Kris Carr

Kris Carr

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Find the Best Natural Sunscreen for You

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Hi Sweet Friends,

I love summer. Bare feet. Swimming holes. Veggie gardening. And the soul-warming sun. In my earlier days, I had a dangerous love affair with those radiant rays. Sunscreen? Yeah, right. Nothing was going to stand between me, my baby oil, a Body Glove surfer bikini and a golden tan (or rather, a lobster-red sunburn!).

Today, I’m much wiser, but not just about the importance of wearing sunscreen. I’m also aware that we all need to be savvy consumers when choosing a safe, natural sunscreen.

When it comes to sun exposure and protection, there are a lot of questions to answer. How much basking in the sun is too much? Are there benefits to not wearing sunscreen sometimes? What kind of protection does sunscreen provide? Which ingredients should I avoid? It can be downright mind-boggling to choose a safe, natural sunscreen that feels good AND gets the job done.

That’s why I rely on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Guide to Sunscreens. Every year they do the hard work of analyzing hundreds of sunscreens to uncover health and environmental concerns—and help you choose the best product for you.

Today, I’m digging into EWG’s latest findings, sharing some of their top-rated sunscreen choices and giving you my five essential tips for having a safe relationship with the sun. Hold onto your sun hats, folks, let’s dive in!

Some sun IS good for you!

Vitamin D is an essential hormone for healthy bones, immune function and blood cell formation. Luckily, your body produces vitamin D every time you step into the sunlight. Easy, right? Just keep in mind that you don’t need much unprotected sun exposure to meet your needs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 5-15 minutes a few times a week is sufficient to maintain healthy vitamin D levels.

Getting some sunshine and fresh air is also great for your mood. There’s nothing quite like soaking up some good old-fashioned rays to turn that frown upside down. But that doesn’t mean it’s safe to sit out and bake sans sunscreen for hours on end. That’s where a great natural sunscreen comes in (stay tuned—I’ll help you find one later on in this article!).

The risks of sun exposure

The truth is, the sun can have some serious damaging effects (no matter how beautiful it is!). Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB) are the two types of sun rays that travel through the earth’s atmosphere and shine down on your glorious skin. They’re responsible for the golden tan so many of us try to attain each year. But if you think that this sun-kissed tone is healthy, think again. When your skin darkens, it’s actually a warning sign that your body is trying to prevent further DNA damage. (Pssst… Don’t worry if you can’t bare to ditch that glow—check out my guide to safe self-tanner here.)

This is just one example of the ways UVA and UVB impact your health. Now let’s explore the difference between the two so that we know why it’s important to protect our skin from both.

UVA rays penetrate the top layer of your skin. They’re often to blame for wrinkles, leathery skin, sagging and sun spots. They can bust through clouds on a gloomy day, seep through your car windows and even sneak through some clothing. Although UVA rays are less likely to give you a sunburn, they’re still linked to increasing your risk of skin cancer because they can damage your basal and squamous skin cells.

UVB rays impact the top layer of your skin. They’re one of the major causes of skin cancer and your worst enemy when it comes to sunburns. UVB rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., especially during the summer months.

Now that we’ve learned about UVA and UVB rays, let’s chat about how find to the perfect natural sunscreen for you!

Decoding the bottle

What do all of those letters and numbers mean, anyway? First things first: Let’s get to the bottom of those often confusing sunscreen labels.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF)

SPF (short for “sun protection factor”) measures how long the sunscreen protects your skin from sunburn caused by UVB rays. So, for example, if your skin would typically burn after 10 minutes in the sun, a sunscreen with SPF 15 should allow you to stay in the sun 15 times longer (150 minutes) before your skin would start to burn.

Keep in mind that SPF doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to the effectiveness of your sunscreen. Higher SPF is not always better—in fact, it can be misleading (source). Also, sweating, swimming and other physical activities can reduce the potency of the SPF, which means you may need to apply it more often. This resource from the Cleveland Clinic has some great application tips to help you get maximum protection!

UVA and UVB Protection

Your sunscreen may be protecting you from sunburn by blocking UVB rays (if you’re re-applying it often enough and using a sufficient amount), but you’re still vulnerable to skin damage if you’re not protected from UVA rays as well. I suggest looking for a sunscreen that has protection from both so you’re totally covered! And that shouldn’t be too hard to find—EWG reported that 99.3% of the products that appear in their 2018 Sunscreen have UVA filters, which is an 18% increase since 2007 (source). Wahoo!

