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Do You Know What Is In Your Sunscreen?

6 Ingredients You DO NOT Want In Your Sunscreen, and 1 that you DO!

Summer is finally here, and I for one am super excited.

While I don’t love the really hot and muggy days, I do enjoy being outside in the warm of the sun.  I have started drinking my coffee outside on the patio in the mornings, while getting some work done (and the kids get to play and eat their morning popsicles……I know what you might be thinking…popsicles in the morning?  Yup!  They love it and so do I!  But that will be for another post)

With the warmer weather and the hotter, stronger sun, we find ourselves lathering on sunscreen ALL.DAY.LONG!!!  And I know you know how important it is to wear sunscreen and block those harmful sun rays, but also to prevent burns…..and ultimately the big ‘C’ word!

So yeah, I am a stickler about sunscreens…especially since my kids are young … fair haired, and very white!

But, I also don’t love all the nasty chemicals that are found in conventional sunscreens.  

Now, had you asked me 6-7 years ago I probably would have looked at you funny and said I just use normal sunscreen from Shopper’s or some other drug store.  Something like Aveeno, Neutrogena, or even Banana Boat in a pinch.

Now I know better….so I do better!

Over the past 5.5 years I have really reducing the toxins in our everyday lives.  I am consciously reading labels and becoming more aware of all the ingredients to avoid.  I have also started reaching for natural alternatives to most things, and even make some of my own DIY products (which, by the way, are actually super easy, and usually all include a core few ingredients).

Unfortunately one thing I have learned is how many icky chemicals are in conventional sunscreens.  And let me tell you, there is no way I am putting that on my children’s skin….or my own.

What Ingredients To Avoid In Sunscreens?

Truth be told, my mom almost bought Neutrogena sunscreen from Costco and I convinced her not to!


Well, for starters it has two of the most common ‘no-no’ ingredients – avobenzone and oxybenzone.

A 2018 FDA-commissioned study found that common sunscreen ingredients – including oxybenzone and avobenzone – were absorbed at much higher concentrations than expected. A follow-up study in 2019 found similar results with additional common ingredients. This means that according to FDA rules, the manufacturers need to demonstrate that the products don’t cause cancer, developmental issues, or endocrine disruption.

In addition to the avobenzone and oxybenzone, some other ingredients to watch out for, that are often found in conventional sunscreens, include:

  • octinoxate/ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate
  • homosalate
  • octisalate
  • octocrylene

These ingredients are chemicals that have been found to be endocrine disruptors and carcinogenic.

What you put in and on your body matters!

Our skin absorbs ingredients, which then get into our bloodstream (and coursed all over our body) in 30 seconds. If you’re thinking that doesn’t matter, it does.

Not only do conventional sunscreens have all these icky, toxic chemical ingredients, many of these are known to harm coral reefs as well, so they are not only harming our bodies, but also our environment!

What Ingredient Should You Use Instead?

Okay, so now you know what ingredients to avoid in your sunscreen, there is one important ingredient that you want to look for.  This one is much better for your body than any of the chemical ingredients in conventional sunscreens, or even than using no sunscreen at all.  

That ingredient is Zinc Oxide!

Zinc oxide is a mineral, and it’s one of the main active ingredients in many mineral sunscreen.  This is actually the one that does the work of protecting your skin from the sun’s damaging rays.

Zinc oxide sits on top of your skin (rather than soaking in, like chemical sunscreens do) and protects you by scattering, absorbing, and reflecting the sun’s rays.

And, if you want to go the extra mile and be sure that your store bought mineral sunscreen or your homemade sunscreen is even safer, then you want to make sure that you are using one with NON-nano zinc.  


Well, regular nanoparticles are very small and they can find their way into your body by penetrating your skin and getting into your bloodstream. The non-nano particles are bigger and therefore will not enter the bloodstream, but rather sit on top of the skin.

