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.

You Might Also Like


  • 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 go straight up drug store brand every time.

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

    Yes!! I just bought the tinted Josie Marian sunscreen and love it. If you are putting moisturizer on in the morning, no excuse for it to not have spf in it. I wear sunscreen COMPLETELY in vain, might as well do what I can to slow the wrinkles (I’m turning 33 this summer so right there with feeling some aging). I wear super high spf on my face/neck/chest, and 15spf on rest of bod if going to beach or something.

  • Reply Rebecca N June 19, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    I don’t leave the house without sunscreen. I put it right after I pee in the morning so I don’t inadvertently walk outside without it. BUT, I didn’t start this practice until about 3 years ago when I was 37. I have quite a bit of melasma on my face from years of running outside without sunscreen. With some good retinol products and religious sunscreen use it has faded greatly over the last 3 years. I use La Roche tinted which is also a three on EWG and love it. I also have Mineral Fusion sunscreen which is a bit heavy for summer use, but I can see using it this fall and winter.

  • Reply Deb C June 19, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    I am someone who also burnt to a crisp in my youth and childhood. No amount of sunscreen could prevent me from being burned back then. The same is true now so I slather it on like I am spackling drywall because its not only the outside I have to be cautious of but indoors as well thanks to lights and computer screens so I need effective protection against UVA, UVB, Infrared + Visible Light from the sun as well as indoor light + heat sources. I use either California Baby or VMV Hypoallergenics and wear UPF clothing from Solumbra, Coolibar or Your Summer Skin – usually long sleeves and long pants and full coverage shoes (no sandals or clothing that bares skin until the sun has set), a hat with UPF and wrap around sunglasses. I can’t be out in direct sun longer than 15 minutes no matter how high the SPF. My friends and family laugh and make fun of me but ever though I burned so badly when I was younger, I am not the one having skin cancer removed and complaining about wrinkles – they are.

  • Reply Anna June 19, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Yes, I use it almost every day from early spring to autumn and sometimes in winter, except on rainy, cloudy days and days spent completely buried in med books. While skin cancer might be a factor, unfortunately it’s the skin problems already in place (acne, contact dermatitis) and my phenotype that make me put it on and look like the pastiest Patty Mayonnaise. Already troubled skin, inflammations and patches don’t mix well with sun in short/ long term. So I duly put it on in the morning and carry smaller sized ones in every bag, so I can reapply when needed. Ahh, but I do envy the luxury of choosing to use it or not and to and just soaking up the sun..

    • Reply Anna June 22, 2017 at 6:08 pm

      Erin, just wanted to say a thank you as this post and comment section has been a solace I didn’t even know I needed + writing about a health/social issue without making me cringe or roll my eyes.
      Also a thank you to all of those who recommended La Roche Posay sunscreen- got a sample and my skin just loves it.

  • Reply Lii June 19, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    I realise the importance of wearing sunblock, but often forget it before I leave my house and only remember that I should have put some when I am already in the sun and the sunblock is at home. This summer I have included a light coat of sunblock on my face right after I put on moisturiser which has helped me with remembering, but I should get better at it!

  • Reply Georgia White June 19, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    I use Pratima’s Neem Rose face sunscreen, as it has just the zinc (trying to stay away from titanium dioxide during pregnancy). Kari Gran and Josh Rosebrook are great options too, I just like the price of Pratima ($32) much better! It goes the non-nano particle zinc route, and is very light. Someone else commented on people not using enough sunscreen on the face, and you should be using about a 1/4 teaspoon or nickel size in the face alone.

    As for vitamin D absorption, I think you can have the best of both worlds. As we are supposed to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, it would be feasible to get D3 through a 10-20 minute lunchtime stroll or sit down. I’m with you about protective clothing. But I do both, and for my body I use my daughters sunscreen, currently loving the new Babo sunscreen.

    • Reply Georgia White June 19, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      I use Pratima’s Neem Rose face sunscreen, as it has just the zinc (trying to stay away from titanium dioxide during pregnancy). Kari Gran and Josh Rosebrook are great options too, I just like the price of Pratima ($32) much better! It goes the non-nano particle zinc route, and is very light. Someone else commented on people not using enough sunscreen on the face, and you should be using about a 1/4 teaspoon or nickel size in the face alone.

      As for vitamin D absorption, I think you can have the best of both worlds. As we are supposed to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, it would be feasible to get D3 through a 10-20 minute lunchtime stroll or sit down. I’m with you about protective clothing. But I do both, and for my body I use my daughters sunscreen, currently loving the new Babo sunscreen.

      Finally, there are other things you can do to “boost your sunscreen, like wearing a vitamin c serum and also applying mineral foundation.” I think you can definitely have your face in the sun moments and be protected!

