A good organic sunscreen is a vital part of any complete skincare routine. Although sunlight can provide all kinds of health benefits (like helping the body make vitamin D and serotonin), too much exposure can cause serious long-term damage.. This damage can range from mild to life-threatening, including premature skin wrinkles, age spots, severe skin burns, and even cancer. A good procedure would be to use an organic sunscreen product on the face and any other part of the body exposed to the sun on a daily basis. This is because sun damage can accumulate over time from brief, unintentional exposures to the sun each day. Even if you spend most of your days indoors, you can be fully exposed to powerful UVA rays (these rays can penetrate glass windows). It would be best if you apply your organic sunscreen every two hours; however, this can be a difficult and inconvenient habit to create. Try to use a solid SPF 30 product (longer protection), wear a hat + sunglasses when you are outdoors, and remember to reapply your sunscreen before going outside again. Storing a bottle of sunscreen in your car bag will help solidify this habit. In addition to everything already mentioned, you must bear in mind that your lips also need SPF protection.
Unfortunately, there are many ineffective sunscreens on the market today. In a recent report from the Environmental Working Group, 75% of the sunscreen products they examined provided inadequate protection against the sun. Most of the sunscreens available today offer protection in the form of mineral sunscreen or in the form of chemical sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens are made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide . These minerals are found on the surface of the skin and physically reflect sunlight away from the skin. Chemical sunscreens work a little differently and have caused concern among dermatologists and researchers.Rather than physically deflecting UV light from the skin, chemical sunscreens absorb UV radiation on the skin and dissipate the energy through a chemical reaction under the skin. Additionally, there is a concern that the chemical ingredients in sunscreen could penetrate the skin and cause hormonal disturbances and allergic reactions. Because of this, the EWG and most dermatologists recommend using mineral sunscreens rather than chemicals. . Common chemical ingredients in sunscreen to avoid include oxybenzone (one of the worst offenders), avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. To learn more about organic sunscreens and how they work, visit our Guide to Using Natural and Organic Sunscreens at the bottom of this page.
For this list of the best organic sunscreens of 2018, we reviewed hundreds of products to bring you the safest and most effective sunscreens we could find. This list is comprised of all-mineral organic sunscreens that use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as active sun protection. Each organic sunscreen product on this list contains organic + natural ingredients, contains no chemical sunscreens, and avoids the use of harmful ingredients such as parabens, PEG compounds, phthalates, formaldehydes, ethoxylated ingredients, petrochemicals, triclosan, TEA / DEA, and synthetic fragrances and bronzers. Additionally, all ingredients were researched to ensure they are safe for use.
In this article we explain the following: Sunscreens: Types, Benefits and Recommendations .
Guide to the use of natural and organic sunscreens
Natural and organic sunscreens are not only effective in protecting your skin from sun damage, but they can also improve skin health. Great natural sunscreens usually contain powerful antioxidants (such as coconut oil, resveratrol, and green tea) that are beneficial in curing existing sun damage. Zinc oxide, a common active ingredient in natural mineral sunscreens, can heal acne breakouts, help retain moisture, and decrease skin inflammation.
Choosing the right natural sunscreen for your particular needs requires a little understanding of how sunscreens work. While an organic sunscreen may sound wonderful on paper, it may not provide the kind of protection you need . For example, does sunscreen protect against both types of UV radiation? Does it contain ingredients that are harmful to the skin or accelerate sun damage? How long will the product provide sun protection before having to reapply it?
This short sunscreen guide was designed to help you answer these questions so you can be more informed when shopping for a natural or organic sunscreen. According to the recommendations of the dermatologist and the Environmental Working Group, an “ideal” natural + organic sunscreen must meet the following criteria :
- SPF 30
- Spread spectrum
- Mineral sun protection
- In lotion (no spray, no spray.)
- Without vitamin A
- Without oxybenzone
Types of ultraviolet rays: UVA + UVB
The radiation emitted by the sun reaches the earth in the form of ultraviolet (UV) rays. The heat we feel from sunlight is made up of two types of rays called ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). Each of these rays has its own properties and they interact with the skin in different ways.
UVB rays are the rays responsible for sunburn . These rays have a short wavelength and can only penetrate the upper layers of the skin, causing burns on the surface. UVB rays are strong enough to damage our skin’s DNA and are believed to be responsible for the development of most skin cancers.
