You are currently viewing 10 Best and Worst Sunscreens (From EWG Sunscreen Guide)Pin

10 Best and Worst Sunscreens (From EWG Sunscreen Guide)

Looking for the best sunscreens? We cover the top sunblocks and tell you which ones to avoid.

Summer is here, and we are feeling 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? I guess we won’t know until it’s too late.

EWG Sunscreen Guide 2014 - 10 Best and 10 Worst Sunscreens.

This post may contain affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you. All opinions are always our own. Read our full disclosure for more info. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.

Last Updated: January 21, 2023

5 Guidelines to Help You Pick SunScreens

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.

  • 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.

See More: What’s in My Beach Bag – Beach Essentials List

grace bay turks and caicos + best places to visit in the worldPin

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

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

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 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 as many other sunscreens. We will probably still use up what we have left, but now that we’re more aware, we will consider this for our future purchases. We will let you know what we find as a good replacement.

Best Natural Sunscreens

We tested and reviewed the most popular safe sunscreens according to EWG to see how they fared for us. There are a ton of guides out there already telling you about the ingredients and why each one is good for you, so we focused on our own pros and cons for each sunscreen.

EWG Safe Sunscreen Guide 2015.
EWG Safe Sunscreen Guide 2015.

1. Honest COmpany Honest Sunscreen lotion, SPF 30 (updated version) →

Pros: Unscented and absorbs well.
Cons: Feels more oily and leaves you shinier than the others. It’s fine on your body, but I would never put it on my face.

2. Badger Sport Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Cream, SPF 35 (updated version) →

Pros: Feels dry and is very water-resistant. We like the thick, creamy consistency.
Cons: Leaves you looking the most pasty out of all the sunscreens we tried. Zinc sunscreens are great, because they’re natural, but they never absorb into the skin and leave a visible layer.

3. Badger Damascus Rose Anti-Aging Face Sunscreen, SPF 20 (Updated Version) →

Pros: This one has a nice, light scent. It absorbs well, feels dry, and I don’t notice it on.
Cons: I prefer my sunscreens less watery and slightly thicker in consistency.

4. Climb On! Mineral Sunblock, SPF 30 (discontinued)

Pros: They have nice packaging and all their ingredients are coral reef safe.
Cons: This one feels grainy like it has exfoliants inside. It’s unscented, but still has that sunblock smell. It feels a bit oily and it does lighten your skin, so it might not be the best if you’re tan.

5. Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen for Body, SPF 30 (Jacob’s Top Pick) →

Pros: This sunscreen has a thicker consistency with a citrus smell. It rubs on dry and absorbs well.
Con: Esther doesn’t like the scent as much.

6. Juice Beauty Sport Sunscreen, SPF 30 (Esther’s Top Pick) →

Pros: Has a light herbal / citrusy aroma, this sunscreen rubs in well and doesn’t feel oily or greasy.
Con: It’s not as waterproof as the others.

7. Raw Elements Water Resistant Sunscreen, SPF 30 – Most Waterproof →

Pros: Has a creamier consistency that we like. It is the most effective at being waterproof and was hard to wash off.
Cons: Leaves you a little pasty. There’s a strong aroma that is kind of mix between tea and weed (it has hemp oil), but it goes away after a while. It does not leave you feeling dry.

8. All Terrain AquaSport Water Resistant Sunscreen, SPF 30 (Discontinued)

Pro: It’s unscented and is very waterproof.
Con: We had issues with the consistency of this one. The ingredients seemed to separate in the bottle, and it was hard to mix together again. It was a pasty consistency and feels like glue from a gluestick when applied.

9. All Terrain AquaSport Face Stick, SPF 28 (Discontinued)

Pros: It’s waterproof and very effective.
Cons: Similar to the sunscreen, this one feels sticky and has issues with its consistency.

10. Babo Sport Stick for Face, Lips, Nose, Ears, SPF 30 (Updated Version) →

Pros: This smells like fruity lip balm, applies on in a thin layer, and doesn’t leave you feeling oily.
Cons: The sticks feel stickier and more uncomfortable than the lotions.

11. Babo Sport Stick for Face, Lips, Nose, Ears, Sensitive Skin, SPF 30 (Updated Version) →

Pros: This doesn’t leave you pasty and applies thinly. Good for ears, face, and other sensitive areas.
Cons: Smells like cheap lipstick.

12. Raw Elements Eco Tint SPF 30 →

Pros: This one absorbs well and feels dry.
Cons: Smells a little like weed, and the tint has too much of a reddish tone that doesn’t work with our Asian skin tones.

13. Raw Elements Eco Stick SPF 30 →

Similar to above but without the tint.

Tips for Choosing Sunscreens

  • When it comes down to it, some protection is better than no protection so use what you have.
  • Search EWG for your sunscreen if you’re curious on how it performs.
  • Clothes are still great for protecting your skin from the sun’s UV rays.
  • Plan activities in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid high sun.
  • If you can find shade, that’s always a good way to protect your skin.
  • Sunglasses are important to protect your eyes too!
  • Check UV indexes when you’re planning your outdoor activities.
  • More lists: best recreational sunscreens, best baby and kids sunscreens, best daily use SPF, best lip balms with SPF

What sunscreen are you currently using? Which other ones do we need to check out?


Esther and JacobPin

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

Follow on Instagram (E + J), YouTube, TikTok, and Pinterest.

This Post Has 77 Comments

  1. Change With Us

    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. Change With Us

        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. Change With Us

            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. Sierra

    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. Laura

    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. Samantha

    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. Kristine Foley

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

  6. Rebekah

    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. Astrid

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

  8. Anosa

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

  9. Jenn

    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. Carly Anderson

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

  11. Betsy Gettis

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

  12. songbirdsandbuttons

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

  13. Ashley Owens

    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. Ashley

    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. Karissa Ancell

    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. Lyssadawson

    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. Lissa Cole

    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. Molly

    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!

    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. Molly

        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. Hsiao-Ting

    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. esther julee

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

      1. Hsiao-Ting

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

  22. Rach

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

    1. esther julee

      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. esther julee

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

  24. Ktcyril

    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. esther julee

      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. Amanda Freerksen

    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. esther julee

      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. Amanda Freerksen

        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. esther julee

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

  27. Jennifer Chong

    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. esther julee

      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. esther julee

      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. esther julee

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

  29. Amy

    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. esther julee

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

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.