habit shift: sunscreen.

June 19, 2017

I’m just a little less than two weeks from turning thirty-three. Yes, I’m feeling old. And vain. 

Enter sunscreen.

It’s no newsflash that I should be wearing it. Skin cancer rates are startling. The American Academy of Dermatologists estimates that one in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. New York City is so committed to reducing skin cancer cases that it’s doling out sunscreen for free at its beaches. Read literally any bit of beauty advice and the first defense against aging (as if!) is wearing sunscreen.

In general, my approach to sunscreen is that it should be the last defense against the sun, not the first. Hats! Sunglasses! Making it a point not to lounge around in the noonday sun! Putting away that tanning oil and tin foil and getting serious about finding some shade! I’m pretty good at these things. 

And yet, sometimes mama wants to stick her face in the sun. Sometimes it’s all I can do but to turn my face skyward and grin like a maniac, because Vitamin D and Planet Earth and sunshine. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that in the past few weeks my nose has gotten browner and my freckles have gotten darker. It’s not that I’m unfamiliar with the research or the risk of not wearing anything at all, it’s just that wearing sunscreen is the worst. 

It’s very easy to say that the best sunscreens are broad spectrum and includes physical mineral blockers, like zinc oxide, instead of ones that sink into your skin like oxybenzone. It’s a whole other endeavor to slather my face with thick white paste every morning and commit to walking around with a ghostly, ghastly, positively phosphorescent glow that makes me feel like I’m auditioning for the part of a killer clown meets Casper the friendly ghost. To be clear: If I’m spending a lot of time outdoors, I’ll borrow a squeeze of whatever sunscreen I’m currently slathering on Faye. (Here’s a good list to consult, if you’re curious.) I’ll put it on my shoulders and arms and legs and ignore that my limbs look like something descended from outer space. But putting it on my face? I’ll cop to usually being very tempted to forgo sunscreen on my face altogether.

The shame.

Dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen every single day, heaven help me. Every single day is a lot of days, especially when so much of a day is passed indoors and one has interest in their pores feeling a bit of fresh air once in a while. But skin cancer isn’t going anywhere. Neither are wrinkles. Neither, apparently, my vanity. 

So, here I am, making an effort to shift a habit. 

I bought myself a bottle of Josie Maran’s Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 Protect + Perfect. It’s good. It’s still sunscreen, but it includes zinc oxide and a bit of a tint, so it doesn’t leave a ghastly cast. And even though wearing it is a far cry from being bare faced and fancy free, it’s not (by far) the greasiest, heaviest, yuckiest sunscreen I’ve tried either. Better: The 2015 formulation got a score of three on the Environmental Working Group’s SkinDeep database. Three feels sufficiently not terrible in terms of weighing the evils of skin cancer and toxicity and feeling miserable coated in sticky stuff. And we’re all weighing all of those things, aren’t we?

I’m curious. Are you all saintly sunscreen wearers? (TRULY?) Are you as flawed as I am? (Misery loves company). More to the point: Do you have favorite sunscreens I should know about?

PS. If you’re feeling equally stumped, EWG’s Sun Safety Campaign has a really great list of tips to consult when making a decision.

To sun protection and shifting habits!

More habit shifts, right this way.

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  • Reply Roxanne June 19, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Pesky sunscreen! You should check this list out: Jess is a clean beauty fanatic and gives tons of information about a whole host of sunscreens that meet differing needs. If I’m not mistaken, I think some of her recommendations get an even better EWG rating than a 3! 😉


  • Reply Sasha June 19, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Nope. I will only wear sun screen if I don’t have a hat/long sleeve shirt to cover (I have a long sleeve rash guard swim top) and I’m on the water. I feel like I can’t breathe with sunscreen all over. And I won’t put all those chemicals on my body. Even the “natural” brands contain toxic chemicals. I also don’t believe that sun screen actually protects against cancer. I let myself tan a bit so that I don’t burn, but I also choose not to worry. I’m outside hiking and with children a lot, it’s not that hard to cover up and with a little tan I never burn. Aging? Eh. People tell me I look young for my age and I’ve never worn sun screen….I’m not going to worry now.

    • Reply Rita Tocta June 19, 2017 at 12:54 pm

      I’m with you. I think there should be some precaution to throw the word cancer and relate it to specific habits since scientific research changes their results too much and have too much interests behind. I use sunscreen when I know I’m going to be truly exposed to the sun (in bikini, pool, country or beach) otherwise the shadow of my beloved straw hat and now that I’ve crossed the thirty bridge and for some reason I just want to dress light covering fabrics and nothing too revealing I also feel super protected 🙂

      • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 19, 2017 at 1:03 pm

        Okay guys! I’m certainly with you on preferring other cautionary measures to sunscreen, but I think it’s probably not a safe idea to refute research that the sun causes skin cancer!

        • Reply Rita Tocta June 19, 2017 at 2:06 pm

          I know what you mean, but for what I’ve read in the past major sunburns are really dangerous so you can protect yourself a lot and then have a uncautious holidays and that being more dangerous than 15 years of not using sunscreen but taking other old advice precautions. What I just said is based on research and science so obviously my above comment is exagerated. I was refering to big brands funding researches that in the end are incomplete because nowdays (almost quoting your book ;)!) most quimicals are not tested or safe. In the end the way of exposing oneself to the sun is what changed in the last century, and what I meant is that we can’t blame the sun for cancer but our relation to it. I hope I’ve explained myself better 🙂

          • Alex R June 19, 2017 at 7:27 pm

            No, Rita, you have not explained yourself for the better. I have a PhD in molecular microbiology, and find your “analysis” utterly horrifying. Yes, my specialty is in the bacteria/fungi that will infect your 3rd degree burns from busted blisters courtesy of said 3rd degree burn (I’m half Scandinavian, been there myself as a teenager), but to even implicate scientists, even though working in industry, are in it for profit (I know several in industry, and they’re not in it for the “big money,” as such a thing rarely exists when you only have your brain to offer), or that the chemicals they test are unreliable, is trash. Science is an ever-evolving field, and for the better. This is scientific research, mind you, usually funded by the NIH, and not corporate-funded research endeavors, which I still take with a grain of salt (and apparently, so do you, so we can agree on that point). That said, you will not find a single scientist out there, particularly the pasty-type (myself included), who disputes the causation, not correlation, of sun exposure and skin cancer. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide work to reflect UV rays, and reflection is not as effective as neutralization of said rays, which is how oxybenzone works. However, oxybenzone is detrimental to coral reefs, and, personally, the two oxides do not burn when I apply them to my skin. This is a gross oversimplification of the science behind zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and oxybenzone, and I encourage everyone to visit NCBI, the main source for scientific papers (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/) for further reading. Disclosure: all writing/typing above is my own and does not in any way reflect the government entity for which I work.

