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-Allison Lambert

The Fit Tutor

The Best Safe Sunscreens for Summer (Non-toxic with Good Reviews!)

If you’re wanting to slather yourself and your loved ones with less chemicals this summer, this guide is for you. It will make choosing a safe sunscreen that’s also effective easier, and will help you find the best for your budget.

We’ll go through a quick detour to nerd out just a bit on chemicals, the environment, and why this is even a concern, but feel free to skip all that and scroll straight to the safe sunscreen guide! But first, here’s the why behind my ratings.

How I Chose the Safe Sunscreens in this Guide

This was a labor of love people, and it involved 732 tabs open, lots of coffee, and some nerding out on a spreadsheet. My brain was functioning in its preferred habitat ;) Here’s the criteria I followed.

Non-Toxic & Highly Rated

I read through the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Sunscreen guide, and I’ve chosen ones that scored well and have included their score in the guide. I checked their ratings on Amazon or a comparable site, and knocked off anything that had less than 4 stars.

You can read how the EWG scored their sunscreens here, but basically it’s a mixture between how effectively they block both UVA and UVB rays (this is usually labeled “broad spectrum” on bottles) and how high of a health risk they believe the chemicals create.

Easy on the Fanny Pack

I also included the price per ounce on Amazon at the time of publication. I tried to list mostly affordable-ish ones, but I included a few pricier options for those of you who want the best of the best! You’ll be able to tell what’s good within your budget, and I’ve marked a *best value* within each category.

And let’s be real, Amazon prices fluctuate regularly, so this may change… in like 5 minutes.

Easy to Find

Although there’s some baller brands out there, I tried to include several options you’ll find at your local grocery store, drug store, or Whole Foods, so they are easy to find and grab on your way to the park.

I’ve linked directly to the items for purchase. I have seen so many mom blogs out there saying they can’t even handle one more thing to look out for for their kiddos. I hear ya – I feel the same way about just me, the hubs, and our two little wiener dogs. I’ve linked to each safe sunscreen option so the path to less stress is just a few clicks away! (Just click on the photos)

This is probably a good spot to mention that if something is linked to Amazon, it’s an affiliate link. If you purchase through the link I make a little extra, at no cost to you! It hasn’t affected which products I recommended, don’t worry.

Not Overwhelming (Hopefully)

And, if you’re like me who gets paralyzed with too many options, I have tried to limit how many are listed, and have organized them into categories so you can find what you or your family needs. Disclaimer: I have not tried all of these!

(Click here to magically time warp to the Safe Sunscreen Guide)

Check out this safe sunscreen guide - EWG ratings + Amazon reviews for an easy to choose guide ;)

Sunscreen Chemicals to Watch Out For

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but these are a few of the chemicals in question. To be clear, the issue for many of these is that there’s not enough conclusive research to determine if they are toxic, cancer-causing, etc.

Why Chemicals Are Concerning for Some

Widespread exposure is a big concern with many of these chemicals, since they are also in other cosmetic products. The average American puts between 85-170 chemicals into their bodies each day. This is a big reason to choose a safe sunscreen since you’re putting it on your whole body, and reapplying every hour or two.

Lastly, these sunscreen chemicals have been found in the bloodstream, urine, and breastmilk. I personally try to avoid questionable chemicals and don’t like to be a guinea pig. I’ve had some hormone problems and cannot justify putting potential endocrine and thyroid disruptors into my blood stream. This is also a big concern if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or a little one who’s still developing.

EWG’s Biggest Concern: Oxybenzone

Some studies show this chemical can increase free radicals when exposed to light. It’s also a potential hormone disruptor that creates estrogenic activity, and it’s in many skincare products so widespread use is a concern. This was the “most worrisome” chemical on EWG’s list, but the FDA believes there’s not enough evidence to call it dangerous.

No sunscreen on my list contains Oxybenzone, because I’m assuming if you care about non-toxic sunscreens, you’d be interested in avoiding the top concern on the EWG’s list. I’m not telling you this chemical is dangerous, but it’s a potential concern. If not for your body, then at least for the environment.

