Companies and Brands

Avoid All Sunscreen Brands, Except These 12

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It seems like everyone has advice on what sunscreen to use. But when your choice is risking skin cancer or choosing the cheapest sunscreen, what should you do? Which brands are actually safe, if any? If you’ve done any amount of research into sunscreens yourself, you probably left discouraged, thinking it’s all marketing nonsense. That’s why we looked into which brands are actually useful and safe.

Why Are We Covering This?

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An image of a sunburn.

In our modern society, we are bombarded with choices, and most of those choices are unregulated. We are presented with solutions to problems we don’t actually have, and manipulated into buying the more expensive or flashier products. As climate change worsens, the risk of skin cancer as a result of exposure to the sun will also increase, and it becomes even more important to pick the right sunscreen when you go outside.

Background on Sunscreens

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A woman struggling to pick a sunscreen.

The FDA is currently re-evaluating all of the sunscreen ingredients that are currently listed as “Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective,” or GRASE. So far, only two of the 15 approved ingredients have passed and are officially listed as safe: Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide. These safe active ingredients provide a mineral barrier that unlike chemical barriers won’t penetrate the skin and potentially lead to health issues including endocrine disruption, impact hormonal balance, and even absorb UV rays rather than reflect them.

So, what does this mean for the U.S. sunscreen market? There might be high volumes of recalls and ingredient bans in the future. While the FDA is sorting it out, and continuing testing, these chemical sunscreen ingredients are still legally being used and sold across the nation.

The FDA advises to not use sunscreen that exceeds an SPF of 60 and to make sure it is labeled as broad spectrum.

With so many brands and products currently on the market, it can be especially time-consuming to try and sort through ingredients yourself. That’s why the next place we went was the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The EWG has its own verification and rating system. It independently tests all the sunscreens and found that only 1 in 4 sunscreen products do what they claim to do. Some of their criteria include brands that provide full transparency, good manufacturing practices, UVA protection performance if the product is reef safe, no synthetic fragrances, no aerosol or spray sunscreens, and no sunscreens above SPF 50.

We also consulted Best Sunscreen lists from Sustainably Kind Living, New York Times, Live Strong, Prevention, Travel and Leisure, People, Byrdie, Instyle, and Allure, and cross-referenced them with the EWG Certified products list to find the best sunscreens of 2024. These Sunscreens are safe, popular, adhere to the FDA and EWG standards, and range in pricing.

We ranked these sunscreens according to our personal preferences, but they are all fantastic options.

#12 Maui Natural Organics Surfer Honey Natural Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

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Buying sunscreen in a store.

Maui Natural’s sunscreen is nutrient-rich, has a lightweight formula, is hydrating but not greasy, and lasts up to 80 minutes in the water. The small amount you need will disappear visually after only a few minutes.

It was rated by In-Style as “The Best Water Resistant Sunscreen,” and received #1 ratings from the EWG (the highest rating possible), Maui Natural Organics Surfer Honey Sunscreen should be on your summer list.

#11 Suntegrity Mineral Body Sunscreen SFP 30

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Play safe in the sun!

Suntegrity’s Mineral Body Sunscreen is easy to rub into the skin with a non-greasy feeling. It applies like regular lotion and has a barely noticeable white cast.

This paraben, phthalate, and mineral oil-free sunscreen also comes in an eco-friendly tube made from sugarcane. Suntegrity’s founder, Tricia, created Suntegrity after losing her mother to melanoma skin cancer. It uses only non-nano size zinc oxide in its products, super anti-oxidants, and amino acids in its formulas to not only protect against the sun but benefit your skin at the same time.

#10 Thrive Bodyshield SPF 50

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You should always use some kind of protection in the sun.

Thrive Bodyshield is safe for reefs, infused with antioxidants, leaves no white residue, and portions of every sale go to support farmers in Costa Rica.

A unique quality of Thive is its certified plastic negative packaging. That means every thrive bottle pulls two plastic bottles from the ocean or land-bound waste. The water-resistant quality of its sunscreen is provided through pine rosin, instead of synthetics like other brands. It also uses antioxidant ingredients like Juanilama, Fierrillo, and Corallilo to restore damaged skin.

Thrive is focused on its regenerative business model that restores degraded land, improves the livelihoods of farmer-partners, and has adopted a “leave-it-better” philosophy.

#9 Kokua Sun Care Sunscreen Natural Zinc Sunscreen SPF 50+

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You should get in the habit of reapplying sunscreen.

This sunscreen has a plant-based, biodegradable formula that doesn’t run or transfer after it has been applied to your skin. It is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and all ingredients are sourced from Hawaii.

Feeling dissatisfied with the quality of mineral sunscreens that often separated and were sticky and greasy, founders Robin and Tatyana, decided to make their own sunscreen that included locally grown Hawaiian-derived organic antioxidant ingredients that rubbed in clear and felt smooth. It took them over five years and two dozen formulations before they got it right, but they landed on a sunscreen that was everything they imagined.

#8 Badger Baby Mineral Sunscreen Cream SPF 40

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Sunscreen is only one part of smart beach-going.

