How to Choose a Healthy Sunscreen

Now that it’s officially summer, I wanted to share a few tips on the importance of selecting a healthy sunscreen. Healthy sunscreens are formulated without harmful chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can disrupt hormones and even cause cancers. In general, opting for mineral-based sunscreens with active ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide ensures broad-spectrum protection while being safe for your skin. With that, here’ are a few tips when shopping for sunscreens . . . 


No sprays

Spray sunscreens pose serious inhalation risks. Small particles can get deep into the lungs and cause irreversible damage. Even titanium dioxide, inert and harmless on the surface of the skin, has been shown to be a carcinogen if inhaled. Other aerosol sunscreens have also been found to be widely contaminated by the cancer-causing chemical benzene.

No super-high SPFs

Products with very high SPFs may protect against sunburn but could leave your skin exposed to damaging UVA rays. SPF refers only to protection against UVB radiation, which burns the skin. It has little to do with protection from sun’s UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the skin, accelerate skin aging, may lead to skin cancer, and also suppress the immune system.

No oxybenzone & other endocrine disrupting chemicals

Commonly used in sunscreens, the chemical oxybenzone penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and functions as an endocrine disruptor (acting like estrogen in the body). The National Toxicology Program released findings linking oxybenzone exposure to a higher risk of thyroid tumors in female rats. Even the European Commission (which reviews ingredient safety in Europe) published an opinion finding oxybenzone unsafe for use at the current levels. Other chemicals to avoid include avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, cinoxate, dioxybenzone, ensulizole, & octocrylene.

No Retinyl Palmitate

While many people use vitamin A in night creams for its anti-aging benefits, on sun-exposed skin, retinyl palmitate may actually speed development of skin tumors and lesions, according to some studies.

No Tanning Oils

If tanning oils contain sunscreen ingredients, the levels are always very low, and barely offer any sun protection. Don’t buy products with SPF values lower than 15.

Here’s a few of my favorite, EWG-approved sunscreen brands:

  • Solara
  • Attitude
  • Badger
  • Earth Mama
  • Thinkbaby
  • Love Sun Body
safe sunscreens

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Jacqueline Genova, CHN

Jacqueline Genova, a certified holistic nutritionist, is passionate about wellness. She resorted to holistic approaches for healing to reverse some of her own health problems, and to help her mom battle cancer. She is a graduate of Babson College where she researched and wrote a thesis that supports a more integrative treatment approach, and is a strong advocate of incorporating complementary therapies into conventional treatment methods. As she discovered the healing powers of food as medicine, both through her own experience as well as in her research, she developed a desire to share what she learned with others. So, she started WellnStrong. She believes in a holistic approach to wellness that addresses the root causes of illness, not just the suppression of symptoms.