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The 29 Safest Sunscreens and 3 to Avoid

| By
author image Elizabeth Hurchalla
Elizabeth Hurchalla has been a writer and editor since 1993. She has authored three books and written for “InStyle,” “Cosmopolitan” and the BBC, among other outlets, covering family, food and entertaining, lifestyle and self-help. Hurchalla earned a Bachelor of Philosophy in interdisciplinary studies from Miami University.

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The 29 Safest Sunscreens and 3 to Avoid
LIVESTRONG.COM

Overview

Think your sunscreen is safe? Probably not. Nearly 75 percent of the more than 1,350 products tested in the Environmental Working Group’s “Sunscreen Guide for 2016” were found unsafe, ineffective or both. As scary as those numbers seem, the good news is that dozens of approved products made the list. We’ve sifted through EWG’s top picks to help make it easier to find the one that’s right for your needs, whether you’re looking for the best kids’ sunscreen, the best anti-aging moisturizer with SPF or simply the biggest sunblock bang for your buck. At the end of the slideshow, we’ve also listed the three types of sunscreen you’ll definitely want to avoid.

1. BEST ALL-PURPOSE SUNSCREEN: Jersey Kids Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
Jersey Shore Cosmetics

1. BEST ALL-PURPOSE SUNSCREEN: Jersey Kids Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30

According Wendy Roberts, MD, a dermatologist in Rancho Mirage, CA, Jersey Kids Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30 has a high percentage of zinc oxide and a simple ingredient list that make the product very safe. A smooth base, including olive oil, jojoba oil and shea butter, helps ensure it goes on evenly. It’s made in the U.S. and it is biodegradable and safe enough to use on the whole family, including babies. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $20.00 for 2 oz. ($9.50/oz.).

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2. BEST SPORT SUNSCREEN: All Good Sport Sunscreen, SPF 33
Elemental Herbs

2. BEST SPORT SUNSCREEN: All Good Sport Sunscreen, SPF 33

This zinc oxide formulation leaves little residue, which is especially beneficial for darker skin tones, says dermatologist Dr. Wendy Roberts. Certified organic green tea and rose hip act as antioxidants while jojoba and extra-virgin olive oils moisturize the skin. Plus it’s eco-friendly and safe for kids. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $15.99 for 3 oz. ($5.33/oz.)

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3. BEST WATER-RESISTANT SUNSCREEN: Sunology Natural Sunscreen for Body, SPF 50
Sunology

3. BEST WATER-RESISTANT SUNSCREEN: Sunology Natural Sunscreen for Body, SPF 50

With sun protection from both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, this very high SPF sunscreen is water resistant for up to 80 minutes, making it a great choice for extended time in the water, says dermatologist Dr. Wendy Roberts. Bonus: It’s noncomedogenic, which means that it won't clog your pores. And it’s rich in antioxidants. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $14.99 for 2 oz. ($7.50/oz.)

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4. BEST KIDS’ SUNSCREEN: Badger Kids Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30
Badger Company

4. BEST KIDS’ SUNSCREEN: Badger Kids Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30

“With its high concentration of zinc oxide, this is a great physical sunscreen,” according to dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD. Water and sweat resistant for up to 40 minutes, it contains “sunflower oil and organic beeswax to moisturize the skin, and chamomile to soothe it.” And the chamomile and calendula ingredients infuse it with a mild scent, no chemical fragrances necessary. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $15.99 for 2.9 oz. ($5.51/oz.)

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5. BEST KIDS’ SPORT SUNSCREEN (Tie for #1): BurnOut Kids Physical Sunscreen, SPF 35
Burn Out Pure Suncare

5. BEST KIDS’ SPORT SUNSCREEN (Tie for #1): BurnOut Kids Physical Sunscreen, SPF 35

Featuring sun protection from zinc oxide, this product is also water resistant, biodegradable, noncomedogenic and suitable for sensitive skin. Plus, as dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman points out: “It includes the antioxidant vitamin C and moisturizes with glycerin.” EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $17.99 for 3.4 oz. ($5.29/oz.)