  • Reply Sarah M June 19, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    I’m another fair skinned person who has to use sunscreen all the time. I can get a burn in 15 minutes driving in the car on a sunny day, through my shirt on a cloudy day, etc. I use it mostly every day, especially on my face, neck and chest. I’m still trying to remember to do my hands everyday, year round. Arbonne’s baby sunscreen is what I’ve used for years now, on the whole family. It absorbs well, has no smell, isn’t too thick and works. It has decent ratings and mostly good ingredients. I’m with the other people who say that sunscreen is an item I don’t get too worked up about chemically. The burns and potential for skin cancer are scarier to me than the chemicals in the sunscreen. That said, I still tried to find one that’s better for me and Arbonne has worked well.

  • Reply Julia June 19, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    I’m really happy with MyChelle Sun Shield SPF 28 (unscented version) for daily face/neck/chest protection. It feels light, doesn’t leave a whitish cast even though it’s all mineral, and gets a 1 from EWG. Bonus points for being relatively inexpensive and easy to find (I usually pick it up Whole Foods, where it seems to go on sale every month or so).

    • Reply sonya June 20, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      Me too, I discovered MyChelle while visiting LA and I really like it for the same reasons as Julia. It’s very tolerable on my skin (doesn’t cause that claustrophobic feeling that my face is suffocating!). Thanks for this post, Erin — it kicked my butt into actually using my sunscreen this morning. As someone who spends a lot of time on the streets of NYC as a walking tour guide, I’ve really gotta be better about sun protection (either hat and/or sunscreen), something I’m usually so lax about.

  • Reply Linda June 19, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    I am totally not a sunscreen person but mainly because most of the sunscreen on the market I’m allergic to and leaves my skin with little itchy watery bumps. I have in recent years been more keen at wearing sunscreen after being able to find a physical one that suits my face and the best method I’ve found at putting on physical sunscreen so it doesn’t leave skin looking all white is to mix it with a few drops of avocado oil while the skin is still damp. The oil helps the sunscreen absorb into the skin and reduces that white look. It’s a game changer for me!

  • Reply Helen June 19, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    Have you checked out Beauty Counter products? Everything they sell scores under 2 in EWG rating. They have a sunscreen product that’s tinted called Dew Skin and I’m a huge fan. Their regular sunscreen is also awesome and comes in stick formulation too. It’s great for the littles too.

  • Reply Becky June 19, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Unpopular opinion time: I have started using glossier’s new sunscreen, and while some of you won’t like it because it’s a chemical sunscreen, I LOVE that is goes on clear, and sits well under makeup. For me, it’s the only thing that has convinced me to wear everyday. I need to be able to put it on, and get makeup on and race out the door. I feel like there’s probably research saying physical sunscreen is better, but that’s what’s working for me.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 19, 2017 at 8:21 pm

      Don’t think it’s such an unpopular opinion! I think lots of folks here, myself included, weigh lots of factors when choosing sunscreen and finding one we’ll actually wear feels paramount!

  • Reply Jessica Morris June 19, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Check out Sawyer Roducta sunscreen. Good ingredients, long staying. I use them for long days on my mountain bike and in the sun.

  • Reply Chiara June 19, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    My naturopathic doctor recommended DeVita’s sun care line – I love both the Solar Protector and Solar Body, which makes wearing every day so not a problem (sunscreen and moisturizer FTW!) http://devitaskincare.com/store/solar-protective-moisturizer-spf-30-25-oz75ml-p-17534.html

  • Reply lilly June 19, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    The Ordinary makes a 6$ zinc & niacinamide serum that has a low-key physical sunblock effect. I’ve been using it for the vitamin boost/acne control but apparently it’s almost SPF 15, although they’re still working on having it approved to label. It feels good as a serum anyway and has nice clear ingredients, and it’s so cheap. (They make a nice rosehip oil too, and it’s interesting to see how differently it’s marketed from ‘natural’ rosehip oils. It almost swings too far to the clinical side, and it’s all exactly the same product.)

    I use the la roche posay spf 60 as well if I know I’ll be outdoors, but I’m bad about putting that on *all* the time so it’s nice to have a built-in backup.

  • Reply Sugandhi June 19, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    As soon as I saw the pic for this post, I was like, “Oooh, is she going to talk about Josie Maran’s SPF 47?” I LOVE THIS MOISTURIZER. I come from a long line of women who take skin care very seriously: I got the importance-of-eye-cream talk when I was 16, and switched over to an SPF-containing daily moisturizer around that time. I am now 38 and still get ID’d at the liquor store (I’m Canadian- our legal age is 19). I grew up using Oil of Olay with SPF 30 but over the past six years I’ve been switching all my products to cruelty-free brands (one part of many in my long of conscious-consumer criteria!). I’ve tried out so many sunscreens and there were so. many. duds. I’ve been using Josie Maran’s SPF 47 for the past year and I intend to keep using it until I die. I have dark skin and this is one of the only sunscreens I’ve tried that doesn’t leave a whitish cast, absorbs quickly, doesn’t smell and, after about 5 minutes, doesn’t leave a greasy residue. Also, how awesomely random is an SPF of 47?

