Ah, that amazing feeling of sticking your toes in the sand for the first time in months!
But nothing ruins a beautiful day at the beach like an uncomfortable sunburn.
While I believe in the importance of adequate sun exposure for vitamin D production and use certain foods to protect my skin from sun damage from the inside out, long periods of direct sun exposure definitely do require sunscreen.
There are really SO MANY sunscreen options on the market nowadays, but the most important thing to consider is whether to choose a chemical sunscreen or natural mineral sunscreen.
5 Reasons Why Mineral Sunscreen is Best for Your Health and the Planet:
1. The active ingredients in mineral sunscreen* do not absorb into the skin
Remember how your skin is your body’s largest organ and the majority of what you apply to it gets absorbed directly into the bloodstream? Well chemical sunscreen depends on this—it works by the active ingredients absorbing into the skin where they then scatter the sun’s rays. But some of these active ingredients (such as homosalate and oxybenzone) have been linked to endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity, and/or developmental/reproductive toxicity.
When you choose a mineral sunscreen *made with non-nano active ingredients, however, the active ingredient does not absorb into the skin. Instead it acts as a protective layer on top of your skin, reflecting rays like a mirror.
2. Mineral sunscreen offers immediate, long-lasting protection
Because the active ingredients in chemical sunscreens need time to absorb into your skin, you need to wait for a period of time (usually 15-20 minutes) before going into the sun.
But since they act as mirrors, mineral sunscreens start working as soon as they are applied.
3. Mineral sunscreen offers broad-spectrum protection
While all chemical sunscreens protect your skin from the skin-burning UVB rays, some don’t offer protection from deeper-penetrating UVA rays. UVA rays are associated with premature aging, something I’m sure we’d all like to avoid!
Mineral sunscreens protect from both UVB and UVA rays.
4. Mineral sunscreen is less irritating to sensitive skin
Some of the active ingredients used chemical sunscreens trigger allergies and skin reactions (since they’re not natural and the skin is like “What!?“).
Since mineral sunscreens contain natural minerals as their active ingredients, they are much less likely to cause irritation. In fact, zinc oxide—one of the most popular mineral sunscreen ingredients—is actually used in natural diaper rash creams to soothe irritated little bottoms.
5. Mineral sunscreen is better for the environment
One of the most commonly used active ingredients in chemical sunscreens oxybenzone is known to kill coral reefs, which are home to 25% of all ocean life. For this reason, reefs are disappearing twice as fast as rain forests!
According to TIME:
Currently, somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 tons of sunscreen enters coral reef areas around the world each year, according to the U.S. National Park Service. That’s a lot of sunscreen considering how little it takes to cause toxic effects. According to the new research, toxicity occurs at a concentration of 62 parts per trillion. That’s the equivalent of a drop of water in an Olympic swimming pool.
If we can do our part to prevent this just by switching to natural mineral sunscreen, why wouldn’t we?
Of course, not all mineral sunscreens are created equally!
You will still find some mineral sunscreens with unhealthy ingredients like artificial fragrance (an endocrine disruptor) and retinyl palmitate (which is believed to increase the rate at which cancerous cells divide when combined with sunlight).
The following sunscreens have a 1 Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database Ranking, meaning they are amongst the least toxic options on the market.