemicals in insect repellants compromising sunburn protection.  Also, applying every two hours, as suggested, could cause overexposure to the repellent chemicals.

4. Look out for the big O’s – Oxybenzone & Octinoxate

These chemicals penetrate the skin and mimic estrogen and other hormones qualifying both as hormone disruptors. Oxybenzone is also a common allergin in sunscreens.

5. Look out for sunscreens containing Retinyl Palmitate or Vitamin A

Retinyl Palmitate is a form of vitamin A. This chemical has been shown to speed the development of skin tumors and lesions. Vitamin A skin products may be benign if not exposed to sunlight (night creams, body lotions…) but has been shown to cause hyperplasia when exposed to sun as well as forming free radicals that can harm DNA. Those using anti-aging retinol products regularly should take extra-extra caution in the sun!

6. Avoid sunscreen powders and towelettes

These products have such sketchy protection properties that even the FDA bars them!

Ten jGj recommended Sunscreens

Butterbean Original Sunscreen SPF 30   $12  3 oz.

Episencial Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35   $11.86  2.7oz.

California Baby Super Sensitive Broad Spectrum SPF 30   $10  1.3 oz.

All Terrain Terra Sport Lotion SPF 30   $13  6 oz.

Loving Naturals Clear Body Sunscreen SPF 30   $15  4.3 oz.

Goddess Garden SPF 30   $18  6 oz.

TruBaby Everyday play Sunscreen SPF 30+   $13.99  2 oz.

Badger SPF 30 Unscented Sunscreen   $14  2.9 oz.

Aubrey Organics Natural Sun SPF 30 with Green Tea   $15  4 oz.

Elemental Herbs All Good Sport Sunscreen SPF 33  $12.50  3 oz.

* All jGj recommended sunscreens have a 1 rating with EWG 2015 Sunscreen Report

About the Author

Here at Jenny Green Jeans, by sharing success stories and easy-to- implement tips, I hope to inspire and empower you to continue to make sustainable choices in your life and watch how far the impact goes. Contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have.

4 Enlightened Replies

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  1. ashley@wefuturecycle.com' Ashley says:

    This is such a helpful post, Jenny, thank you!

    • Jennifer says:

      …and wouldn’t you know Ashley, while writing my sunscreen post, on a dock in northern Michigan, I got sunburned! Ha! Physician heal thyself!!

  2. elizgwolf@gmail.com' Elizabeth says:

    Blue Lizard? Does that make the cut?

    • Jennifer says:

      Blue Lizard absolutely makes the cut. The Aussies aren’t kidding around when it comes to sunscreen! Three Blue Lizard products have a #1 rating from EWG (Environmental Working Group): Sensitive, Baby, and Face. Each are SPF30 and each run around $22/8.75 oz. – except the Face is $16/3 oz. The reason they didn’t make my list is that I was keeping all my recommendations under $20 (I realize that these price points fly out the window for you ‘Down Unda’ Elizabeth). However, $22 for nearly 10oz is quite a good price for a natural sunscreen – or any sunscreen for that matter. I have found Blue Lizard on Amazon for as low as $15.50.

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