Other Questionable Chemicals

I used to love nerding out on all this, but I’m tired of it lately – I really just want easy-to-find, healthy options. I hate that we have to do so much research to not flood our bodies with chemicals. And I’m so over some people saying chemicals are cancer-causing while our government says they are fine. I’m just tired, y’all. So forgive me that I chose to focus more on safe sunscreen options instead of toxic chemicals!

The list of concerning ones includes Octinoxate, Homosalate, Octocrylene, Parabens, Fragrance, Retinyl Palmitate, and PABA (recently declared unsafe by the FDA).

As a general rule of thumb, the higher the SPF the more chemicals. You don’t need anything over SPF 50 for several reasons.

Like I said, this is by no means an exhaustive list. I thought for most people, it would be more beneficial to focus on brands/ratings/price for a safe sunscreen. If you want further reading, check these links out, but check my guide out first, obviously!

The Environment // Reef Safe

Hawaii has banned Oxybenzone and Octinoxate because they’re deteriorating the coral reefs and have proved harmful to marine life. Other chemicals of concern are mineral oil, and high amounts of titanium dioxide. It’s estimated about 6,000 tons of sunscreen is washed into the coral reefs around the globe each year.

This is another reason to choose less toxic, safe sunscreen, as well as other options, like umbrellas and sun-shirts! I’ve included if any are reef safe in my Mineral Category. Most of the mineral ones should be, even if I didn’t label them, although it gets sort of complicated because you’re looking for non-nano zinc

Sunscreen Chemicals Generally Regarded as Safe

While we’re at it, it’s worth mentioning the only two sunscreen chemicals regarded as safe are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. To be clear, just because other chemicals haven’t been declared safe doesn’t mean they are toxic… the FDA’s stance is that they are still waiting on more data.

And, while we’re clarifying, Titanium Dioxide is not safe in powdered form – so it’s to be avoided in spray sunscreens and powdered makeup products.

OK, let’s do this. Here’s what you’re in for:

  • Best Mineral Sunscreens
  • Best Non-Mineral Sunscreens (& best if you’re in a pinch)
  • Best Sprays
  • Best Baby & Kid Sunscreens (although you’ll find some of these throughout as well)
Check out this safe sunscreen guide - EWG ratings + Amazon reviews for an easy to choose guide ;)

Best Mineral Sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens are the safest out there. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide work to create a physical barrier between you and the sun, which is why they often go on thick and are harder to rub in. I’m only including ones with 4 stars and up on Amazon so you can (hopefully) save yourself the trouble of buying a non-toxic goop your family will refuse to put on.

You’ll see their EWG rating, Amazon rating, and price per ounce (at time of publication). And perhaps some friendly commentary.

Reminder, EWG’s ratings are 1-10, with 10 being the most toxic.

Thinksport Sunscreen

Everything from Thinksport and Thinkbaby had a 1 rating on the EWG’s website, and at least 4 stars and up on Amazon! You cannot go wrong with this brand for a safe sunscreen.

Stats:

EWG Rating: 1
Amazon Stars: 4+
Price/Oz: $3.67/oz
Reef Safe: Yes

check out this safe sunscreen guide: thinksport brand is always a good choice

Thinksport kids has the same high ratings and similar pricing, and I don’t think there’s much, if any, difference between the two. Find it here.

Coppertone Pure and Simple SPF 50 *Best Value*

Please look closely at the packaging here, because Coppertone has another line that says “pure and simple” on the bottle but it’s not the name of the sunscreen, and that line has poor EWG ratings. Look for the green bottle, not the pink, for a safe sunscreen.

Stats:

EWG Rating: 1
Amazon Stars: 4 (limited reviews, so combined with other retail sites)
Price/Oz: $1.50/oz
Reef Safe: I think so based on ingredients

The ones with 4 stars and up were this one, Hypoallergenic 50 SPF, and the Pure and Simple Baby (green and pink bottle) – but this seems to be out of stock most places right now, although I’ve linked to a smaller bottle below.