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6. BEST KIDS’ SPORT SUNSCREEN (Tie for #1):
 TruKid Sunny Days Sport Sunscreen Lotion, Unscented, SPF 30+
TruKid

6. BEST KIDS’ SPORT SUNSCREEN (Tie for #1):
 TruKid Sunny Days Sport Sunscreen Lotion, Unscented, SPF 30+

“Another water-resistant, zinc-oxide sunscreen, this one can be used for 40 minutes in the water before reapplying,” says dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman. “It also contains moisturizing sunflower oil and castor oil and a variety of antioxidants, including green tea oil, vitamin E and pomegranate juice.” Plus, dermatologist Dr. Wendy Roberts points out that it’s geared toward kids with sensitive skin, since it’s unscented. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $14.99 for 2 oz. ($7.50/oz.)

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7. BEST BABY SUNSCREEN: Goddess Garden Baby Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30
Goddess Garden

7. BEST BABY SUNSCREEN: Goddess Garden Baby Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30

“A long list of organic botanical ingredients and UVA coverage help protect baby’s skin,” says dermatologist Dr. Wendy Roberts, explaining that this makes Goddess Garden a top choice for your little one. This zinc oxide-based sunscreen is even water resistant for up to 40 minutes. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $17.99 for 3.4 oz ($5.29/oz.)

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8. BEST SENSITIVE SKIN BABY SUNSCREEN: California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
California Baby

8. BEST SENSITIVE SKIN BABY SUNSCREEN: California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+

California Baby's sunscreen has been vetted not only by EWG but also WebMD and SheKnows Parenting Awards. It's water-resistant formula contains no fragrances or scent-masking agents and can be used on babies under six months if sun exposure is unavoidable. Moms can even use it under their make-up or as stand-alone skin protection. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $19.99 for 2.9 oz ($6.89/oz.)

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9. BEST SUNSCREEN DEAL: Butterbean Organics Original Formula Sunscreen, SPF 30
Butterbean Sunscreen

9. BEST SUNSCREEN DEAL: Butterbean Organics Original Formula Sunscreen, SPF 30

This whipped, creamy sunscreen’s primary ingredient is coconut oil, giving it a slightly tropical scent without any added fragrance. And thanks to the zinc oxide in this product, dermatologist Dr. Wendy Roberts says you get “immediate sun protection with no need to wait to let the sunscreen soak in before getting in the water.” Founded by a mom in Georgia, the company is committed to using fair-trade, organic ingredients. And at only $3 an ounce, the price is unbeatable. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $21.00 for 7 oz. ($3.00/oz.)

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10. BEST SCENTED SUNSCREEN: Badger Sunscreen Cream, Lavender, SPF 30
Badger Company

10. BEST SCENTED SUNSCREEN: Badger Sunscreen Cream, Lavender, SPF 30

“Broad-spectrum coverage and water resistance combined with eco-friendly packaging and biodegradable ingredients safe for coral reefs” set this sunscreen apart, says dermatologist Dr. Wendy Roberts. Badger has more products on the Environmental Working Group’s top rated list than any other company, and this is their original sunscreen formula, lightly scented with lavender. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $15.99 for 2.9 oz. ($5.51/oz.)

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11. BEST CANCER-FIGHTING SUNSCREEN: Thinksport Safe Sunscreen, SPF 50+
ThinkSport

11. BEST CANCER-FIGHTING SUNSCREEN: Thinksport Safe Sunscreen, SPF 50+

“With water resistance for up to 80 minutes, this sunscreen is an excellent choice for water activities or outdoor sports that make you perspire,” says dermatologist Dr. Wendy Roberts. And it provides some protection against skin cancer thanks to zinc oxide’s broad-spectrum protection. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $12.99 for 3 oz. ($4.33/oz.)

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12. BEST MOISTURIZING SUNSCREEN: Badger Sunscreen Cream, Unscented, SPF 30
Badger Company

12. BEST MOISTURIZING SUNSCREEN: Badger Sunscreen Cream, Unscented, SPF 30

A great biodegradable, coral reef-friendly option, this sunscreen contains only five ingredients, including zinc oxide for sun protection, vitamin E and other emollients, says dermatologist Dr. Wendy Roberts. It’s unscented, provides water and sweat resistance for up to 40 minutes and even comes in eco-friendly packaging. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $15.99 for 2.9 oz. ($5.51/oz.)