Mineral vs. Synthetic

EWG also noted the rise of mineral-only sunscreens in this year’s Sunscreen Guide. They rate these products more favorably than their non-mineral alternatives because they’re less likely to contain oxybenzone (a harmful chemical we’ll chat more about later). They’re also stable in sunlight and have a good balance of UVA and UVB protection.

Mineral sunscreens aren’t always free and clear, though—we still have to be aware of the potential challenges they present. So, let’s chat about how to choose a natural sunscreen that feels great and keeps your incredible epidermis out of harm’s way!

How to select a safer natural sunscreen.

When it comes to choosing any personal care product, it’s important to be your own health advocate. Knowledge is power, so you’ve taken a great first step just by reading this post (don’t forget to bookmark it so you can refer back later!).

Here’s what you’ve gotta keep in mind: There are chemicals in many personal care products, sunscreen included, that have been linked with cancer, birth defects and a variety of other health issues. And it doesn’t stop there—some of the ingredients are harmful not only to us, but to the environment, too.

I know you want to protect yourself, your family and the environment. So, here are a few red flags to look out for:

Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate or “retinol”)

This ingredient has been linked to the faster growth of skin tumors when applied and exposed to sunlight. And guess where it’s found? That’s right, in sunscreen! It may also lead to vitamin A toxicity. Yes, even though it’s good for you, there’s still such a thing as too much. Luckily, EWG does report that the number of sunscreens containing this problematic ingredient has dropped by more than half since 2010. That said, I still suggest keeping an eye out for it until companies stop using it or can prove it’s safe. You can read more about Vitamin A in sunscreen here.


This toxic chemical, which EWG found in almost 65 percent of non-mineral products it evaluated this year, is perhaps the most troubling sunscreen ingredient. It comes with a whole host of environmental and health concerns, including hormone disruption (source) and coral reef damage. The good news is, there are plenty of companies that don’t use oxybenzone!

Powder or spray sunscreens

As convenient as these products are, they pose a couple of challenges. First, the coverage you get is not always as consistent—it’s much easier to miss a spot. Second, you’re more likely to inhale them than you are a lotion. Needless to say, the chemicals we’ve been chatting about are not edible. Until companies can do more to assure as that sprays and powders are safe, keep this information in mind when you’re buying and applying.


Remember what I said before about mineral sunscreens? They’re a great choice, but they’re not perfect. Here’s the deal: Old-school mineral sunscreens were often known for their white, chalky look (SO not cute!). To remedy this, many brands have started using nanoparticles. The problem is, these babies are not well-regulated and vary greatly in their size, shape and so on—all factors that may impact the protection power of the sunscreen. Their effect on the environment is also not well understood. EWG goes into more detail about nanoparticles here, but the short story is that more research needs to be done to make sure they’re totally safe.

Your perfect natural sunscreen

222 products met EWG’s criteria for their Best Beach and Sport Sunscreens category this year. Here are some that stand out to me (all brands listed are cruelty-free, but make sure to do your research if you’re looking for a 100% vegan product!):

  • Alba Botanica (multiple recommended, including non-mineral options*)
  • Beautycounter (multiple options)
  • Goddess Garden (multiple options)
  • Badger (multiple options)
  • COOLA (multiple recommended, including non-mineral options*)
  • JASON Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30 (plus four non-mineral options*)
  • Juice Beauty Sport Sunscreen, SPF 30

*Approximately two-thirds of the non-mineral sunscreens EWG analyzed contain oxybenzone. These recommendations are among the 23 oxybenzone-free non-mineral sunscreens that EWG is able to recommend.

And here are some of the products featured in the Best Moisturizers with SPF category:

  • Andalou Naturals Daily Defense Facial Lotion, SPF 18
  • Drunk Elephant Umbra (both Sheer and Tinte) Physical Daily Defense, SPF 30
  • MyChelle (multiple options)
  • W3LL PEOPLE (multiple options)

How to have a healthy relationship with the sun

Applying natural sunscreen regularly when you’re out in the sun is important, but it’s not the answer to complete sun protection. You also need healthy sun habits!

Here are five ways to stay safe while you’re enjoying those radical rays.

1. Get your D. Spend 5-15 minutes in the sun (sans sunscreen) a few times per week to meet your vitamin D needs.

2. Buy safer sunscreen. Check labels for toxic chemicals and use EWG’s guide to choose the best natural sunscreen for you. Look for broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) coverage and a SPF of 15-50.

