How Safe is My Sunscreen

How safe is my sunscreen? Is your sunscreen safe?? Are you trying to eat more real, whole foods…but still slathering your largest organ (your skin!!) with hazardous chemicals?? Can’t answer that? I don’t blame you! I just learned how to determine these things, myself!!

Sunscreen Safe?

Last year, we made the switch to more natural sunscreens as I was becoming more and more aware of the harmful ingredients in so many foods and skincare products. It was hard to justify the higher price tag at first, but it’s becoming more and more clear to me that the FDA is not always looking out for our best interests. Luckily, the Environmental Working Group puts out a list each year of the best sunscreens (and the worst)!

Is the sunscreen you’re currently using safe??? Check out its rating here!!

If your sunscreen has been rated a 0-2, you’re good to go! This means that the EWG has rated it as a ‘low hazard.’ Ratings of 3-6 mean ‘moderate hazard’ and ratings of 7-10 are ‘high hazard.’ If nothing else, make sure your sunscreen is not in this high category. I’m not sure if I was surprised or annoyed, but the sunscreen I used two summers ago – Target’s Up & Up Continuous Spray – was rated a 7. Ugh!! If these products can be labeled as a ‘high hazard’ by a respected environmental health group, it’s amazing to me that these sunscreens can even be sold in stores. They should be banned, right??

I looked up all three of the sunscreens we’re currently using in our house:

*This is according to the data online for 2013. (The 2014 data is now available.)

I feel pretty good knowing that all three of the sunscreens I use on myself and my kids are rated as ‘low hazard’ by the EWG. I’m also happy that I’m not rubbing other unsafe chemicals on my kids: parabens, PABA, phthalates, fragrances, or nano-particles. We’ve been using these three sunscreens for the last few weeks now and no one has gotten any sunburns, so at least I know they are doing their job! Our family is about as pale and as white as they come, so we definitely use lots of sunscreen around here! 🙂 I put it on the kids whenever I think we’ll be outside for more than 30 minutes during peak sun hours, so, obviously, this is almost every day in the Spring/Summer/Fall months!

And just when I start to think I can trust a brand, I find out otherwise… I was curious, so I looked up my facial moisturizer with SPF that I put on every morning. I assumed it would be rated as a low hazard since it’s the Alba Botanica brand. Nope! My everyday moisturizer was rated as a 6…the upper end of ‘moderate hazard.’ Sigh… Clearly, I can find something that’s a little safer! Anyone recommendations for me?

The EWG also has an app you can download to check out cosmetics and sunscreens while you’re shopping. It’s called “EWG’s Skin Deep” and, yes, it’s free. It even lets you scan the bar code for quick look-ups! I used it over the weekend to look up a new product I was interested in and it worked super fast, which is great!

The EWG also says to avoid the following:

  • Spray sunscreens
  • Super-high SPFs
  • Oxybenzone
  • Loose powder sunscreens
  • Retinyl palmitate
  • Combined sunscreen/bug repellent
  • Sunscreen towelettes
  • Tanning oils

So, did you look up your favorite sunscreen? What rating did the EWG give it?? If you want to see a list of the best beach & sport sunscreens, the EWG breaks it down by brand for you on this page.


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LeAnn Nome

Hi there! Here's a little info about me: I've been married to my husband for over 10 years and I'm a stay-at-home mom to our three young kids (a six year old daughter and four year old twin boys). As you might imagine, they keep me quite busy! In early 2013, we decided that we wanted to be a healthier family. To do this, we cut out all processed foods from our home and we now eat only REAL, whole foods. (When we're on vacation or at someone's house, we're not quite as strict.) We also try to exercise every day. Our goal is to raise healthy, happy kids...while maintaining our own health and happiness along the way! I hope you will follow along with us in our journey.

2 thoughts on “How Safe is My Sunscreen

  1. I’ve definitely learned that you can’t just pick a brand and trust it. I had read that Kiss My Face was a safe brand so when I saw some on clearance with good expiration dates I jumped on snagging up a few bottles. When I later looked at ewgs site they were rated at a 4, while they do have some rated at a 1, I hadn’t chosen one of those. Ugh! Not such a “good deal”! I’ll have to get that app so that won’t happen again….kind of a pain to look up in a store with children hanging on your legs so scan and fast sounds good 😉

    1. I would have totally done the same thing, Brittany!! We are all about buying products on clearance–and stocking up when we can! 😉 And yes…I know the feeling trying to look something up in the store with kids…never easy. 🙂

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