  • Reply Penny June 19, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    As an Australian who lives under the hole in the ozone layer I’m horrified at how casual you northern hemisphere dwellers are about sun-care. But I also think maybe your sunscreens are not as advanced as the ones we get in Australia are. And I think our SPF ratings might also be different (a lot of sunscreens I see with one rating in the US get a much lower rating in AUS, like the Clinique City Block which seems to get ratings around 50 in the US and only 25-30 in Aus). I use Natio SPF 50+ Tinted moisturiser as my everyday sunscreen (https://www.natio.com.au/spf-50-face/tinted-moisturiser-spf-50), which gives me good broad spectrum coverage but still feels and looks nice. If I’m going to be in the sun for an extended period I slather on an Australian Cancer Council 50+ SPF sunscreen, the regular sunscreen now has a dry touch formula that feels much better on the skin (https://www.cancercouncilshop.org.au/product/sunscreen-ultra-range.html).

    • Reply Jen June 21, 2017 at 11:45 pm

      I really like Natio’s SPF moisturisers. The moisturiser and tinted BB cream I’ve used both apply really nicely.

  • Reply Jen June 19, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    My big mental (+habit) shift in my 30’s was forcing myself to admit that I am a pale, pale person and always will be and that I need to get the heck out of the sun at all costs. Skin cancer runs HARD on both sides of my family and my parents make routine visits to their dermatologist to have little benign tumors removed from their noses and ears. Seeing that will kick your sense of vanity into high gear for all the right reasons!

  • Reply Heather June 19, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    Haven’t read through the comments and so don’t know if anyone else recommended Beautycounter’s dew skin mositurizer. It has a one rating and slight tint but isn’t heavy feeling at all. It only has an SPF of 20, but it makes a great daily moisturizer. If I’m going to be at the pool with my kids, I usually use a higher SPF by Alba Botanica.

  • Reply Lauren Ash June 19, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    Totally agree with everyone who mentioned the glossier sunscreen. I’ve been wearing sunscreen everyday (almost) since turning 13 – growing up in Southern California makes it feel less optional – so 20 years now. Yikes! Anyhoo, I’ve obviously tried a bunch and the glossier one is one of my favorites. It’s more of a serum so it feels really nice on and still wears well under makeup.

  • Reply Catherine June 20, 2017 at 12:37 am

    I use EltaMD daily and would recommend it. It is a broad-spectrum sunscreen made with zinc oxide and is paraben and fragrance-free. Truthfully, I’m not sure where it falls on the spectrum of ingredients to avoid and the EWG database has ratings only for old formulations (which received a 2 and a 3, respectively–the data seems to be lacking). Would love it if others have more information about its ingredients. I personally find it to be very hydrating and gentle on my skin, which is prone to breakouts (it contains hyaluronic acid, which I believe contributes to its moisturizing abilities, but I’m not sure if that’s an ingredient some folks try to avoid). Currently I’m using the tinted version (which, disappointingly, doesn’t come in a variety of shades and therefore isn’t very inclusive), but had the untinted version in the past and didn’t find it to be a “ghostly white paste” like other zinc-based sunscreens.

  • Reply Theresa June 20, 2017 at 12:40 am

    EltaMD Clear Broad Spectrum Spf 46! It’s honestly my holy grail product; I’ve been using it for 3 years now and my fair, sensitive skin is happy. I’ve tried many other physical sunblocks and nothing compares.

    • Reply Kate June 20, 2017 at 7:12 am

      Another vote here for EltaMD! My sensitive, rosacea prone, acne prone skin is very happy. It not only provides great sun protection, but also soothes and moisturizes. And no white glow!

      • Reply Raquel July 3, 2017 at 10:08 am

        And yet another vote for EltaMD! Really the best. I use it for my face, neck and arms.

  • Reply Elise Liddell June 20, 2017 at 3:14 am

    i’m quite the opposite, i have to say. i don’t wear sunscreen on my body because i’d rather wear lotion instead (ugh eczema and dry skin, yikes!) and i don’t like layering sunscreen and then lotion. that’s nightmare even for someone like me who loves being moisturized. i use sunscreen on my face though but not every single day. yeah, i’m guilty of that too. in my defense, i spend most of time indoor so whether i skip sunscreen for a day or two, it doesn’t really…matter – or so i think. regardless, my current sunscreen is a japanese drugstore brand called skinaqua. mine is the uv moisture gel for normal / oily skin and has SPF 30. while it doesn’t leave any intense white cast, it does leaves my skin feeling a little tacky after application. it does go away after a while though but ugh, that tackiness is gross! i haven’t tried other sunscreens because honestly, this skinaqua one is my first one. before this, i NEVER wore any sunscreen at all! and then i wanted to change that because you know, skin cancer and all. plus i have rosacea around my nose so the sun is def not my best friend.

    • Reply Joanna July 2, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      Seconding the japanese sunscreen (I believe skinaqua is Bioré) it’s a game changer. I don’t notice any sort of icky after-feeling and I love the smell. It feels entirely weightless to me.