3. Use sunscreen responsibly. Apply the recommended amount (usually 1.5 oz) 30 minutes before sun exposure. Re-apply according to the SPF or more often if you’re sweating or swimming.

4. Cover up! The best protection from the sun is complete protection. Cover up with a hat, long sleeves, a shady tree or an umbrella to give yourself a break from those rays. And don’t forget sunglasses—your eyes need protection, too!

5. Always be prepared. Carry sun protection and sunscreen with you at all times. You never know when you or someone you’re with will need it!

Here’s the bottom line: Sunscreen and sun protection are still imperfect sciences. Some companies are making progress, and some have work to do. And when it comes to choosing the best possible protection for you, your family and the environment—a little awareness (check—you got that from this article!) and common sense go a long way.

Now, go have a blast this summer, sweetheart—you deserve it!

Your turn: What are your tips for safe fun in the sun? Do you have a favorite natural sunscreen? Let me know in the comments below!

Peace & fun in the sun,

Add a comment
  1. usman khan says:

    It’s very important to wear sunscreen, especially where the sun is shining brightly or if you are outside a lot. The sun will destroy the skin, it will make you age faster, it will give you wrinkles a spot. You need to be very careful with the sun.

  2. Debbie says:

    Thank you so much for the article on sunscreen. There is so much crap out there and filtering through the ingredients can be so depressing!
    Love your articles though. So inspirational. Hope you’re having a great weekend!

    • kris says:

      Thanks for reading, Debbie—so glad you found the article helpful. Let me know which sunscreen you end up trying! xo, kc

  3. Lynne says:

    Thank you for this article! I recently found a sunscreen without oxybenzone or octinoxate. It’s also a spray, but has no CFCs and it’s cruelty-free. It is even in a biodegradable, reef friendly container. It’s called “Aloe Up” sport spray. I’ll see if it gets a good rating from EWG. I’ll look into these choices here too. Happy summer!

  4. Wendy C says:

    I agree with Ginger, who has been diagnosed with melanoma. I had a melanoma removed (from my backside – never been in the sun!) and now I feel (as much as I want to use natural products and protect the planet) that I need to apply the strongest sun lotion I can find, for my protection. My dermatologist recommended Altruist, unfortunately it contains a long list of chemicals but I feel it’s he right protection. I will also try Heliocare capsules, which I think can provide added protection.

  5. Ulrike Egger says:

    I love the Ringana brand. It’ a company from Austria and they use no preservatives. Check out their website
    What I also use regularly are the cleanser and the tooth oil.

  6. samira says:

    Hey Friend,

    I was checking out some of the articles on your site & found your post about Sun Lotion.

    Great Stuff!

    I use a Nivea Protect & Moisture Sun Lotion. It provides skin’s moisture lost due to sun exposure & advanced collagen protection that prevents wrinkles.

  7. Lily Marcos says:

    Hey Kris! Do you think Zinc is the best ingredient? I’m trying to find a good sunscreen without chemicals. Have you ever heard of seriously fab Zinc It Over? You’re supposed to be able to wear it over makeup. Wondering if it would really be sheer. Okay thanks, have a great day!

  8. Jake Gibson says:

    Nice blog about skincare & how the environment is taking a toll on our bodies. For example, we took the kids to the pool last weekend and tried out a new sunscreen from Community Natural Foods. I’m liking their natural sunscreen for kids as it is organic & much safer than anything available in the market nowadays.

  9. Thank you for the article. I have to say that even there are some information correct you miss many very relevant issues and some are really important for the health.

    I am writing now a book called “NEVER DIE BY IGNORANCE” and there is one chapter about sun (UV rays) and effects to the body. I can say that hardly any really knows how sun is supporting vitality and better health. In fact, most are doing just opposite and that is the reason why so many people are suffering diseases and premature death.

  10. Kym Olson says:


    I really appreciate the excellent content you are providing.

    I have created a ‘touch free’ sunscreen that has a washable sponge-tip applicator that I believe can be a benefit to your readers.

    The no mess application allows for a clean and convenient way to apply sunscreen throughout ones day.

    It is especially helpful for kids and reapplying throughout your day.