          • becky June 20, 2017 at 2:57 am

            There are very clear and repetitive studies that show how your skin reacts to the sun. A burn or a tan, it doesn’t matter, your body is reacting to the sun trying to protect itself. A tan or feckles just happens to “look better” on the outside than a burn. And there is no such ting as a base burn or tan for those who think thats okay. The sun is stronger, people are living longer and skin cancer is now more common. It’s something we didn’t worry about before but should now.

          • ERIN BOYLE June 20, 2017 at 7:02 am

            Hi Rita! I know you’re getting some heat for this comment and I hope everyone can keep their comments civil despite strong feelings! I do write a bit in my book about preferring to keep things like skin care as simple as I can! That said, I want to be clear that I’m not anti-science. There are many things that are quite complicated indeed that I’m grateful for! Scientific research about disease and advancements in ways to protect myself from the damaging rays of the sun are among them! The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database is flawed in its own right, but it’s a good starting place for understanding a bit more about the ingredients that are going into beauty products and so I use that as a starting off point! Agreed that being mindful of our time in the sun is the best first defense against sunburn!

          • ERIN BOYLE June 20, 2017 at 7:16 am

            Thanks for weighing in Alex R. I appreciate your perspective here.

          • Rita December 2, 2017 at 9:55 am

            I’m sorry if my comment will have mistak e s the screen on my phone is broken and English is not my first language. Not evrybody who questions trends on sci e nce is against science. I was not questioning science but a branch of science and society that currently that States that the sun is the reason people get skin cancer. Above someone said that science evolves always for best which is a way of saying that science do make mistakes it hás done in the past and most of the conventional alopátic treatments do not need to be the first choice. Regarding health (including mental health!) there ha been many concerning and haunting mistakes made by science. Or a part of science. What I mean is that part of science to evolve is to question science. And try to make responsible choices made with a variety of knowledge. We can say how cancer happens (as someone made above) and there for e think “everyone needs sunscreen becausr it happens through sun exposure” or we can ask “why it happens?” and in that case, based on science from what I read the higher percentage of skin câncer was among people who didn’t get enough sunlight and were more prone to develooing câncer due to be always indoors. I don’t havê the link to studies right now but can look up as anyone can if needed. Sun is a natural part of our lifes and Applying sunscreen whenever we are outdoors can bring other problems. That’s why I said I think it’s irresponsible to associate and pânic about sun and câncer. Everyone is different. I am as my mother advice by our doctors due to bone structure reasons not to be bathed in sunscreen. I live in the coast. And go to the beach e veryday. Some people get really shocked when some of us said that we only use sunscreen if we know we are going to burn I’m only following good sensr and science. In the center of our coastal town there is a device from (don’t know how to translate it exactly) the European Skin Câncer Research Medical council) it States at any given moment the value of the sun rays and the adviced précaution. There are days where no precaucion is needed others that and subclasses other sunscreen other advices to avoid sun all completely. I believe it’s more important to ask the mayor to install such de vice than to Apply sunscreen everyday especially on children who need to process vitamin D. There also studies that make a corrlation between the intensive use of sunscreen and the said skincancer. Science is indeed always evolving and we must pay attention not to just one wave of it but to all says in that matter. Based on science I believe people need to get sunlight and use wisely sunscreen when needed and correctly adviced. To say that x amount of people will get skin câncer is not asking that right question: why? What changed that makes that a possible scenario? Why is the skin of some people more PROne to that, poluition? Abusive use of sunscreen? Too much time under artificial lights and no resistance to sun light? Why do communities that love consistently under the sun havê Zero cases of skin câncer? Is there one ingredient on skincare ritual common to people who get skin câncer that makes them more suscetíble to the sun? Obviously as with any other diasise a body is more sensible if it’s not healthy on the first place. When someone is sick in the stomach he can’t held strong food. So we give him tea and cookies. But our goal shouldn’t be to feed him cookies and tea and think that another stronger healthy meal is to be blamed. Our goal should be to make him healthy and strong to be able to ingest healthy food. In paralel with the sun what I mean is protect yourself from the sun when needed but not when not needed otherwise you may be sensible to something healthy. Just a note: I believe nowdays there already websites that say the weather and sun rays for the day. I obviouly don’t advice anyone to bath themselves in the sun irresponsably.

          • Rita December 2, 2017 at 9:56 am

            I’m sorry for my huge comment!

          • Sherri Brown April 25, 2019 at 7:35 pm

            Hello all,
            I have just come across this, nearly 2 years after the fact but this topic seems just as relevant as ever, if not more so.
            I’ve heard twice in the last week of the harmfulness of using sunscreen (not sunblock). Specifically relating to it being a hormone disrupter and particularly harmful to children. I’m hoping I can share one of the sources and get feedback from ALEX R. or whomever can possibly clarify this information or shed some light on this seemingly difficult subject. This is a podcast~ https://www.westonaprice.org/de/podcast/is-sunscreen-okay-to-use/. Not sure if this is too dated to get a response but I would appreciate the continuation of this conversation. Thank you.

        • Reply Dee June 20, 2017 at 12:05 am

          You are right Erin. It’s not a safe idea to refute research that sun causes skin cancer. I didn’t wear sunscreen until my 50s. Too late. I’m just going through chemotherapy treatment now for skin cancer on my face. I look terrible. Archipelagos of cancerous cells down my nose and across one cheek. A hat is not protection enough. As for people who worry about the so-called “toxic” chemicals in sun screens… believe me, cancer is a whole lot more toxic. And if you choose not to wear sun screen, you won’t find out until much later, in your 60s or 70s, whether cancer called your bluff or not.

          • ERIN BOYLE June 20, 2017 at 7:03 am

            So sorry to hear that Dee! Wishing you a safe recovery.

          • Nicole Brant July 25, 2017 at 5:59 pm

            Thank you, Dee! I wish my mother in law could understand that. She sun bathes regularly, has had “spots removed” and still doesn’t protect herself. It really drives me crazy!! I’m forwarding her your comment. I also wish for a speedy recovery for you.

  • Reply Joanna June 19, 2017 at 11:06 am

    My favorite sunscreen advice is “the best sunscreen is the one you use regularly.” (And also, that we tend to not use enough sunscreen for it to be effective.) To that end, I realized that I was always scrimping on application with the nicer, more expensive brands, and I needed to find something with a price point that would make me generous with my application. I have been using Kiss My Face Face + Neck SPF 30 for a while now… On Amazon subscribe and save, it’s about $5.75 a bottle, and I don’t mind the feel of it on my face at all. (It’s also a 3 on EWG.)

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 19, 2017 at 11:49 am

      Yes! I’ve used this in the past, too, though I admit it often found its way into my eyes by the end of the day! So tricky!

      • Reply Nicole Brant July 25, 2017 at 6:01 pm

        Have you considered a mineral powder sunscreen? Mineral Fusion makes a good one. It is especially useful for the forehead and part line on your head! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten that spot.