  • Reply Mun June 20, 2017 at 4:01 am

    I’ve just started wearing sunscreens as well and wondered what took me so long! I have to say that I really appreciate the protection that it offers and that peace of mind it gives me.

  • Reply Suzanne June 20, 2017 at 4:25 am

    I’m from Australia so have been a religious sunscreen user since childhood. My siblings and I are all paler than pale redheads so I’m forever grateful to my parents who were fanatical when we were young about never being outside at the beach or pool between 11- 3 when we were on holiday, sunscreen, big hats and wearing enormous tshirts over our bathers at the beach. We were so annoyed and embarrassed when we were kids but I am pretty grateful now as I have really good skin. Even with all that my sister has still had to have ‘suspicious’ moles removed and she has never, ever sunbaked and always wears long sleeves and hats!

  • Reply Liz June 20, 2017 at 5:52 am

    Yes, I’m absolutely religious with sunscreen. When you’re fairskinned and live in Australia I think you have to be (and these days I also feel as though I need to set a good example for my small children). I agree that it should be a last defense though – over here the Cancer Council used to have a popular jingle -Slip, Slop, Slap (slip on a tshirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat). Over the years they also added Wrap (on some sunglasses) and Seek (out some shade) though it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. As for sunscreen recommendations, I used to use Becca zinc sunscreen but now use Green Foot Mama organic sun balm .

  • Reply Elisabeth June 20, 2017 at 7:49 am

    It’s not something I use all on its own, but adding astaxanthin to my diet has had a great effect on my skin. I don’t burn as easily, and my skin is clear and radiant. I bought some SPF 50 from Skinceuticals and it works pretty well without a sheen, and without making my skin feel smothered. I use Honest mineral sunscreen on the kids and on my body when exposed, but prefer to just cover up instead. It seems to take DAYS for the white to wash off.

  • Reply Maddy June 20, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Hey Erin!

    I would recommend Consonant Skincare’s The Perfect Sunscreen! It was recommended to my by a holistic aesthetician who only uses all natural products, and that’s the sunscreen she wears! I looked it up on EWG and they didn’t seem to have a listing for the 2017 formulation, but all the previous formulations have a rating of 1! It’s tinted and I think it makes my skin look nice, like having on a bit of foundation.

  • Reply Vandana June 20, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Over the years I have tried many sunscreens. My current faves are: for body : copper tone foaming. It’s light, fluffy, the kids don’t mind it either. For face I found one at Target called Bare Republic. It is very light and doesn’t leave your face greasy. And a more expensive one, La Roche Posay

  • Reply Monika June 20, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Boscia makes a great moisturizer with 35spf as well as a tinted moisturizer with spf. I swear by both. My natural company go-to.

  • Reply Katrina June 20, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    I live in a hot, sunny area, spend a lot of time outdoors, and have had issues with skin biopsies (from my face!) since my mid-twenties due to sun exposure. I already have a dime-sized scar above my lip because of this. Not to mention being genetically prone to sun issues with blonde hair/blue eyes/ porcelain skin. As a result, I am a big sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses devotee. I have tried nearly every readily available sunscreen out there and will only use the ones approved by my dermatologist, which are all extremely pricey, turn me ghostly white, and must be reapplied throughout the day. Whatever! Hopefully it will prevent even worse issues in the future and I can still live the healthy, active outdoor lifestyle I love. I am less concerned with what is in my sunscreen than the impact of daily sun exposure. Life is a balance.

  • Reply Ling June 20, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    I also do not enjoy slathering my face with sunscreen every day, but I’ve been using the Blue Lizard brand *face* sunscreen for the sake of sun-safety. I also sunscreen the tops of my hands. I live at 5000′ with 300+ days of sunshine so sun protection is important to me. The sight of all the sun-aged people here makes it an easy decision to lather up . It’s the least greasy and least whitening sunscreen I’ve used: the active ingredients are zinc oxide + octinoxate. I figured as an Australian-brand, they would know a thing or two about sun protection! I also love that the bottle changes color when exposed to UV rays: it’s always surprising when it changes even on cloudy days, showing that you are always exposed even if the sun is hiding behind clouds. If I want a day off from using it on my face, I will wear my giant sun hat instead.

    • Reply Alice June 21, 2017 at 10:21 am

      I love Blue lizard! Their Baby suscreen is the absolute best.

      • Reply VR June 27, 2017 at 4:46 pm

        Cheers to Blue Lizard – they are an AWESOME brand (I’ve loved everything I’ve tried on it) and EWG gives their baby formulation a 2:


        The only caution with this and all physical blockers is that they do tend to rub off more quickly than the chemical blockers (makes complete sense because they don’t get absorbed). The Consumer Reports recently supported this with their research about the most “effective” sunscreens based on their parameters, so I’d recommend reapplying approximately every 1-2 hours if you’re outside/sweating.

        If people are looking for something less expensive I also like the Cerave daily moisturizing lotion with SPF 30 – it gets a 3 on EWG and has *some concerning chemicals but it is very nice in terms of putting on daily/comfort/no whiteness and is also moisturizing.