Aveeno Positively Mineral

I wanted to include Aveeno because they’re usually at most local stores. Here are the good choices:

Their “protect and hydrate” line had a score of 4 on EWG’s list, and the Baby one has mixed reviews on Amazon.

Stats:

EWG Rating: 1
Amazon Stars: 4
Price/Oz: $3.30/oz ($4.30 for kids)
Reef Safe: Yes

Blue Lizard Australian Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30

Blue Lizard has been around for awhile and has a great reputation. They all have great reviews on Amazon, but some scored a 2 on EWG’s rating system. The ones mentioned here are a 1.

Stats:

EWG Rating: 1
Amazon Stars: 4.5
Price/Oz: $3.70/oz for the Sensitive
$2.90/oz for the Baby
Reef Safe: Yes

Buying a safe sunscreen just got way easier - see EWG ratings with Amazon reviews! Blue Lizard is always a stand up brand.

Other good Blue Lizard options that scored a 2 on EWG’s rating system include:
Sport Mineral: 4.5 stars, $3/oz
Kids Mineral: 4.5 stars, $3.20/oz
Mineral Face: 4.5 stars, $5+/oz

You can read the why behind the ratings for Blue Lizard here.

Alba Botanica Sunscreen

Although Alba Botanica has a lot of options, the only one that scored a 2 on EWG’s rating system and had good reviews on Amazon is the Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen. I included this one because the price is good, and I’ve been seeing Alba at most stores lately!

Stats:

EWG Rating: 2
Amazon Stars: 4
Price/Oz: $1.70/oz
Reef Safe: Yes

Buying a safe sunscreen just got way easier - see EWG ratings with Amazon reviews!

You can read the reason it scored a 2 on EWG’s site here.

Read EWG’s list of top Mineral Sunscreens here, or don’t, if you don’t want to get lost in data and choosing between a ton of options. It’s fascinating and helpful, but won’t prevent overwhelm like this list ;)

Best Non-Mineral Sunscreens

If it’s not made with minerals, then it’s fighting harmful rays with the chemicals we mentioned earlier. However, some chemicals are pose less of a risk than others, and the sunscreens listed do an effective job of blocking the rays and don’t pose a serious health risk. Perfect for the picky husband, I mean… kids.

These all scored a 3 on EWG’s site. I don’t think any of these, except Alba Botanica, would be considered reef-safe, but you can look them up if that’s a concern.

Banana Boat Sport Performance SPF 15 & 30 *Best Value*

This is one that I’ve used and come back to again and again, because the hubs refuses mineral sunscreens. Can ya blame him?

Stats:

EWG Rating: 3
Amazon Stars: 4
Price/Oz: $1.00/oz

Here you’re looking for SPF 15 & 30 only for this rating. These are hard to find online, but at my local Kroger they come in around $1.00/oz!

Check out the best non-mineral sunscreens here!

Please note, this is not the Banana Boat Ultra Sport— those scored a 4 on EWG’s site. Also, anything over SPF 30 has lower ratings from EWG.

Alba Botanic Aloe Vera Sunscreen SPF 45

Stats:

EWG Rating: 3
Amazon Stars: 4
Price/Oz: $1.75/oz
Reef Safe: Yes

This is another brand that I come back to again and again and have had good results!

Check out the best non-mineral sunscreens here!

Jason’s Family Sunscreen SPF 45

Jason’s has some mineral options as well (rated 2 on EWG) but any non-mineral option has a score of 3. I chose the family one because it had 4 star consumer reviews.

Stats:

EWG Rating: 3
Amazon Stars: 4
Price/Oz: $1.73/oz

Buying a safe sunscreen just got way easier - see EWG ratings with Amazon reviews!

Amazon was quite pricey, so I linked to Vitacost, but hopefully you can find Jason’s in your local grocer or drug store! Also, the packaging may be updated?

Read EWG’s Best Non-Mineral Sunscreens here.

