We often look at sunscreen as an optional extra in our beauty routines, but if the staggering statistics regarding skin cancer are any indication, we simply have to change our outlook. When we’re not shielding our faces with hats, finding shade or simply avoiding direct sunlight, we should be slathering ourselves in SPF. At the same time, we also realize that not all formulas are created equal. And for that, we have organizations like the Environmental Working Group to thank for steering us toward the safest ones.
Every year, the EWG publishes an extensive sunscreen guide based on in-depth testing of 1,000 sunscreen products across a wide range of categories, including the number of worrisome ingredients and whether or not there’s an adequate balance of UVA and UVB protection. Each product is graded on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best.
This year, less than one-third of the products tested garnered a 1 or 2 rating. And while we’re happy to have that very small pool of options, this also serves as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done. A huge number of products sold stateside continue to include harmful ingredients such as the chemical oxybenzone (an allergen and hormone disruptor) yet claim to help prevent skin cancer — blame our super-lax FDA regulations.
The 1-rated sunscreens on EWG’s list are mostly natural and mineral-based, which means they don’t absorb completely into the skin and literally act like a mirror, reflecting UV rays away from the body. And because we don’t believe sun protection should come at a steep price, we’re highlighting the best under-$20 options ahead.
Originally posted on StyleCaster.
Kabana Organic Skincare Green Screen SPF 35
Free of common allergens and made with just six natural ingredients.
Green Screen SPF 35, $7.49 at Kabana Organic Skincare
True Natural Sunscreen Ultra Protect 50
This 100 percent natural sunscreen is free of common allergens but does leave behind a slightly white film because of the zinc and titanium particles.
Sunscreen Ultra Protect 50, $19.99 at True Natural
Waxhead Zinc Oxide Sunscreen
A nongreasy formula that goes on smooth and replenishes the 100 percent daily value of vitamin D.
Zinc Oxide Sunscreen, $18.99 at Waxhead
All Good Sport Sunscreen SPF 30
Provides water-resistant protection for up to 80 minutes.
Sport Sunscreen SPF 30, $15.99 at All Good
Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen SPF 30
A hypoallergenic formula that contains 19 percent zinc and certified organic oils.
Clear Zinc Sunscreen SPF 30, $19.95 at Babo Botanicals
Badger SPF 30 Natural Mineral Sunscreen Cream With Clear Zinc
Biodegradable and cruelty-free, this fragrance-free formula starts out white but rubs in clear.
SPF 30 Natural Mineral Sunscreen Cream with clear zinc, $16.99 at Badger
Caribbean Sol Sol Guard SPF 30
In addition to zinc oxide for sun protection, cucumber extracts, organic aloe leaf and kukui oil help the skin to cool itself off.
Sol Guard SPF 30, $16 at Caribbean Sol
Goddess Garden Everyday Natural Sunscreen
Made with all plant-based ingredients and pure lavender essential oils that you can smell as you apply.
Everyday Natural Sunscreen, $17.99 at Goddess Garden
Hawaiian Sol SolGuard SPF 50
This one is free of oxybenzone, one of the most dangerous but commonly used ingredients in sunscreens.
SolGuard SPF 50, $18 at Hawaiian Sol
Juice Beauty SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen
This water-resistant sunscreen, made without chemical ingredients, was formulated specifically for anyone with an active lifestyle.
SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen, $16 at Juice Beauty
Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50
The dry finish of this formula is easy to layer with summer makeup.
Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50, $6.39 at Target
Thinksport SPF 50+ Sunscreen
This sunscreen has been top-rated by the EWG since 2010 and is made with the highest allowable amount of SPF and UVA/UVB protection.
SPF 50+ Sunscreen, $12.99 at Thinksport
Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 50
Made without that typical "sunscreen scent" and free of active chemicals, this naturally vanilla-scented formula is safe for babies and adults alike.
Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 50, $9.99 at Bare Republic
Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Sensitive
A dermatologist-approved sunscreen intended for face and body coverage that's gentle enough for skin that's prone to irritation.
Australian Sunscreen, Sensitive, $14.99 at Blue Lizard
BurnOut Ocean Tested Physical Sunscreen SPF 30
Made with athletes in mind, this biodegradable, chemical-free sunscreen is extremely waterproof and sweatproof.
Ocean Tested Physical Sunscreen SPF 30, $17.99 at BurnOut Suncare
Zeb’s Organics Sunscreen SPF 30
Non-whitening, chemical-free and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
Zeb's Organics Sunscreen SPF 30, $9.99 at Amazon
Tropical Sands SPF 50 Unscented Mineral Sunscreen
Biodegradable and made with ingredients that won't harm reefs as you swim in ocean water.
Tropical Sands SPF 50 unscented mineral sunscreen, $19.95 at Mexitan
Butterbean Organics Original Healthy Sunscreen SPF 30
The fragrance is derived entirely from virgin oils and butters, while 22 percent zinc oxide provides sun protection.
Original Healthy Sunscreen SPF 30, $12.50 at Butterbean Organics
Kabana Organic Skincare Bali Bloc Surfscreen SPF 30
Due to the presence of raw certified-organic cocoa powder, this sunscreen stick also delivers a bronze tint to the skin.
Bali Bloc Surfscreen SPF 30, $19.49 at Kabana Organic Skincare
Poofy Organics “The” Sunscreen
Since this is free of chemicals, you will need to frequently reapply, especially if you're coming in and out of water.
"The" Sunscreen, $16 at Poofy Organics
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