During all of my searching for non-toxic products for my book project, one of the biggies I was trying to avoid was the chemicals in sunscreen. I generally use an SPF of at least 30 on my face every day of the year, regardless of the weather. I freckle and mole a lot and need to protect my skin so, even though I live in the shadiest of places, I still need sunscreen.
The stuff I was using at the beginning of my book research contained all sorts of scary crap and a whole bunch of ingredients that I didn't even know about since they don't need to be listed if the manufacturer doesn't want to. The short list was parabens, phthalates and PEGs (for maximum hormone and endocrine disruption with a little carcinogenic action thrown in for good measure). In addition, the chemical sunscreen in it was one of the more scary ones, the kind they recommend you don't use on kids.
So, I went in search of the seemingly impossible - a facial day moisturizer that had a safe sunscreen in it that didn't have any toxins in it either. My first stop was to search through the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Database and see what they had listed. Each year they do a workup on sunscreens, based on the latest data on the chemicals being researched as well as the latest products.
One product stood out for me - Sanre's Supple Sunshine. I bought some last spring and have been using it off and on (depending on where I was in the book project). Needless to say, I've been using it exclusively for the last 5 months during the day.
The ingredient list is short (and organic): safflower oil, grape seed oil, beeswax, coconut oil, aloe vera, lavender, rosemary, red thyme, patchouli, hyssop and, most importantly, the zinc oxide ingredient they use as the sunblock is a non-nano particle mineral.
Without going into a huge diatribe on chemical sunscreens that get absorbed by your skin versus the nano-debate with mineral sunscreen (you can get all that info from EWG or my book), suffice it to say that it's a freaking miracle that this exists. When I started searching I think we had something like 7 different sunscreens in the house, all of them having some sketchy ingredient in them and, with some of them, all of the sketchy ingredients.
Now, this stuff is a little thicker than what I was used to and it takes a bit of rubbing going in, but it does absorb well and it smells great (don't be put off by the patchouli in the ingredient listing - I can't smell it at all and I'm super sensitive to it). I'm just now at the point of needing to reorder it. It's a small jar and not cheap, but it lasts a fairly long time and I wouldn't want to run out of it. More importantly, I'm willing to pay more for a "clean" product than something cheaper and full of chemicals or something cheaper, but doesn't work very well.
Bottom line - go analyze your moisturizer with SPF. Make sure it uses a mineral sunscreen rather than a chemical one (zinc oxide is better than titanium dioxide). If it's a mineral sunblock make sure it not nano-particle in size. Make sure it doesn't have retinyl palmitate in it (more on this in another post) and doesn't contain oxybenzone, "fragrance", "parfum" or anything ending in -paraben. If it does, head over to the cosmetic database and find one that works for you. Finally, I'll be reviewing some safer sunscreens for the body in the next few months as well.
Please note: I am in no way being compensated for this review and have no connection whatsoever with Sanre.