Best Friend Handbook: Clean Sunscreens

Best Friend Handbook: Clean Sunscreens

My friend Katherine Stuart writes a wonderful blog,”Best Friend Handbook,” everything from fashion and beauty tips to nutrition and recipes – including recipes for success in life – which she feels is aided and abetted by practicing gratitude every single day.

This week, Katherine offers the down and dirty on clean sunscreens.

“As many of you know, I am all about the sunscreen. It’s the single greatest anti-ager out there (not to mention the fact that it reduces your risk of skin cancer). I am also a recent convert to the clean beauty movement. But finding a good mineral sunscreen has been a bit of a unicorn. Until now. I’ve tested over a dozen in the last year and below please find are my Best Friend recommendations.”

In the last year and half, I have embraced clean skin care with a vengeance. There are simply too many questionable ingredients allowed in our personal care products (read more about it here). Furthermore, many of these have strong links to cancer making them too big of a risk for me personally. Having said that, the one area that I’ve seriously struggled with is clean sunscreens. Most mineral sunscreens feel like sludge and make me look like Casper the Friendly Ghost on a bad day. No thank you.

But then both Hawaii and Australia announced that they were banning sunscreens that contained the chemicals oxybenzone or octinoxate (basically ALL conventional sunscreens) because they are damaging the coral reefs. Ok, if chemical sunscreens are killing baby coral and bleaching out the reefs, what are they doing to my body?

Chemicals Absorbed by Body

Since the 1970’s when the FDA first evaluated sunscreens (all of which were chemical), it was thought that the ingredients rested on the surface of the skin and, therefore, caused no harm. However, a recent study showed that some of the active ingredients in conventional sunscreens are actually absorbed by the body, making their way into your bloodstream. The study found all four of the most common ingredients in chemical sunscreens (avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule) in the participants bloodstream at levels that the FDA found to be worthy of further study as a possible cancer risk. Well, that’s all I needed to hear…

Mineral Sunscreens Have Evolved

Since that eye-opening news, I’ve been on a quest for the best in clean sunscreens.

Here is what I’ve learned:

• Mineral sunscreens have gotten better over the last year
• No mineral sunscreen is as easy to apply as a chemical sunscreen

My hope, of course, is that as more of us embrace mineral sunscreens with our pocketbooks, the products will just continue to improve. And maybe, some day, mineral sunscreens will be as easy to apply as their chemical counterparts. But, for now, the best in clean sunscreens takes a little more elbow grease.

Best in Clean Sunscreens: Face

Since I am willing to put up with a lot more a “gunk” factor in a sunscreen that I use to go hiking, for example, as I will be showering it off afterwards, I am going to keep my focus on my favorite everyday sunscreens for the face and body. Personally, I don’t like a tinted sunscreen. For the face, I want an SPF of at least 30 that is going to provide a bit of moisture, be easy to apply, and if it also has some anti-aging properties, awesome. Here are my favorites:

• Acure Seriously Smoothing SPF Day Cream
• Acure Radically Rejuvenating Day Cream

Both are widely available at places like Target, but they are often sold out so I tend to order here from Acure directly. They take a few minutes to rub in so be forewarned. I prefer the first one because it has less of a “tacky” (as in sticky, not Vegas) feeling. But the latter is chock full of great anti-aging ingredients.

For those of you who like a tinted moisturizer/BB cream or who have anything other than lily white skin, here are two options:

Suntegrity 5-in-1 Tinted Moisturizing Face Sunscreen
UnSun Mineral Tinted Broad Spectrum Face Sunscreen

The first comes in four different tints, the later two, so they can work for a variety of skin tones, and both feel fantastic. They are, however, about double the cost of either option by Acure.

Best in Clean Sunscreens: Body…

Continue reading here.

  • Karen Redden
    Posted at 08:29h, 27 October

    Arghh. My favorite sunscreen (face) that I have used for decades is Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer. In addition to Avobenzene and Octocrylene, it also contains Homosalate and Octisalate, not on Katherine’s list but likely in the same chemical families. Thanks for the very useful information about where to find mineral based sunscreens that go on smoothly. We know mineral is better, but the white-face look has been a nonstarter for me. I’m going to give her recommendations a try and (sob) wean myself off my beloved Kiehl’s until they come up with a more responsible formula.

    • admin
      Posted at 11:08h, 30 November

      Karen. When it comes to all things beauty, I put my faith in Katherine. Her advice has never failed.