It’s time for fun in the sun, so you know the drill: lather up with sunscreen, grab your sunglasses and hat, and head out the door. Simple as that, right?

Kind of, but not quite! All sunscreens are not created equal, so choosing the right one is a big part of sun safety.

Before you get overwhelmed by the thought of scrutinizing sunscreen labels and sorting through dozens of bottles at the drug store once summer hits, let us help!

Here at Babo Botanicals, we want to make it easy by giving you the low-down on safe sunscreen and healthy sunscreen ingredients.

But to understand why it’s important to pick a safe sunscreen, we first need to talk about why it’s important to wear sunscreen in the first place.

Why Safe Sunscreen Matters

For complete sun protection, you need to wear sunscreen. Sunscreen is important for a myriad of reasons. Not only does sunscreen protect you from sunburn, but it also reduces your risk of developing skin cancer and prevents early signs of aging. But you can’t just wear any old sunscreen. You need to wear safe sunscreen that has a high SPF and provides broad-spectrum coverage.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, you should wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher any time you’re going outdoors. You should also put on sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours in order to guarantee full coverage. 

The sunscreen you put on you and your kids’ bodies day in and day out doesn’t just evaporate into thin air. Where does that white, skin-protecting cream go?

It’s either absorbed into your body, washed off into the water you swim in, or both. That’s precisely why safe sunscreen matters. Because when sunscreen absorbs into your skin, it can directly impact your health.

And when sunscreen washes off into the ocean water you swim in, it affects the coral reefs, the fish, and other sea creatures (which, in turn, affects us if we eat them!).

For example, there is particular concern about oxybenzone, an ingredient commonly used in certain types of sunscreens.

When this ingredient gets absorbed into the human body, it can pass through the placental barrier and end up in a mother’s breast milk. It can also disrupt hormone levels for both men and women.

Plus, this chemical is just plain irritating for people with sensitive skin or skin conditions. Not to mention it bleaches the coral reefs.

As you can see, the ingredients in your sunscreen really do matter when it comes to the health and safety of you, your family, and the big, beautiful ocean we splash around in!

The goal is, of course, to use a sunscreen that’s effective (protecting your family from the damaging rays of the sun) and safe (so it won’t harm your body in the process).

So, let’s talk about what’s safe and what’s not, starting with the two different types of sunscreen.

Mineral Vs. Chemical Sunscreen Explained

To understand sunscreen ingredients, you first need to know that there are two types of sunscreens: chemical and physical.

To keep things straight, know that chemical variations are sometimes called “organic sunscreen.” That’s because the chemicals used are carbon-based, not because chemical sunscreens are super-healthy or natural (spoiler alert: they’re not!).

Also, physical sun protection might be called “mineral sunscreen” or “mineral sunblock” since the active ingredients are minerals.

So, we have chemical (or organic) sunscreen and physical (or mineral) sunscreen. What’s the difference between the two? Their ingredients and the way they work.

Chemical Sunscreens

When you use a chemical sunscreen, the cream absorbs into your skin, working its chemical magic to soak up the rays so they don’t damage your skin.

Avobenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone are some of the active ingredients used in chemical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens are also typically easier to rub into the skin and won’t leave a white cast.

Physical Sunscreens

Physical sunscreens (or “sunblocks”) are just what they sound like. They sit on the surface of your skin, providing a physical barrier that protects (blocks) your skin from the sun. Physical sunscreens are also sometimes called mineral sunscreens.

These sunscreens are considered by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to be safer and more stable in sunlight.

The active ingredients in these physical sunblocks? Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or both. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, physical sunscreens are best if you have sensitive skin because the ingredients are less irritating on the skin.

What Are Safe (And Unsafe) Sunscreen Ingredients?

Given that these two different types of sunscreens exist, how can you know which one is best and what ingredients to look for when it comes to safe sunscreen?

In February 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new sunscreen regulations.

Among other concerns, these regulations address which sunscreen ingredients are safe and which aren’t — and some that are yet to be determined safe or unsafe but are still in sunscreens that you’ll find on the shelves!

Let’s take a quick look at which ingredients are safe for you and your family to use and which could use a little more research before you apply them to your skin.

Unsafe Sunscreen Ingredients

Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA) And Trolamine Salicylate

Aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and trolamine salicylate are the two main active sunscreen ingredients that the FDA has classified as unsafe. The good news is that you likely won’t have to worry about these ingredients because they’re rarely used anymore.

