Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreen

Source Image: weheartit

Now that spring is here and the weather is (…slowly) warming up in Canada, I thought I’d do a post on choosing a more natural sunscreen. I’m a huge sun-lover. If someone told me I was some type of fabulous water lizard in another life, I would believe them. There are few things I love more than a beach and sunny weather. That being said, I also don’t want to end up looking like a human lizard as I age – so sun protection is important.

A few years ago, a co-worker shared an article on sunscreens with me, and I was blown away. The article talked about how some chemical sunscreen ingredients penetrate the skin and had been found in breast tissue, breast milk and were linked to hormone disruption…

what the heck gif

What the heck!?!?

Naturally, the information threw me for a loop so I did what I would encourage anyone to do when they see an article, TV show, blog etc. make claims about something being healthy/unhealthy for you… I did some research. I know I’ve said it before, but the EWG website is such a helpful resource. I use a lot of their information in this post because I trust their research and product suggestions.

I don’t want to be scared of sun exposure, nor do I think it’s healthy to 100% avoid the sun; I just want to protect my skin in a natural way that isn’t going to mess with my body’s biology. If you’re like me, and want to be outside without worrying about what your sunscreen is doing to your skin, I’ve included a summary of ingredients I prefer to avoid, and what I look for in a natural sunscreen.

The only two active ingredients that I personally trust are:

  • Zinc oxide
  • Titanium dioxide

Also, I always choose mineral sunscreen in a cream or lotion form. As a lotion, these two ingredients have the lowest EWG Hazard rating of  a 2, but as a spray they go up to a 4 or 6.  So please ditch those aerosol sunscreen cans.  Every time I see a parent douse their kid with sunscreen spray I cringe, not only is it worse for you than lotion, it’s not great to breathe in either (Source).

Natural or mineral sunscreens have also been found to last longer than chemical options (Source). However, you should know that they also tend to leave your skin looking a bit white after you’ve applied. I once purchased a Nature’s Gate sunscreen that made me look like a white beacon on the beach, probably wouldn’t purchase it again unless they changed the formulation, but several brands have natural lotions that leave a less intense white-cast. Like this one from Green Beaver, I also use Juice Beauty’s tinted moisturizer on my face and it has a beautiful texture and doesn’t look white in person or in photos.

I would avoid these ingredients (EWG Hazard Score= 6-8):

  • Oxybenzone
    • acts like estrogen in the body and has been linked to causing issues with the reproductive system, development and hormone disruption in lab studies
  • Octinoxate (aka Octylmethoxycinnamate)
    • shown to alter behaviour in animal studies

Ingredients with Moderate Toxicity Concerns (EWG Hazard Score= 3-4):

  • Homosalate
    • found to cause hormone disruption
  • Octisalate
    • stabilizes avobenzone so you often find these two together in products
  • Octocrylene

Best option out of the Chemical Sunscreen family, but I’d still avoid it… (EWG Hazard Score =2)

  • Avobenzone
    •  one of the most popular chemical sunscreen ingredients

For source information and a full list of the potential toxicity concerns for each of these ingredients visit this link.

Sunscreen Don’ts
What’s Wrong with High SPFs
EWG Approved Sunscreen Products

It’s always best to do your homework and make your own judgement based on what you read, learn and experience. Over the past four years, I feel like I’m back at square one with finding an affordable holy grail mineral/natural sunscreen to use on my face and body. I’ve religiously sworn by this Korres sunscreen for years, but since learning about the effects of parfum/fragrance (which it lists in its ingredients) I’m on the search yet again for the perfect product and now I’m playing with the idea of just making my own.

If you have a mineral sunscreen you swear by, please share and leave it in the comments below. I’d love to know your suggestions and will continue to share what works for me on our site. Hopefully we can learn together!


  1. As a mineral sunscreen company, we love the info!

    One thing we would add is to make sure whatever sunscreen you choose it is labeled “Broad Spectrum” (ours are an example). This means you’ll get both UVB and UVA protection as the US Food and Drug Administration only allows sunscreens that do both to be labeled that way.


    1. You’re right, I should have included it!

      Long wave UVA is what contributes to ageing and short wave UVB is what gives us a burn. You want to be protected from BOTH of these for full sun protection :).

      I just checked your site and not only are your sunscreens mineral/natural but they’re also a good price. Do you ship to Canada?


    2. You’re right, I should have included it!

      Long wave UVA is what contributes to ageing and short wave UVB is what gives us a burn. You want to be protected from BOTH of these for full sun protection :).

      I just checked your site and your natural/mineral sunscreens are a good price. Do you ship to Canada? I’m on the search for some new sun protection.


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