Right now you might realize that your current sunscreen is actually filled with a bunch of ick, things you do NOT want to be lathering on your body, and actually might be really affecting your health.

Perhaps you have debated making the switch, but the thought of giving up your favourite conventional sunscreen makes you want to run for the hills.

I am here to tell you, if you’ve been delaying making the switch to natural sunscreens, now is the time.  

Do Natural Sunscreens Really Work?

I know, I know, you might be thinking but do the natural sunscreens really work?

Believe me, I hear you!  

I’ve done the trial and error on my quest to find the best natural sunscreens to protect you and baby. My key criteria focused on: low toxins and usability.

I tried a bunch of different natural sunscreens – Green Beaver, Substance, Badger, and Attitude, to name a few.  And to be honest, I was very under-whelmed and frustrated.  They were either greasy and oily, or they left a white residue on my skin.  So I was very skeptical that I could find a natural, toxin free sunscreen that I liked.

I mean really, a great sunscreen needs to do its job of preventing sun damage while also being easy to rub in. What good is a natural product if it leaves a greasy white residue?

Drum roll… enter in…. Thinkbaby Sunscreen. I love the low toxin levels and the way the label includes a rating for each ingredient. This one feels like, looks like, and rubs in the same was as my old conventional sunscreens, and it has really great ingredients. And get this: it’s conveniently available online or at many local stores. 

But truth be told, I did not love the higher price tag with it, so I wanted to find a more financially pleasing option…enter in this DIY sunscreen recipe.  We made this last year for the first time and fell in LOVE!!! It worked so well and kept us from burning all summer long.  Even my husband mentioned he prefers this DIY sunscreen to the store bought ones – bonus!

Here is the recipe…

1/4 cup Coconut Oil

1/4 cup of Beeswax

1/2 cup Apricot Kernel Oil (or Almond oil or Carrot Seed carrier oil)

2 tbsp of non-nano zinc  *this is important*

2 tbsp shea butter (optional)

20 drops of essential oils of your choice (I used Lavender and Frankincense)

Check out this video below to see the step by step directions for making this!

So lather up and enjoy! Of course, remember that you still need to apply this regularly….like every 1-2 hours when out in the sun 😉

This recipe has a natural SPF of about 15-20, but by adding more non-nano zinc oxide you can increase the spf. Add more beeswax to make a thicker sunscreen, and less beeswax to make smooth.

Here is a picture I found with some other natural SPF options, in case you want to experiment and try your own.

While I love the DIY sunscreen, and even though is it 15-20 SPF, it does keep us from burning in the summer, I did feel like I wanted a bit more protection on my face.  So, this year,  I just purchased the Young Living Mineral Sunscreen (50 SPF). This one is a little more on the pricey side, but I love that I can trust the ingredients with 100% confidence that they are toxic chemical free, while still effectively doing the job they are meant to do. Get in touch if you want to order some for your family.

I hope this helps you understand what is in your conventional sunscreens, and make the best decisions for you and your family.

Let me know how you like these options if you give them a try.

And if you are looking for more ideas and learning on using natural alternatives for your baby and your family, or if you need some help understanding your baby’s development and/or sleep, then I’ve got you covered over in the Mamas, Minis, Milestones and More FB group.  It free! Join here.

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Kaili Ets

I help overwhelmed and exhausted moms create a clear action plan around their baby's sleep, developmental, reflux, and overall functioning so they can tune into and trust their mama instincts and feel like the confident super moms they are.

hi! I'm Kaili!

Lovingly known as the Holistic Baby Guru. I have a passion for normalizing and bringing clarity around baby sleep, development, reflux, and more. Wife and mom of two, I understands the importance of trusting your mama instincts. I am on a mission to help mamas tune into their intuition and feel like the confident super moms they are. I like to think of myself as an approachable authority on all things baby-related, as that I provides down-to-earth advice that makes everyone feel like they can do this parenting thing!

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