Top Tips for Selecting the Best Chemical-Free Sunscreens

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When it comes to enjoying the sun, protecting your skin and health is a top priority. As many of us are becoming more aware of the risks of traditional sunscreens, the demand for chemical-free options has surged. These sunscreens offer a safer, more natural alternative, free from harsh chemicals that can harm our skin and the environment.

Conventional sunscreens provide necessary protection, but ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate can pose health risks. These chemicals can damage our health and also harm the delicate ecosystems of our beautiful West Coast Beaches.

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In response, many of us are turning to chemical-free sunscreens. These alternatives provide safe, effective sun protection without compromising our health or the environment.

Keep reading to learn how to stay safe under the sun with chemical-free sunscreens.

What Are Chemical-Free Sunscreens?

In short, they're physical sunscreens that use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as active ingredients. These ingredients are responsible for the white cast formed when applying sunscreen on your skin.

However, chemical-free sunscreens protect your skin by physically blocking and reflecting UV rays, unlike chemical sunscreens that absorb them.

Why Choose Chemical-Free Sunscreens

There are several reasons why choosing chemical-free sunscreens is the way to go for most people. Here's why:

  • Generally Safe: The active ingredients used in chemical-free sunscreens are already commonly used. These mineral sunscreens have established safety data that justify their use in sunscreens. This makes chemical-free sunscreens perfect for those with sensitive skin conditions.
  • Reef-Bleaching: Sunscreens are known to contain chemicals that can harm marine life through coral bleaching. Mineral sunscreens avoid this. Beachgoers and divers must opt for chemical-free sunscreens as they are a net positive for the environment.
  • Immediate Effectiveness: The effectiveness of physical sunscreens is immediate as compared to chemical sunscreens, which take about 15 to 30 minutes before they effectively protect your skin.

How to Choose the Right Sunscreen

chemical free sunscreens

Alright, now you're in the market looking to use a new sunscreen brand for your next beach trip – how do you go about choosing the right one?

1. SPF Rating

There's a common misconception that you need the highest SPF rating (100+) to reap the full benefits of sunscreen. While a higher rating does not necessarily mean better, it's best to go for sunscreens with ratings of at least SPF30 – protecting your skin from 97% of UVB rays. This provides adequate protection for most daily activities.

2. Broad-Spectrum Protection

When reading product labels, be sure that your sunscreen offers broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen products must pass the FDA's broad spectrum text procedure before affixing “Broad Spectrum SPF (Value) on the label.

3. Water Resistance

Not all physical sunscreens are formulated equally. Look for ones that offer water resistance to ensure protection even if you go for a swim or sweat excessively. However, be mindful that no sunscreen is waterproof.

Mineral-based sunscreens, also known as physical sunscreens, primarily use active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These ingredients work by sitting on the surface of the skin (they have minimal penetration) and reflecting, scattering, or absorbing ultraviolet (UV) rays.

4. Additional Ingredients

Besides zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, some sunscreens contain all-natural ingredients that provide benefits to your skin. Aloe vera, jojoba oil, and green tea extract, for instance, help hydrate and protect your skin.

When buying safe sunscreen brands look for:

  • Mineral-based ingredients
  • No parabens
  • Have a range of SPF 15-50
  • Unscented or use essential oils
  • Lotion based
  • Water-resistant
  • Non-nano
  • Broad Spectrum that provides UVA and UVB protection

5. Skin Compatibility

We all have different skin types. Some have oily skin, while others have dry skin. Fortunately, there are sunscreens for all skin types. For those with oily skin or acne, look for “non-comedogenic” on your sunscreen label.

6. Top Chemical-Free Sunscreen Picks

When it comes to protecting your skin from the sun's harmful rays without the use of harsh chemicals, finding the right sunscreen can be a challenge. After exploring a variety of options, I’ve narrowed down my top five chemical-free sunscreens available on Amazon.

First on the list is the Blue Lizard Mineral Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide SPF 50+. It’s a fantastic choice for those who prefer a fragrance-free option that offers excellent water and sweat resistance.

Next, on my list is Goodspread SPF 30 is a lightweight, breathable formula that rubs in clear, making it perfect for daily use.

For those concerned about the dreaded white cast, Babo Botanicals Mineral Sunscreen is a standout. Its aloe vera gel base ensures it glides on smoothly and leaves no white residue.

Another favorite is the Oak & Sage Herbal Aloe Sunscreen, a truly herbal sunscreen with ingredients like Aloe Vera powder, basil leaf, and oregano leaf, making it gentle and nourishing for the skin.

Lastly, the Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen offers soothing benefits from plants like eucalyptus and red algae, and it doesn’t leave a sticky or greasy feel.

Each of these sunscreens provides effective sun protection while being gentle on your skin and the environment

How to Apply Sunscreen Correctly

If you've already chosen your chemical-free sunscreen, knowing the proper way to apply it gives you maximum protection from the sun. Take note of the following steps:

Apply Generously

About an ounce of sunscreen, equivalent to a full shot glass, is enough to cover the average-sized body.

Cover All Exposed Areas

While you likely place sunscreen on commonly exposed areas like your arms and legs, don't forget to apply it to frequently missed spots like ears, back of neck, hairline, and tops of feet.

Reapply Regularly

To ensure long-lasting protection, apply sunscreen every 2 hours. But if you're swimming and sweating, you might have to reapply more frequently. Even water-resistant sunscreens need reapplication to stay effective.

Combine With Other Protective Measures

When it comes to protecting your skin from UV rays, using sunscreen alone will not suffice. More maximum protection, you can also take more protective measures. Wear protective clothing and sunglasses. Also, stay in shaded areas during peak sun hours (10 AM to 4 PM)

Final Thoughts

As summer approaches, prioritize the protection of your skin to keep it safe from the sun's rays. Chemical-free sunscreens which use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are not only safe but also environmentally friendly options for sun protection.

Choose a high-quality, broad-spectrum, and water-resistant mineral sunscreen. Then, apply it correctly and as needed to prevent sunburn.


Author Bio: Myrtle Bautista

Myrtle is a journalism major and is now exploring freelance writing. She's fond of anything related to health and wellness, and when she's not writing, you'll find her doing long-distance cycling, ultramarathons, hiking, or in a local cafe enjoying a good cold brew.

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