How to Choose the Best Sunscreen That is Safe for You

I’ve mentioned zillions of times that I had melanoma several years ago, so never leave the house without wearing sunscreen. At first I simply looked at the SPF rating. Then I paid attention to how messy it was to apply and wear. Now I’m paying attention to how they work and what the possible downside is to different types. Not all sunscreens are created equal. Some need to be applied in different order to be effective. Trust me when I say, if it’s yucky to use, you just haven’t found the right one for you. 

I used to love the chemical sunscreen. They sank into my skin, didn’t affect my foundation and never made me look like Casper The Ghost. Chemical sunscreens usually contain a mixture of two to six of these active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. They work beautifully. But don’t they sound scary?

I happily used them for years. Then I learned the active ingredients in chemical sunscreen are endocrine disruptors, shown to cause cancer. Great! I’m using something to prevent skin cancer and it’s potentially causing other cancers in my body.

All sunscreens are not created equal. Learn the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens and the order they need to be applied

Chemical sunscreens must be applied to your skin first. Even before your moisturizer because it needs to soak into your skin. They allow your skin to absorb the sun, and prevents the damage from inside. The problem is these get into your bloodstream and end up all over your body. Not my idea of a good thing.

Mineral sunscreen use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. They’re called physical, because they block the sun from absorbing into your skin. They get applied after your moisturizer has soaked in and before foundation or tinted foundation. They tend to be heavier and often feel greasy. They now come in tinted formula’s to cut down on the Ghost factor. It’s a matter of trial and error to find one you like. If it’s horrific on your face, use it up on your body and try something new until you find one you love and will use everyday.

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My latest favorite is by Josie Maran. It seemed very heavy initially. But when I give it 10 – 15 minutes to soak in, it helps my tinted moisturizer go on smoother. My other new favorite is La Roche-Posay, Ultra Light Mineral fluid. Both of these are physical, so reflect the sun rays and do not contain endocrine disruptors.

 

Thanks to all who chose such beautiful colors for the Cashmere Wrap giveaway. The winner is Lorraine C. Laddish.

xo Jennifer

 

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22 Comments

  1. Thanks for this! I wish I’d known this information and used sunscreen years ago! You may have mentioned but how did you know you had melanoma? Did you catch it or did your doctor?

    1. I caught it! I was worried about the spot and pointed it out to several dermatologists over multiple years. I finally paid to have it removed myself and the biopsy cane back melanoma. I wasn’t even shocked. I knew something was wrong with that freckle!

  2. I use La Roche Posay, too. It doesn’t irritate my skin like chemical sunscreens. The most important thing explained to me is that the chemicals in sunscreens break down in the sun, leaving you with a false sense of being protected. Mineral-based physical sunblocks aren’t as ghostly white if you find one that has the new technology of pulverizing the minerals. Avene is also a brand I use. It’s the sister company to LA Roche Posay. Both are worth the price you pay.

  3. The thought of skin cancer, or for that matter, any type of cancer is a scary one. I began having issues with melasma a few years ago. The ugly discoloration all over my face and chest, even on my arms, was enough to strike fear. I had to have several laser treatments done to get it under control. Laser hurts!

    Have you heard of Neova? The first bottle that I purchased was from my dermatologists office at a hefty price tag of $75. All other bottles are ordered online now. They range between $25-$40 online. The tinted sunscreen from Neova is the best one I have used, but I like to use the ghastly ghost kind with a higher SPF as a base sunscreen. I do not go anywhere without sunscreen on my face and I even put it on when I’m at home. The reflections of light coming through my windows flares up the melasma. Hats of all types are a regular wear now too.

    It’s good to see a review of La Roche Posey. I have been interested in their sunscreen for a while now.

    Thanks for the information.

    Olivia
    Reinvented Collection

  4. Interesting! I knew about the hormone disrupting ingredients in mainstream sunscreens, but I never really understood the science behind the alternatives and everything. Thanks for the overview. The sunscreen I’ve been using the last couple years is from a natural brand Alba Botanica. I’d be interested in trying to make it homemade someday as well.

  5. I love the La Roche products. They are excellent value for the price. I am the palest person alive, which used to bug me but now I’m (slightly!) more sensible!

  6. Le Roche is the only brand I can use. A few years ago I started developing a reaction to sunscreen , when in the sun! and after seeing a specialist le Roche is the only brand that did not cause weeping rash etc.

  7. I am highly surprised by the horrible facts you have shared!! I never ever thought that the SPF which I am using is that much dangerous for my skin.

    I use sheseido currently but I will definitely switch to your suggestions!!

    Thanks for sharing it will be very useful.
    Keep it up!!
    Ellie

    1. I was pretty horrified to read about endocrine disrupters too Ellie! I’m very sorry Sheseido changed their original formulation.

    1. I buy the Josie Maran at Sephora or Amazon. It does feel heavy when I first put it on. Then, my menopausal parched complexion soaks it right in 🙂

  8. Sunscreen 365 days a year! I really like Suntegrity 5 in 1 tinted moisturizer, a very good zinc oxide sunscreen.

  9. You said the chemical sunscreen was harmful but also said the two you recommended were chemical?? I use Chanel which is not chemical, goes over your moisturizer and no ghost appearance – but pricey so am looking for options.

    1. My mistake. Mine are both physical. I haven’t tried the Chanel, so can’t speak to their content. The Chanel sunscreens I have looked at combine chemical and physical ingredients. I stopped using Shiseido when they added chemical sunscreen ingredients to their previously physical only, products.

  10. I have a sunscreen in all of my daily lotions and creams. Hubby has two very large scars from his melanoma removals. i am truly sorry to know that you know exactly what I am talking about. I had two close friends die in the same year from melanoma.

    Thank you for sharing and thank you for your friendship and for being my lovely co hostess xo

    1. It is my delight to be one of your co-hostesses Katherine!! Thank you. Melanoma is do frightening and tragic. I wish more people took it seriously.

  11. Thanks for this! I also have switched from chemical to mineral sunscreen. I just wish that the Josie Maran was fragrance free for people like myself who are sensitive. I will be trying your Ither suggestion, thanks again!

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