    • Reply Jess June 19, 2017 at 1:33 pm

      My thoughts exactly! And actually, I use the very same one. Unfortunately it does have a “moderate concern” ingredient (Octinoxate) that may be linked to endocrine disruption, but I strayed from it last summer and found several others too greasy and eye-stinging (including a sample size of Josie Maran, unfortunately), so I came back to it. I might try Suntegrity when I run out, if I can budget for it. I’m honestly shocked how many commenters are comfortable shunning sunscreen because of perceived toxicity — unless you live in a rural area with great air quality, you’re coming into contact with chemicals and pollutants all the time. My mom had skin cancer (caught early, so thankful) and was always careful of the sun to begin with, so I’m certainly not comfortable taking my chances. I’m fully on team ample, daily sunscreen, whichever one you’ll wear.

  • Reply Jennie June 19, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Erin, I urge you to stop thinking of yourself as old! I just turned 76 and I still think of myself as middle age. Old doesn’t begin until 80. You are so young in the greater scheme of life. You have so many years ahead of you before you even enter the “old” category. Appreciate how very young you really are!!!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 19, 2017 at 11:48 am


    • Reply Michaela July 18, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      Heck, maybe even 80 isn’t old. I think it is a mindset. 🙂 You go girl.

  • Reply Lissa June 19, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Check out Mel’s Kitchen cafe blog and her article on her experience with skin cancer. Very sobering. At the end she lists quite a few quality sunscreens

    • Reply Jill Palumbo June 19, 2017 at 11:39 am

      Yes, skin cancer is real and frightening. I’ve had several bouts due to excessive sunning as a teen and I wish I’d known more about sun screen. It give me shivers to read about someone who doesn’t think it’s important. I know I never thought about it when I was younger (I’m 62 now), so I’m glad to see that it is getting the exposure (no pun intended) needed.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 19, 2017 at 11:48 am

      Sobering, I’m sure. Thanks for the recommendation.

  • Reply Christine June 19, 2017 at 11:20 am

    Just to say that according to my doctor the body doesn’t produce vitamin D in the sun if you wear sunscreen. So there is a good reason for your desire to turn your bare face towards the sun. I tend to cover up (hat, long sleeves etc) after 30 minutes of exposure without sunscreen, but it’s not always easy! If the sun is so very bad for us, I wonder how humans managed to survive without sunscreen before the late 20th Century…

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 19, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Oh, for sure a healthy dose of Vitamin D is a good thing, though I don’t doubt the risks of skin cancer or the danger of too much sun exposure!

      • Reply Liz June 20, 2017 at 7:24 am

        My guess would be that for most of history humans have been protected from sun damage by genetic factors – there is a reason that fair skinned, long-nosed, light-eyed people originate in colder, less sunny climates and those with darker skin, flatter/broader noses and thicker hair etc originate in hotter climates. One look at my Danish father – who spent his childhood in Fiji and Samoa – will tell you that. At 70 his scalp, nose and cheeks have been carved up completely from repeated skin cancer removals.

        • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 20, 2017 at 9:35 am

          Sorry to hear about your dad’s struggles with skin cancer! Of course folks of all shades need to think about sun protection!

    • Reply Moran June 20, 2017 at 6:05 am

      Humans simply lived long enough to reproduce before dying of multiple diseases. Before cancer was found and defined as a specific range of illnesses, people just got ‘sick’ and died.

      Horses, in the wild, live on average 2.5 years (source: my veterinarian brother). they do manage to reproduce, but that does not make the health problem they suffer from less real.

    • Reply Amanda K. June 21, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      yes, vitamin d is important, but you can get all you need in your normal day-to-day activities. 30 minutes is way more than enough.

      humans also didn’t have seat belts or wear bike helmets before the late 20th century, and people died in car accidents and got head injuries from bicycles. just because it’s “new” doesn’t mean it’s hogwash.

    • Reply Ann-Marie June 24, 2017 at 7:16 pm

      Regarding your last point, the ozone layer that protects us from the sun’s rays is thinning (due to CFCs, methane, etc) and that’s why our risk for skin cancer/sun damage is much higher compared to previous generations. Particularly in Australia, where the ozone hole is large and growing.

      I use Josie Maran’s Daily Moisturizer on my face all summer long (though not through all of the year — I live in Portland, OR. I know I should!!) and on my dry skin it works great and I like the scent. I like Aubrey Organics SPF 30+ for body, though I admit it is thick and harder to apply. I only use it when I know I’ll be out and about for more than 30 mins. I’m pale but do tan quite easily.

  • Reply Beth June 19, 2017 at 11:20 am

    I use Loving Naturals 30 spf. It’s less greasy and clearer 100 percent zinc oxide and safe for babies. It is also in a plastic bottle that I think is recyclable. Pricey but worth it to me. I’m going to try yours for face. I’ve tinted whiter lotion with foundation and that works for me also.

  • Reply Natalie N June 19, 2017 at 11:21 am

    I’m so, so pale, and I work in Philadelphia where air pollutants abound. Sunscreen is a must, every day, no exceptions. I’ve found that Korean sunscreens are the best. They have excellent skin care in general, but I’ve found their sunscreens to be particularly pleasant. I use CosRx Aloe Sun Cream, SPF 50 PA +++, and it’s basically like a moisturizer. I can’t say whether or not it leaves a white-cast (I’m that pale), but Korean sunscreens typically don’t, or are minimal.

  • Reply Caroline June 19, 2017 at 11:32 am

    I haven’t tried it, but Glossier just had a big launch of their facial SPF (Invisible Shield, SPF 35) – supposedly a clear, gel like formula that feels more like a moisturizer than a sunscreen and can be worn under makeup. The bottle is devastatingly small for the price, but hey, skin cancer is still the more expensive alternative.


    • Reply Loring June 19, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      I was not a daily sunscreen wearer, but at 37 became convinced I should be. I bought this and LOVE IT. It feels great on my skin and does not smell weird or irritate my face (which some sunscreens do).

      • Reply Cait June 24, 2017 at 12:29 am

        I got the Glossier and like it (though I didn’t pay attention to the size when I bought it and was horrified when it arrived). I am pale and work in international development, so I spend a lot of time around the equator– sunscreen is non-negotiable for me. I used to love Josie Maran, but the formula changed a few years ago, and it just isn’t the same. I’ve liked the sunscreens that I have used from Kate Sommerville, Supergoop, Coola, Sun Bum, and Anthelios.

