As we all know at this point, sunscreen is super important and it’s something we should be wearing everyday—especially on our faces. However, finding the perfect sunscreen can feel somewhat impossible at times. They can either break you out, leave an annoying white cast, or worse—be filled with ingredients known to cause cancer or throw hormones out of whack. That’s why we tested out some safer options and rounded up the ones that are definitely worth giving a try.
But First, Some Vocab To Note
Before diving in, we wanted to touch on a few key terms that everyone already knows, but might not be sure exactly what they mean. Including things like SPF and broad spectrum (are they the same thing or totally different?). What about Zinc Oxide? UVA and UVB? All your questions will be answered below.
UVA: This is the radiation that causes tanning and contributes to aging of the skin. For the most part, they're present during all daylight hours throughout the year with relatively equal intensity and can penetrate clouds and glass (SkinCancer.Org).
UVB: This radiation is responsible for sunburn, aging of the skin, and the development of skin cancer. The most significant amount of UVB hits the U.S. between 10 AM and 4 PM from April to October, but don’t tend to penetrate glass like UVA does (SkinCancer.Org).
SPF: Stands for Sun Protection Factor. This is the number on sunscreen that rates its ability to protect your skin from specifically UVB rays. It can start anywhere as low as 2 and go to 100+. However, this doesn’t have anything to do with how long it’ll take your skin to burn while using the sunscreen since there are many factors that go into that such as skin type, geographic location, weather conditions, time of day, etc. It’s also good to note that sunscreens with SPFs higher than 30 may provide only a small increase in UVB protection and sometimes been found to be no more protective, but more chemical laden.
Broad Spectrum: A broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum, sunscreen protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. All in all, you should look for a sunscreen that is broad spectrum.
Zinc Oxide: Zinc oxide is an active ingredient in most natural or mineral sunscreens. It sits on top of the skin, forming a barrier against the sun's rays and protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays, making it broad spectrum. It’s also considered to be non-irritating, non-allergenic, and non-comedogenic.
Chemicals To Avoid In Sunscreen: Oxybenzone and Octinoxate (Octylmethoxycinnamate)—both of which are banned in Hawaii for harming coral reefs, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, and Avobenzone. Additionally, studies have shown these ingredients to be hormone disruptors and to potentially cause cancer.*
Best For Face:
Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream Tinted SPF 30 - $55: This might be a pricier option, but it’s hands down our founder, Jessica’s, favorite. It’s super lightweight and blends easily into the skin, no matter your skin tone—so what more can you ask for when it comes to a sunscreen?
Suntegrity 5 in 1 Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF 30 - $45: Another tinted option, this one could be a good replacement for a CC Cream that might be less protective.
Best For Active:
EiR NYC Surf Mud Pro Zinc Oxide 50 - $30: This one comes in a super convenient tinted stick, and smells like chocolate due to its cocoa butter and cocoa powder ingredients. It’s also waterproof, so it’s great for those who spend most of their summer in the water. If stick versions aren’t your favorite, they have a similar product called Surf Mud Zinc Oxide 30 for $24.
Most Affordable Options:
Mad Hippie Facial SPF 30+ UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum - $24.99: This is a great option for someone with a fairer complexion since we have found the zinc oxide to be more pronounced. It has a really light scent and is packed with some great ingredients, such as carrot seed oil, avocado oil, and red raspberry seed oil.
Raw Elements Eco Formula SPF 30 - $18.99: This is a good option to use all over your body, and is very waterproof. It’s also a great affordable route, coming in under $20 for 3.0 fl oz.
Tips For Buying Sunscreen
+ Always buy in small quantities! Sunscreen can go bad, and you definitely don’t want to be slathering expired sunscreen all over yourself. So if you stock up on sunscreen in the summer, make sure to either use it all up or toss it after the summer months.
+ Piggybacking off our last tip, if you buy it in small quantities, it’ll make it easier for you to toss it in your bag and (you guessed it) reapply! If you’re out at the beach or in direct sun, it’s safe to be reapplying sunscreen approximately every two hours.
+ Buying natural is always better. Some other sunscreens have harmful ingredients (like the ones we mentioned earlier) that have side effects, such as throwing off your hormones, cause skin irritation, worsen your burns or even cause cancer. So—if you’re trying to protect your skin, why slather yourself with a product that’ll do your body more harm than good?
Let us know what your favorite sunscreens are and if you have any questions in the comments below!
*Study from Environmental Working Group, to find more information about hormone disruptors, visit their site.