        As for the vitamin D, I read somewhere (although now I can’t find it) that 3x week of sunlight on the back of your hands for 15 minutes may be sufficient so… definitely wouldn’t avoid wearing sunscreen for that!

  • Reply Jenny June 20, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    As a 36 year old who just had a basal cell carcinoma removed 2 weeks ago, I urge you to slather that awful sunscreen on! Having that tiny mole removed left me with an almost 2 inch scar on my shoulder and a $1200 dermatologist bill. I’ve never been particularly fond of lying in the sun, but I did skip the sunscreen often. I’m lucky it wasn’t worse, and haven’t left the house without my sunscreen since.

  • Reply SEM June 20, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    My skin is very sensitive . I am prone to eczema and heat rash and everything that makes sunblock THE WORST. I have trouble with physical and chemical blocks and I haven’t found any that are truly non irritating. I used to use the Josie Maran but somewhere around 2013 they switched the formula and I broke out. My dermatologist recommended Vanicream with SPF and I have had some luck with Laroche Posay, but I am finding my best bet for my face is a wide brim hat. For daily protection, I try lotion with SPF (like Laroche Posay) but it can still be irritating if humidity and temperature conditions are right. For my body, I like Coola SPF 40. I use the Neutrogena dry touch 100 SPF block on beach days bc I know it covers UVA and UVA and is broad spectrum. I am not sure it scores well on the cosmetic toxin database and it can stain swimwear, but I don’t burn.

  • Reply Amie June 20, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    I am a sunscreener, because when you have a 2.5 year old, you have to practice what you preach, or she will put it on you herself 😉

    I like the Aveeno sunscreen lines for my face, and I mix liquid foundation with it so I am not pale. I also use Green Goddess on my neck, arms and back. I use the kids line of theirs because that’s what I’m slathering on the kid, and I don’t want to have too many types of sunscreen.

  • Reply Tania June 20, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    The question is: how do you all deal with sunscreen-ing your kids? I can still hold my 18 month old down and slather him in sunblock, but with my almost-four-year-old it’s a fight every time. We use Babyganics for them and I’ve started using it for myself, too. So light and easy to spread!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 20, 2017 at 3:46 pm

      Ha! Faye actually loves a good rub down, so we don’t fight too much about it!

    • Reply Roxy June 21, 2017 at 7:35 pm

      I found that using the stick sunscreens really helped get my 2 year old into it. He can draw on his arms and legs with the stick and then we run it in together!

    • Reply Crystine June 23, 2017 at 4:23 pm

      We have a full body bathing suit that has the spf built in. Think it’s 50. That covers the body and a hat mostly covers the face. That leaves hands, feet, ears and a little on the face which is easy!!

  • Reply Kate S June 20, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    I finally found a daily face lotion that includes sunscreen that I’m happy to wear everyday! It’s a great balance of moisturizing and protecting, it’s local (to me), and it won’t break the bank! http://www.bodytime.com/catalog/product/view/id/360/s/anti-aging-day-cream-spf-30/category/43/

  • Reply Julia June 20, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Hi all! I use CeraVe AM Lotion with 30 SPF zinc oxide sunscreen (which is a 4 on EWG) for my face and when doing sports/beach I use Banana Boat 50 SPF baby sunscreen (which is a 6 on EWG – yikes!). I never thought to look up a rating for my sunblock, first time doing it. I’m 24 and this year I decided to start a skin care routine which includes – face wash, toner, and sunblock in the morning or lotion at night. My family wrinkles really easily so I try to use sunblock on my face whenever I go out.

    I can understand people not wanting to wear sunscreen for vitamin D reasons, but you can always apply it only on your face to prevent sun damage, and have your arms/legs free to get some vitamin D and then cover up or get in the shade. UV damage on the face is easily preventable, like wrinkles, sun spots, etc. There are vitamin D supplements and some non-vegetarian/non-vegan meat options to get vitamin D too.

  • Reply Kelly June 20, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    I oscillate. MD solar sciences has a tinted zinc oxide bb cream that Dita Von Teese swears by, which feels thick and creamy, but I can’t manage it every day. I like the Supergoop everyday sunscreen, or sometimes I settle for a serum with spf 15. I live in Texas though, so my sins are more egregious.

  • Reply Nicole June 20, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    I’ve been a fan of Juice Beauty’s Tinted Mineral Moisturizer with Sunscreen for years, it’s light and evens out the skintone as the years go by (in my 37th!) two birds with one stone is always good in my book.

  • Reply Kate June 20, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    I’m a fan of BurnOut Eco Sensitive Skin Sunscreen SPF 30 for myself. It is white but blends easily, no ghostly look. For my morning commute (not much time outdoors) I like Hourglass Veil Primer with mineral sunscreen. No white residue and it feels amazing. Not very cost effective to use this as your main sunscreen, but great as a primer or a single layer (I rarely wear makeup on top of it) on days you will be mostly indoors.

