I talked about this a bit last month but I have such a love hate relationship with sunscreen. I mean, obviously – you need it. The sun is dangerous and nobody wants wrinkles or skin cancer. But the more I read, the more I realize how bad traditional sunscreen can be both for the earth and for our bodies. At the same time, mineral sunscreen can be really uncomfortable on your skin. The whole thing would make me want to just spend my whole summer indoors to be honest!
Enter Beautycounter, which makes the best clean sunscreens I’ve tried so far. Below, I’m going to get into the science behind sunscreen (both physical and chemical) and why it’s so important to choose a safe sunscreen. I really like all of Beautycounter’s mineral sunscreens (especially the new tinted ones!) and am going to talk more about them but don’t take my word for it – they also made Goop’s list of the 8 best clean sunscreens. Whether you’re a fan of Gwyneth or not (I am personally a huge fan!) I think we can all agree that she//Goop is someone we can trust when it comes to safer beauty products.
Let’s back up a little bit because I want to get a little bit nerdy with you and talk about the science behind sunscreen. Understanding a few key things (+ bad/good ingredients) has made all the world of difference for me.
Sunscreens are either chemical or physical. Chemical sunscreen absorbs into the skin and then absorbs UV rays, converts them into heat, and releases them from the body. The active ingredients in chemical sunscreens include avobenzone, octinoxate and oxybenzone. Physical sunscreen is made from zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and sits ON TOP of the skin, creating a physical barrier and reflecting the sun’s rays.
The biggest culprit is oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor which can interfere with everything from our metabolism to our reproductive system, but it’s also terrible for the environment. Even in tiny doses, it can kill coral. (It’s also especially bad for children, whose bodies are developing quickly. Oxybenzone is an ingredient you want to always, always avoid. It scores an 8 from the EWG.
So then the easier solution is to try a physical sunscreen, right?
Easier said than done. A lot of the clean/physical sunscreens I’ve tried just won’t come off. Last summer I tried a brand that will not be named that basically turned my skin completely white for an entire family vacation. It feels like you can’t win!
My Favorite Clean Sunscreens
As I mentioned above, Beautycounter makes the best clean sunscreen I’ve tried, and I’ve tried a LOT. Besides being very effective, they’re also very hydrating, feel good on the skin (love the light citrus scent!), water resistant, and leave less of a white cast than other mineral sunscreens.
I use the cream (and stick) on my face, and the mists on my body – always in SPF 30. Like with any mineral sunscreen, it does take a little getting used to because again, you are putting a physical barrier on your skin so you need to really rub it in to make sure there’s no white cast. I tend to spend some time in the bathroom before the beach/sun/pool really prepping and rubbing it in, but it’s worth it as the sunscreen is really effective – I’ve never gotten a burn.
For the mists, shake them well and hold 4-6 inches away from your body when spraying. I generally apply before putting on my swimsuit, standing on a towel (because they can be a little messy, especially if you go with the tinted ones!) Just spray and blend in like you would blend in lotion. The formula blends in quickly and dries down without any chalkiness. I have the three sprays and I have a rule for which I use.
- If I’m wearing a white swimsuit or coverup I go with the original (untinted) version.
- If not, I go with the light-medium tint.
- Also, if I have a spray tan, I go with the medium-deep tint. (Honestly, I know it isn’t the point, but this one makes your legs look so good!)
Another important thing to note is that when I’m home, and out of the sun, I always exfoliate afterward!!! Spend some time exfoliating – like a good 3-4 minutes in the shower. Because it’s a physical layer, and because it’s water-resistant, this step is really is important. Beautycounter has some great scrubs – love this one for body (mmmm lemongrass)!
In the photo above I’m applying the light-medium. You can see it has a tint to it – as I’d had a spray tan, it’s a bit light for me.
On days where I have a spray tan, the medium-deep is perfect for me. You can see in the above photo that it’s a perfect match.
And as I mentioned above, the stick is great too! It’s totally sheer and perfect for on the go.