10 Best and Worst Sunscreens (From EWG Sunscreen Guide)

10 Best and Worst Sunscreens (From EWG Sunscreen Guide)

Summer is here, and we are feelin it here in Vegas! I’ve only recently been putting on sunscreen religiously ever since my doctor spotted an irregular mole on my arm. I should have been more careful especially since we’re out in the sun quite a bit. Fingers crossed that it won’t be a big deal, but I’m pretty scared to go in and get a skin biopsy!

This week as we were doing some of our own research, we wanted to share about the best and worst sunscreens out there. Generally, we pay more attention to cost and efficacy over whether it’s organic or non-toxic. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? ;P I guess we won’t know until it’s too late. I do think it’s good to stay informed of what exactly you are putting on your body regardless of your opinion on going organic.

5 guidelines to help you pick sunscreens:

  • Don’t trust sky-high SPF claims. EWG (Environmental Working Group) recommends that you avoid anything higher than SPF 50 and that you should reapply sunscreen often.
  • Avoid oxybenzone – It messes with your hormones and could trigger allergic reactions.
  • Don’t try killing two birds with one stone (or lotion). Avoid combined sunscreen and bug repellant products. You don’t need to reapply bug repellant as often so this helps you avoid unsafe levels of chemicals.
  • Use creams, not sprays, powders, or wipes.  Sprays and powders pose an inhalation risk, while wipes don’t necessarily transfer to your skin. Also, it’s hard to tell if you have full coverage.
  • Your makeup is NOT an effective sunscreen. Although more products are adding sunscreen ingredients, they are not effective. This is also true with moisturizers and body lotions.

EWG Sunscreen Guide 2014 - 10 Safest Least Toxic Sunscreens and 10 Worst Sunscreens.

10 Safe / Least Toxic Sunscreen Picks (From EWG Sunscreen Guide):

  1. All Terrain AquaSport Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30
  2. Badger Chamomile & Calendula Baby Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30
  3. Badger Unscented Sport Sunscreen Cream, SPF 35
  4. Babo Botanicals Fragrance Free Clear Zinc Sunscreen, SPF 30
  5. COOLA Unscented Suncare Sport Moisturizer Classic Sunscreen, SPF 45
  6. Climb On! Mineral Sunblock, SPF 30
  7. Juice Beauty Oil-Free Moisturizer, SPF 30
  8. The Honest Company Sunscreen, SPF 30
  9. Suntegrity Skincare Natural Mineral Sunscreen for Body, SPF 30
  10. Yes to Carrots Fragrance Free Nourishing Daily Moisturizer, SPF 15

Some of the Most Toxic Sunscreens:

  • Well at Walgreens Sport Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 30, 50, and 90
  • up & up Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30 and 50
  • Trader Joe’s Nourish Spray Sunscreen, SPF 50+
  • Rite Aid Renewal Sport Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 30 and 50
  • Rite Aid Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 60
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, SPF 55, 70, 85
  • L’Oreal Invisible Protect Dry Oil Spray Sunscreen, SPF 50+
  • Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Clear Mist Spray Sunscreen, SPF 15 and 30
  • Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
  • CVS Age Renewal Firming & Hydrating Moisturizer, SPF 30

I’m sure you recognize most of these brands. Two-thirds of sunscreens analyzed by EWG researches didn’t work well or contained potentially hazardous ingredients.

All of this is based on the 2014 EWG Sunscreen Guide where you can find a well-sourced comprehensive list of all the latest sunscreens tested (7-9s are toxic and the lower the number rating the better). Here’s EWG’s entire list of safe beach and sport sunscreen and sunscreen with moisturizer.

I’m a little sad, because I used to be a fan of the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch sunscreen and have even recommended it in previous blog posts (will be changing that once we find a new favorite!). I just liked the fact that didn’t make you feel as gross like many other sunscreens. To be honest, we will probably still use up what we have left, but now that we’re more aware, we will be keeping this into consideration for our future purchases. We will let you know what we find as a good replacement. :)

What sunscreens do you currently use? Is it a big deal to you? Would you make the switch?

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This Post Has 79 Comments

  1. I love The Honest Company and use almost all of their products! I love the sunscreen because it doesn’t have a huge scent and thats a plus for me! I just got their spray sunscreen in the mail and I am excited to try it! But I always use the cream for my face and shoulders!