    Kind regards,
    Kym Olson

  11. Dorothy Graham says:

    Do you sell 3rd Rock Sunscreen in Canada and if so where could I purchase some in Dartmouth Nova Scotia

  12. Roswitha says:

    I was very curious to read this article – summer is here and I was wondering “should I wear sun protection or make my own?”
    I read that 20 min daily without protection is okay for Vit D – so I am a bit confused…
    Other than that, I also read that some natural oil have UVA or UVB protection so that a sunscreen could be avoided. Do you know anything about this?

    I am all for a natural way of doing things and I would love to know if there are any homemade recipes for sun protection.

    Thank,s and I love reading your articles 😀

  13. Ella says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful information… I have recently bought Dermaxsol sunscreen from Solvaderm brand.. It has SPF-30 and it does not contain drying alcohol…

  14. Nanielle Travers says:

    I am so grateful for this article! I was recently diagnosed with Rosacea and am planning a big trip to Mexico this summer and am on the hunt for new sunscreen that will not worsen my condition and protect me from potential flare ups.

    Thanks Kris!

  15. MySite says:

    As far as i know the vitamin D gets stored in your skin, I’m sure some of the vitamin D will get stored in cells and distributed, depends on how well and quickly your body absorbs and stores vitamin D.

    • Hi! You will get the full facts in my e-book. Here are some cites from the book: “The distribution of vitamin D3 into adipose tissue prolongs its total-body half-life to approximately two months as first detected on experiments on submarine personnel”, so two months… but that’s not all: “The serum half-life of 25-(OH)-D3 is approximately 15 days” and that serum is the major circulating form of vitamin D that is used by clinicians to measure vitamin D status.

  16. Robin says:

    I love Sun Precautions clothes & hats for sun protection. I don’t like slathering on sunscreen, so instead I toss on a hat & sun shirt and go out in the sun with no worries! They also sell gloves to protect hands from the sun, which I use for driving – It may look a bit dorky to wear gloves while driving during the summer, but my hands are in pretty good shape!
    Here’s their web site:

  17. Erin says:

    Thanks so much for the article. I’m interested in what sunscreen you use on your face Kris? Your favorite skincare line does not offer anything with SPF protection and I’m finding that a lot of holistic skin care sites do not offer it. I can avoid the sun as much as possible and wear hats etc.. but there are times when you will be in the sun and I would rather be prepared with something than have nothing. Thanks!

  18. Julia Kathleen says:

    Hi Kris,

    Sunscreen does not have to be topical. Check out the plant polypodium leucotomos. It is a fern. When taken internally it protects your skin. There’s plenty of good research demonstrating this. I tried it out for 3 months when I went to Hawaii with tan-free skin and the results were amazing. The product I used, and the only one I know of, is Fern Block, from Life Extension Foundation. (I have no monetary interest in this – just want people to know about it.) There may be others. Contact me (Kris) if you want to hear more details about my experience using this plant. I think your audience could benefit tremendously from this knowledge.

    love forward,

  19. iris says:

    Hi all,

    I recommend Annemarie Börlind: used it this summer.


  20. Does anyone have any recommendations to help heal sun spots and sun damage? I have some new spots on my face in particular that I would like to heal. Thanks!

  21. Perfect and timely article. Washed away alot of myths about sunscreen out there. Sun protection is so important. Never too young to start caring for your skin.

  22. D says:

    I have read many of the comments ( not all) and have not seen anything written about sunscreen itself on the body. It is my understanding that the particles in the lotion have to be so small to provide coverage for the even smaller radiation particles. When they make the lotion particles this small, they are of a size that can be absorbed inside the skin cells. This is scary to me! Does anyone have any information on this??

  23. Jill says:

    Thank you for this post Kris. I stopped wearing sunscreen because i was getting pimples from it. Then 2 days ago, I was out in the sun all day, so I lathered up on sunscreen and once again I broke out in pimples. Its like it clogs my pores up with junk. I always wear a hat and cover up, but obviously still need the sunscreen. Anyways, thank you for your article as I am going to go find some safer sunscreen and hope that helps.

  24. samantha mann says:

    Two words…. Sun Putty
    Look no further further for safe, all natural sunscreen that goes on clear…
    Great, skin-nurturing ingredients.
    EWG-rated a #1

  25. Jody says:

    Fantastic Article! Most people have NO idea about half of the things you discuss here 🙂
    I wanted to bring your attention to Ava Anderson Non-Toxic’s sunscreen – we were just rated among the best and safest by EWG in their 2013 sunscreen guide as well! In fact, we have products in THREE of their big categories – face moisturizers with SPF, SPF lip balms and regular sunscreen! Our products are also non-nanoparticle zinc oxide (which is very important, not all zinc oxides are NON-Nanoparticle!) and have broad UVA/UVB protection. And Ava’s actually rubs in (so you still get a good and SAFE physical sun barrier, but you don’t look like a ghost!)!

