When it comes to shopping for a sunscreen, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the long ingredient list filled with scientific and hard-to-pronounce terminology. The simplest way to break down sunscreens is to understand that the active ingredients come in two forms: mineral and chemical filters, each using a different method of protecting the skin and stabilizing it in sunlight. One ingredient in particular, however, has been linked to allergic reactions and more serious effects.
Oxybenzone is a controversial chemical that is used in a lot of sunscreens and skincare products because of its ability to absorb and dissipate UV light. While the chemical is effective, some studies suggest that when it gets absorbed into the body, it can trigger harsh reactions. New York-based dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross says, “Oxybenzone has been linked to allergies, hormone disruption and cell damage. It can also absorb through the skin into the bloodstream, affecting hormone levels.” According to the Environmental Working Group, the oxybenzone filter is found in nearly half of the beach and sport sunscreens in its database and “despite the evidence showing that it is a hormone disruptor, the FDA has not investigated it rigorously.”
We’re not so certain we’d want to put something that has been linked to these claims on our bodies, so our motto when it comes to sunscreen is “better safe than sorry.” We’re willing to omit this chemical and seek out mineral-based options that work just as well. Here, a few of our favorite oxybenzone-free sunscreens.
This powerful multi-tasker is completely free of chemical filters, absorbs quickly and works to reduce the appearance of dark spots, wrinkles and fine lines while it protects from UVA/UVB ray damage. The unique Melatonin Defense Complex in this formula is made with vitamins C and E along with the antioxidant melatonin, which all go above and beyond traditional sunscreens to diminish signs of hyperpigmentation.
Dr. Dennis Gross Dark Spot Sun Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen, $42 at Sephora
This editor-favorite line has ones of the few lip balms out there that offers a high SPF factor without any harsh chemicals. Made with transparent zinc oxide and a blend of nourishing antioxidants, this treatment fights off UVA and UVB rays as it neutralizes free-radicals and soothes dry, chapped lips for long-lasting smoothness and complete protection.
EltaMD UV Lip Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 31, $11 at Amazon
From Head to Toe
Suitable for all skin types, this incredibly light formula from La Roche-Posay provides 100% mineral UV protection with a subtle tint that blends seamlessly onto the skin. It’s made with the brand’s Cell-Ox Shield technology, which is a combination of antioxidants and filters to shield skin from UV damage. The advanced formula has a non-greasy feel, dries in seconds, and is fragrance-free so even the most sensitive of skin can wear it without irritation.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50, $36.99 at La Roche-Posay
Easy-to-Use and Compact
This travel-friendly natural mineral sunscreen is made with 20% Non-Nano Zinc Oxide, is completely free of synthetics and chemicals and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. The stick form makes it easy to apply anywhere and the lightweight and non-greasy formula makes it perfect for all skin types.
Honest Sunscreen Stick SPF 30, $9.95 at Honest