  • Reply Katie June 19, 2017 at 11:36 am

    As a red-haired snow white (yes, I am purposely choosing a more positive connotation to describe my super duper pale skin, because I’m trying to live my best life, etc, lol), and I am doused in a healthy amount of moles, I have been taught to wear sunscreen since I was very young. It wasn’t always easy, I’ve had youthful indiscretions where I’ve tried to just “see” if my skin would tan (LOL NOPE), and finally saw there is no point in trying. If I can’t tan, I might as well take extra good care of what I’ve got so that at least what I’ve got is in good shape as I age (I just turned 30). My favorite daily face sunscreen is also a moisturizer, so I like that 2-in-1 action. It’s Renée Rouleau’s Daily Protection SPF 30 https://www.reneerouleau.com/products/daily-protection-spf-30. It has zinc which is nice, it’s lightweight, doesn’t clog pores (I’m also acne-prone, so that’s fun), and it doesn’t feel chalky or greasy. Wears well under makeup, too. For my neck/décolleté/body, I wear Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 50 or 70 ( http://www.neutrogena.com/product/ultra+sheer-+dry-touch+sunscreen+broad+spectrum+spf+85.do?sortby=ourPicks ), whatever is really high. It doesn’t smell very sunscreen-y, it dries quickly, and isn’t greasy. It’s a more affordable option for the amount of coverage that I need, especially since I wear both of these products daily. It may not score well the EWG, but again thinking of cost to cover what I need covered on the daily, I sort of skimp in this area. Also, the skin on my face doesn’t seem to mesh well with more natural skincare products (I tried so many times, I even got an allergic rash from one on my eyelid!), so I’ve resigned to mainstream products like Neutrogena.

  • Reply Karina June 19, 2017 at 11:39 am

    I will probably be in the minority here. I only wear sunscreen to prevent burning, early in the season or when exposing new areas to the sun, such as my chest. I do use an face oil that naturally filters some UV rays https://www.marieveronique.com/collections/best-sellers/products/protective-day-oil, but the exposure to chemical sunscreens is one I would prefer to limit. I do believe it is very important to not get a sunburn as that is when the majority of damage occurs, but I like to get my dose of sunshine and vitamin d. I am in my mid 30’s and work as a gardener. I don’t believe I have any more wrinkles than those who cover themselves daily with SPF nor do I feel like I am putting myself at a truly greater risk for skin cancer. Here is another vote for allowing yourself to benefit responsibly from our sun. https://www.livinglibations.com/default/everybody-loves-the-sunshine

    • Reply Sasha June 19, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      Count me another lone voice in the wilderness! Sunscreen only to prevent a burn and when covering isn’t an option, that’s rarely the case. Vitamin D is enormously important for almost every body function, and especially for preventing cancer (also linked to MS, etc) & I live in the far north. I chose my risks carefully…the sun or chemicals? I don’t worry about choosing the sun at all.

    • Reply Rita Tocta June 19, 2017 at 1:00 pm

      You’re not alone 🙂 I forgot to add to my above comment that when I do use sunscreen the only one I like to use (cruelty free) is from Jason a brand I reccomend! (Except for their deodorant that smells terrible!)

  • Reply Vicki June 19, 2017 at 11:50 am

    33…please don’t be sad about that! I cried when I turned 30 and I now regret that. My 30 year old body was so wonderful and flexible but I did not appreciate that at the time. My 30’s were so-so, but my 40’s were great. I just feel so much more comfortable with myself and I know so much more now. I am mere days away from turning 50 and I am looking forward to it. My husband always says getting older is better than the alternative…right? And about sunblock…I hate it. I try to stay in the shade a lot and I am very pale. But not many wrinkles : ) Although I do sometimes wish for a tan on my legs…

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 19, 2017 at 11:51 am

      Not so sad, promise!

      • Reply Vera June 21, 2017 at 8:29 am

        My fave is Clinique Dark Spot Defense spf 45. Light, mineral, lovely. Highly recommended!

  • Reply Lena June 19, 2017 at 11:53 am

    I used Josie Maran’s sunscreen last 3 summers. this year I am trying EvanHealy sunblock stick as I love all of her serums and hydrosouls and oils..

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 19, 2017 at 11:54 am

      What do you think so far?

      • Reply Lena June 19, 2017 at 1:24 pm

        Love it, very natural look with a bit of sheen…josie maran left me with white residue even after I mixed the moisturizer/ sunscreen with few drops of argan oil. My friend was diagnosed w/ skin cancer this spring and ended up with 18 stitches on her nose, so I am really trying to up my sunscreen game- even for my kids.

        • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 19, 2017 at 1:28 pm

          Oh dear, so sorry to hear that!

  • Reply LL June 19, 2017 at 11:59 am

    My mother got me into the sunscreen habit at an early age. I use one from Neutrogena every day on my face, neck, and hands. If I’m doing something more active or exposing more skin, I use a cheaper one on my limbs and other exposed skin. I echo what another commenter said above: the best sunscreen is the one you wear every day. There are a few dermatologists who occasionally blog about skincare, among them sun protection, and find that their posts are both accessible and informative.

  • Reply Stacey June 19, 2017 at 11:59 am

    I just turned 33 a few weeks ago, so I know where you’re coming from 🙂

    Sunscreen is the worst, I hate it so much, but I make myself wear it. I had a basal cell carcinoma last year (admittedly the least scary type of skin cancer), so I won’t mess around anymore. For things like runs or bike rides, I’ll slather on whatever cheap, decent sunscreen is at the drugstore, but for everyday wear, when I’m out walking the dog or running errands and don’t plan on showering immediately when I get back, I love Supergoop. It’s nicely scented, and they have a ton of varieties, including a setting powder with SPF that is my favorite thing ever! Also, Eucerin has a mostly unscented moisturizer with SPF 30 that is pretty decent.

  • Reply Molly June 19, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    I try to wear sunscreen that can double as a moisturizer and have had luck with using Keys Solar Rx SPF 30 on my face. Like you, I want to be nice to my skin, but I don’t want to look like a ghost! Keys seems to have done the trick for me and doesn’t seem to contain much nasty stuff.

    • Reply Kat June 19, 2017 at 8:36 pm

      I second using keys! I have been trying to walk more outside during the day at work, so sunscreen has been a necessary. It’s not oily or too thick, but it has done the trick with coverage. I use it all over my face, neck, chest and upper back. It doesn’t make me break out. For body, I used coola at the beach, and it worked well. I prefer using clothes or hat most of the time for coverage.

    • Reply Lizzie June 20, 2017 at 11:28 pm

      I second Solar Rx!

    • Reply Anna July 14, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      I LOVE Keys Solar Rx and use it every day on my face, neck and decolletage. It’s got the most natural-sounding ingredient list of any sunscreen I’ve ever seen and I don’t find that it takes long to soak in or makes me look like a ghost at all. Much more natural than the Josie Maran products. I LOVE it and hope to keep using it forever!

  • Reply Kim June 19, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    I recently became obsessed with sunscreen after having laser treatment for my sun spots (Erin I’m on the brink of 34… the vanity grows with age unfortunately 😉 ). I also purchased some hats and on the hunt for a good beach caftan. I put this Bare Minerals SPF 50 product on every morning. Yes every single one. It scores a 1 on the EWG website and is not greasy at all. In fact I hardly even notice it. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product/727218/bareMinerals_Prep_Step_Mineral_Shield_Daily_Prep_Lotion%2C_SPF_50/ I follow with a Bare Minerals veil powder also with SPF 25. I’ll admit I look a little white but the powder helps and I’m experimenting with adding a little tinted moisturizer to the sunscreen. For body, my whole family has switched to more shade and Badger sunscreen.