  26. Lesley says:

    Thanks for your great article on sunscreen! The ONLY sunscreen I will use on myself or my family is called 3rd Rock Sunblock, It’s made of all food grade ingredients, and it not only protect your skin from sun damage, but it also works to reverse skin damage as well as reduce the threat of cancer before it starts. Since my family stared using 3rd Rock Sunblock, NOBODY has had a sunburn (which is a pretty big deal since we are all fair skinned and I used to burn no matter what sunscreen I was wearing).

  27. Dean says:

    Some sun sans sunscreen is good. If one takes 4 to 8 mg of astaxanthin, it will act as an internal sunscreen. I have blue eyes and light brown hair. I never got a tan in my life till I started taking astaxanthin. I try to get 30 minutes a day of sun, preferably early morning around 9 am. Also not wearing sunglasses is helpful to the body as it seems to calibrate/coordinate its various system through the light impinging on the eyes.

  28. I love your articles, Kris!
    Thanks, now i know which ingredients I need to look out for!

  29. Janene says:

    Great article. I am glad that I finally found you!
    This year is the first year I tried Arbonne’s self tanner with 20 SPF. I love that I can still get the same satisfaction of being in the sun and getting a tan, just without the sun damage. Spray and rub. It didn’t streak either. I am bias towards Arbonne products because of their commitment to botanicals and was still a bit skeptical of the self tanner, but now I am sold!
    I am still taking to heart the comment about the coral reefs too. Something to consider when you are not just hanging out by the pool! Thank you to others for your comments.

    • Sera says:

      As someone who burns very very easily, sunscreen is always a must. But further, for most people, the amount of Vit D that our bodies make is not enough. My dr. (Naturopath) just put me on 10,000 mgs a day because I was so low. She suspected that my low Vit D had something to do with my poor adrenal function. Anyway, Vit D intake can be a bit more personal than the 5-15 minutes of sun.

  30. Ginger says:

    5-15 minutes in the sun sans sunscreen? I have Melanoma, stage 2b. What advice do you have for someone like me? I can’t help but look at the sun as a great flaming ball of radiation! A redhead who has never had a tan, I burned lots when I was a kid – did they even sell sunscreen back then? How can sunshine be healthy if it is probably what gave me this horrible disease and could very likely make my health worse? I wish it were as easy as saying “Get some sunshine!”, but in my case, you might as well tell me to put a gun to my head and pull the trigger.

    • Cheryl says:

      Ginger, you might want to investigate causes of Melanoma other than sun exposure. I live in Australia, where statistics show that it’s the office workers, who see little sun, who are more likely to get melanoma, not the outdoor workers who have constant sun exposure. This marries up with the belief of a few brave and prominent dermatologists willing to risk putting their careers on the line trying to get the message out that it’s more likely the hydrogentated fats & vegetable oils so popular in the modern diet that are causing melanoma, not the sun.
      Frightening to think we are being fed this information to promote a multi-billion dollar sunscreen industry, so people aren’t taking the right actions, such as avoiding certain foods, that may well save their lives.
      I have fair skin, light hair & eyes, yet I favour coconut oil & cocoa butter for sun protection. I have avoided sunscreen for years, and no problems so far (I’m in my 50’s now, and used to fry myself silly when I was young & foolish).

  31. People should take astaxanathin as well as a natural form of sunscreen

  32. Linda May-Dahlstrom says:

    As a proud, pale and blond citizen of Sweden I just like to say Amen to your tips! It is so needed when the summer and the sun comes and all I and my kids wanna do is to be in the sun all the time. Its like a strong urge and sometimes I think it is powered by the fact that during the winter we are living in darkness where as now it does not go dark at all. One more tip I have though! Take care of your beautiful eyes as well and wear sunglasses!
    Thank you Kris!
    Hugs and kisses from a big fan on the island of Gotland in the land of the midnight sun!

  33. Jo says:

    I really like Wotnot sunscreen & highly recommend.