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13. BEST LONG-TERM SUN EXPOSURE SUNSCREEN: Tropical Sands Sunscreen, SPF 50
Mexitan Products

13. BEST LONG-TERM SUN EXPOSURE SUNSCREEN: Tropical Sands Sunscreen, SPF 50

If you need a sunscreen for very intense sun exposure, dermatologist Dr. Wendy Roberts says that this sunscreen offers broad-spectrum UV coverage thanks to two physical sun filters: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. It also contains the antioxidant green tea and promises a long shelf life. Bonus: It’s coral reef-friendly and biodegradable. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $19.95 for 5.4 oz. ($3.69/oz.)

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14. BEST ANTI-AGING SUNSCREEN (Tie for #1): Jersey Shore Cosmetics Anti-Aging Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 35
Jersey Shore Cosmetics

14. BEST ANTI-AGING SUNSCREEN (Tie for #1): Jersey Shore Cosmetics Anti-Aging Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 35

Take your sun protection one step further with Jersey Shore Cosmetic's anti-aging sunscreen. It's paraben-free, petrochemical-free and cruelty-free and is made in the U.S. All ingredients range from a 0 to 2 on EWG's scale, meaning they have little to no negative health concerns associated with them. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $40.00 for 2 oz. ($20.00/oz.)

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15. BEST ANTI-AGING SUNSCREEN (Tie for #1): derma e Antioxidant Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30
derma e

15. BEST ANTI-AGING SUNSCREEN (Tie for #1): derma e Antioxidant Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30

Fortified with antioxidants vitamin C and Green Tea, this sunscreen protects skin from UVA/UVB rays, oxidative damage and premature signs of aging. It's also hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, paraben-free, gluten-free, GMO-free and vegan. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $17.78 for 4 oz. ($4.45/oz.)

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16. BEST TINTED SUNSCREEN: MDSolarSciences Mineral Tinted Creme Sunscreen, SPF 30
MD Solar Sciences

16. BEST TINTED SUNSCREEN: MDSolarSciences Mineral Tinted Creme Sunscreen, SPF 30

This mineral-based sunscreen blends with most skin tones and has a sheer to light tint. You can use it as a make-up primer or a stand-alone face sunscreen. Based on EWG's data, this sunscreen provides excellent UVA protection and a good balance of UVA protection in relation to the SPF. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $32.00 for 1.7 oz. ($18.82/oz.)

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17. BEST FACE STICK SUNSCREEN: Tropical Sands Face Stick, SPF 30
Mexitan Products

17. BEST FACE STICK SUNSCREEN: Tropical Sands Face Stick, SPF 30

Take your sun protection with you wherever you go with this easy-to-pack sunscreen stick. Apply to your face, nose, ears or even lips when you don't have lip balm with you. It's even biodegradable, eco and reef friendly and safe for kids. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $8.99 for 0.5 oz. ($18/oz.)

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18. BEST SENSITIVE SKIN SUNSCREEN: True Natural Neutral Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 50
True Natural Organic Skincare

18. BEST SENSITIVE SKIN SUNSCREEN: True Natural Neutral Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 50

Formulated specifically for sensitive skin, True Natural's neutral sunscreen is vegan, gluten-free and biodegradable. And the mineral-based formula is well-suited for those with allergies or sensitivities. EWG found the health concerns low and the UVA protection excellent. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $23.99 for 3.4 oz. ($7.35/oz.)

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19. BEST SUNSCREEN FOR OUTDOOR SPORTS: All Terrain AquaSport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
All Terrain Natural Products

19. BEST SUNSCREEN FOR OUTDOOR SPORTS: All Terrain AquaSport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30

Whether you're hiking, camping, kayaking or rock climbing -- or wherever else your adventures take you -- All Terrain's AquaSpot sunscreen provide long-lasting, sweat-proof protection from UVA and UVB rays. EWG found it had a good balance between UVA protection and SPF, though they do always recommend protective hats and clothing in addition to sunscreen for any outdoor activities. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $12.50 for 3 oz. ($4.17/oz.)

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20. BEST ORGANIC SUNSCREEN: Raw Elements USA Eco Formula, SPF 30
Raw Elements USA

20. BEST ORGANIC SUNSCREEN: Raw Elements USA Eco Formula, SPF 30

Raw Elements' Eco formula contains only USDA-certified organic ingredients, including sunflower oil, green and black teas, coffee, hemp seed oil, cocoa butter, mango butter and vitamin E. According to EWG's report, "Based on our modeling this product provides EXCELLENT UVA protection and a GOOD balance of UVA protection in relation to the SPF." EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $18.99/3 oz. ($6.33/oz.)

