We all know that leaving the house without sun protection is definitely NOT an option – especially in the summer! But have you ever thought about what’s in your sunscreen? If not, you should, says eco-friendly beauty expert Ava Anderson. Ava is only 19, but she knows a thing or two about skin care – she launched her own line, Ava Anderson Non-Toxic, when she was just 14! Here are four things she wants you to take into account when shopping for your sun care:
1. SPF is not an accurate predictor of protection.
You applied SPF 30 so you should be good to go, right? Wrong. “You may be surprised to learn the SPF number on your sunscreen rates only protection from UVB rays, those that cause sunburn; not UVA rays, those that cause wrinkling, leathering, aging skin and long-term damage,” Ava explains. Double check that your sunscreen is labelled “broad spectrum.”
2. Chemical active ingredient oxybenzone is “no-no.”
“I find this ingredient in almost every sunscreen so prominently featured on end caps at local drugstores and ‘big box’ stores,” Ava says. What’s wrong with it? Some research has shown that oxybenzone can be absorbed through the skin, which may cause potentially harmful side effects. As an alternative, Ava recommends using a mineral sunscreen. “Zinc oxide provides broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection without nasty harmful chemicals,” she says.
3. You should also avoid retinyl palmitate and parabens.
Memorize these ingredients and avoid them if you can. Government-funded studies have found that retinyl palmitate may increase risk of skin cancer when used on sun exposed skin. Evidence has been inconclusive, but we’re sticking to the safe side and avoiding the stuff. And parabens are even risker. “Avoid sunscreens and all other products with parabens – methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, etc.,” Ava says.
4. Manufacturers can legally hide hundreds of toxic chemicals in the ingredient “fragrance.”
“That coconut smell is not real, and most likely comes with a dose of phthalates and other toxic chemicals,” Ave explains. “Avoid synthetic fragrances. Period.”
Confused? Don’t be! We’ve tested and approved our favorite non-toxic, eco-friendly sunscreens to help you get through the summer:
Ava Anderson SPF 30 Sunscreen ($18.95 for 2.9 oz at avanaturals.com) – A great non-toxic sunscreen option from Ava’s collection.
Supergoop! Antioxidant-Infused Sunscreen Mist with Vitamin C SPF 30 ($19 for 6 fl oz at dermstore.com) – If you prefer a spray, this one is definitely our favorite. The fast-absorbing formula won’t leave skin feeling greasy.
Alba Botanica Mineral Sunscreen, Fragrance Free SPF 30 ($32.98 for a 2-pack of 4 oz bottles at Amazon) – Another one of our safe sun go-tos.