    • Reply mandy June 24, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      I also like the BurnOut Eco Sensitive Skin Sunscreen. It’s reef safe and it works great for swimming, hiking, biking, and running. It doesn’t sting when I sweat it off, and it washes off easily with a washcloth and a moisturizing soap at the end of the day. I even use it on my face when I’m going to be out for awhile, swimming, or sweating.

  • Reply Lisa June 21, 2017 at 12:44 am

    I’ve been using Marie Veronique tinted sunscreen for years and love it. Non-nano zinc oxide and it sinks right into my skin.

  • Reply Rachael June 21, 2017 at 8:59 am

    My dad is a surveyor, and works outdoors in all weathers. He always wears long sleeves, long pants, and a hat (every single day of my life, even when it’s 100+), and makes sure to sunscreen his face and hands because Irish skin. His dermatologist just found several patches of skin cancer, most in places that that have not been exposed to the sun in living memory (shoulder, upper arm, hip, top of ear, back of neck, back of hand). At this point, his doctors think he’ll be ok to just have the growths and a lot of surrounding tissue removed and he shouldn’t have to have chemo, but it depends on what they find when they do the incisions. Please, please wear sunscreen every single day. A few things to remember, don’t forget the backs of your hands, behind your ears, and in all the nooks and crannies. Also, sunscreen needs to be reapplied regularly, especially if you’re sweating or in the water. Under those circumstances, even the best varieties only last a couple hours. Don’t forget you get exposed to UV rays through windows as well, so just because you’ll be indoors or in the car doesn’t mean you don’t need sunscreen. And please, learn the warning signs. There are resources on the internet with common characteristics of cancerous or precancerous moles, and if you can’t visit a dermatologist regularly, have a loved one help you do a self check regularly. If you’re able, regular visits to a dermatologist who has a trained eye and will create super fun (*_*) maps of all your moles and freckles can be the difference between catching something before it becomes a problem and, well, not. My dad, due to his work and his family history, has seen his every six months for the last five years (his insurance is excellent, thank all the powers that be), and there was still enough of a change in that period to cause major concern and prompt biopsies.

    • Reply Rachael June 21, 2017 at 9:00 am

      Sorry for the long post, this touched a nerve! As it seems to have done with a lot of people.

      • Reply Genevieve June 21, 2017 at 2:05 pm

        So sorry to hear that about your dad! Mine works outside too (contractor and fisherman) and is also of Irish heritage. I worry about him a lot.

  • Reply Jenhen June 21, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Can someone please speak to my issue? I have a daughter who was diagnosed with solar urticaria. We also think she has porphyria. She has a real sensitivity to the sun in an allergic reaction. Hives, burning, itching, headaches in sunlight. Not to all sunrays only to certain sunrays. She has only responded well to sunscreen with mexoryl in it. It is difficult to get in the US.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 21, 2017 at 10:17 am

      Hi Jenhen! So sorry to hear about your troubles! I would definitely seek the advice of a dermatologist or other trained professional!

  • Reply Ashl June 21, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    I wear true botanicals everyday sheer coverage, spf 10. It is very close to wearing nothing. It is tinted, but it is matte. I never feel the slightest bit greasy or oily unlike every other base that I’ve tried.

  • Reply Bee June 21, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    I’m in your boat, Erin. I know that I should use sunscreen daily but I rarely work it into my routine (it is very easy to ignore when I spend 90% of my life indoors). I recently decided that I need to make this a habit. In my household, we use a Japanese sunscreen purchased on Amazon (Biore Sarasara UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence Sunscreen, if you’re curious), and it is perfect for daily wear, especially on the face. It’s not thick and goopy at all. Now, I just have to remember to actually use it.

  • Reply BJ June 21, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Thank you for the reminder, sun protection is so important. Honestly, I’m pretty averse to using sunscreen—even the mildest formulas irritate me. But, I am going to try to get in the habit of slathering some on my nose and hands daily this summer. I find using clothes, hats and, yes, even UV gloves (for cycling) as protection much more agreeable. Along similar lines, I admire the habit of carrying parasols in the hot summer in Japan and other Asian countries.

  • Reply Kim Hamlet June 21, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    Eminence Tropical Vanilla Daycream. 32 SPF, 3 score on EWG. No tint, not greasy and tolerable to wear on my face.
    Trying to get sunscreen on a toddler is a separate matter 🙂

  • Reply Cait June 22, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    I so appreciate your recommending mineral sunscreens. That’s something I’m passionate about! …however, admittedly frustrated by sometimes, because I hate having pasty arms. My favorite, least pasty sunscreen is by Miessence (truly lovely organics brand that I’m a representative for). I purchase more typical mineral sunscreens for my kids through the blog Kitchen Stewardship’s list of dozens of mineral sunscreens her family has tested. It’s very helpful to read the comparisons! On my face, I use mineral make up which does the job perfectly without greasiness….I’ve never gotten a burn while wearing it and absolutely would without! I’m trying to wear a widebrimmed sun hat regularly as well, though the hair situation is tricky! I can’t stand having my hair down in the heat and I get tired of the braids and low bun,

  • Reply Victoria June 22, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Hey Erin! I recently started using the White and Elm moisturizer + spf (https://www.whiteandelm.com/collections/ewg-verified/products/everyday-spf-15) and I really like it. I do one pump of the spf moisturizer + 1-2 pumps of my face serum/oil (franklin and whitman or herbivore botanicals or my own blend depending on where I’m at). I like the White and Elm because it’s EWG certified which takes the guess work out of the whole thing!

