Defeating Childhood Cancer has been going after TOXIC products in the environment. Over the last month we have tackled a wide range of topics, and today we are going after one of the most difficult. SUNSCREEN. Please grab a hot cup of tea (or maybe a glass of red?) This one is tough. I am calling on all of my teacher-genes to try to explain this in a way that I also understand. Please remember, I am not a scientist. I’m just a mom trying to do her best, and perhaps even understand WHY I am doing my best.

The Big Question: Why protect with safer mineral sunscreens?

We will get to that in a minute. First, let’s try to understand a few things.

The statistics:

  • An estimated 90% of the signs of aging are caused by the sun.
  • More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.

1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer. I am one of these people, and so is my mom. Do you think the next generation can reverse this? I bet they can, because they will already be educated as they grow up, by you and me.

Types of Rays

Did you know that there are 3 kinds of rays?

  • UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn. These rays are easy to recognize because we can feel the damage as it occurs. SPF refers mostly to protection from these.
  • UVA rays are called the “aging rays”. They are sneakier because they are present all year round, they are equally intense no matter the season!! (I didn’t know that.) Oh, and they can penetrate glass and clouds. They also penetrate the skin deeper, causing something called free-radical damage, that contributes to premature aging.
  • The last one is called BLUE light. Betcha can’t guess where this ray comes from? I’ll tell you- your computer, smart phone and tablet. Surprised? Well, it’s also found outside, but it’s a hot topic right now because of increased technology use. Why am I mentioning it here? Scientists think it might cause as much aging as the others I mentioned above. Yikes.

This takes us to the term “Broad Spectrum”. An effective sunscreen must protect us from all rays. We don’t want a sunburn OR premature aging. SPF stands for “sun protection factor”. It’s the measurement of the sunscreen’s level of defense against sunburn caused mostly by UVB rays. This next part is what I found really surprising.

Surprised?? Me too!

Sun Protection Factor =
measurement for defense from UVB rays
SPF 15 =blocks 93% of UVB rays
SPF 30 =blocks 97% of UVB rays
SPF 50 =blocks 98% of UVB rays

Yep, there’s virtually no difference. There is a misconception that the higher the SPF factor, the more time you can spend in the sun. The fact is, all sunscreens loose efficacy over time. They should all be applied every two hours.
There is also a difference between water resistant and water proof. (My three-year-old learned this the hard way yesterday, when she submerged her boots in water… NOT water”proof”.)
FACT- There is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen.

There are TWO types of Sunscreen. Chemical and Mineral.

Chemical- Chemical sunscreens are technically sun filters. The vast majority of sunscreens on the market contain chemical sunscreen ingredients like oxybenzone or octocrylene. They’re called “sun filters” because they absorb the sun’s UV energy and release it back into the air as heat. They are popular because they provide easy, transparent blendability into the skin. (“They go on great!”)

  • oxybenzone– The Environmental Working Group and other toxicology experts believe that oxybenzone is linked to hormone disruption and potentially to cell damage that may lead to skin cancer. This has not been proven, but the experts think it and are working on it. The American Academy of Pediatrics states on their website, “You may want to select a sunscreen that does not contain the ingredient oxybenzone, a sunscreen chemical that may have hormonal properties.”
  • octocrylene– This chemical is listed with the concern of “relatively high levels of skin allergy” by the Environmental Working Group.
  • In the past few days, a groundbreaking FDA study came out that (finally) acknowledges that BOTH of these sunscreen chemicals are absorbed by your body and enter your bloodstream reaching “unsafe” levels in the blood after one application. (Advocates like EWG and Beautycounter have been pushing for these kinds of studies for years.) If you do a little googling, you can read all about it.

Mineral– Mineral sunscreens (physical sunscreens) are made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These are physical particles that sit on the surface of the skin and scatter or reflect sun’s rays away from the skin. The most desirable mineral sunscreen uses non-nano zinc oxide. *The particle size of the non-nano zinc oxide affects the potential risk of respiration and whether it can enter the blood stream to cause harmful effects. More on this later, it matters.

Why are chemical sunscreens SO DESIRABLE? Besides the fact that it is cheap, it goes on really well. It’s ABSORBED by the skin, so once it’s on, you can’t see it. But Beautycounter is working on competing with this toxic cousin, more on that later.

Some Common “Chemical” Sunscreens:

Just to give you an idea, here are links to the EWG Report for some chemical sunscreens. Click on one:

Neutrogena Beach Defense

Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer Sunscreen Lotion

Banana Boat KIDS

Coppertone KIDS

What Sunscreen Should You Use?

My research brought me back to TWO mineral sunscreen products over and over. Attitude Sunscreen and Beautycounter Sunscreen. (Attitude also produces the fabric softener I recommended. I respect this company, though I don’t have a lot of knowledge about their process.)

Of course, please do your own research. The information I wrote above will help you look into the sunscreens that might be already in your closet, to see if they pass the test. If you do research, try to stick to .org sites. The “Think Dirty” app is trendy and fun, but largely inaccurate and outdated.


As you know, I believe so deeply in this movement that I took a job as a CONSULTANT at Beautycounter. I am very proud of this and my goal is to get to DC, where my colleagues are headed in March! This movement is about better products AND advocacy.