  • Reply veronika goisova June 19, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    wonderful post!
    The amount of chemicals in sunscreens even those acting like organic or natural is horrifying !well its not just sunscreens .
    EWG is my to go for years to check products or ingredients in just about anything,no product worst than 1 can be good enough for me.
    Im making a lot of homemade cosmetics and cleaning products ,for sunscreen I use Badger for years and for myself I love Suntegrity tinted cream with spf 30,check it out)

  • Reply Caitlin June 19, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    I live in sunny California and use Paula’s Choice Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense (SPF 30) every day on my face. It’s a tinted, zinc-oxide based formula that supposedly works for many different skin shades. I have light skin that tans easily and the tint works for me. The 2016 formulation scored a 2 on the EWG database. It’s a bit pricey, but I love it and will continue to buy it as long as I can!

    • Reply Jen June 19, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      Ah, same! Paula’s generic sunscreen is the only one I can slather my whole body in repeatedly (on a day that the family and I are lucky enough to be swimming all day) and not have a horrible break out. It is super shiny, but layering a powder on top makes me forget I have it on-light as air and I’m willing to go the chemical route. It bums me out that the EWG seems to take the worst bits out of raw ingredient MSDS’s and apply it broadly to finished products. I had to stop reading-their analyses make me scared to drink water. 😉

    • Reply Catherine June 19, 2017 at 5:06 pm

      Same here! I just turned 33 and I’ve been wearing Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense every single day for a few years now. No wrinkles yet.

  • Reply Erin June 19, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    I hate sunscreen. HATE IT. It makes me feel like crawling out of my skin. Couple that with blowing dust/sand and then I hate it even more – if that’s possible. I hate it so much, I only wear it when I’m out in the field for work, or on the beach/at the pool (ie: spending all day outside). I know it’s not on the EWG (which I tend to take with a bit of a grain of salt) but, my compromise with myself is Hawaiian Tropic. It’s the smell. It smells too good and that trumps the nasty skin feel for me. So, while maybe it’s not the best sun screen out there, I suppose it must be better than wearing none, right? I am, however, fanatical about sunglasses (I have the same Rayban Wayfarers in both prescription and non-prescription) and lip balm with SPF protection.

  • Reply Doe June 19, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    Wallaroo (https://www.wallaroohats.com/serious-sun-protection) offers a wide variety of hats that provide SPF 50+, and they donate 1 % of their profits to skin cancer research and treatment centers, children’s hospitals, humanitarian aid programs across the globe–and to MESA (Moving to End Sexual Assault).

  • Reply Meg June 19, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    Living in New England and feeling starved of Vitamin D for much of the year, on top of spending the bulk of my weekdays inside at a desk, I don’t do the daily sunscreen thing. I definitely aim to avoid burning & on days when I know I’ll be spending significant time in the sun, I’ll use sunscreen. But I also don’t like covering my skin with chemicals and don’t mind small bits of sun exposure here and there. My young daughter, on the other hand, gets slathered up every day of the summer before heading off to her day camp program. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find a product that strikes a balance of not being loaded with terrible chemicals & also not being a thick, gloopy nightmare. As much as I love summer, and I really, really do, I’m always gleeful when I get to shove the bottles of sunscreen to the back of the cabinet at season’s end!

    • Reply wb June 23, 2017 at 11:07 pm

      It’s a problem as well here in the Pacific Northwest. From Fred Hutch’s site:

      Reasonable sun exposure is the most inexpensive and natural way to meet your vitamin D requirements. However, current studies indicate that 50% to 60% of the US population is vitamin D insufficient or deficient due to limited sun exposure, constant use of sunscreen, aging, obesity (vitamin D gets trapped in fat tissue) and living more than 40 degrees North of the equator.

      I don’t bother. In fact, I believe lack of sun exposure caused my low Vitamin D.

  • Reply anne June 19, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    my mom also doesn’t believe in slathering oneself with sunscreen daily. it’s just unnecessary chemical exposure! i love that EWG strongly encourages long sleeves, hats, and sunglasses and calls sunscreen a last resort. i totally agree, thanks in part to my mother!

    i’m a redhead (not a pale freckly redhead, but i do burn easily), and i wear kiehl’s ultra-facial cream SPF 30 every day (i use it as my daily moisturizer) but only on my face, since the rest of me is covered up usually. (Except my feet, which, will someone *puh-leeeez* come up with an easy-to-apply foot/toes sunscreen!? it’s so gross to put sunscreen on your feet!)

    i had been using neutrogena’s dry-touch spf 45 for body, but WOW, according to EWG that is just no good at all! i’m going to invest in vanicream spf 30 and one of the juice beauty facial moisturizers. they look badass.

    i keep sunscreen in every bag, just in case i forget or get stranded without my light coat/long sleeves. i am cautious, but i still get burned…. you just can’t protect yourself against everything all the time.

    • Reply Celia June 19, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      I use juice’s cc cream daily, which is also a light sunscreen, and i love it! it goes on a little white thanks to the physical blockers, but after a few minutes it just looks like my skin (but better). hope you love it too!

      • Reply Sarah June 20, 2017 at 8:57 am

        Yes! I’ve been using Juice’s CC for years after a rec from the sadly-defunct No More Dirty Looks site. I rub it into face and neck DAILY and it actually evens skin tone and looks like a like makeup improvement. Plus 30 SPF physical blockers. Love it and have hit 35 with nary a wrinkle or freckle.

        • Reply Sarah June 20, 2017 at 8:59 am

          Also meant to say: living in Chicago, every doctor I’ve had recommends a Vitamin D supplement year-round since none of us get enough of it anyway here 🙂 I take one and it also helps with SAD.

  • Reply Emily June 19, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    I’m with you on not being a fan of sunscreen. I prefer to be outdoors early morning and late afternoon anyway. I’m also more skeptical of chemicals that sunshine, but I do try to cover up with clothes instead of lots of goop. When the chance of burning is high, I go for Avosol for faces. It’s human and ocean friendly (read: no scary chemicals) and it’s tinted!

  • Reply Sari June 19, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Another vote for loving naturals. Great ewg ratings, made in Brooklyn. (Local!)

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 19, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      Thanks so much, Sari!

  • Reply Sarah Z June 19, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    I put on an SPF 50 in the morning under my BB Cream (which also has some sunscreen in it, though I tend to skip that step in the summer). Whenever I’m heading back out after my initial morning commute, whether it be for a lunchtime walk or home in the afternoon, I put on Brush on Block broad spectrum mineral powder sunscreen. I too hate putting stuff on my face, especially after that initial application of moisturizer/sunscreen in the morning. This allows me to tap a powder onto my face that is not greasy at all, and I often put some down the part of my very light hair to avoid scalp burns. If I’m spending more time outside I go for a hat, but just leaving the office this gives me some protection. I love it!