This sunscreen is fantastic for people with sensitive skin as it is gentle and hypoallergenic. It is easy to apply and has only seven ingredients compared to the dozens in mass-produced garbage you find in grocery stores. It is also pediatrician-tested and approved.

The family-owned and operated certified B-corp, Badger Baby, takes baby health and safety seriously. Besides being pediatrician tested with 7 GMO-free ingredients, it also uses 98% organic ingredients in its award-winning Mineral Sunscreen Cream.

Badger Baby is committed to climate action with their regenerative and organic farming practices and committed to families with their paid family leave, paid medical leave, and fair minimum wage.

#7 California Baby Super Sensitive SPF 30 Lotion

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You should opt for lotions instead of spray-sunscreen.

California Baby Super Sensitive Lotion is reef-safe, baby-safe, allergy-tested, and extra hydrating.

California Baby has been appearing on the EWG’s Safe Sunscreen Guide for over 14 years in a row! This Woman Owned, Plant-Based, Cruelty-Free company strictly allergy tests its products and ensures all of them are free of gluten, oats, soy, sesame, dairy, and nuts (besides coconut). It guarantees that there is no risk of cross-contamination. What a win for allergy families.

California Baby also grows its calendula on its organic certified farm, and all products are blended and packaged in a solar-powered U.S. facility. California Baby also has been independently lab-tested and USDA-certified.

#6 ThinkSport Mineral Sunscreen Clear Zinc SPF 50

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A hat is a fantastic addition to your outdoor protection.

This sunscreen is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, is BPA-free, gentle on sensitive skins, and even boasts a formula that is vegan and dermatologist-recommended.

Company founder Kevin Brodwick was alarmed at what he found while he was working in a biological testing lab, so he decided to create his own company that developed alternative products without harmful cancer-causing chemicals. Besides rigid material and ingredient standards, the company also focuses on functionality and sustainability.

Another exciting aspect of this brand is its Thinksocial program. Through Thinksocial, it donates to several different causes including The Livestrong Foundation, Texas400, Healthy Child Healthy World, Environmental Working Group, and St. Jude among many others. Its focus is on bettering the world through its safe-to-make, safe-to-use, and environmentally safe products as well as its philanthropy.

#5 All Good Face & Body Sport Sunscreen Lotion

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Sunscreen on the beach.

This sunscreen is hypoallergenic, extra moisturizing, easy to apply, and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

It is also 100% certified organic, cruelty-free, and eco-friendly. All Good is committed to being, well, all good. California-based, woman-owned, B-certified, Climate Neutral Certified, and paraben-free, All Good manufactures all of its products in the United States.

Besides using its own farms to grow all of its own herbs, All Good also is giving back to the planet through its partnership with 1% For the Planet.

#4 COOLA Classic Sunscreen Stick, Tropical Coconut, SPF 30

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Sunscreen lotion is only as good as you allow it to be.

COOLA is fantastic for all skin types with its vegan and cruelty-free formula, and a lightweight and hydrating lotion.

COOLA is trying to change the game of sunscreen with their “farm to face,” process. With over 70% of its ingredients organic, it supports regenerative farming with its farming partners. COOLA is not only EWGA certified, but it is also Hawaii Reef Compliant, and has never used Oxybensone or Octinozate in its formulas.

Despite using Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, its mineral formulas are completely sheer. Its products are also free of parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, and dyes, and are compliant with European Union sunscreen regulations, which are famously more strict than the USA’s regulation.

#3 Supergoop! Unseen Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40+

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You should apply sunscreen before going out in the sun, actually.

This sunscreen has a primer-like consistency that is smooth and non-greasy while still being water-repellent. It is completely transparent and hydrating to the skin.

Supergoop! Is a woman-founded company committed to preventing skin cancer for the past 15 years, this company aims to meet the highest global standards for quality and safety. All of their product boxes are made from recyclable, post-consumer recycled materials.

You will be so impressed with their sheer, weightless, scentless mineral sunscreen. Beyond that, Supergoop! Publishes their SPF efficacy reports in the name of transparency.

#2 Black Girl Sunscreen Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

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The typical white lotion doesn’t have to be like this.

Black Girl’s sunscreen can be used on the body and the face and is great for all skin tones. It has a hydrating formula with a lightweight consistency and has a cooling effect on the skin. It is specially designed for melanin-rich skin and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

This Black Woman-owned company started as a solution for Black women struggling to find sun protection without a white cast. Shontay Lundy created Black Girl Sunscreen after being immensely dissatisfied with the available transparent sunscreens on the market.

Also environmentally conscious, Black Girl Sunscreen has always made it a point to make all their packaging recyclable. They also have a send-back program where you can send your empty bottles back and they will recycle for you! As well as send you a little surprise in return.

#1 Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50+

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A beach of Australia.

This no-nonsense sunscreen has no added fragrances and is gentle on sensitive skin. It absorbs quickly and is less visible than most other sunscreens with broad-spectrum protection.

The Australian-based company Blue Lizard has a 20-year history of mineral sunscreens being non-toxic and reef-safe. This mineral sunscreen only uses active ingredients Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. Blue Lizard is so safe that it used to be available by prescription only before hitting the OTC market.

Beyond loving the Ocean’s coral reefs, the company is also cruelty-free and vegan, so they do not test their products on animals.

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