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Best Clean Sunscreens and How They Impact Your Health

Jun 8, 2021

With summer approaching, sunscreen is on our mind! What makes clean sunscreens safe for you, your hormones, your skin and the environment? 

Let’s focus on nutrition first….

One of the best ways to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful damage is to nourish from the inside out with nutrient dense foods. 

Remember the sun also gives you life (just like plants need the sun, you need some sun too) and sunshine is the most bioavailable and active form of vitamin D which we need for immune support, bone formation, thyroid function and more. 

  • healthy fats // fats are the building blocks for your cells, in particular your cell membrane. Quality, low inflammatory fats that like grass-fed butter, coconut oil, avocados, olives, nuts and seeds keep your cells nourished and act as “natural sunscreen.”
  • water + electrolytes // staying hydrated protects your body on the cellular level but maintaining electrolyte balance is key when it’s hot and so that you don’t dehydrate yourself by drinking too much water without proper mineral balance. LMNT, Ultima and Shine water are my favorite electrolytes.
  • colorful fruits + vegetables // colors typically mean high in antioxidants and vitamin C 
  • leafy greens // high in antioxidants that protect against environmental damage. I also love Detox Chlorophyll Drops or adding Spirulina to smoothies.
  • vitamin C // this helps boost collagen production and absorption but also protects against free radicals and environmental damage. Kiwi, bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli and mango are all high in Vitamin C.

Clean Swap Spotlight | Clean Sunscreens

Conventional sunscreen is sadly one of the worst products on the market. It can be marketed to protect you—but often that short term protection from the sun comes at a long term cost to your health, hormones and the environment. 

Switching to non-toxic sunscreen is one of the best decisions you can make this summer, especially for your little ones!

Ingredients to avoid in sunscreen…

oxybenzone or benzene // a known endocrine disruptor and very harmful to the ocean environment too, in particular coral reefs. It is also an irritant and there is some concern with reproductive issues with humans.

octinoxate // very similar to oxybenzone as an endocrine disruptor and harmful to the environment. It has been found in breastmilk and can also disrupt thyroid function. 

fragrance // this is simply an umbrella term or trade secret for hundreds or thousands of chemicals that do not have to be disclosed to the consumer as ingredients. Keep an eye out for phthalates too as sometimes fragrance free is replaced with phthalates (sneaky).

aerosols // the gas used to power aerosol, spray sunscreens contains propane and hydrocarbons which can irritate your lungs and easily enter your blood stream—they also pose a great environmental concern.

Ingredients to look for in clean sunscreens…

non-nano zinc oxide // a physical, mineral sun protecting agent that is non-irritating and sits on the surface of the skin to bounce away the sun’s harmful rays. ‘Non-nano’ refers to the particle size of the zinc and is an important aspect of safety. Nano particles should not be inhaled as right now there is insufficient evidence regarding the risk factors.

squalane // derived from olives, this draws moisture into the skin at the cellular level, leaving it happily hydrated. It also fights free radicals which will help your skin age gracefully even when exposed to sun. This is found in Countersun Daily Sheer Defense and is incredibly nourishing for your face!

vitamin E (Tocopherol) // this is a skin superfood and provides powerful antioxidant benefits that defend against environmental stressors to keep skin healthy looking

California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) // known for its soothing and calming benefits. This can help keep your sunscreen non irritating to your skin as well as could decrease acne blemishes.

“reef safe” // this is not an ingredient but a marketing term which pertains to environmental impact. Many sunscreens on the market greatly negatively impact the ocean environment, in fact Florida and Hawaii have banned certain ingredients from being sold. 

Are natural + clean sunscreens effective?

Always pay attention to greenwashing first! Remember ‘natural’ has no clear definition and marketing can be deceptive. In fact, benzene (oxybenzone) was found in 78 sunscreens, including some brands marketed as “natural.”

Always look for broad spectrum sunscreen!! An effective clean sunscreen must be broad spectrum—providing protection from UVB, UVA and HEV (blue light rays from technology). Broad spectrum protection ensures defense against both sunburns and premature aging from environmental damage.

My recommendations for clean sunscreens

Sunscreen that goes beyond just protecting your skin from the sun, but also has nourishing, hydrating and anti-inflammatory properties, now that’s what I want!

Countersun line // this is hands down my favorite chemical free sunscreen and what I have been using for years—it works and feels SO good on your skin (and you know I am particular about feel)… It goes above and beyond to meet all the safety requirements and does not leave your skin feeling greasy or looking chalky!

Countersun Daily Sheer Defense for Face // a must have in your beauty bag this summer and beyond. This non-toxic sunscreen is lightweight and sheer designed to go on top of your skincare routine to protect your face specifically. 

Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer // this is not a full coverage foundation but provides light coverage and SPF protection. It’s lightweight and perfect for summer.

Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Stick // this is a must have to toss in your bag for easy application without ever getting your hands dirty. I love to use this with my children because it applies easily without any mess especially when they are wiggling!

Best products for post sun hydration + nourishment

All Bright C Serum // just like eating vitamin C can help protect your body from the inside out, applying this topically to your face will calm the damaging effects of environmental stressors—revealing a more youthful-looking complexion. Truly it’s amazing and my #1 skincare rec!

Aftersun Cooling Gel // this smells amazing and truly works! I keep this on hand for my husband as he often works outside and gets burned. 

Lavender Complexion Mist // lavender is known to sooth burns and inflamed skin. It has powerful calming properties and will refresh and hydrate your skin after time outside.

Soothing Serum // this serum has powerful healing and hydrating ingredients like squalane and tamanu oil. A few drops is all you need!

Blue Tansy Body Oil // Blue Tansy’s high levels of azulene (the naturally occurring component that gives this oil its deep blue hue) makes it rich in antioxidants + skin-soothing properties. Perfect for sensitive skin, damaged skin and healing inflammation.

Remember to hydrate and add in some electrolytes too!

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