  • Reply Stacy June 19, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    I hear you on sunscreen, Erin. I generally avoid the sun all-together (I often joke I am a vampire without a hint of sarcasm because I am so, so, so pale), and will usually only put it on if I know I will be exposed to the sun for long periods — which is rare.

    That said, when I was 23, my 37-year-old girl friend from work openly bemoaned not moisturizing her face/neck/chest every day when she was in her 20s and early 30s, and was feeling/seeing the consequences as she was nearing 40. She told me in no uncertain terms that I needed a skincare regimen *now* and I actually heeded her advice! I moisturize my chest and above *every*single*day* and now I can’t imagine NOT doing it. However, I’ve always used basic, unscented Lubiderm instead of something made for faces, which I figured was OK, since it’s one of the few lotions recommended by tattoo artists for keeping fresh tattoos (basically semi-open wounds) moisturized. I’d like to start investing in something more natural and environmentally friendly though…

    Do you use face lotion daily? If so, any brand recommendations? Thanks!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 19, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      I tend to stick to face oils and serums! There’s an old post in the archives about it!

  • Reply Mary Kate June 19, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    I love VMV hyperallergenics. There’s a *slight* whitish tint to it if you don’t rub it in well enough, so it just requires some extra rubbing-in (and perhaps a partner who will let you know if you have a Casper-like cast to your face.) Bonus — it actually acts as a mattifying base for those of us with oily skin. I’m 34, and people keep talking about how I’ll get less acne and less oily skin as I get older. Not yet…! But with that sunscreen I don’t have to use my oil-blotters nearly as often.

    My main problem though: my scalp. I don’t want to wear a hat because I’m not really a hat person + I have reddish blond hair and I love the way it gets in the summer when more and more blond streaks appear. But I have to be careful to move my part a lot so as to not get a painful pink line down the middle. I tried some sort of hair product with sunscreen in it but it’s the wrong color for my hair, plus I want my *hair* getting sun, just not my *scalp*. Suggestions welcome….

    • Reply Sarah June 23, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      Hi Mary Kate! I’m almost 34 and also still have super greasy skin and acne, so can totally relate :/. I also have had this issue with my scalp when I go running and don’t want to wear a hat! I had ended up buying Shiseido spray sunscreen and it worked pretty well (http://www.sephora.com/ultimate-sun-protection-spray-broad-spectrum-spf-50-for-face-body-P385262) to just spray it along my part. I’m not sure how it does with EWG though (I don’t see it in the database) but am of the opinion that it’s more important to prevent burns that to worry about the ingredients in the sunscreen (obviously “safer” ingredients are better, but I’d prefer any sunscreen over not using it at all).

  • Reply Kate June 19, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    I have a hard time knowing which to be more concerned about — the sun or the chemicals. Also most sunscreens come in plastic bottles, which is unfortunate. I recently purchased this serum for everyday use. It’s really nice but I don’t think I’ve put it to the test with prolonged exposure yet, so I can’t really say if it prevents burning.

  • Reply Julia June 19, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Happy almost-33, I am almost-32 in a little less than 2 weeks, myself! (July 1 for me 🙂 I recently tried Beauty Counter’s sunscreen on the recommendation of a friend and was pleased with it. The regular sunscreen is greasy for the face so I’d be curious to try their face stick. There’s also a tinted moisturizer by Josh Rosebrook that I recently tried and love. I got a sample but will probably fully commit once I’m finished with my current BB Cream. I have literal sun spots on my face and yet cannot seem to wear daily sunscreen, either. BB Cream is the only way for me, unfortunately! I believe both brands I mentioned are healthier for the skin than most and they have non-nano zinc oxide.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 19, 2017 at 1:20 pm


      • Reply Julia June 19, 2017 at 3:16 pm

        Eeeps!!! How fun!

  • Reply Ris June 19, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    After a childhood in the south filled with more than my share of bad sunburns, I am now militant about sunscreen. In the past two years I’ve also had four suspicious moles removed, one that was scarily pre-cancerous, and I’m only 33 as well. The sun is a known carcinogen, and the only official recommendation from the American Academy of Dermatologists is to avoid sun exposure as much as possible. I have bottles of Kiss My Face Face + Neck SPF 30 stashed everywhere–one in my purse, several at home, one in my desk at work, one in the car, etc. so that I never have the “I don’t have any sunscreen with me” excuse. Wear sunscreen! Find a hat you can stand and wear it all the time! Don’t forget about protecting your eyeballs! Good luck out there, everyone.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 19, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      Oh, boy! Good reminders all around!

    • Reply Kirsten June 19, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      Yes to this. I grew up woefully under-sunscreened in Colorado, and that intense sun and high altitude meant that I had A LOT of sunburns at an early age. I really really wish my parents had been more vigilant about protecting me from the sun! I have light skin and now as I enter my 30s I definitely have more age spots and wrinkles than I think I would have otherwise, but more importantly I’m continually worried that my early burns might turn into skin cancer. I do think there is a balance to be had with sun exposure and vitamin D, but I’m militant about never burning again, making sure to wear hats and stay in the shade, and I definitely suck it up and wear zinc oxide if I’m going to be outside or at the beach for a long period of time.

  • Reply Ann June 19, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    In my latitudes the heat is 28-30 ° C (82-86 ° F), and it happens two or three weeks a year. The question of protection from sunlight is not relevant for me, ordinary clothes are enough.

    • Reply becky June 19, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      Sun exposure happens all year long. Even in the winter on the coldest days. If you are blessed to have more pigment then I then you may not see the difference but it does catch up. I guess it depends on how much fine lines or wrinkles bother you but honestly I have met some African American folks who have had skin cancer lesions removed, thankfully non melanoma, but even basal cell can do some damage cosmetically if it’s not caught.
      I had an uncle pass from melanoma at 46. Sunscreen all year long is one of the cheapest things you can do to help protect your skin.

      • Reply Ann June 19, 2017 at 10:38 pm

        On average, over the year we have 8-9 days of sunshine in a month . The maximum is in the summer when they are 15-18 per month. I walk to work year-round to catch more sun for health purposes.My skin is very light and almost never tans, but I use sunscreen only in trips to the South.
        But I read about a study in Australia that found no evidence of protection of sunscreen from the skin cancer. And on the contrary, some people, while frequent use can cause skin diseases.
        So I try to do the usual hydration and clothing.

  • Reply Anna June 19, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Blergh. I am WITH YOU. I’m 32 and just this summer have finally committed to using a facial sunscreen, in no small part because I developed some somewhat alarmingly dark brown spots on my forehead VERY QUICKLY this summer (I’m prone to freckles, but these seem to be a new level). After a little Googling I learned that pregnant folks are more susceptible to sun damage, and I’m due midsummer, so I figured this was the final kick in the pants and I’d better get serious about sunscreen.