    1. I keep hearing about honest company. I really need to check it out. Even by the name of it.. I feel like I would like it. Yeah.. I don’t like the a lot of smells of sunscreen.

      1. I love the honest company. TRY IT! And tell me what you think! I got the spray in the mail and love it. It’s still lotion that you spray and have to rub in so I think it is super safe! I also tried the face sun screen stick and boo do I love it!

        1. You think the spray has good coverage though? That’s the thing about sprays. EWG is saying it’s harder to tell if you have full coverage.

          1. So the honest spray isn’t clear! It sprays on like a lotion and you still have to rub it in. You have a tint on your skin after you use it though unless you really rub it in!

  2. I am super fair so I reeeeeally need this. Haha. Thanks, girl!

    1. No problem. Thanks for reading! & please let me know what you end up getting..Maybe each person can test out one product and then we can all swap notes to see which one is the best! :D

  3. Needed this list last week! Definitely going to come back to this when I get more sunscreen.

    1. Thanks! Let me know which sunscreen you start trying first. I know I don’t use nearly enough so it’s going to take me forever to test all of them out! :)

  4. Great information. I’ve always wondered about the SPF and the brand name. Can never be sure what to go with.

    1. Yeah most the stuff that is well known is more likely toxic.. The only downside is the ones that are less toxic are more likely to cost more and are harder to find. You might have to just order online.

  5. What?! Thanks for sharing all the info! We practically live in the HOT sun year round!

  6. My MIL had melanoma so we are big on sunscreen here! We use Coppertone spray but I think we need to switch to lotion – I don’t like using spray on the kids even though it’s really convenient at the beach.

    1. Oh man. is everything okay now?? i agree that the spray is so easy especially with the sand and everything at the beach. it’s so sad that it’s not that effective.

  7. I swear by sunscreen so this post is super helpful!!

  8. This is a cool post, hope nothing to worry about with your mole x

  9. I like the Honest Co. sunscreen for body, and they just came out with a spray that I got in this month’s delivery. I’m so bummed to see TJ’s on that list, because it was such a steal and usually their products are great.

  10. Wow, I didn’t know that you should stay away from anything higher than 50 SPF. Very interesting!

  11. i’m at the beach right now! i always go for creams/lotion…i like knowing where i got coverage!

  12. Love these recommendations! It’s so hard to pick out a good sunscreen these days!

  13. Wow that is really scary as I have used some of those toxic brands before. I actually dont really use it on myself although I probably should.

    1. I think everyone has! It’s hard to avoid. I’m definitely trying to be much more diligent now. Hopefully, it’s not too late!

  14. Crazy! I never knew how harmful some of these were. I actually don’t remember the last sunscreen I used because I use it so rarely! I just try to stay out of the sun when possible, haha ;)

    1. Yeah.. I’m learning a lot more recently! I’m so bad about it too.. but apparently you’re supposed to wear it whenever you step outside.. even on snowy or rainy days. Also, i’ve heard some people even wear it when they use the computer.. That’s a little much.. but I can tell even the couple minutes I stand outside matter. Can’t tell in your 20s and early 30s but I’m sure there’s a noticable diff in skin aging by late 30s, I’m scared!

  15. We typically use Copertone kids at my house.

    1. Yeah it’s really hard to switch from the ones that are known to be most toxic. They are the most widely distributed and well known ones.

  16. awesome info! My favorite it the new coppertone stuff! SO awesome!

    1. According to EWG it’s one of the most toxic. I don’t know how much you care about it though. The neutrogena that’s listed as one of the ten most toxic was also one of my faves.

    1. Good to know. I’m trying the ones that I know others have tried first before venturing into the others. :) Thanks for reading!

  17. I had no idea Juice Beauty made sunscreens! I guess I will have to add it to my must try list.

  18. This is a great post, only a couple of months away from summer in Australia so need to get preparing, determined not to get burnt this year! Great tips, will definitely be referring back!

  19. Perfect post for summer. SPF is totally important and thank you for pointing out your makeup is NOT sunscreen. So many people say it is, and I always just laugh… thanks for this post and great tips.

  20. I love Bare Belly Organics mineral sunscreen! It’s all-natural, organic sunscreen that received a rating of 1 on the 2014 EWG recommended safe sunscreen list. It goes on so easily. I’ve used Badger in the past and didn’t like how thick it was.

