Guide to Clean Sunscreen

Guide to Clean Sunscreen |

While growing up in Florida, I incurred several serious sunburns. We all know sunburn causes skin damage, if not skin cancer, but what teenager is prescient enough to religiously apply sunscreen? Not I. So I've spend my later years slathering it on, trying in vain to retroactively protect myself. 

Still, I actually don't wear sunscreen daily. I work at home and generally just walk to and from the subway on the days I go out, fulfilling the prescribed 15-30 minutes/2-4 times a week of unprotected sun exposure. But if I'm going to be at the beach or out in the sun all day, I encase myself in the stuff. It's better to use mineral (rather than chemical) protection. Look for zinc oxide as an ingredient; the higher the percentage, the better the UV protection. The physical barrier it provides is the least toxic and most effective, although the white film can be discouraging for you and your swimsuit. Put it on, rub it in well, and let it sink in before putting on your suit. If you're really concerned, try one of the clear zinc oxide options now available.

The Environmental Working Group does fantastic work categorizing and rating personal care products for their safety (consider donating to them here). Their 2014 Guide to Sunscreen, where all of the following brands are rated, is available here. Sometimes their recommendations can be a bit obscure; so I've sorted through the guide to recommend brands that are relatively affordable, widely available, and highly rated.


All Terrain

All Terrain uses transparent zinc oxide, so it is non-whitening, non-greasy, fragrance-free. I'll often choose sunscreens made for kids or babies because they are usually fragrance free and better for sensitive skin. 

EWG Rating: 1

Available at: All Terrain, Abe's Market, & more

Price: around $10 for 3 oz. 


Aubrey Organics Natural Sun

Made with shea butter and organic aloe to keep skin soft and hydrated, Aubrey Organics is now water-resistant for a full 40 minutes of swimming or perspiring. 

EWG Rating: 1

Available at: Aubrey OrganicsiHerb,, & more

Price: $10-15 for 4 oz.


Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen

This formulation is hypo-allergenic, fragrance free, and vegan for extra sensitive skin. Rose hip oil and shea butter keep skin moisturized. More swim and sport Babo products can be viewed here.

EWG Rating: 1

Available at: Babo Botanicals, iHerb, Abe's Market, & more

Price: around $15 for 3 oz.


Badger Company

Badger is always a solid and clean choice. Their formula is a certified Organic base of Sunflower Oil, Beeswax & Vitamin E that is ultra-moisturizing and soothing. And it's biodegradable and safe for coral reefs and other ecosystems. All of their formulas are highly rated by the EWG, so choose the one that best fits your needs. See them all here.

EWG Rating: 1

Available at: Badger Company website, iHerb, Whole Foods,, & more

Price: around $15 for 2.9 oz

Guide to Clean Sunscreen |

Elemental Herbs

Elemental Herbs gives you the added benefits of certified organic green tea, rose hip antioxidants, certified organic jojoba, and extra virgin olive moisturizing oils. Now in a SPF 33 version with the safest sun protection ingredient: pure non-nano zinc oxide. Safe for coral reefs, safe for kids, and safe for you. 

EWG Rating: 1

Available at: Elemental Herbs, Abe's Market, iHerb, & more

Price: around $15 for 3 oz.


Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen

Blue Lizard Baby and Sensitive are both rated a 1 by EWG. To help you stay protected, the bottle changes color when harmful UV rays are present. Their products are now made in the US and they are one of the few brands to offer larger sizes (including one gallon jugs!), which reduces packaging.

EWG Rating: 1

Available at: Blue Lizard, iHerb,, & more

Price: around $16 for 5 oz. (buy in bulk for lower price)


Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sunscreen

This is a go-to option for me in a pinch. It's widely available and there are a lot of options including fragrance free and up to SPF 45. Be sure to stick to their mineral formulas to ensure a low EWG rating.

EWG Rating: 2

Available at: Alba Botanica, Whole Foods, Abe's Market, iHerb,, & more

Price: $6-10 for 4 oz.

If you're going to be getting intense or long sun exposure, please remember to protect yourself. It's unfortunate that sunscreen is so expensive (they have us cornered) and that it comes in plastic.


Shop Clean Sunscreen

This post contains affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you buy anything through the link (it doesn't change the amount you pay). I only include brands that I believe in, that I would use myself, or think might be of interest to you. 

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