Toxic vs. Non-Toxic Sunscreen 101

“I like my products how I like my people – non-toxic.”

Let’s get straight to it, because my DM’s have been flooded with messages about non-toxic beauty, specifically sunscreen. By now we are all aware that what we eat is just as important as what we put on top of our skin. Chemicals and toxins in our everyday beauty regimen can do some real messed up sh*t to our endocrine system; parabens, formaldehyde, fragrance, heavy metals, and phthalates are just a few common ingredients that have been linked to hormone disruption, inflammation, and cancer. I have to be 100% honest.. I have not completely made the switch to non-toxic beauty, but I am slowly making changes. I started with deodorant and now I’m on to another important one – sunscreen. What I learned through this ridiculously long process is that you have to dig DEEP to find a 100% non-toxic sunscreen. In fact, I spent two weeks alone on just research before writing this blog post.

This is a condensed version of what I learned.

Stay Away From Oxybenzone

These are the ingredients you should avoid as much as possible – starting from the most toxic to the least. Ironically, the most toxic ingredient (Oxybenzone) is the one found in MOST sunscreens. According to the Environmental Working Group website, an FDA test result showed that “Oxybenzone absorbed through the skin in large amounts, has been detected in human breast milk, amniotic fluid, urine and blood, is a potential endocrine disruptor, and children may be more vulnerable to harm from Oxybenzone than adults because of the potential for higher absorption and bioaccumulation.” Octinoxate has been shown to be a reproductive toxin and Homosalate enhances absorption of pesticides.

Toxic Sunscreen

The Non-Toxic Checklist

So now that I’ve officially scared you, let’s talk about some better-for-you alternatives. The lowest risk sunscreens have minerals as their active ingredient – specifically Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide (key words: lowest risk). These minerals are biodegradable, do not absorb into the skin, rub in sheer, and are great for sensitive skin. Use this checklist as a guide to when you’re choosing your sunscreen:

Do Your Homework

Use a reference such as the EWG Guide to help you understand the general product score for a specific sunscreen.

The EWG is a non-profit organization that “specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of agricultural subsidies, toxic chemicals, drinking water pollutants and corporate accountability”. Their website has a search bar where you are able to search for a specific sunscreen and see the ingredient list as well as a breakdown/concerns of each ingredient. Remember, this is a general guide and is only to be used as a reference.


Mineral-Based Sunscreens


  1. Mellis
    June 12, 2019 / 7:27 pm

    Thank you for this informative post! I had no idea that there was such harmful ingredients in our sunscreens, especially for children!

  2. Olympia Papageorgiou
    June 18, 2019 / 1:28 pm

    Awesome post! Which is your favorite sunscreen to use out of the organic cleaner versions ?

    • coffeeconcealerblog
      June 24, 2019 / 3:24 pm

      Murad Environmental Shield! I liked it above!!

  3. Sarah Acker
    June 20, 2019 / 7:37 pm

    Love love love! Your content just keeps getting better and better!

Leave a Reply