However, as we touched on earlier, oxybenzone is still found in many sunscreen products. While this ingredient is classified as safe by the FDA, there are concerns that it may be harmful to both the environment and your skin.

The fact that oxybenzone is found in plastic products is enough to put many people off this ingredient.

Since further research needs to be done to confirm the safety of oxybenzone, it may be best to avoid it altogether, particularly if you have sensitive skin.

Safe Sunscreen Ingredients

Zinc Oxide And Titanium Dioxide

The FDA said that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are “proposed to be safe and effective for sunscreen use.” These two ingredients hang out on the surface of your skin, doing their job like a good little sunscreen should — without interfering with the rest of your body!

The bottom line? Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the best choices when it comes to active sunscreen ingredients as they’re naturally occurring minerals, straight from Mother Nature herself.

 

A common misconception about zinc is that it will make you look completely white upon application. Not anymore!

Thanks to the concentration of this miracle mineral that we use, our sun protection products transition from white to clear when you apply them.

Natural Inactive Ingredients

While the active ingredients in sunscreens are the ones that do the heavy lifting (protecting your skin), many sunscreens have a long list of inactive ingredients you’ll also want to check out.

Inactive ingredients are the ones that make up the lotion of the sunscreen itself so that the active ingredients can be lathered onto your skin.

As with active ingredients, some inactive ingredients can also be chemically based. Look for inactive ingredients that come from nature, such as:

  • Aloe
  • Argan oil
  • Shea butter
  • Calendula
  • Chamomile
  • Rosehip oil
  • Good, old-fashioned water!

Sunscreen Ingredients Being Tested

While the FDA certifies whether or not a sunscreen product is safe for use, it won’t test the ingredients unless the manufacturer requests it.

Unfortunately, this means the jury’s still out for many other ingredients used in most sunscreens.

The FDA needs more safety information for cinoxate, dioxybenzone, ensulizole, homosalate, meradimate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, padimate O, sulisobenzone, and avobenzone.

Tips For Choosing (And Using) A Safe Sunscreen

Armed with all that knowledge, you’re ready to walk confidently to the sunscreen aisle and make a good choice! Boiling it all down, here’s a list of tips for choosing and using a safe sunscreen.

1) Choose Mineral Sunscreen

What the FDA and EWG have told us is that the ingredients used in physical sunblocks (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) are safe. That means mineral sunscreen is the way to go!

 

Choose a mineral sunscreen like Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30. Our unique, clear formula is made with zinc oxide and is free of icky oxybenzone.

Packed with skin-soothing organic ingredients such as shea butter, cocoa butter, sunflower seed oil, and coconut oil, our Zinc Sunscreen moisturizes as it protects.

Safe for the reefs. Safe for your family.

2) Don’t Use Sunscreen/Insect-Repellent Combos

Steer clear of sunscreen/insect-repellent combination products. The FDA warns that they’re not considered safe or effective, as the ingredients used in each product can cancel one another out when combined. Yikes!

Instead, apply your chosen sunscreen first, then apply your insect repellent on top. Sunscreen should be reapplied often, while insect repellent generally only needs to be applied every 6 hours or so.

Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions upon application to ensure you receive adequate protection from both the sun and those pesky insects!

3) Choose “Broad-Spectrum” Sunscreen

What we’ve been trained to look for in sunscreen is a high sun protection factor (SPF). But SPF only protects against cancer-causing UVB rays, leaving you unprotected from UVA rays, which can also increase your risk for skin cancer.

While UVB rays are the ones that generally cause sunburn, UVA rays can still penetrate glass, meaning you’re not protected if you’re sitting inside (that includes while driving in the car!).

If you see “broad-spectrum” on the label of your sunscreen, that means it will protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. That’s what you want!

Choose a sunscreen that’s broad-spectrum, has an SPF of 15 or higher, and is water- and sweat-resistant.

4) Apply Safe Sunscreen Liberally

Don’t skimp when it comes to sunscreen! Many of us don’t apply sunscreen liberally enough, leaving us vulnerable to the sun’s harsh rays.

If you’re new to mineral sunscreen, you may find it’s harder to apply than chemical sunscreen. So lather up, use plenty of it, and make sure you get those hard-to-reach or easy-to-forget areas, such as behind your ears, on your neck, and the tops of your hands and feet.

It’s also important to note that sunscreen can take up to 30 minutes to start working its magic. For this reason, it’s best to apply as soon as you know you’ll be heading out and then give your sunscreen some time to become effective.

We recommend waiting a minimum of 15 minutes after application before going outside.

