Chryso's Beauty Buys: Sunscreen by Chryso D'Angelo, June 17 2015, 1 Comment

Now that the weather has gotten warmer and sunnier throughout the U.S. (woohoo!), you’re probably spending more time outdoors. I know I am! Whether you’re at the shore, the pool or even running an errand, it’s crucial that you protect your skin.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Young men account for 40 percent of melanoma cases and women aged 39 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

“Sunlight contains ultraviolet radiation (UV-A, and UV-B) that induces skin cancer development and accelerates skin aging,” says Dr. Julia Tzu, Medical Director and Founder of Wall Street Dermatology. Here are some guidelines when choosing your sun protection:


SPF: Dr. Tzu recommends buying a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30, which blocks out 97% of the UVB rays.

“BROAD SPECTRUM” These words indicate protection against UV-A and UV-B rays, says Tzu.


“Generally, a shot glass (approximately two tablespoons) amount of sunscreen is sufficient for the average person,” says Tzu. “Remember that sunscreen should be applied thirty minutes prior to sun exposure, then reapplied every two hours especially for outdoor activities."


“For outdoor activities that involve water exposure, look for the “water resistant” label that indicates the duration, typically 40 or 80 minutes, of sun protection,” says Tzu.


We all just want to jump into whatever fun activity we have planned for the day, but be sure to take the time to cover all those areas people sometimes ignore. Frequently overlooked spots include the top of the ears, back of the neck, and lips, according to Tzu. “An SPF lip balm is an ideal vehicle for application of sunscreen to the lips,” she adds.


“There have been concerns over the safety of oxybenzone (indicated as a possible hormone disruptor) and retinyl palmitate which may increase free radical damage to skin cells,” says Board-Certified Dermatologist Michael Lin, M.D., who practices in California. Although the evidence is not conclusive, he says he avoids these ingredients.

There is also some concern over Octinoxate, which has been shown to have hormone-mimicking effects on laboratory animals, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). It’s a very common ingredient found in sunscreens. However, EWG does list sunscreens that contain Octinoxate as “safe.”


There are basically two types of sun protection:

Chemical sunscreens have ingredients that act as filters to reduce penetration to the skin, according to the American Melanoma Foundation (AMF). However, critics worry that these chemicals seep within the skin, which is alarming since some chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that have been shown to have endocrine disruption activity. Also, many chemical sunscreens contain nanoparticles that wind up in marine systems and negatively impact the environment. These sunscreens often are colorless and maintain a thin visible film on the skin so they are often the more popular choice of sun protection.

Physical Sunscreens, most often referred to as sun blocks, are products containing ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which physically block ultraviolet radiation (UVR), according to AMF. But, because they often leave white marks and can be tough to wash off, they’re not as popular.

I have used physical sunscreens on my children. While they do take longer to apply (the consistency is thick) and it’s tough to rub the white color completely away, my children have never had sun burn (unless I missed a spot!).

My family is looking forward to a wonderful summer—and that means fun in the sun under the protection of the most reliable, safest, eco-friendly products I can get my hands on. Here, a few standouts:



Elemental Herbs All Good Lips 4 pack, SPF 18


  • Has signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics and enjoys Champion Status
  • Ranked 1 out of 10 in safety on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database (low hazard)

Environmental responsiveness: Elemental Herbs runs a solar-powered production facility and donates 1% of their profits to For the Planet, Save Our Snow and United Plant Savers. Leaping Bunny, PETA Cruelty-Free company.

Results: These oxybenzone-free lip balms contain wonderfully-scented essential oils (like tangerine and spearmint) and are SPF 12. Made with pure zinc oxide to protect your lips from the sun’s rays, they leave lips super-moisturized.

Ingredients from packaging: Organic Calendula*, Organic Comfrey*, Organic Lavender*, Organic Plantain* and Organic Yarrow* Infused in Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil* with Organic Beeswax*, Organic Essential Oils* and Vitamin E. Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 7.5%, Zinc Oxide 2%.

Practicality: $12.50



 Zosimos Botanicals Cooling Mist Sun Spray

  • Has signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics and enjoys full Champion status
  • This product has not been ranked on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database

Environmental responsiveness: The ZB studio reduces its carbon footprint by using 100 percent wind power and reports that it only patronizes suppliers that use sustainable harvesting practices, grow pesticide-free plants and produce Certified Organic and/or natural ingredients. Some of the groups ZB studio supports include the Denali Citizens Council and Reef Check Australia. This company does not test on animals.

Results: Ooh, tingly comfort (must be the Spearmint and Peppermint essential oils, which smell terrific, too)! Plus, cucumber and Aloe Vera juice help soothe my skin, adding beneficial moisturizing properties. I’ve been using this wonderful blend for over a year and I don’t leave home without it if we’re going on an extended trip to the shore. Since I spend too much time making sure the kids are protected, I'm guilty of neglecting my own "re-apply" process from time to time. This spray is a wonderful, soothing sensation that helps those spots that are a bit sensitive from a day in the sun.