  34. Julie Devlin says:

    Wonderful article regarding the importance of sunscreen. I have a rare autoimmune disease called Dermatomyositis which is a skin and muscle inflammation disease. At this time I currently apply sunscreen 5 times a day and can’t tolerate any indirect or direct sunlight. I had been searching for a long time for a good sunscreen and finally found it recently in Goddess Garden Sunscreen. Amazing product. I highly recommend this to everyone!

  35. pure, raw cacao butter…sounds counter intuitive but is amazing…prevents burns and let’s you soak up plenty of the good stuffs.

  36. Thanks for spreading the sun savvy, Kris! I just want to add that oxybenzone is also a photo-carcinogen, like retinyl palmitate. When exposed to sun rays it may transform into a carcinogen. No bueno.

    I have so much gratitude to EWG for their extensive sunscreen testing each year. Namaste.

  37. Sue Van Raes says:

    This is packed with valuable information, and perfect timing. The sun-kissed look is tempting, but in the end, just not worth it!

  38. Anneli says:

    All the products I use are from the Honest Company, as they don’t use any chemical nonsense, and I’m excited to try their sunscreen now too (I used Badger before for my daughter, it’s great too). If you want a $10 discount from the Honest Company (and access to free samples) you can use this link: (I am in no way affiliated with them, I just love their cause). I have everything Honest in my house from diapers and wipes to bubble bath, laundry detergent, stain remover (it’s really good), fruit and veggie wash, all purpose cleaner, body wash… I could go on, but just check out the website: really cool! Plus they give back too, every time you buy, they give to people in need. Everybody wins!

  39. siri jostad says:

    Kris, This may sound naive….can you tell me why retinol is cancer connected? i know you are saying it shows up in sunscreen…is it probably the same retinol i’ve been using on my face for wrinkles? yikes…i think i may need a new routine

    • Kelley says:

      I’m pretty sure that it has to do with the vitamin A increasing cell turnover. Since the retinol causes the skin cells to reproduce much faster than they normally would, this creates an opportunity for more cellular mutations and cancer to occur.

  40. Ashley says:

    Thanks! This is so helpful!!

  41. Joelle says:

    Cancer patient are deficient in vitamin D , 5 to 10 minutes daily is good practice to help boost your immune system , in your swimsuit and on each side if your climate and season is right, is even better , and I find it the perfect time to meditate and a good excuse to relax and do nothing 😉

  42. Suzie says:

    Thanks Kris for this great article, the only thing I would add is what I tell my clients “If you haven’t used your sunscreen during the cooler months through it out and purchase a new one for the coming warmer weather” The active ingredients will be fresh and ready to protect you!

  43. Kristen says:

    Great information! Thank you. I use a retinol product everyday as part of my skincare routine. It was recommended by my Dermatologist to diminish wrinkles and help with skin tone. Since Retinol is Vitamin A and should be an avoided ingredient in sunscreen, should I be concerned about how I am using it?

    • Jennifer says:

      Yes, you should apply your moisturizer and sunscreen in the AM and your retinol at night. If you apply the retinol in the morning the sun will break it down and it is not effective. It also makes you more susceptible to burning and that is why they say to make sure you are covered and have sunscreen on. There are also natural retinols that you can use to avoid the chemicals. I cannot remember right off what they are, maybe someone else can provide the info.

  44. Kristal says:

    This is one of my favorite clean and natural sunscreens, check it out!

  45. Jean Marie says:

    Why not also consider carrying a sun umbrella? When in Japan, I noticed not only how flawless and fresh the women’s complexions looked–but how many of them shade themselves with umbrellas and also cotton gloves. This practice provides some sun protection, and it is cooler too! You may still apply sunscreen if you want to be extra safe. Furthermore, I find using a cotton based umbrella –as opposed to a nylon one,
    is much cooler; you may find these on line.
    In addition, I love the hats from the online San Diego Hat Company–very wide brimmed and chic!!

  46. Shelley Madsen says:

    I use a scarf all spring and summer to cover the décolleté which is where I am most sun sensitive after a particularly damaging burn when I was 17 years old.

  47. Stephanie says:

    Thanks Kris! It’s so awesome to finally hear your view point on this!

  48. Alexandra says:

    I was aware of this before, but refreshing information will never hurt 😉 Thanks for that!

    I have one more question that I don’t have answer to. Is the sunscreen good to use the next year, if it officially didn’t expire? I heard that it doesn’t have so strong effect, if you keep the bottle open for the whole year.