    Because I like the ThinkSport baby sunscreen for my son (and, much like you, slather it on my own shoulders etc. while getting him set) I bought their Everyday Face sunscreen. It’s a 1 on the EWG database and has some good reviews. It’s ok; the tint keeps it from being ghostly, and it soaks in well. As someone whose usual morning skin routine involves a quick splash and then a few drops of oil, this is a big adjustment, though. I feel sticky. ALAS, ALACK. No skin cancer is worth it, and I hope that eventually I’ll find the Dream Facial Sunscreen.

    Big ups to all those saintly sunscreen wearers and their far-less-abused-I’m-sure skin.

  • Reply Megan June 19, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    As a very fair skinned woman, who suffered through many horrible sunburns as a kiddo, I make myself wear sunscreen everyday. I have tried just about every “natural” sunscreen out there, and after a lot of trial and error, I stumbled upon Mad Hippie Skincare. Their sunscreen is the best I have ever used, and I will never go without now: https://www.madhippie.com/products/facial-spf

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 19, 2017 at 1:44 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Reply Genevieve June 19, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Yes, I wear it every day and have since high school. Indoors and out and regardless of the weather. And reapply during the day. I cannot believe the number of women saying they don’t use it, use it only to avoid a burn, or whatever. Guys. (I wear Alba green tea stuff from the grocery store but it’s nothing special and I’m not picky.)

  • Reply Lo June 19, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Coola Sport organic and mineral sunscreens are my current favorites. They blend so much easier than their “face” sunscreen, and are way more moisturizing, so I use them freely on my face. I also love that they come in higher SPFs, smell nice, and are less expensive per ounce than a lot of other high quality sunscreen options!

  • Reply Carol Butterfield June 19, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    I learned this from @karigran: UVB burns and UVA ages. Love her ecoluxe skincare, made in Seattle where we forget our sunscreen because hey! No sun! I’ll be 62 on my next b-day and never felt more skin nourished when I started using her Three Sixty Five sunscreen. It’s positively indulgent!

  • Reply riye June 19, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    I live in a very sunny city and many of my co-workers have had spots and melanomas removed. Regardless of what kind of sunscreen you prefer, wear it every day. Even if you don’t care about spots, wrinkles, etc. having stuff dug out of your skin is not fun. I wear sunscreen every day and sunglasses, hat, long pants and long sleeves when I’m out and about. Is it a pain? Sometimes. Am I sweating to death? Sometimes. But as my friends joke (we’re all in our early 50’s–no melanomas so far!) it’s cheaper than plastic surgery! 😀 Everybody enjoy summer but be safe.

  • Reply Liz June 19, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    I come from a long line of folks who’ve had skin cancers. I’ve worn sunscreen on my face every day since I was 16, and I’m 30 now. I wore Kiss My Face for years, but they changed the formula a few years back and it didn’t agree anymore with my very sensitive skin. Now I use Blue Lizard SPF 30 for face–it contains a mix of mineral and chemical sunscreen. It definitely leaves a white cast right after I apply it, but I find it fades after a couple minutes. I also wear a wide-brimmed straw hat (by Sloggers) whenever I go out in the summer and the sun is high in the sky.

  • Reply Chelsea June 19, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    I have tried lots of sunscreens and, truly honestly, Glossier’s new sunscreen is amazing. I hope and pray its truly effective, because it legit feels and look slike wearing nothing at all.

  • Reply abby June 19, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    I too have only recently begun to wear sunscreen. As a kid I often adamantly refused to wear it and my fair skin took a beating (I cringe to think of all the terrible sunburns). As an adult I take a lot of care with sun protection of the hat/sleeves/shade variety but, like you, found that doesn’t always cut it. I’ve been using Honest Company’s sunscreen stick for the past year or so and while it is a little sticky in comparison to bare skin, it doesn’t leave a terrible coating and doesn’t look white and cakey. It feels totally worth it, and I feel so much more responsible to my body for it.

  • Reply Erin June 19, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    I use a combo of safe sun exposure and safe sunblock, but I also subscribe to the idea of eating your sunscreen: the foods you eat can have a significant impact on how fast you burn and how much UV damage you accrue, due to levels of inflammation in your skin as well as the types of lipids and antioxidant levels in the membranes of your skin cells. I’m fair and freckled and I no longer burn nearly as quickly as I used to and I actually get color easier. Foods like green tea, tomato paste (high in lycopene), omega three fats (as opposed to omega 6), polyphenols in berries, supplemental vit. D3, astaxanthin, and natural saturated fat (like grass-fed animal fats) all have research showing benefits of reducing UV radiation damage and slowing melanoma cell growth.

    As far as sunscreen, I like Pratima’s Neem Vetiver formula (they also make a smaller face version in neem-rose). It’s the cleanest formula I’ve found, and is glycerin based and very light- it’s a totally different texture than most zinc based sunscreens. I can vouch for it’s protection abilities- the areas I applied it didn’t burn when I was stuck in the middle of a lake all day, whereas the areas I had used another zinc/titanium based formula got pink.

    This doesn’t get a pristine EWG rating, but Dr. Dennis Gross Mineral Sheer Mineral Spray SPF 50 is a spray on zinc+ antioxidant based liquid that isn’t white at all. It has a lot of inert silicones and goes on slippery, but dries totally light and matte on the skin. It doesn’t feel like you even have anything on.

    PS- I take issue with how a number of the ingredients rate on EWG- you have to look closer at EWG ratings and pick them apart to get a better idea of what’s going on. Often, herbal ingredients get flagged due to lack of data. Even zinc gets flagged.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 19, 2017 at 3:11 pm

      Fascinating. Agreed that EWG is an imperfect system! Still, glad for a starting spot!

    • Reply Erin June 22, 2017 at 9:37 am

      Seconding Dr. Dennis Gross Mineral Sheer Mineral Spray SPF 50 — hands down the easiest to apply, most pleasant sunscreen I have ever used!

  • Reply Julia June 19, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    I didn’t realize the risks of using sunscreen. I usually buy baby sunscreen thinking it will be healthier. I have very fair skin so screen is a must for me. I have been diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency so I take a supplement. Thanks for the recommendations.

  • Reply Nadine June 19, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    La Roche Posay is my favorite sunscreen. I use it daily as part of my beauty routine. I put moisturizer on and then the sunscreen, before putting on my everyday makeup. The sunscreen isn’t oily — La Roche Posay was rated the #1 sunscreen by Consumer Reports this year. http://www.laroche-posay.us/daily-sunscreen?prefn1=spfSunscreen&prefv1=SPF%2050

    • Reply veronika goisova June 19, 2017 at 6:15 pm

      La roche posay was my to go in my twenties,its sadly full of nasty chemicals like oxybenzone,peg 8 laurate,phenoxyetanol,methylparaben and on,you can check the product you using at skin deep database,some of their ingredients are not allowed in some countries in cosmetics products at all … 🙁

      • Reply lilly June 19, 2017 at 8:52 pm

        I’m sorry, but. Scary chemicals like what.., methylparaben, the natural anti-fungal found in cresses and other plants? Better stop eating sprouts and watercress if you’re so concerned. Or oxybenzone, which was marketed as an ‘organic’ UVA blocker in some ‘all-natural’ mineral sunscreens because yes, it is a natural “nasty chemical”? It’s all in the framing and marketing.