  • Reply Tamara June 22, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Hi Erin,

    Have you checked out any Korean beauty brand sunscreens? They are gentle, wearable and highly innovative. I can’t recommend them enough – I’m currently using one from Innisfree: http://www.innisfreeworld.com/product/productList.do?catCd01=UA&catCd02=UAGG.

    I didn’t start wearing sunscreen on a daily basis until my mid 30s (gulp) but now I would never dream of skipping it. Although I have to confess that this is out of vanity rather than a fear of cancer 🙂

    This article does a better job explaining than me:

  • Reply Mary Beth June 23, 2017 at 9:53 am

    I love the Josie Maran sunscreen. I wear the untinted one. It blends in nicely after a minute or two. I’ve been wearing sunscreen almost daily since my 30’s. I live in So. Cal and it is sunny every day here. Today I am turning 52 and I think all my skincare efforts are working. Sunscreen + facials + tretenoin + moisturizer + healthy diet.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 23, 2017 at 10:14 am

      Happy birthday!

  • Reply Lillian June 23, 2017 at 11:27 am

    I’m incredibly late to the table, but rawelementsusa.com make an amaznig EWG rated 1 tinted face moisturizer with SPF 30. I’ve been wearing sunscreen daily for years due to concerns of skin cancer, well before it became a widely known thing…and this one is pretty awesome. Goes on well and gives a little glow to my very pale skin for the summer time. I swear my skin has gotten better since using it too…the physical formula versus chemicals. Not sure, but wanted to suggest!!

  • Reply Taylor June 23, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    Since having my daughter, it’s easy to remember to apply sunscreen on her, and I’ve been trying to take that as reminder to put it on myself too. I keep a few bottles right next to our keys, as a visual reminder, even though I hate how cluttered it looks. I’ve been happy with Think Baby spf for both of us. My only probably is when exactly to wear it. We live in the city and we are outside constantly but not for long bouts. If we are indeed going outside to play and spend time, I’ll put it on. If we’re walking to the library or grocery store, I’m more likely to be mindful of walking in the shade. It’s tricky. I’m 28 and ever pale, so I’ve given up on tans and decided to celebrate anti-aging habits 🙂

  • Reply Taylor June 23, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    My only problem*
    It’s very nice though that I have an aunt who always seems to give us sunblock as gifts. Much appreciated and so useful!

  • Reply Sarah June 23, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    I started searching for a daily moisturizer with SPF about 5 years ago when I turned 30 because I felt like that was the only way I’d actually bother to put it on every day! I’ve tried Josie Maran and I don’t hate it but feels a tad heavy and greasy for me. I’ve been using Andalou Naturals 1000 ROSES® DAILY SHADE FACIAL LOTION SPF 18 for about two years and I like it very much, very light and smells nice and is good for my sensitive skin. However it’s only 18 which isn’t very high, and in general I prefer to just avoid direct sunlight. I’ve become that person who is shopping for a personal beach umbrella to attach to my camp chair! I did just buy the Glossier sunscreen and am looking forward to adding it to my morning routine now that summer is here. My mother just had some skin removed from her nose at 64. I’m not worried about the chemicals in these sunscreens, especially if you are limiting chemical exposure in other areas of your life, surely sunscreen is an item where it’s worth it!

    • Reply Heather June 24, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      Ooooh I just discovered Andalou Naturals as well and absolutely love it, though I’m using the Age Defying Daily Defense one, also SPF 18. It’s great for every day since it’s a moisturizer–just a habit to put on after I wash my face. If I know I’m going to be outside for longer than walking to the bus/office/out to lunch, I will use the Josie Maran one you recommend Erin. Thanks for starting this conversation– it’s an important one to talk about! I grew up and still live in Seattle, where it’s cloudy more than it’s sunny, but you can still get UV through the clouds. So daily sunscreen is a must! 🙂

      • Reply Sarah June 27, 2017 at 10:06 pm

        Heather, same, I’m in Portland, so it’s hard to remember to put on sunscreen most of the year, which is why I love Andalou! I also love that I can just pick it up at the natural food store when I’m shopping for groceries. I might have to give the age-defying version a try! We just had a scorching hot weekend and I had my first trial run of adding in Glossier Invisible Shield before the lotion. I ended up breaking out in several spots on my face. Not sure if it’s the product or just the hot sticky sweaty weather 🙁

  • Reply Crystine June 23, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    I have worked outside every summer-fall 4-5 days/week for the last 12 years (organic farmer) and have almost always worn long sleeves, boots, pants and a hat. I am so allergic to suncreen especially on my face. It makes my head feel like a ton of bricks and gives me headaches, almost like the flu. That said, I’ve liked Badger (baby) and Green Goddess. If anyone has similar symptoms and has found one that is organic and that they can tolerate, I’d love to know!