    I will appreciate any comments.

  49. Leana Colletta says:

    Do you know of any good oil free sunscreen for the face that won’t make me break out???


  50. Sasha Stone says:

    Thanks for this Kris. Lately I’ve been leaving out the SPF and after just a few weeks already have sun spots on my face. Will now be weaving it back into my routine.

  51. I sit in the sun without sunscreen a couple of times a week for about an hour. I am Italian with olive skin. I get a nice tan without burning and hopefully my vitamin D. I do use some protection of on a vacation when I’ll be in the sun longer. I will check out some of the products you recommend. Most of the natural ones are so heavy and thick. Can you recommend one that is like a tanning oil consistency?

  52. Kirsten Hagelund says: is a great site 🙂 but my take on sunscreen is this:
    The best protection you can get is NOT sunscreen – it is antioxidants – which we can get by juicing every day WITH carrots and beets (unfortunately they have been more or less banned because of the “sugar” content, but these have very important healing agents too and are great in detoxifying the liver and protecting from sun-damage) but of course it is a good idea to mix with all the leafy greens, so the sugar gets balanced out (you can skip the fruit in the juices instead).
    I NEVER use sunscreen EVER, not even so-called nontoxic organic – and when I sunbath it is for 1-2 hours in THE MIDDLE of the day (YES !), getting my D-vitamin naturally, when I can in the summer time here in Scandinavia or when I visit California. I start out slow and build up and I see to it, that I do not get sunburned, but sunscreen is NOT advisable in any form – because THERE’S ANOTHER ADVERSE SIDE TO SUNSCREEN THAT MOST PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT:
    Elizabeth Plourde has written this important and very overlooked book about how sunscreen destroys the coral reefs and our eco-system, yes also organic – because the SPF factors are a problem.

    and here a short interview:

    and Andreas Moritz has written this very important book; HEAL YOURSELF WITH SUNSHINE:
    and even though Andreas transitioned last year – way to early as many of us would think, but we never know a Souls path and Andreas was not ill in anyway, but obviously his work and mission here was done, and his great insight, wisdom and books live on.

    This is just my take with the knowledge and info that I have along with my own experience (I am 59) and intuitive feeling, we all have got to use common sense, find our own way and follow what our inner guidance tells us 🙂 and what feels right and NOT trust blindly, what comes from so-called official authorities (about anything) – NOT A GOOD SOURCE OF INFO – many lies and deceptions coming from those … always make your own investigations.

    Thank you Kris for your great inspiration – will be getting your latest cook-book soon I hope 🙂 look forward to that even though I am not totally vegetarian 😉

    Abundant blessings
    Kirsten, Copenhagen

    • Kirsten,

      Yes, there are superfoods that can boost your body’s SPF and help repair cell damage, but it isn’t safe to say that they can completely deter UVA/B damage 100% nor reverse sun damage 100%. It is the sunburns in our early years that can make us susceptible to skin cancer.

      Having lost my father to melanoma, I practice and preach an antioxidant rich diet with daily SPF low/non-toxic protection, with biannual skin checks (because of my history).

  53. Amanda says:

    Goddess Garden is a lovely Organics brand, with a great baby sunscreen I use on my son. Their website lists all of the ingredients. I never considered sun protection until I had my son as I do not burn easily, but tan very easily. I’ve hardly ever worn sunscreen before. Now I’m much more aware….although I must say it would be nice to get a little colour on these scary white Canadian legs this summer! Not worth it though – not with my boy to consider!

  54. Jonathan says:

    A young woman of my acquaintance is on her second bout of melanoma. Although she says her dematologist caught it early and it was entirely removed by surgery, she still does not cover up and does not have a hat. I wonder how many more times she will continue to be so lucky.

  55. Helena says:

    I agree with all the above information especially the tips on not just to rely on your sunscreen. Yes put it on like you would moisturizer and make it a daily routine. Slipping on a hat and slapping on a shirt after you slop on some sunscreen as well as finding some shade during the hotter hours of the day are all part of smart sun protection! You can do it people, we don’t want to turn into lobsters and melt away instead we want to enjoy the sun and play away.

  56. Cindy says:

    Two other great sunscreens are from Mexitan and Mercola – essentially the same sunscreens under different labels. They are water resistant and truly protect for the time indicated. These sunscreens don’t have the wax and oils that can clog the pores and cause itchy, burning, skin rashes. Tried everything until found these that protect the skin and have had no trouble with rashes. Apply sparingly – you don’t need to slather it on!!!!

