The Most Toxic Sunscreens (Plus, Safer Ones to Choose)

Sun is surely providing our body with many different benefits, one of them being vitamin D, but during the hot summer days and the beach season approaching, we should find a sunscreen that will reduce our risk of sunburns, sun overexposure, and possibly skin cancer too.

The results of the EWG’s 10th annual Guide to Sunscreens report show that even though the sunscreen content has been greatly improved over the last decade, most of the sunscreens available in America still fail to provide enough protection against ultraviolet rays, and include toxic chemicals.

We must point out that there’s no perfect sunscreen, as most of them include toxic chemicals and nanoparticles which can cross the blood-brain barrier and harm aquatic life as well. Health. 750 sunscreens, 100 lip products, and over 500 SPF-labeled moisturizers were analyzed by EWG, to rate their safety and efficiency in order to help users find better choice.

The Best Sunscreen Brands of 2016

Beach & Sport

  • All Good Unscented Sunstick, SPF 30
  • Badger Sport Sunscreen Cream, Unscented, SPF 35
  • All Terrain AquaSport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Babyganics Pure Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50+
  • Thinksport Sunscreen, SPF 50+
  • Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion, Fragrance Free, SPF 30
  • Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Sensitive, SPF 30+
  • Sunology Natural Sunscreen, Face, SPF 50
  • MDSolarSciences Mineral Creme Sunscreen, SPF 30


  • Badger Damascus Rose Face Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 25
  • Andalou Naturals All in One Beauty Balm, Sheer Tint, SPF 30
  • Keys Care KPRO Moisturizer with Sunscreen, SPF 30+
  • bareMinerals Prep Step Mineral Shield Daily Prep Lotion, SPF 50
  • Thinksport Every Day Face Sunscreen, SPF 30+
  • Block Island Organics Natural Face Moisturizer, SPF 30
  • Suntegrity Skincare 5 in 1 Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • Juice Beauty Mineral Moisturizer, Sheer, SPF 30


  • All Good Kid’s Sunscreen, SPF 33
  • Adorable Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
  • All Terrain KidSport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Badger Kids Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30
  • ATTITUDE Little Ones 100% Mineral Sunscreen, Fragrance Free, SPF 30
  • Belly Buttons & Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Bare Belly Organics Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Baby, SPF 30+
  • California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen, SPF 30+
  • BurnOut Kids Physical Sunscreen, SPF 35
  • Goddess Garden Kids Sport Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • COOLA Suncare Baby Mineral Sunscreen Unscented Moisturizer, SPF 50
  • Jersey Kids Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Sunology Natural Sunscreen, Kids, SPF 50
  • Hampton Sun Sunscreen Lotion For Baby, SPF 45
  • Nurture My Body Baby Organic Sunscreen, SPF 32
  • Kiss My Face Organics Kids Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30

Avoid These Toxic Sunscreens

Since children are more prone to specific toxic chemicals and blistering sunburns obtained in the early stages of life might raise the risk of skin cancer, this year EWG has payed more attention to sunscreens for children. Health. According to them, these are the worst children’s sunscreens:

  • Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
  • Banana Boat Kids Max Protect & Play Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
  • Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
  • CVS Baby Sunstick Sunscreen, SPF 55
  • Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion Kids, SPF 70+
  • Equate Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
  • CVS Kids Wet & Dry Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70+
  • Coppertone Sunscreen Continuous Spray, Kids, SPF 70
  • Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70+
  • Hampton Sun Continuous Mist Sunscreen For Kids, SPF 70
  • Coppertone Foaming Lotion Sunscreen Kids Wacky Foam, SPF 70+
  • Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
  • Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 70+

Main Discoveries in the Sunscreen Report of EWG

  • Around 50% of all sunscreen products available in America won’t pass the stricter standards in Europe as they aren’t able to filter sufficient UVA rays.
  • The anti-aging antioxidant that can cause skin tumors and lesions on sunlight exposure, retinyl palmitate, was found in 10% of lip products, 14% of moisturizers with SPF, and 16% of sport and beach sunscreens.
  • Almost 30% of the tested sunscreens were sprays, which are difficult to be applied properly, and which pose inhalation risk. These spray sunscreens are a topic of concern to the Food and Drug Administration as well, although they are still not banned by the agency.
  • Oxybenzone, allergen and hormone-disrupting chemical, was found in 70% of non-mineral sunscreens.
  • If you are one of those who avoid sun, check your levels of vitamin D, as sunscreens can lead to deficiency of this vitamin.

Luckily, you can protect yourself from sunburns and produce enough amounts of vitamin D, without necessarily applying sunscreens on your skin.

How to Avoid Sun Overexposure without using Sunscreen?

As we mentioned, sun is important for our health as it triggers production of vitamin D in our body. Foods rich in vitamin D can provide you with this vitamin, but still the best method is through direct sun exposure. Health. Actually, 10 minutes exposure in the sun helps the body produce about 10,000 Vitamin D units.

Deficiency of this vitamin has been related to certain autoimmune disease, cancers, osteoporosis, depression, heart disease, and other illnesses, so it’s crucial to get enough of vitamin D. We should turn to sunscreens as our last option to protect from sunburns. Health. There’s no clear proof that sunscreens usage prevents skin cancer, and in fact, some sunscreen ingredients can even fuel skin cancer.

You can lower your sunburn risk without applying any sunscreen, by just wearing sunglasses, sun-protective clothing and hats, and simply avoiding sun exposure during peak sunlight hours.

Final Thoughts

According to the EWG’s 10th Guide to Sunscreens report, there’s no such thing as perfect sunscreen. Health. Mineral sunscreens generally have safer rates, but they usually include nanoparticles which haven’t been studied for long term influence on aquatic or human health, and which aren’t tightly regulated.

We should always take sun-protective measures like wearing sunglasses, hats, avoiding peak sunlight for longer time, and seeking shades, before we decide to use sunscreens. And when we decide to use sunscreen, we should ensure we have chosen one of the best and safer ones.