  • Reply Lisa June 23, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    Favorite sunscreen hands down – Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream with non nano zinc oxide. I don’t even feel it on my skin and it doesn’t leave a white cast which is very important to me because I have deep brown skin that looks crazy with other sunscreens

  • Reply Stephanie Watanabe June 25, 2017 at 10:36 am

    I’m sporadic with my sunscreen useful, but lately have begun to use it more frequently – I’m a big fan of all natural beauty products and have tried dozens of sunscreens, my favorites so far are Pratima’s Neem Rose Face Sunscreen and also the more affordable line Bare Republic (by Coola – another great line) at Target.

  • Reply Jenna June 26, 2017 at 11:50 am

    I grew up in Minnesota where we’re typically covered up 8 months a year, and though I had a couple bad burns as a kid I’ve usually been good about sun exposure and sunscreen use (long sleeves, never tanning deliberately, daily use of sunscreen on my face). Even so, at 29, I’ve had 5 moles removed, all biopsied and determined pre-cancerous, several in very out of the way, low-exposure areas. Sun exposure is no joke, especially if you’re light skinned. Though I hate the goopy feeling and occasional shininess, I use sunscreen on my face, neck, ears, exposed arms and hands – every day, no exceptions.

  • Reply Jennie-Mae June 26, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    Erin, I’m with you! I just turned 34 and my vanity has finally led me to sunscreen it up. I hated it until recently when I tried Glossier’s new sunscreen (https://www.glossier.com/products/invisible-shield?gclid=CObihPqF3NQCFRBMDQodZkcGVg). It’s super super lightweight and it works well under my moisturizer (that I actually DO do everyday). 🙂 Good luck!

  • Reply Sonya June 30, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Maybe I’m in the minority – there’s a lot of comments to read through so I have not, but I’ve worn sunscreen everyday since I started having a skincare routine as a 12 or 13 year old. I’m 36 now, so you do the math. Yeah, its a little crazy to think about, but I don’t want cancer or wrinkles and my mom had a patch of skin removed from her nose when I was in high school so I’m one of the people who preach about wearing it as well. I currently like Drunk Elephant’s sunscreen that I apply after moisturizer and wear every day.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 30, 2017 at 1:22 pm

      Not the minority!

  • Reply Rosie July 3, 2017 at 9:02 am

    For year I have worn foundation or used a moisturiser with SPF in it. My skin is being very sensitive at the moment, so I’ve switched moisturiser and it doesn’t have an SPF anymore! So I’m desperately trying to find a light, non-greasy SPF.

  • Reply Aubrey July 15, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    So here is a confession, I’m great at putting sunscreen on my face.. the rest of the body is another story. I use the Coola unscented and tinted sunscreen . It is a fairly clean brand that uses mineral blockers but here is the catch, the tint doesn’t actually provide any coverage, but what it does do is prevent that ghastly white veil from making you look like a chalky ghost. I love it and my moisturizer hating mother in law is also on board which says A Lot.

  • Reply becky July 19, 2017 at 8:27 pm


    I thought about this post and the comments that followed when I read this article on the Today show’s website just a few mins ago.

    I learned something new! And I consider myself highly educated about skin cancer and protection.

  • Reply Nea August 7, 2017 at 6:09 am

    Suntegrity is a great natural sunscreen brand. They also smell amazing! You need to rub em in a bit to get rid of the whiteness, but they don’t leave a sticky greasy look.

    I am personally too lax on sunscreen use, I do it when I go to the beach for a whole sunbathing session, but tend to forget to slather on for backyard sunbathing or a normal day out. Also living in the Nordics where we only get like 2 bloody months of sun, I want to enjoy as much of its as possible! But yeah it should not mean throwing caution away completely..

  • Reply Hannah January 31, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    Not sure if you check comments on old posts, but this article seemed like something you would be interested in and this post the place to put it: https://www.outsideonline.com/2380751/sunscreen-sun-exposure-skin-cancer-science

    and then I read this rebuttal too:

    Absolutely not saying that one shouldn’t wear sunscreen or refuting the link between excessive sun exposure and skin cancer, but it did make me feel better about not putting it on for my 10-minute walk to the bus stop in the winter months. Always hard to sift through the science. I also thought the points about the advice on the balance of vitamin D production vs. cancer risk reduction being geared to the light skinned was interesting and reminded me of ways that medical research has historically used white men in health studies, gearing national medical advice towards them. Anyway, still wearing sunscreen, but going to try and be less stressed about it for small periods (I always feel such guilt!).

  • Leave a Reply to lilly Cancel Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Comments are moderated.