        Fwiw La Roche Posay SPF 60 is a decent sunscreen for when you need something heavy duty that doesn’t feel awful or give a white cast. I’m quite comfortable with it, ‘chemicals’ and all. The Skin Deep/EWG database is a very useful tool but it has some significant flaws and is worth taking with a grain of salt.

        • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 20, 2017 at 7:11 am

          Hi Lilly! Understand your frustration with oversimplification, but please try to keep your comments cordial!

          • Carlota June 22, 2017 at 8:17 pm

            I’ll admit we haven’t done much research into the ingredients (though I’m married to a chemist!) but – I also hated sunscreen until I found this one. We use it on our family’s faces every morning. It is truly “ultra light”… though now I think I’ll read up on how it is produced. Fingers crossed their standards are high, because it’s really our go to!


          • Mo June 8, 2018 at 3:01 am

            In reply to Carlota,

            I love La Roche Posay, it’s one of the few sunscreens I can wear without my face breaking out in hives! One thing to think about when you check ingredients is that EU has stricter (or different) regulations when it comes to carcinogen chemicals than USA and formulas can vary accordingly, so that the La Roche Posay you buy in Europe is not necessarily the same as the one you buy in the US. If you want to check the ingredients, check their EU pages if you bought it in Europe and the US pages if you bought it in the US etc.

            Living in Sweden I need to be mindful that I don’t get vitamin D deficient, so I judge the weather, the local UV index, the time of day and the amount of time I’m going to be outside before I apply or reapply sunscreen. Early morning breakfast on the balcony? I’ll skip the sunscreen in favour of vitamin D. A sunny day at the beach, on a boat or in the snow? I apply a minimum of 30 and reapply regularly. Running errands in the middle of the day at the beginning of summer? I use my day cream with SPF10 and reapply with SPF15 that I keep in my handbag.

  • Reply Elizabeth June 19, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    I have sensitive skin, burn easily, genes with a proclivity to skin cancer, a healthy fear of chemicals, and a definitive dislike for the ghost-caste! A year ago I discovered Suntegrity–which is a genius solution. It has an EWG rating of 1! It comes in a range of skin-hues (none dark enough for those with darker skin) which not only successfully eliminates the white-caste it also works nicely to even out my skin tone (I use it as my only skin cover, and it works well enough for my not too blotchy skin), is a moisturizer, and has an SPF of 30! The initial price is a bit steep, but I use it regularly (more often when it’s sunny/summer/I’ll be outdoors more) and it’s lasted me more than a year and just now I’m coming to the end of the tube. It’s definitely light enough to be used daily though.

    • Reply Kate June 21, 2017 at 12:48 pm

      I absolutely LOVE Skintegrity and have been using it daily for over 5 years. I use the untainted version in the winter and the tinted version in the summer. It feels amazing in my skin, doesn’t leave a white cast, smells great, and even helps my skin stay clear (maybe the zinc?). I am forever devoted to it. I do live in the desert but it doesn’t feel heavy or greasy even when I travel to more humid climates. Can’t recommend this brand enough.

  • Reply becky June 19, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    I am a fair skinned auburn hair gal, let me share that up front. I have had some serious sun burns as a youth, one time it was so bad my parents gave up a whole motel bed for me to layout and they piled cold soda cans on my back. Worst burn of my life. We left the jersey shore early so i could rest in comfort at home.

    The scary thing is I did put sunscreen on but for me it has to go on hourly, not every two hours, and with water contact every 45 mins. Its a real job for me to be out in the heat so I’m best to avoid it. I wear sunscreen daily even if im just in the car. I developed rosacea, that is directly from sun exposure over a life time. Laser fixed that (best money ever spent!) but can return if I don’t coat up multiple times a day.

    Af 32 I’ve learned a few things, sunscreen is cheap a sunburn and missing time from work is not. Laser doesnt come cheap either. If I can prevent myself from burning why not wear it. A burn takes days for me to recover and creates a serious risk for me. It works every time if I use it.

    I am very sensitive to sunscreen and oddly the best one I found for my face is a CVS store brand break out free formula. Truly my favorite. I use aveeno on my body.

    I am also complimented to the point of annoyance about my youthful face. People say it’s because I’m fair, I say it’s because if my sunscreen and sun glasses, another well spent expense!

  • Reply Sasha June 19, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Absolutely a devout sunscreen wearer – plus hat plus sunglasses but every day, even in Seattle. This is my jam – I use it like foundation – http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product/669408/SkinCeuticals_Sheer_Physical_UV_Defense_Sunscreen%2C_SPF_50_%282016_formulation%29/

  • Reply Jennifer June 19, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    I love that they are testing out sunscreen from dispensers! Seems like it would be an easy thing to refill since they look like the automated sand sanitizer stands. I hope they put up a sign in multiple languages (hard to tell from the pic in the article) so people know what it is.

    I wear sunscreen pretty much daily on face/neck/arms/hands. I only skip if on days my skin is irritated (after a peel, big breakout, etc). Sun proof clothing outside, especially when it is really sunny or I won’t be able to reapply (long sun shirts, long pants or sun proof leggings when swimming, a UV sun buff, hat, wrist/hand covers…). I show sun damage really easily and burn faster.

    Many of the natural ones don’t fare well in Consumer Reports tests and tend to leave me with a ghostly appearance, so chemical sunscreens it is. The cost of having to have just a couple moles (cancerous or not) is more $$ than the cost of sunscreen.

  • Reply Erin June 19, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    Erin – perhaps you should also do a post on the inevitable – after burn care! Mostly because, well, accidents happen…

    • Reply lilly June 19, 2017 at 8:55 pm

      Ha, yes please! Would read this. I’d like to be one of those people who keeps an aloe plant at home and makes lovely salves out of it/knows how to break off a piece and use it but… I kill plants. I’m learning, but I am still a long way from having a healthy window-ledge apothecary-style garden (or real garden, there’s the dream).

  • Reply Eo June 19, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    So! I’m crazy allergic to all physical sunblocks, which means chemical sunblocks are my only choice. I’ve been wearing one by Supergoop (not the Gwyneth goop!) for a few years that’s all chemical. I figure I’d rather have the risk of a chemical sunscreen than the risk of skin cancer– my mom had several life-threatening skin cancers in her 50s (she’s okay now), so it’s an easy lesser of two evils.

    If anyone out there also can’t do zinc or other physical sunscreens, Supergoop has served me well. I’m also interested in looking into the new Glossier sunscreen.

    • Reply Megan June 19, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      Completely agree with this! Chemical sunscreens or skin cancer… When it comes to the entire body slather and reapplications, I g