    • Mattie says:

      Mexitan, aka Tropical Sands, is also coral reef safe, for those of us who like a nice tropical vacation, complete with scuba or snorkeling. It’s also approved for for usage at Xcaret, Xel Ha, or any other of Mexico’s beautiful marine parks. Unfortunately, in Cozumel, and any other area in Mexico that has marine tourism, the police will confiscate any sunscreen that is not biodegradable. (Awesome start to your vacation, right?)

  57. Laura says:

    Before thinking you get enough Vit D I suggest having it tested. As a Dietitian I have seen countless patients who test low especially in northern states. It’s function with Calcium absorption, Mood/depression and normal sleep patterns and as well asmany other functions with hormones. Know your own body.

    • Lori Curran says:

      Yes, Laura, I agree, regarding the Vitamin D issue, and yes, Chris, I believe it is best to use a safe sunscreen or cover up with light clothing/hat, etc. when you have had enough sun. I do live in the north and was very surprised when I was tested, that I was NOT in optimal range for vitamin D, even though I was supplementing with 5000 IU per day. I did some research, and in the part of the country I live in, the sun is only at an angle that allows our skin to make vitamin D between April 21 and August 19, and only for 10 minutes in the middle of the day on those days. Then each day after April 21 to half way to August 19, more “D making time” is added, when it starts decreasing again. You also need a good portion of your skin exposed during this time, I understand. It also stands to reason that even people that live closer to the equator, but work inside during the day could also be low and why our ancestors from the north consumed diets rich in vitamin D….oily cold water fish, etc.

    • Jo says:

      I agree. I spent 4wks in France in the summer plus 1 week in Thailand & came home feeling pretty average. I went to the doctors who said that he would test me for a Vit D deficiency but it would be unlikely as I had been in so much sun. I had a vit D deficiency! I probably had it for years as I used to slather on yucky chemical ridden sunscreen & completely cover up the rest of my body. My skin is quite youthful for my age but I decided to let go of the vanity & get some rays (& maybe some wrinkles!) my internal health is much more important!

  58. Deb H says:

    Excellant article, thank you…..I’ll be looking for the recommended sunscreens!!

  59. Renee Baude says:

    I can’t share via FB! bummer–I wanted all my friends to have this info!

    Be Blessed.

  60. I discovered the best product EVER from Jane Iredale: an SPF 30 translucent powder that is just magnificent! It gives you nice healthy glow AND protects from the sun.

  61. I wanted to thank you for your article,, as I have been asking around and looking for a safe sunscreen. I do have one comment to add. My son got a horrible sunburn in the spring and as it turned out.. the sunscreen was expired. With the little research I did, it appears it is not required for labeling in the U.S. I went to a local store with a new display for summer. I pulled out 3 bottles of the same sunscreen and 1, bottle was expired, 1 had no date and the 3rd was not yet expired. According to the pharmacist the sunscreen acts as a attractant from the sun if it is expired. He advised to never leave your sunscreen in the car, where the heat will destroy its effectiveness. He also advised after any vacation where your sunscreen had been sitting in the sun on a beach to throw it away. If you have any real facts,, as this is all information from the pharmacist at local store. Thank you for your informative article. Michelle

  62. Erin says:

    As a very pale person I pray at the alter of covering up, wearing hats and lots of sunscreen when in the sun for long periods of time. I was told last year that I was low in vitamin d and now make sure to enjoy timeach week uncovered in the sun.
    But I have not known much on the chemicals are in all the creams I use. Thanks for sharing! I’m definitley going to look deeper into this and thanks for the product recomendations too.

  63. Mia says:

    Thank you! I just bought not the right sun screen, but have not opened it yet. With kids those spray bottles are just so tempting…. it’s going back though! 🙂

  64. Evlayne says:

    Benedetta, a wonderful organic, farm-sourced company out of San Francisco has a lovely sunscreen oil! Check out their website at

  65. This article is very timely, thanks so much. My hubby is in the sun almost every day for hours on end with his work and we have be struggling to find the most effective sunscreen – we found sorting through the information very confusing as well there seems to be much controversy over the different sun screens. It’s been very difficult for us to sort through what really is good/effective vs. not so much so. Your insight and the EWG guide are wonderful, finally we can sort through the rubble 😉 Thanks so much Kris! xox

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