5) Reapply Frequently

Sunscreen needs to be reapplied at least every 80 minutes, particularly if you’re enjoying water-based activities or if you’re playing sports and sweating a lot.

Tip: towel-dry yourself before lathering on your sunscreen.

Make sunscreen application easy and get the kids back to playing as soon as possible with a spray-on sunscreen, like our Sheer Zinc Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 30. Just remember not to spray it directly on the face.

6) Check The Expiration Date

Like all face and body care products, sunscreen does expire. Be sure to check the expiration date on the sunscreen you’ve got hidden away in the closet and throw it out if it’s expired.

If you can’t find an expiration date and you think it may be older than three years, err on the side of caution and trash it!

7) Opt For Baby-Specific Sunscreen For Your Littles

A baby’s skin is far more sensitive than our own, so it’s really important to avoid the sun if at all possible when it comes to your little one.

Using wide-brimmed hats, long sleeves, and opting for shady areas are all great ways to protect your baby from the sun. However, we know there are some times when this just isn’t feasible.

Most recommendations will tell you to avoid sunscreen altogether for little ones under six months. Talk to your pediatrician about the best sun protection for your baby if you’re unsure.

When you do put sunscreen on them, make sure it’s a gentle, baby-friendly version, like Babo Botanicals SPF 50 Baby Sunscreen.

This fragrance-free sunscreen was specially designed for delicate baby skin to ensure your little one doesn’t experience irritation. We created it to be lightweight and fast-absorbing, so you won’t waste any time lathering up!

Made with hydrating ingredients including shea butter and cocoa butter, our Baby Sunscreen will keep your baby safe and protected while having fun in the sun!

We know it can be difficult to apply sunscreen to a slippery, wriggly baby, so our sunscreen comes in a spray as well as a stick for easy application. Whatever works best for you!

Safe Sunscreen FAQs

To help you get a better idea of what sunscreen is safe and healthy sunscreens that you should use, we’ve compiled the answers to some frequently asked questions.

Which Sunscreens Are Safe In 2022?

When shopping for sunscreens, there are a few ingredients that you should look for. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the only two ingredients that have actually been approved by the FDA to include in safe sunscreen. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are naturally occurring minerals, so they’re safe to use in sunscreen and won’t irritate your skin or disrupt your hormones. If you’re curious about what ingredients to look for in sunscreen, you can check out the EWG sunscreen guide.

The safest sunscreen for your face and body can also include natural inactive ingredients, like aloe, argan oil, shea butter, and rosehip oil. Ultimately, you want to choose a sunscreen that includes ingredients that come from nature, which you can find at Babo Botanicals. Babo Botanicals carries a variety of different kinds of healthy sunscreens that are made with plant-based ingredients that are safe for sensitive skin.

Is There Any Natural Sunscreen?

There are many kinds of natural sunscreens out there, but one of the best is Babo Botanicals. You can find the safest spray sunscreens, stick sunscreens, and lotion sunscreens at Babo Botanicals. All of our products are made with natural ingredients that come from the Earth, so you always know you’re putting high-quality ingredients on your skin. Babo Botanicals has baby sunscreen, sport sunscreen, body sunscreen, and several other types – all of which are made with healthy, natural ingredients.

It’s also important to know the difference between natural vs. organic sunscreen. Natural sunscreen is made with ingredients that come from plants, like coconut oil, aloe vera, and calendula. Organic sunscreen, on the other hand, is made with ingredients that are organically grown. For a sunscreen to be considered a USDA organic product, it must contain at least 95% organic material.

How Can I Protect My Skin From The Sun Without Sunscreen?

Sunscreen is key to sun protection, but there are additional measures that you should take to protect your skin even more from the sun. In addition to wearing sunscreen, you should also stay in the shade whenever the UV is high, wear protective clothing and hats, and wear sunglasses that block out both UVA and UVB rays. 

Armor Up With Safe Sunscreen

It’s important to wear sunscreen every single day, but it’s also important to wear the right type of sunscreen. Safe sunscreen contains natural ingredients that are safe for your skin and healthy for yourself and your family. When shopping for sunscreen, you should look for ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

Babo Botanicals is the best place to find safe and healthy sunscreen to protect yourself and your family. You can find a variety of different kinds of sunscreen on Babo Botanicals that are all made with healthy ingredients that won’t irritate your skin or disrupt your hormones. Plus, our products are environmentally friendly and reef-safe, so what’s not to love? So the next time you're on the hunt for sunscreen for your next family beach day, give Babo Botanicals a try. We promise you won’t regret it.

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