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21. BEST TINTED MOISTURIZER WITH SPF: Andalou Naturals All-In-One Beauty Balm, Sheer Tint, SPF 30
Andalou Naturals

21. BEST TINTED MOISTURIZER WITH SPF: Andalou Naturals All-In-One Beauty Balm, Sheer Tint, SPF 30

“This product is a great multitasker, providing coverage, skin brightening, antioxidants and sun protection,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in the dermatology department at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. “It’s chemical and nanoparticle free, making it appropriate for even sensitive skin.” The color comes from iron oxide, which provides a sheer tint to blend with your natural skin tone. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $19.95/2 oz. ($9.98/oz.)

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22. BEST SCENTED MOISTURIZER WITH SPF: Badger Face Sunscreen Lotion, Damascus Rose, SPF 25
Badger Company

22. BEST SCENTED MOISTURIZER WITH SPF: Badger Face Sunscreen Lotion, Damascus Rose, SPF 25

Offering broad-spectrum protection from zinc oxide, yet almost invisible once applied, this light moisturizer features a natural rose oil scent. “It also contains lemon extract to brighten the skin,” according to Jessica Krant, MD, dermatologist and an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. That said, those with sensitive skin may wish to do a patch test first, since citrus mixed with sun can occasionally cause skin irritation and discoloration. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $19.99 for 1.6 oz. ($15.61/oz.)

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23. BEST SENSITIVE-SKIN MOISTURIZER WITH SPF: DeVita Natural Skin Care Solar Protective Moisturizer, SPF 30
DeVita Skincare

23. BEST SENSITIVE-SKIN MOISTURIZER WITH SPF: DeVita Natural Skin Care Solar Protective Moisturizer, SPF 30

“This product relies on a high percentage of zinc oxide,” says dermatologist Dr. Jessica Krant. Yet it remains sheer thanks to hyaluronic acid, a moisturizer that makes the zinc oxide easier to spread. It also contains allantoin, which helps the cream dry and stick. And it's vegan and safe for those who have gluten sensitivity. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $25.95 for 2.5 oz. ($10.38/oz.)

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24. BEST OIL-FREE MOISTURIZER WITH SPF: Juice Beauty Oil-Free Moisturizer, SPF 30
Juice Beauty

24. BEST OIL-FREE MOISTURIZER WITH SPF: Juice Beauty Oil-Free Moisturizer, SPF 30

“This chemical-free moisturizer with sunscreen absorbs quickly and is oil free, so it feels light even on oily skin and will not clog pores,” says dermatologist Dr. Jessica Krant. Zinc oxide provides the sun protection, while aloe and grape seed add anti-inflammatory and antioxidant power. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $29 for 2 oz. ($14.50/oz.)

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25. BEST ANTI-AGING MOISTURIZER WITH SPF: Mineral Fusion Mineral Facial Moisturizer for All Skin Types, SPF 40
Mineral Fusion

25. BEST ANTI-AGING MOISTURIZER WITH SPF: Mineral Fusion Mineral Facial Moisturizer for All Skin Types, SPF 40

This titanium and zinc oxide sunscreen contains a collagen-stimulating peptide to minimize fine lines and wrinkles. In addition, dermatologist Dr. Jessica Krant points out that the vitamin E and many antioxidants in this product contribute to its anti-aging properties. Finally, shea butter and glycerin keep skin hydrated. EWG RATING: 2, low hazard. PRICE: $24.99 for 3.4 oz. ($7.35/oz.)

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26. BEST DEAL MOISTURIZER WITH SPF: SanRe Organic Skinfood Vanilla Sensation Solar Protective Body Moisturizer, SPF 30
SanRe Organic Skinfood

26. BEST DEAL MOISTURIZER WITH SPF: SanRe Organic Skinfood Vanilla Sensation Solar Protective Body Moisturizer, SPF 30

You can use this moisturizer daily to protect against skin damage and keep your skin smooth and calm. And at less than $5 per ounce, you won't have to put a huge dent in your wallet, either. Given the highest rating by EWG, all ingredients were ranked from 0 to 2, meaning they were associated with little to no health concerns. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $24.99 for 4 oz.

