Safe Sunscreen Summer Must-Haves

While it’s supposed to be an everyday essential, full-fledged sunscreen season is just around the corner. But before you dust off last year’s sunscreen bottles, a new study from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is shedding light on additional factors to consider when choosing a safe sunscreen.

The study, released in January, found that when sunscreen is applied to the skin (even a single application), six popular active ingredients in sunscreen are quickly absorbed, resulting in measurable blood levels of the active ingredient. You might be asking yourself what this means for you — and the answer, per the FDA, is: we’re not entirely sure! That’s why the FDA has currently removed the GRASE (Generally regarded as Safe & Effective) status from these ingredients.  Furthermore, the agency is calling for further industry testing to determine the safety and effect of systemic exposure of sunscreen ingredients, especially with chronic use.

First and foremost: According to Caroline Duell, spokesperson for the Safe Sunscreen Council, you can know for sure that you’re choosing a safe sunscreen by selecting only non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreens — commonly known as mineral or physical sunscreens. These are the only two ingredients in the US market that the FDA presently declares GRASE. Making this choice also impacts the health and well-being of our waterways, oceans and marine life. See below for the lifecycle impact of your sunscreen.

The Safe Sunscreen Council is a growing coalition of 12 sunscreen brands working to raise awareness within the skincare industry and with consumers about the impact sunscreen ingredients have on people and the planet. Current members include All Good, Babo Botanicals, Badger, Kōkua Sun Care, Mama Kuleana, Manda, Raw Elements, Raw Love, Sea & Summit, Stream2Sea, Suntegrity, and thinksport.

Using science to drive innovation, all brands in the Safe Sunscreen Council meet Safe Sunscreen / Reef Friendly Criteria by producing only mineral sunscreens using non-nano zinc oxide or non-nano titanium dioxide. Duell explained, “There are a number of issues with the majority of sunscreen products still on the market, from skin irritation to hormone disruption. This is bad for us because the chemicals in question have been found to be immediately absorbed into our skin, and on a much larger scale, bad because they enter our waterways and affect marine life and biology.”

To help you make smarter, safer sunscreen choices this season, we’re sharing our top picks from Safe Sunscreen Council members:

  • All Good’s Sport Mineral Sunscreen is a lifesaver — literally! It’s oxybenzone-free, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice saving the coral reefs for healthy and protected skin. We love how it feels like a moisturizing lotion, with the bonus of SPF 30. We highly recommend the family size to easily dispense sunscreen to the whole household. Protect the fish and protect your skin from harsh UV rays and sunspots.
  • We all know traveling can be a hassle, especially when you have a complex skin routine, so it’s easy to ditch the SPF. But Raw Love’s miniature sunscreen tin is TSA approved and eco-friendly — perfect for keeping in your purse or packing in your carry-on! We love this all-natural Reef Safe option. It includes ingredients like coconut oil and shea butter, not to mention Zinc Oxide takes the place of harsh chemicals. And the best part? SPF 35!
  • The Babo Botanicals Lip Tint Trio is a must-have! The shades are natural-looking and Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide protect, while vitamins soothe and moisturize. Sunscreen may claim to be full-coverage, but it’s easy to forget about your lips. The SPF 15 in each shade is the perfect armor against harmful UV!
  • For those who love to sweat, we recommend MANDA Naturals’ Organic Sun Paste. It’s non-toxic, reef safe, and highly protective – even in water – with SPF 50. The cute, plastic-free container also has a mirror for easy application! Save the turtles and cut the plastic.

What are your go-to sunscreen brands? Let us know on Instagram and Twitter!