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SPF moisturizers - Do's + Don'ts

If you don't already wear an SPF moisturizer daily, summer is the season when you really should. So now what: which one should I use? I've heard some sunscreens aren't safe and are banned? Ahhh why isn't this easier?!

Sigh, right there with you.

Firstly, let's distinguish the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreen ingredients.

Mineral sunscreens reflect UV rays, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays, such as oxybenzone or octisalate.

In February of 2019, the FDA announced that further investigation into (12) active ingredients (all chemical sunscreens) be conducted to validate their GRASE (Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective) status. There has been some research done on statistics since 2019, but nothing comprehensive in the US.

It's worthy of note that beginning January 1, 2021, Hawaii, Palau, the Florida Keys, + the Virgin Islands banned the sale, offer of sale or distribution of any sunscreens containing oxybenzone or octinoxate without a prescription from a licensed health care provider. These chemical sunscreens have been found to cause coral reef death + fish abnormalities. Ew.

So, unless you want to age like a beautiful leather-tanned bag, you should be putting on the SPF, daily. Further, we'd urge you to opt for mineral sunscreen as often as possible. Let's look at some data...

  • prevalence of skin cancer is 40% lower with those who use sunscreen, regularly (Sander, et al, 2020)

  • 4 of the common chemical sunscreens have been found by more than one research study, to accumulate in our bloodstream above suggested limits by the FDA (Matta, et al, 2019)

  • research is still forming on the endocrine-suspected issues, but what's being consistently investigated is the measurable, negative impact on human and fish gestational development. (Ghazipura, et al, 2017)

  • several chemical sunscreens cause coral reef bleaching and death, and have been shown to accumulate in waterways, despite water treatment to remove them. (Chatzigianni et al, 2022)

The amount of information available is ginormous, so unless you've got a whole bunch of time to research it all, you've got to find a way to trust the products you're using. If you are curious to read some more, check out our blog post on Clean Skincare: Why it Matters from 2020.

Here's our handy reference for what we suggest, as a reputable, small, non-toxic skincare company for Do's + Don'ts for SPF this Summer.

SPF Do's:

  • Do wear SPF everyday, at least SPF 30, and anything claiming to be higher than 50 is bogus. About a teaspoon is a good amount for your face + neck.

  • Do use mineral-only sunscreen, this means check the back of the tube/bottle for ingredients. You are looking to find ZiO (zinc oxide) and TiO2 (titanium dioxide) - these are the only two FDA recognized safe sunscreen ingredients.

  • If you're out in the sun all day, re-apply exposed areas every 3-4 hours or after every dip in the water.

  • Accept the mineral veil (AKA "whitecast") - this is the way you know you are being protected, you can literally see the little particles reflecting harmful rays.

SPF Don'ts:

  • Don't skip sunscreen if you're going to be in the sun longer than 15-20 minutes.

  • Don't use the chemical (clear) sunscreens often, save it for that long day at the lake if you must use them for convenience, and still follow the reapplication rule above.

  • If you prefer to avoid the chemical sunscreens altogether, here are the ingredients to know and nix to avoid exposure: Oxybenzone, Octinoxate/octyl methoxycinnamate, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, + Avobenzone.

Have a wonderful season of sunshine + adventure! Please don't hesitate to shoot me an email if you have any questions or want more suggested resources! You can reach me at:

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