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27. BEST CALMING MOISTURIZER WITH SPF: SanRe Organic Skinfood Shaded Rose Solar Calming Facial Cream, SPF 30
SanRe Organic Skinfood

27. BEST CALMING MOISTURIZER WITH SPF: SanRe Organic Skinfood Shaded Rose Solar Calming Facial Cream, SPF 30

Another one on the list for SanRe Organic Skinfood. Their calming moisturizer contains SPF 30, which EWG considers a good balance of UVA protection in relation to the SPF. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $29.99 for 1.1 oz. ($27.26/oz.)

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28. BEST MOISTURIZER FOR FACE AND BODY: DeVita Natural Skin Care Solar Body Moisturizer, SPF 30
Devita Skincare

28. BEST MOISTURIZER FOR FACE AND BODY: DeVita Natural Skin Care Solar Body Moisturizer, SPF 30

When you need a moisturizer with SPF that pulls double duty for your face and body, try DeVita's Solar Body Moisturizer. According to EWG, all the ingredients scored one or two on the health concerns. It's a 100-percent natural mineral sunscreen that absorbs quickly and won't leave your skin feeling greasy. The formulation is vegan, paraben free and safe for those with gluten sensitivities. EWG RATING: 1, lowest hazard. PRICE: $22.36 for 7 oz. ($3.19/oz.)

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29. BEST HYDRATING MOISTURIZER WITH SPF: Yes to Carrots Fragrance Free Daily Facial Moisturizer, SPF 15
Yes to Carrots

29. BEST HYDRATING MOISTURIZER WITH SPF: Yes to Carrots Fragrance Free Daily Facial Moisturizer, SPF 15

Carrots are good for your eyes and your skin! The Yes to Carrots facial moisturizer contains chamomile and yes, carrot extracts to nourish and hydrate skin, as well as zinc oxide for protection from UVA and UVB rays. Plus, it's paraben and cruelty free and suitable for all skin types. Just apply 20 minutes before heading out and reapply as needed, especially after prolonged sun exposure. EWG RATING: 2, low hazard. PRICE: $14.99 for 1.7 oz. ($8.82/oz.)

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30. SUNSCREENS TO AVOID: Sprays and Powders
Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images

30. SUNSCREENS TO AVOID: Sprays and Powders

EWG recommends you avoid all sunscreen sprays and powders containing SPF, since it’s too easy to accidentally inhale them and/or miss a spot. According to their report, "These sunscreens are aerosol sprays with SPFs above 50+ and the harmful additives oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate." Some of the brands to make it into their "Hall of Shame" include Banana Boat, Coppertone and CVS.

Everything You Need To Know About Sunburn

31. SUNSCREENS TO AVOID: Super High SPF
jakubzak/iStock/Getty Images

31. SUNSCREENS TO AVOID: Super High SPF

You’ll also want to steer clear of products with SPFs above 50+. The reason is that a sunscreen’s SPF only refers to its ability to filter the UVB rays that cause sunburn, and it does not guarantee anything about its ability to block UVA rays, which can cause skin damage and/or cancer -- especially if you stay outside all day because you think you can. In addition, their report states, "These sunscreen lotions claim SPFs above 50+ and contain oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate." Some of the brands to make it into their "Hall of Shame" include Banana Boat, Coppertone, CVS, NO-AD and Ocean Potion.

8 Natural Ways to Protect Your Skin From Sun and Bugs

32. SUNSCREENS TO AVOID: Chemical Sun Protection
Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

32. SUNSCREENS TO AVOID: Chemical Sun Protection

Finally, EWG recommends that you skip the chemical sun protection. According to Matthew Miller, MD, a dermatologist in Greenville, SC, “Some chemical sunscreens could interfere with the normal function of hormones.” In fact, 80 percent of chemical sunscreens contain oxybenzone, which gets into the bloodstream, may cause allergic reactions and can mimic estrogen in the body. Instead, put on a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and a long-sleeved shirt and pants or opt for EWG’s top-rated products: sunscreens containing zinc and/or titanium. “These minerals are physical blocks that sit on the surface of the skin, preventing UV light from penetrating it,” says Dr. Miller.

7 Surprises About Sunscreen and Tanning

What Do YOU Think?
AntonioGuillem/iStock/Getty Images

What Do YOU Think?

Do you plan to spend time out in the sun this summer? Which sunscreen do you wear? Does it work well for you? Would you try any on this list? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Crucial Tips to Safeguard Against Skin Cancer

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