The Rise of Non-Toxic Sunscreen: What You Need to Know

With the increasing awareness of the harmful effects of conventional sunscreens on both human health and the environment, a growing number of consumers are turning to non-toxic sunscreens for protection against harmful UV rays. These non-toxic alternatives offer a safer and more sustainable approach to sun protection without compromising on efficacy. In this article, we will delve into the rise of non-toxic sunscreen, explore its benefits, and provide valuable insights into what you need to know about making the switch.

The Problem with Conventional Sunscreens

For decades, conventional sunscreens have been popular choices for safeguarding our skin from the damaging effects of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation. However, the widespread use of certain chemical ingredients found in these sunscreens has raised concerns among health and environmental experts. The primary culprits are chemical UV filters like oxybenzone, octinoxate, and avobenzone, which have been found to seep into the bloodstream and cause hormonal disruptions in the body.

Additionally, research has revealed that these ingredients could be detected in the bloodstream after just one use. Furthermore, studies have also reported the presence of sunscreen ingredients in breast milk, urine, and blood plasma samples. Considering the potential for sunscreen users to inhale these ingredients in spray form or ingest them through lip application, it is crucial for these components to be non-harmful to the lungs and internal organs.

Moreover, when we take a dip in the ocean or a pool after applying conventional sunscreen, these chemicals can be washed off our skin and contribute to coral reef toxicity and marine ecosystem damage. As a result, many popular tourist destinations have started to ban sunscreens containing these harmful ingredients to protect their delicate marine environments.

The Rise of Non-Toxic Sunscreens

In response to these rising concerns, the cosmetic industry has witnessed a significant shift towards the development and marketing of non-toxic sunscreens. These sunscreens, often referred to as "mineral" or "physical" sunscreens, rely on natural ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to provide sun protection.

Unlike their chemical counterparts, non-toxic sunscreens work by sitting on top of the skin and forming a physical barrier that reflects and scatters harmful UV rays away from the skin. As a result, they are less likely to penetrate the skin, making them a safer alternative for daily use.

Benefits of Mineral Sunscreens

Safer for Human Health

Non-toxic sunscreens have gained popularity for their safety profile. By using mineral filters, these sunscreens reduce the risk of skin irritation and allergic reactions, making them suitable for sensitive skin types, including children and those with allergies. 

In 2019 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), responsible for overseeing sunscreen safety regulations, put forth its latest updates on sunscreen regulations. Through its findings, the FDA identified only two ingredients, namely zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, as safe and effective based on the existing information. 

In some cases, chemical sunscreens have the possibility of being contaminated with harmful substances. As an example, in June 2021, Johnson & Johnson chose to recall five aerosol sunscreen product lines after discovering trace amounts of benzene, a known human carcinogen.


Another advantage of non-toxic sunscreens is their eco-friendliness. When we swim or snorkel in the ocean with traditional sunscreens, these harmful chemicals get washed off our skin and end up in the water. Research shows that these chemicals contribute to coral bleaching and damage the marine ecosystem, ultimately posing a threat to the biodiversity of coral reefs. By choosing non-toxic sunscreens, we can enjoy the sun responsibly and contribute to preserving the beauty and health of our coral reefs, ensuring they thrive for generations to come. 

Longer Shelf Life

Non-toxic sunscreens not only prioritize our health but also offer the advantage of a longer shelf life compared to conventional sunscreens. Since mineral filters are more stable and less prone to degradation, these sunscreens can retain their potency for a more extended period. By choosing non-toxic sunscreens with longer shelf lives, we can confidently safeguard our skin from harmful UV rays while also reducing waste, making it a sustainable and practical choice for sun care. 

Broad-Spectrum Protection

Non-toxic sunscreens provide broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays, ensuring comprehensive coverage against sunburns and premature skin aging. Research suggests that these physical sunscreens may absorb up to 95% of the sun's rays, helping to prevent long-term skin damage. With their broad-spectrum protection, non-toxic sunscreens offer peace of mind, knowing that our skin is shielded from the full spectrum of harmful ultraviolet radiation, reducing the risk of premature aging and skin cancer.  


Making the Switch to Non-Toxic Sunscreen

Transitioning to non-toxic sunscreen is a positive step towards safeguarding your health and the environment. However, before making the switch, there are a few essential factors to consider:

Check the Label

When choosing a non-toxic sunscreen, it's essential to be an informed consumer and check the label for harmful ingredients. Avoid sunscreens containing listed ingredients like fragrance, parabens, phthalates, oxybenzone, avobenzone and octinoxate as these chemicals can be detrimental to both our health and the environment. Look for sunscreens that use natural, mineral-based ingredients like Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, which provide effective and safe sun protection. To further ensure the product's safety, and make your shopping experience easier, you can consult the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Skin Deep database for product ratings and reviews. The EWG rates sunscreens based on their level of toxicity and overall safety, making it a reliable resource to help you make the best choice for your skin and the planet. 

Broad-Spectrum Protection

It's important to be aware that not all sunscreen products offer broad-spectrum protection, against all harmful ultraviolet rays. The SPF number displayed on the label typically indicates the level of protection against UVB rays, leaving a potential gap in shielding the skin from UVA rays. As a result, relying solely on high SPF values might not offer complete defense against the entire spectrum of damaging UV radiation. To ensure comprehensive sun protection, it's essential to opt for sunscreen products explicitly labeled as "broad-spectrum," as they protect against both UVA and UVB rays, reducing the risk of sun-induced skin damage. 

SPF Rating

When it comes to SPF rating, experts recommend choosing a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 for daily use. This level of SPF offers adequate protection against harmful UVB rays, preventing sunburn and reducing the risk of skin cancer. However, it is essential to remember that SPF only indicates the level of protection against UVB rays and not UVA rays. For comprehensive sun defense, opting for a non-toxic sunscreen with a broad-spectrum label is crucial, as it signifies protection against both UVA and UVB rays. By combining a non-toxic formula with an appropriate SPF rating and broad-spectrum protection, we can enjoy the sun safely while taking care of our skin and overall health.


Apply non-toxic sunscreen generously to all exposed skin areas. Don't forget often overlooked spots like ears, back of the neck, and the tops of feet. Additionally, it is recommended to avoid sunscreens in sprays or aerosol forms, as these can lead to inhalation of harmful particles and pose health risks. Instead, we recommend choosing lotions or creams for safer application. 

Water Resistance

If you plan to be in the water or perspire heavily, consider a water-resistant non-toxic sunscreen to maintain protection during these activities. Keep in mind that even water-resistant sunscreens require reapplication after swimming or sweating to maintain their effectiveness. By selecting a non-toxic sunscreen with appropriate water resistance, we can enjoy worry-free outdoor activities while keeping our skin well-protected from the sun's harmful rays.


The rise of non-toxic sunscreen marks a significant shift in the beauty and personal care industry towards safer and environmentally friendly products. By choosing mineral-based sunscreens over conventional chemical alternatives, consumers can protect themselves from harmful UV rays without compromising their health or contributing to the destruction of precious marine ecosystems.

As awareness grows and more individuals make the switch to non-toxic sunscreens, manufacturers are likely to invest further in research and development to improve these products' formulations and accessibility. Together, we can foster a culture of responsible sun protection, ensuring a brighter and safer future for both ourselves and the planet. So, next time you head out to enjoy the sunshine, remember to reach for a non-toxic sunscreen and take one step closer to healthier living and environmental preservation. 

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