In a Pinch or Pleasing a Picky Person?

Here are a few options that will please most people who haven’t yet boarded the non-toxic train. Most of these scored a 4 on EWG’s rankings! You might not feel amazing about these, but they are decent choices that are better than nothing, or better than something with a 10 rating for toxicity.

Coppertone Sunscreen Options

Whipped:

  • Defend and Care SPF 30 – $2/oz at my local grocer
  • Clearly Sheer Whipped, SPF 30 (I can’t find this online, but I used it last year and it worked well!)

Coppertone Sport, SPF 30 & SPF 50

EWG Rating: 4
Amazon Stars: 4.5
Price/Oz: $1/oz

Buying a safe sunscreen just got way easier - see EWG ratings with Amazon reviews!

Worst offenders: High Performance Sport 100, and most of the “Water Babies” line has Oxybenzone.

Banana Boat Options

I’ve already listed a great banana boat option that should work for the pickiest of people, but if that’s not available, their Ultra Sport, Simply Protect Sport and Simply Protect Sensitive are decent options.

Ultra Sport SPF 30 & 50

EWG Rating: 4
Amazon Stars: 4
Price/Oz: $0.80/oz

see the best less-toxic sunscreen choices for your pickiest family members in this guide!

This picture linked to SPF 50. Here’s a link to SPF 30.
The Simply Protect ones do not have as high of ratings on Amazon.

Please avoid the Simply Protect kids and baby, unless they’re the spray. I know, right?!

Speaking of spray, let’s talk about the best spray sunscreens next!

Best Spray Sunscreens

Spray sunscreens are not really non-toxic choices because a lot of the chemicals go into the user’s lungs, so the best rating they get on EWG is a 3. I’m not claiming these are safe options, but they are decent options if your family prefers spray sunscreens. Make sure you get full coverage, people, and spray downwind, preferably with no one else in the path.

Banana Boat Kids Free Clear Spray SPF 50+

This boasts of being alcohol and tear free, and goes on clear.

Stats:

EWG Rating: 3
Amazon Stars: 4
Price/Oz: $1.15/oz

find the best sunscreen sprays here in our sunscreen guide!

Banana Boat Simply Protect Kids Spray *Best Value*

Stats:

EWG Rating: 3
Amazon Stars: 4
Price/Oz: $1.05/oz

The baby spray is also a 3, but has lower reviews on Amazon.

Buying a safe sunscreen just got way easier - see EWG ratings with Amazon reviews!

All Good Sport & Kid Mineral Spray SPF 30

All Good Sport and kids sprays are made with non-nano zinc oxide.

Stats:

EWG Rating: 3
Amazon Stars: 4
Price/Oz: Around $3.50/oz for either

Buying a safe sunscreen just got way easier - see EWG ratings with Amazon reviews!

Can I just plug All Good for a second? They were originally in every category within this guide, but never made the cut when I tried to decrease the number of options. They have good reviews, are moderately priced, and all their zinc sunscreens have good EWG ratings!

Honorable Mention Spray: Coppertone Sport, SPF 15

Just in case you can’t find any of those or have an angsty teen who refuses a spray labeled “kids” then this is a not-so-bad option.

Stats:

EWG Rating: 4
Amazon Stars: 4
Price/Oz: $1.70/oz

This is a not-the-worst option if you're dealing with someone who HAS to have a spray sunscreen. check out our sunscreen guide here!

And while we’re at it, the worst sprays are anything 70+ – the higher SPF is not better here and many score a 10 on EWG’s toxicity score. And Banana Boat Ultra Sport Spray 50+ is something to avoid as well, scoring an 8. You can see the list yourself.

Here’s our last category, friends!

Best Kids & Baby Sunscreens

Here are the top rated sunscreens for kiddos and babieeees.

Before I start, I wanted to include Equate Baby Zinc Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 50, but it’s out of stock!

Coppertone Pure and Simple Baby, SPF 50 *Best Value*

This earns a top spot for good ratings on Walmart’s site. The larger bottle is out of stock, so I linked to a smaller one.

