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Safe Sunscreen Update for 2023

A photo of a blue tropical sky with a coconut palm and plumeria tree in blossom

Ahoy there summer people. Yes, I know I should have posted this at the beginning of the summer, but these days things just sort of happen when they happen. In my quest to update the blog, I have done updates on all of my sunscreen safety posts, so if you're setting out on a late summer vacation or just hanging out in the blistering heat, I've got fresh recommendations.

In the USA, the Environmental Working Group has a fantastic database of safe sunscreens (as well as other cosmetics and household products), and several years back I ordered a slew of products they recommended and trialled them on various trips. As it turns out, many of my favorites are still my favorites. There are a few that are no longer available or just really hard to get, and I've offered some alternatives to those.

For those of you living in the UK, things are a bit more difficult. By and large, sunscreens available to the mass market in Europe are actually slightly better than the mass market offerings in the US, yet it's pretty hard to find an accurate ingredient comparison that gives much detail about what the ingredients are and what they do, so as the consumer you are a bit on your own to do the research. Additionally, pure mineral sunscreens are always more expensive than their drugstore counterparts, and in the UK, they are ex-pen-SIVE; some that I've found cost as much as £40 (thats about $51!), and are often meant to really only be used on the face.

Thankfully, my ever-vigilant husband happened upon a pretty good option for those of you in the UK, and it costs a mere £3.50! ASDA's Protect Sensitive sunscreen is a hybrid sunscreen (that's a combo of chemical sunscreens and titanium dioxide), and I can vouch for the fact that it is not only pretty darn effective, the formula goes on really smoothly, and even after 12 straight days of heavy use I did not become sensitive to it (something that often happens to me with heavy use in a humid climate). Incidentally, if you go to the ASDA site, I strongly recommend you ignore the reviews of this sunscreen, which appear to mostly be written by people who don't understand the fundamentals of how sunscreens containing mineral components actually work.

The ASDA sunscreen has no smell and is devoid of all the most common "bad" ingredients like oxybenzone, relying instead on a combo of less potent, safer chemical sunscreens, combined with the mineral ingredient titanium dioxide. I found that this sunscreen applied really smoothly for a mineral hybrid, and it did not dry my skin out, like many natural sunscreens do. I used both the SPF 50 (my go-to) and SPF 30. My only beef with this product is that the titanium dioxide is a nano particle formulation, so there is potential for uptake. You can read more about that and other common problematic ingredients at the EWG site.

One last point - If you are using one of those aerosol spray sunscreens, stop now. These are the worst of the worst. Even the mineral versions of these sunscreens pose a risk of inhalation, and quite frankly, they're messy and disgusting. Most of the contents of the can gets lost to the atmosphere, and there's nothing worse than chilling in your beach chair and suddenly tasting someone else's sunscreen.


A Quick-Click Reference to Safe Sunscreen Reviews

Below are links to all of my updated sunscreen review posts with updated recommendations.

A woman in a baseball hat and aviators standing on a broad expanse of beach.


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