What Sunscreen Ingredients Should I Avoid?
We all know that sun damage is the primary cause of aging and skin cancer. That’s why using sunscreen daily—whether it’s sunny or not—is essential to help prevent sunburn, sun damage, and skin cancer. But not all sunscreen ingredients are the same.
How does sunscreen work?
Sunscreen works by preventing UVB and UVA rays from penetrating the skin. There are two different types of sunscreens that work in two different ways to accomplish this.
Non-mineral—a.k.a. chemical—sunscreens work by absorbing UV rays and converting them to heat that can dissipate from the skin. They are ideal for those looking for very high SPFs, fully transparent finishes, or lighter textures. Mineral—a.k.a. physical—sunscreens work by sitting on top of the skin and reflecting UV rays away from the skin. They are ideal for those with extra-sensitive skin since they tend to be more gentle.
No matter which type of sunscreen you choose, make sure it includes broad-spectrum protection, meaning it will protect from both UVA rays and UVB rays.
What are some common sunscreen ingredients to avoid?
Whether you’re choosing between a sunscreen spray or lotion, make sure your sunscreen only includes good-for-skin ingredients, which means it doesn’t contain the following:
- Oxybenzone or Octinoxate: These chemicals, which are sadly super common in sunscreens, are a cause for concern. Some sources note that the two may be linked to hormone disruption in animals as well as contributing factors to coral bleaching.
- Retinyl Palmitate: This sunscreen ingredient is a form of vitamin A that may increase the risk of skin cancer when applied to the skin.
- PABA: This active ingredient, which used to be very common in sunscreen, is linked to hormone disruption and an increased risk of cancer.
- Benzene: This colorless, flammable liquid is a byproduct of petrolatum or certain compounds in spray propellants and is a well documented carcinogen and environmental hazard.2 To avoid this common sunscreen ingredient, it’s important to look for a non-aerosol spray.
- Parabens: Used as preservatives, parabens can cause irritation or allergic reactions on your skin, especially for those with preexisting skin conditions.
- Phthalates: This active ingredient is a group of chemicals used as solvents and stabilizers in formulas. However, they are also endocrine disruptors and have been linked to other negative health effects, like cancer.
- Synthetic fragrance: Replicating the scent of a natural fragrance, synthetic fragrances are made of chemical compounds. Many of these are petroleum-based, which can be irritating to sensitive skin.
So which sunscreens exclude these toxic ingredients?
Our sunscreens—and all of our products—are crafted with over 70% certified organic ingredients. We harness the power of plant cell actives to nourish and support healthy skin. But it’s also important to know what is left out. Our “No” List includes all of the above, while also going above industry standards to exclude over 1,600+ unwanted toxic ingredients. Check out some of our favorite sunscreen formulas.
- The Classic Face Organic Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 Fragrance-Free is an invisible shield against the sun and elements. This Farm to Face® formula is sun protection and moisturizer in one—providing sheer broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection while hydrating skin. Formulated with our antioxidant-rich Plant Protection Complex®, this fragrance-free, full of antioxidants sunscreen for the face provides light-as-air protection that is amazing on its own or layers perfectly under makeup.
- Classic COOLA Body Organic Sunscreen Spray SPF 50 Fragrance-Free is a new take on our award-winning classic—designed for long active days in sun exposure but light enough for everyday use. This Farm to Face® formula features our antioxidant-rich Plant Protection Complex® that helps fight free radicals and nourish the skin. Spray on this ultra-sheer formula for water-resistant, broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection anytime, anywhere!
- Mineral Body Organic Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 Fragrance-Free is everything you want from a mineral formula without the annoying white cast. Formulated with our antioxidant-rich Plant Protection Complex®, this organic water-resistant lotion with non-nano zinc oxide actives provides broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection whenever needed. But the best part? This hydrating yet non-greasy mineral sunscreen glides on smoothly for a sheer, lightweight feel.
- The Mineral Organic Sunscreen Stick SPF 50 is protection you’ll stick with! No matter where you go or what you do, take mess-free, organic mineral sun protection with you. Our sheer sunscreen stick glides on easily to protect while keeping your hands clean. Plus, it’s packed with plant-derived oleosome technology and our Plant Protection Complex® to help fight free radicals while hydrating and nourishing your skin barrier. Just stick the sun protection in your bag and go!
When it comes to selecting a sunscreen that will not only protect your skin but also reduce the risk of irritation, there are plenty of options to choose from. We are devoted to producing products that reflect a joyful, healthy lifestyle, and that includes being kind to animals and the environment. Our organic sunscreens are formulated without these commonly used detrimental chemicals and ingredients and instead will help safeguard your skin and provide nourishing hydration.
Choosing the right sunscreen can make all the difference in protecting your skin from the sun's harmful rays. It's important to understand which ingredients to avoid and why, especially if you have sensitive skin. By avoiding ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, and retinyl palmitate, you can reduce your risk of skin irritation and long-term health effects. Remember to always read labels carefully and consult with a dermatologist if you have any concerns about which sunscreen is right for you. With these tips in mind, you can confidently enjoy time outside while keeping your skin healthy and protected.