Image of sarah bridgeman holding sunscreen

Sunscreen Safety

If you watch the news at all (guilty, I don’t) you may have seen there is a lot going on with sunscreen right now! So, let’s talk sunscreen safety!

Image of sunscreen


First, there are different types of sunscreen…

Chemical Sunscreens are technically sun filters. The vast majority of sunscreens on the market contain chemical sunscreen ingredients like avobenzone, oxybenzone or octocrylene. They’re called sun filters because they absorb the sun’s UV energy and release it back into the air as heat. They are popular because they provide easy, transparent blendability into the skin. They have been linked to skin irritation and other health issues.

Image of sun penetrating skin


Mineral Sunscreens (physical sunscreens) are much safer and physically protect you from the sun.  Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are physical particles that sit on the surface of the skin and scatter or reflect sun’s rays away from the skin. Mineral sunscreens are great for people with sensitive skin, and anyone conscious of the products they use.

Image of sun rays bouncing off of skin



The sun has a broad spectrum with different wavelenghts. There are different kinds of sun damage to know about, plus some other good info to know so you can be an informed consumer!


UVB rays are the main cause of sunburn because they tend to damage the skin’s more superficial epidermal layers. UVB rays also play a key role in the development of skin cancer and a contributory role in tanning and photoaging according to The Skin Cancer Foundation. They also note that just 5 sunburns doubles someone’s risk for melanoma. Wow.


UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB. They have long been known to play a major part in skin aging and wrinkling aka photo-aging. Studies over the past two decades, however, show that UVA damages skin cells called keratinocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis, where most skin cancers occur. (Basal and squamous cells are types of keratinocytes.) UVA contributes to and may even initiate the development of skin cancer. UVA rays can penetrate during all seasons and even through clouds and glass.



Broad Spectrum

For a sunscreen to be effective, it needs to have protection from both UVA and UVB rays.  The broad spectrum protection claim will ensure that the sunscreen provides defense against both burning and aging!


Sun Protection Factor is the measurement of the sunscreen’s level of defense against sunburn primarily caused by UVB rays.

SPF 15 = blocks 93% of UVB rays
SPF 30 = blocks 97% of UVB rays
SPF 50 = blocks 98% of UVB rays

I love this article published by the EWG on understanding SPF and sunscreen safety.



If a sunscreen says water-proof, don’t believe it. All sunscreens that resist removal while in water are specifically water-resistant for a specified amount of time, typically 40 or 80 minutes. This means that they are durable against washing off but not 100% unsusceptible to it. That’s why it is VERY important to always reapply after water exposure, exercise, or at minimum every two hours.


When buying sunscreen, you want to avoid Oxybenzone which is a sun filter like mentioned above. It is contributing to the collapse of coral reefs.

Hawaii became the first state to pass legislation banning chemical sunscreens that use oxybenzone and octinoxate.

My first choice for sunscreen is obviously Beautycounter. Formulated with non-nano zinc oxide which is a safer physical mineral blocker that sits on the surface of the skin and bounces the sun’s rays away. It’s super easy to rub in, unlike some mineral sunscreens which leave you streaky and white. No thanks.

There are several different options to choose from when shopping beautycounter sunscreen: traditional lotion, stick, mist, tinted mist, dew skin tinted moisturizer. We also now have this really cool after sun cooling gel!


Hopefully this helps understand a little about sunscreen safety and what to look for! I’m currently loving the tinted sunscreen mist, because who doesn’t want a little glow immediately after applying sunscreen?!

P.S. If you’re craving a little color, check out my safer self tan routine here! 




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