Healthy Sunscreen Comparison





It's the time of year when every parent is scrambling to get sunscreen. Unfortunately, trying to choose a healthy one may not be so straightforward. We did a little research and put together some guidelines for buying sunscreen. With the help of EWG, we also put together a comparison list of the healthiest sunscreens, by the most popular companies, and that offer the most protection for both UVA and UVB rays.

Which Active Ingredient

You want to stick with one of the oldest active ingredients in sunscreen "zinc oxide" for several reasons. First off, Health Canada states that many of the new ingredients, also known as chemical filters, focus on UVB protection even though UVA rays have also been strongly linked with cancer. Secondly, most chemical filters rate quite unhealthy on EWG. Thirdly, although titanium dioxide falls into the same family (i.e. physical filter) as zinc oxide, and both are rated "2" on EWG, zinc oxide has better coverage for both UVA and UVB than titanium dioxide. Consequently, we have only listed sunscreens with zinc oxide as the active ingredient. Please note that even though zinc oxide is the healthiest ingredient, it is slightly carcinogenic. The good news is that it barely penetrates the skin barrier so doctors have deemed that the benefit of using it outweighs the risk of cancer.

Lotion or Spray

Studies have shown that creams and lotions a much safer option because there is less penetration into the system through the skin than through the lungs which is what happens when using spray versions.

Nano or Non-Nano

When the size of the active ingredient molecule is less than 100nm it is known as a nano-ingredient. The theory is that because the molecule is so small, there is a greater chance that the ingredient will seep into the body through the skin. The good news is that the latest studies have shown that there is minimal penetration into the body through the skin whereas the size of the molecule does make more of an impact when a product is inhaled (sprays) and ingested (lip balms). It should also be noted that regulation of nano-sized ingredients is still in its infancy so there is no guarantee that the product you are using is actually non-nano-sized. For these reasons, we have decided to recommend only lotions.

Healthiest Sunscreens

When using EWG to determine if a product is healthy, we recommend aiming for products with a Hazard Score of "1". When looking at the Hazard Chart, we recommend aiming for absent "Cancer" and "Developmental & reproductive toxicity" levels. 

Before listing the brands that made our list, we wanted to list the ones that didn't:

Following are the healthiest sunscreens in alphabetical order: 

Brand Packaging Overall Hazard Score Hazard Chart

Attitude:

Entire Sunscreen Line

Aveeno Baby:

Continuous Protection Lotion Sensitive Skin, SPF 50

 

Badger Sunscreen Cream Scented/Unscented, SPF 30:

Active, Baby, Kids, Sport

Honest Company:

Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 50

Neutrogena:

Pure & Free Baby, SPF 50

Sheer Zinc Dry Touch, SPF 30

 

ThinkBaby, SPF 50

ThinkSport:

Face SPF30, Kids SPF50

   

Summary

After looking at the full ingredients list, we feel that the healthiest sunscreens rate as follows:

1) Attitude & Badger

2) Honest

3) ThinkBaby/ThinkSport

4) Aveeno & Neutrogena

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