Clean It Up! What You Need To Know About Sunscreen | My Favorite Safe Sunscreen Brands

If there’s one beauty “secret,” I have learned to live by – it’s taking care of my skin first. All the makeup in the world will not compare to healthy, glowing skin. And if you play your cards right – you will be able to glow confidently without the help of concealers, foundations, blushes ( I am such a fan of the natural look anyway!). Part of taking care of my skin includes wearing sunscreen daily. Not only is it important to apply sunscreen to your face everyday, but you also can’t forget the rest of your body! Even if Mr. Sun is not shining quite as bright – harmful rays can still make their way to your skin. Actually, you may be more prone to burning on those days where it’s slightly overcast because people tend to skimp on the sunscreen if the sun is not as visible.

Why does this all matter? Well, aside from the aging implications the sun has on your skin, more people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer per year than all other cancers combinedNot to mention, skin cancer is totally preventable by using the right sun protection. Now, what happens when the sunscreen we are supposed to use to protect ourselves from skin cancer can potentially cause our body harm as well?! That’s when I *insert my confused face* and spring into action. Protecting myself from the sun should not come at the expense of using toxic ingredients. 

Over the past few years, and especially within the last year I have been paying more attention to the products I buy for my home and body. While I am not using clean everywhere possible, there are some products I have learned cleaner is the better (and safer) route for me. One of these areas is SUNSCREEN!

Why I Choose Mineral Sunscreen

Protection against UVB and UVA rays

Remember those harmful rays I mentioned? Not to be all “science-y” on ya, there are actually two different types of UV rays: UVA and UVB. UVB rays are those rays from the sun that give you the dreaded sunburn. UVA rays however, are a little scarier. UVA rays can penetrate deeper into your skin and ultimately cause more damage down the road. Chemical sunscreen traditionally does not protect against UVA rays. If you do find a chemical sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, the cocktail of ingredients used equals an increased chance of skin irritation and exposure to harmful chemicals (read more here). Growing up, the sunscreen brands we probably used are chemical sunscreens (think Coppertone, Australian Gold, Drugstore generic brands). Any protection from harmful rays is positive, but I would rather not compromise for less than safe ingredients, and less than safe protection against UV rays.

Safer for everyone (environment included) Ingredients

Another factor that sets mineral sunscreen apart from chemical is the active ingredients. Oxybenzone is a chemical you need to watch out for in sunscreen. Oxybenzone has been known to cause skin irritation and is linked to hormone disruption. Octinoxate is another chemical to keep an eye out for – it has also been linked to skin irritation and affecting hormone activity; even reproductive, thyroid and behavioral alterations. The distribution of sunscreens containing Oxybenzone and Octinoxate has been banned in Hawaii, because research has shown these chemicals have played a part in bleaching the coral reefs. (You go, Hawaii!). Now, I can’t speak for you but for myself – if a chemical is linked to all of these not so pleasant outcomes, I would rather avoid it if I can – sunscreen is an area where I can choose to go cleaner.

Physical vs. Chemical

Chemical vs. Physical sunscreen ultimately comes down to the active ingredients. Physical sunscreens, or mineral-based use physical UV blockers like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These ingredients create a barrier to reflect away the sun’s UV rays. Chemical sunscreen on the other hand, you guessed it…uses chemical blocking. The ingredients used to block UV rays in chemical sunscreen can include:  oxybenzone, avobenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate which absorb the UV radiation rather than reflecting it. Research and experts show that your best and safer bet is using a physical sunscreen.

Now, onto the fun part – my favorite mineral sunscreens! I love these brands because they take the guess work out of ingredients. I have personally tried each of these mineral sunscreens so I can vouch for their quality and effectiveness. Ready to get your safe sunscreen on?


Beautycounter’s Countersun Sunscreen is a mineral based SPF that provides protection against the sun without the harmful ingredients we just talked about. Safer for you and our environment, I love that Countersun comes in a convenient spray form so it’s easy to apply – and safe – the spray technology is non-aerosol, non-nano zinc oxide and evaluated for it’s particle size to ensure there is no potential risk of respiration when sprayed and does not enter the blood stream to cause harmful effects to the body. Plus, this stuff smells so fresh and citrusy! Unlike some other sunscreens, Countersun does not feel pasty or chalky to me – I even spray a little on my face when I know I’m going to be exposed to sun for a long period of time.

Shop Countersun Here!

Raw Elements

Tinted Facial Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Tin and SPF 30 Face Stick 






Uses Zinc-Oxide as their only active ingredient. Formulated by an ocean lifeguard – Raw Elements was created to provide a safer sun protection  option for us and our oceans. The Raw Elements sunscreens use certified natural and organic ingredients and their product is non GMO approved (snaps for you, Raw Elements). Raw Elements provides easy to travel, on the go options like the


Supergoop just sounds fun, doesn’t it? Well, it is! This innovative company was a pioneer in suncare industry, offering solutions for everyday sun protection in face, body, and family solutions. The Supergoop assortment is deep – so you are sure to find a product to fit your needs. Looking for a lip balm with SPF? Supergoop can help with that. Need a non-greasy face moisturizer with sun protection? Yep, Supergoop’s got ya! What’s even better is along with their innovative solution based products, Supergoop works to use only the cleanest ingredients to protect your skin, and are always be oxybenzone, paraben and cruelty free. You will still want to pay attention to labels (always), some of the Supergoop sunscreens do contain one of the following: octocrylene, homosalate, and retinal palmate (ingredients which may be linked to hormone disruption, and coral reef destruction).


Coola Suncare was one of the first mineral sunscreen brands I tried, and the love affair continues today. With pride in their “Farm to Face” philosophy, Coola works to use the most freshest, natural, and organic ingredients possible. Coola sunscreens are formulated with plant protection technology – using a selection of plant based materials to naturally boost their formulas. Coola offers a wide range of sun protection options and even skincare for after sun exposure. It is important to still read ingredients even if a brand is making strides for safer products. Though many of Coola’s sunscreens are great options, some do contain Octinoxate as an active ingredient.


Now that you are well versed on some great safer sun protection options, just add sunshine and the beach! I hope that you feel empowered with knowledge on safer sunscreen options. The ingredients used in personal care products may not be something we can individually control. But, together if we work to stay educate on harmful ingredients, and make informed purchase decisions we are voting with our dollars each time we make a safer beauty choice!

Other Helpful Links:


Chemical Vs. Physical Sunscreen


EWG – Report, The Trouble With Sunscreen Chemicals 

2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Yes! So excited for the info on Beautycounter + Coola. Just got a tube of Coola in my FabFitFun box that I’m excited to try + now I have more info about what I’m going to put on my face!

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