Stats:

EWG Rating: 1
Amazon Stars: 4 (well, Walmart)
Price/Oz: $2.20/oz

Buying a safe sunscreen just got way easier - see EWG ratings with Amazon reviews!

The kids version doesn’t seem to have as strong of ratings from consumers.

Blue Lizard Baby Mineral

Stats:

EWG Rating: 1
Amazon Stars: 4.5
Price/Oz: $3.30/oz if you buy a larger bottle

Buying a safe sunscreen just got way easier - see EWG ratings with Amazon reviews!

Thinkkid Sport & Thinkbaby Lotions

As I mentioned before, anything from Think Sunscreen is a pretty good option.

Stats:

EWG Rating: 1
Amazon Stars: 4.5
Price/Oz: $3.69/oz

Buying a safe sunscreen just got way easier - see EWG ratings with Amazon reviews!

Thinkbaby has similar reviews and pricing and shares a 1 rating as well.

Coppertone Kids Tear Free SPF 50

This is a mineral based formula, which means it has both a physical and chemical protection from the sun. This explains its higher number on EWG’s scale.

Stats:

EWG Rating: 3
Amazon Stars: 4
Price/Oz: $1.10/oz

Buying a safe sunscreen just got way easier - see EWG ratings with Amazon reviews!

This does contain some of the chemicals we mentioned earlier, which is why it has a 3 rating. I’m including it because it’s a more affordable option that many of you will find locally.

Do Kids Need a Different Sunscreen?

Remember, I’m a trainer and coach, not a dermatologist. Keep that in mind when you read other bloggers’ info about sunscreens. Here are some articles I found helpful:

Do Kids Need a Different Kind of Sunscreen? CNN

Can You Share Sunscreen with Your Kids? Today Parents (although I don’t really agree with all their recs)

My 2019 Sunscreens

Well, the start of this summer has me reaching for some of last year’s models, so it’s time to replenish! After doing all this research, I’m most excited to try ThinkSport, and I’ll buy Banana Boat Sports Performance or Jason’s for the hubs.

Remember, you can look through the ratings, chemicals, etc yourself on EWG’s sunscreen guide to see the why behind any ratings. And unfortunately, choosing a sunscreen can be like trial and error – what has worked for someone else’s skin might not work for yours. I think these sunscreens will be great starting points for you!

Who Didn’t Make the Cut?

Well, first of all there’s some amazing brands that just didn’t quite make the cut. There was another brand that had better reviews for the same price. I intentionally tried to keep this list short (yeah, this is the best I can do!) so I’m not including every good brand. A simple beep-boop-bop on Google will help you find them, though.

Neutrogena

You’ll also notice there’s no Neutrogena on here, even though they have such a non-toxic reputation. Now, I’m not claiming they are bad sunscreens; remember my criteria!

Neutrogena missed the cut due to high prices or low reviews on their zinc products. Most of their non-mineral sunscreens contain Oxybenzone, which I purposefully left off this list. If you love your Neutrogena products, check them on the EWG site. And if you already know you love the zinc lotions, then who cares about the Amazon reviews!

Sunscreen Isn’t The Only Option

This is just your friendly reminder to cover up, wear sun and swim shirts, hats, and find some shade. I love being outside, but we try to sit under an umbrella when we go to the lake or beach. The sun’s rays are strongest at midday, so do your best to not rely solely on sunscreen at those times.

I hope you found this list helpful. I’m all about trying to simplify things for you. Let me know your fave sunscreens in the comments + which one you think you’ll try this summer!

And please share this. I love that tired momma blogs are getting a lot of press – because I hear their plight! But this is a solution to it, and I hope you all found some easy answers in this post.

Top rated sunscreens from EWG & Amazon, all listed with price per ounce. Categories include best mineral, best non-mineral, best spray, best kiddos, and best for someone who hates anything "non-toxic". Perfect for all family members! Check out this guide!

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