Ingredients from packaging: Organic Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Juice; Cucumber Hydrosol; Organic Mentha Arvensis (Peppermint) Essential Oil; Organic Mentha Spicata (Spearmint) Essential Oil; Organic Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile, Roman) Essential Oil; Tea Tree Essential Oil.

Label directions: Shake well before using. Requires no refrigeration. Apply liberally to affected areas.

Practicality: $10



Elemental Herbs All Good Sport Sunscreen 



  • Has signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics and enjoys Champion Status
  • Ranked 1 out of 10 in safety on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database (low hazard)

Environmental responsiveness: Elemental Herbs runs a solar-powered production facility and donates 1% of their profits to For the Planet, Save Our Snow and United Plant Savers. Leaping Bunny, PETA Cruelty-Free company.

Results: This GMO-free, hypo-allergenic, gluten-free, Vegan, PABA-, Paraben-free sunscreen contains 22.5 percent Zinc Oxide and blends into the skin fairly easily — plus it doesn't leave that pesky white residue and it keeps my skin from toasting. In other words, it's "All Good". We can even  feel guilt-free while swimming in the ocean since its non-nano formula will not plague coral reefs. Hooray!

Ingredients from packaging: Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 22.5% (Non-nanoparticle), Inactive Ingredients: Organic Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Juice*, Water (Aqua), Organic Camelia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract*, Glycerin, Caprylic Capric Triglyceride, Organic Rosa Canina (Rose Hip) Fruit Oil*, Organic Mauritia Vinifera (Buriti) Fruit Oil*, Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Glyceryl Stearate, Methylcellulose, Stearic Acid, Organic Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil*, Organic Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)*, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Ethyhexyl Glycerin.

Practicality: $15.99

Hang Ten Kids Mineral Natural Sunscreen SPF 50- Banana 


  • Has not signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics
  • Ranked 3 out of 10 in safety on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database (moderate hazard)

Environmental responsiveness: Sourced using a Farm to Face® philosophy with ingredients that are up to 97% certified organic and formulated incorporating Plant Protection®, COOLA has become a global brand catering to the prestige market: paraben-free, synthetic fragrance-free, cruelty-free.

Results: I really like the fact that this sunscreen is oxybenzone-free, paraben-free and contains Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. The formula is white but not as thick or pasty as other "physical" sunscreens I’ve used in the past. It blends in quickly and doesn’t leave a whitish finish, plus it’s non-greasy. The scent is so light, barely noticeable. After a full day at the park, my little ones’ skin was fine. Note that we reapply every two to three hours (I can’t lie—kids are hard to corral when they’re busy playing). I'm so happy that it’s water-resistant because a beach day is on the horizon!

Ingredients from packaging:

Active Ingredients:Titanium Dioxide 4.0%, Zinc Oxide 2.5%

Inactive Ingredients:

Agave Americana (ORGANIC) Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis (ORGANIC) Leaf, Aluminum Hydroxide, Arnica Montana (ORGANIC) Flower Extract, Beeswax (ORGANIC), Butyloctyl Salicylate, Butyrospermum Parkii (ORGANIC Shea Butter), Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Citric Acid, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Cocoglycerides, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Flavor, Glycerin (ORGANIC), Helianthus Annuus (ORGANIC Sunflower) Seed Oil, Hydrogen Dimethicone, Passiflora Incarnata (ORGANIC Maypops) Fruit Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Polyethylene, Propanediol, Silybum Marianum (ORGANIC Lady’s Thistle) Extract, Steareth-2, Steareth-21, Theobroma Cacao (ORGANIC Cocoa) Seed Butter, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Water, Xanthan Gum

Practicality: $12


Nature’s Gate Sport Vegan Sunscreen, SPF 50


  • Has not signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics
  • Ranked 2 out of 10 in safety on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database (low hazard)

Environmental responsiveness: Nature's Gate has partnered with Water Aid to support the use of rainwater to help families and children in Asia and Africa have long term access to safe, clean water. The company uses energy efficient lighting, is carbon neutral certified and reserves millions of gallons of water yearly; vegan; no animal testing.

Results: This blend leaves a slightly white cast on my skin. It may be a deterrent to some, but it's a non-issue for me. There have been some concerns over octinoxate (a common chemical—and hormone disruptor—used in sunscreens) and that ingredient is present in the product. Still, it’s ranked "safe" among the Environmental Working Group’s safe sunscreens; and in fact gets a "low hazard" rating. I used the product on two occasions and after a few hours of gardening, I didn’t get a sunburn.

Ingredients from packaging:

Active ingredients: Octinoxate 7.5%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 7%, Zinc Oxide 6.9%

Inactive ingredients: aloe barbadensis leaf juice, caprylhydroxamic acid, caprylic/capric triglyceride, caprylyl glycol, cetyl dimethicone, cucumis sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, dicaprylyl ether, glycerin, hippophae rhamnoides extract, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower extract, magnesium sulfate, neopentyl glycol diethylhexanoate, neopentyl glycol diisostearate, polyglyceryl-2 dipolyhydroxystearate, polyglyceryl-4 isostearate, sodium chloride, tocopheryl acetate, triethoxycaprylylsilane, water.

Practicality: $11.49