Keeping Summer Fun & Safe with Clean Sunscreen

The Summer Bummer: Putting on sunscreen is easy, but navigating all of the safe options can be tricky.. Did you know that most conventional sunscreens sold in the USA have only chemical active ingredients? They’re full of oxybenzone, octinoxate, and avobenzone—chemical designed to seep into the skin in order to absorb UV rays before they can do any damage. The problem is these chemicals can get absorbed into the bloodstream. The best options are non-nano zinc oxide and titanium oxide. Non-nano what? We will get to that shortly.

The Good Stuff: Mineral-based sunscreens are the way to go. Unlike chemical-based sunscreens, mineral sunscreens can be safe, effective and responsible. They use active ingredients like zinc oxide to protect against UVA and UVB rays, known as broad spectrum protection. It’s even tested for safe use on sensitive skin. Titanium oxide only blocks UVB rays. Minerals work by sitting on top of the skin, scattering, absorbing and reflecting sun rays away from the skin.

So what’s a non-nano and why does it matter?  It’s the size of the zinc oxide particles within the sunscreen. A nanoparticle is smaller than 100 nanometers. These very small particles could get absorbed into the bloodstream. and have undesirable side effects we don’t even know about! Non-nano won’t get into the bloodstream.


  • SPF stands for Sun(burn) Protection Factor. It measures UVB rays. SPF15 offers 93% protection, SPF30 offers 97% protection, while SPF50 offers 98% protection.  There is no way to achieve 100% protection.
  • UVB rays (B= burning) only, the short-wavelength rays that cause sunburn and are linked to skin cancer.
  • UVA rays (A= aging) are longer, and are related to premature aging and certain types of skin cancer. UVA rays can penetrate deep enough into the second layer of skin.
  • Active sunscreens are water resistant for a minimum of 40 minutes.
  • Sport sunscreens can last over 80 minutes.

Go Biodegradable: You can make a huge difference by purchasing biodegradable sunscreen. This means that the ingredients are converted to basic elements, reusable by the environment. Did you know that up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotions are discharged into coral reef, each year! Much of this sunscreen contains between 1 and 10 percent oxybenzone which puts at least 10 percent of reefs at risk of high exposure.

Clean-Screens: Check out some of our lines of sunscreen this month, Badger, Mychelle & Alba. They offer broad-spectrum, non-nano, and reef-safe products. To find the right product for you, see EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.