    Bare Belly has an awesome body stick as well as a face stick. Both are a beeswax base with non-nano zinc and cold-pressed organic essential oils. It smells great, too. Their 4 ounce cream is made with a Shea butter base. I ordered their Pure Protection Pack and received all 4 of their products. Love all of them.

    They’re based north of Atlanta, too. :)

    Check them out!
    http://www.barebellyorganics.com

    1. That’s so awesome! :) Yeah I keep hearing that about Badger. I will have to check out Barebelly too. And I’m definitely a supporter of Atlanta businesses. :)

      1. I have a friend who knows the two moms that created Bare Belly. Would you be interested in doing a review of it on your blog?

  21. i’ve been getting on david to use sunscreen and gilbert when he was visiting! guys aren’t so great about using sunscreen daily …

    1. i must be a guy too then! haha i just recently started. *sigh

      1. haha you’re just a simplistic. better late then never!

  22. I’m headed to the beach soon so this post is perfect! Thanks!

    1. So glad this could help! :) Let me know what you end up trying.

  23. Great post! With some of the things that I’ve been hearing lately about sunscreen I’ve been a little hesitant to wear it. (I’ve been protecting myself from the sun with covering up and avoiding exposure, of course.) I will definitely be returning to this post soon when I’m ready to go shopping.

    1. :) Thanks. Let me know what you end up finding. I’m also trying to figure out what to switch to..

  24. Wow. You just blew my mind. Thank you so much for writing this up. I had no idea pretty much every single sunscreen that I use is, well, not awesome.

    1. You’re so welcome! Thanks for stopping by. I had no idea either until recently. I guess a lot of times I don’t know what I’m putting in and on my body. Ignorance can def be bliss (especially with food), but it’s pretty interesting to learn!

  25. I use ThinkBaby on my son and Badger on me. I am tan, and it looks white on me, and I don’t care, you know? I am at the beach to play and enjoy being outdoors not to worry about how I look. I have to say, once my Badger runs out, I will buy extra ThinkBaby for me — it has the most incredibly fresh scent!

    1. I think the growing consensus is that the baby versions are better. :) I might try to badger baby first since i’m really curious in what the chamomile & calendula smells like, but i might try thinkbaby after! :) Which badger have you been using?

      1. I use the regular (non-baby-specific) formula in the lavender scent. It works fine, but seriously, thinkbaby is superior!

  26. Girl. This post was meant for me. I’m a ginger and might as well be allergic to the sun. I can get a sun burn in less than 10 minutes. I hate the regular store bought sunscreens. I can’t go without sunscreen, but am never happy with the product beyond it preventing sunburn. I’m glad to have a good list of safer sunscreens. I’m so glad you linked up today!

    1. So happy you found this helpful! Which sunscreen do you use now?

  27. Let me know what you end up with. The “problem” with the non toxic better ones is that they contain Zinc (which is a good thing) but it ends up making you look white… esp if you’re tan. I know the spray ones aren’t great for you, but when you’re sandy its so much easier to reapply sunscreen.

    1. Will do! Yeah, I guess it’s hard to find one product that does everything perfectly. If you want non-toxic you need to sacrifice in other areas. I’m going to slowly try to go down the list and see what I like best. Let me know if you end up finding anything too! :)

  28. Oh, no…hope all is ok…I had a weird spot on my arm removed and it turned out to be nothing…I’m sure it is fine! I was thinking about doing a list. I want to try the Honest company sunscreen this year. We tried Badger last year on a beach trip and I think it did not do very well. We use Nature’s Gate for beach trips (not everyday) and it is cheaper and works good, it has a 2 on the EWG but it contains one 5 rated ingredient but we figure for a week trip it is ok.

    1. That’s what I’m hoping! Okay.. well.. forget Badger then. The list is pretty large, so we may have to just go down the list one by one. Want to split the list and compare notes? :)

      1. I will certainly share any reviews with you. I’m fairly stocked on sunscreen at the moment as Whole Foods had Kiss My Face for I think $6 off a month ago. Maybe we got a bad batch of Badger as I read good reviews online, though I did read a few people said the baby formula worked better.

        1. please do! i like baby hand sanitizer, so maybe baby is the way to go! :D

  29. love this list!!! (also that giftcard in the popsugar box was for $15!!)

  30. I also like the Neutrogena one. What did they say was wrong with it? I hope your biopsy goes okay!

    1. I’ll have to look at which specific ingredients, but it’s one of the most toxic sunscreens out there. Thanks! Me too!

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