UVA rays are responsible for tanning and premature aging of the skin . They have a longer wavelength and can penetrate two layers under the skin, in the dermis. The damage caused by UVA rays is more subtle and worsens over time. Unprotected exposure to these rays can cause wrinkles, pigmentation, age spots and sagging, caused by the loss of elasticity of the skin.
Broad spectrum sunscreens protect against UVA and UVB rays; however, SPF only measures a sunscreen’s ability to filter UVB rays.
What is SPF?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is a measure of how long you can stay in the sun without burning . To use it, you simply have to measure the amount of time you can normally spend outdoors without burning yourself and multiply it by the SPF of a product. For example, if you can go out for 10 minutes without burning, then an SPF of 30 would allow you to stay in the sun for 300 minutes (5 hours) before burning (10 minutes x 30 SPF).
The higher the SPF, the longer you can stay in the sun. However, a high SPF does not mean that you are getting stronger protection. An SPF 50 sunscreen can block about 98% of UV rays, while an SPF 100 only blocks 99% . No sunscreen can block 100% of UV rays and higher SPFs only add extra insulating protection.
The amount of time you can spend in the sun without burning depends on the amount of melanin you produce. Melanin is a protective pigment found in the skin. This pigment naturally protects your cells from UV radiation. The more melanin / pigment in your skin, the longer you can theoretically stay in the sun naturally.
Regardless of the sun protection factor (SPF) rating, it is recommended that sunscreen be reapplied every 2 hours for maximum protection . Daily activities, friction from clothing, water sports, and sweat can reduce the amount of sunscreen on your skin.
Mineral sunscreens vs. chemical sunscreens
Mineral sunscreens are made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These minerals are found on the surface of the skin and physically reflect sunlight away from the skin. Mineral sunscreens offer many benefits :
- Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are not absorbed into the skin and provide sun protection as soon as they are applied.
- Both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide protection against UVA and UVB rays.
- Zinc oxide has strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help treat acne.
The downside to mineral sunscreens is that they can be thick, take a long time to rub in, and leave a white tint on your skin. Some organic sunscreens contain smaller particles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (called micronized or nano-sized) that can make these formulas thinner and easier to apply. Although there is much controversy about nanoparticles, there is no significant evidence to show that zinc nanoparticles penetrate the skin in large quantities or cause damage.
Chemical sunscreens contain organic compounds that absorb UV rays on the skin. Then, through a chemical reaction, these compounds transform UV rays into heat and release that heat from the skin. The most common chemical sunscreen ingredients are oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, and avobenzone. Although chemical sunscreens are easier to apply than mineral ones, they have many drawbacks :
- Chemical sunscreens must be absorbed into the surface of the skin to work properly; therefore, you must wait 15-20 minutes after application before they provide adequate protection.
- The chemical reaction that protects your skin from UV rays occurs under the surface of the skin and increases the temperature of the skin.
- Many of these chemicals are known to cause skin irritation.
- Multiple chemicals are required to achieve high SPF and UVA + UVB protection (one chemical cannot provide broad spectrum protection on its own). This can increase the risk of skin irritation.
- Oxybenzone, a common ingredient in sunscreens, may be linked to hormonal disruption.
Dermatologists and the Environmental Working Group recommend zinc oxide-based mineral sunscreens over chemical sunscreen creams .
If you have children, you may be interested in seeing which are the Best Sun Protectors for Babies .
Aerosol sunscreens vs. sunscreen lotions
Although spray sunscreens are super convenient, they may not provide much sun protection. The US Food and Drug Administration has expressed concern that spray sunscreens may not be able to provide a thick enough layer for your adequate protection. There are also some questions about the possibility of chemicals in sunscreen being inhaled into the lungs and causing harm. Even mineral sunscreens, like titanium dioxide, can be harmful if inhaled in significant amounts.
Until better information is available on the safety and effectiveness of spray sunscreens, it is best to use a good, traditional sunscreen.
Kathie Sand always saw the world of beauty as the terrain on which to build her professional career, a goal that was clear to her when she was only 15 years old. Her great concern to expand knowledge led her to settle in Paris where she studied hand in hand with the best beauty professionals and with the most advanced techniques for skin care.