When I started researching sunscreen, I took multiple online courses through my new employer. This was incredibly enlightening, I learned so much! Then, I continued my research by digging online at .org sites. I understand Beautycounter’s products and why they make them the way they do. Therefore, it’s easier for me to whole-heartedly suggest them. I am going to do so below.

Beautycounter Mineral Sunscreen

This one is the WINNER of Allure Best of Beauty 2018 for “The Best Organic and Natural Beauty Products of the Year.” This is also made with Non-nano zinc oxide (a physical, mineral sun protection technology that works by reflecting UV rays.)

Beautycounter Sunscreen Mist (tinted or not!)

This looks like an aerosol, but it’s not! It’s air-powered. Because it’s NOT aerosol, no potential harmful propellant chemicals are sprayed into the atmosphere or onto your skin. What do I like about it? It sprays on white so you can SEE where it lands, and then blends easily. (“The mist that never misses”!!)
If you look at EWG.org, you will see that this is only rated a 3. (I know that’s still better than most, but why not better? This is the question I set out to answer. Which I did.) It’s because zinc-oxide is not recommended to be air born because it could be dangerous to the lungs. Without taking pages attempting to explain, I’ll say that Beautycounter addresses this by evaluating the particle size of the non-nano zinc oxide. Specifically, to ensure that there is low potential risk of respiration and it does not enter the blood stream to cause harmful effects. Not every company does this, so the ingredient “Zinc-oxide” is flagged because if the particles are the wrong size, they can cause problems. (So, when you look into your mineral sunscreen ingredients, you need to dig deeper to find out the size of the non-nano zinc oxide, too.)

Oh, and it also comes in TINTED! It’s great for paler skin tones, like me, who want to get glowing ahead of the beach day.

Beautycounter Sunscreen Stick

Put this in your pool bag for FACES. This provides the same high-quality mineral defense as the others, but it also has cocoa seed butter, for moisturizing. This also makes it glide on nicely.
Tip- How much time do you spend driving? Keep the sunscreen stick in your car- and apply it to the top of your hands when you get in. We know that UVA rays cause aging, and they go right through your car windows!

Countersun Face SPF with Moisturizer

This replaces the CeraVe face moisturizer with SPF (and two parabens) that you have been using for a decade. It’s sheer and moisturizing (no chalky white) and you apply it when you get out of the shower. You can layer it with your usual routine, or it can stand alone. This is excellent for men and kids, too. Easy, breezy.

Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer (SPF 20)

I saved the BEST FOR LAST!!

This award winning tinted moisturizer is my favorite. Lightweight, sheer coverage that leaves ZERO white residue from the mineral sunscreen… just dewy coverage (my favorite part!)

Dew Skin is one of the best sellers, and I have many friends who use it, so I have lots of tips! Here are two that matter a lot:

Tip #1– From my friend who has the “dewiest” most luminous skin (true story. I thought this for years and I finally asked her HOW? Her response- Beautycounter. So there you go. And here is her tip:) She uses dew skin, a little bit of Oil No 1, and some tint skin on top! (I do this now, too! I don’t know if I’m as dewy as her… but I like to think I’m getting close!) (And yes, I’m talking about MA!!)
*Note: Dew skin is the tinted sunscreen. Tint skin is the full-coverage foundation. Oil No 1 is the best-selling brightening oil.

Tip #2– If you are looking for extra coverage (you love foundation) AND SPF coverage- start with Dew Skin. Let it dry. Then apply your foundation on top (Tint skin.)

All the SPF in the world won’t protect you unless you reapply every two hours.

All of Beautycounter’s sunscreens are SPF 30. I mentioned above, this is an effective number. Also, Beautycounter had a big problem to solve before anyone would want to use a mineral sunscreen. AESTHETICS. A lot of mineral sunscreens have the reputation of leaving your skin looking really white (or chalky.) Let’s be honest. While we want to avoid chemicals, we also don’t want to look chalky at the beach. In a mineral sunscreen, SPF 30 feels much better than SPF 50. Therefore, people are more likely to use it, and reapply it, which is the best way to protect yourself. All the SPF in the world won’t protect you unless you reapply every two hours. The difference in the actual SPF protection between SPF 30 and SPF 50 is 1% (97% vs 98% protection level.)

Non-nano zinc oxide is Beautycounter’s technology of choice – a physical, mineral sun protection technology that works by reflecting UV rays. Non-nano zinc oxide is NOT absorbed through your skin and into your bloodstream. The other key ingredient is CALIFORNIA POPPY! Why is California Poppy awesome?? (I mean, besides the fact that we had our own “California Poppy” with us in San Francisco, saving the day and keeping our family together with Nonnie : ) I’ll tell you why you want it in your sunscreen- it’s antioxidant rich and it’s great at helping the skin’s oxidation defense against wrinkles. I’ll take it.

The Hawaii Connection

One of my best friends & clients moved to Hawaii for the winter and she has been testing the Beautycounter products on the beach. They have received a great big THUMBS UP, especially the stick, which her 5-year-old can even apply herself. (win!)

Beautycounter teamed up with Goddess Garden to help pass the Hawaii ban on Oxybenzone and Octinoxate! It seems our little state out in the Pacific Ocean is ahead of the continental US, hopefully we will be quick to follow suit. Until then, shop smart and look up ingredients!


Just for fun, I am going to end with SUNSCREEN FACT OR FICTION. Here are some of the most common crazy things I read while researching:

“I hear that you can layer sunscreens to achieve a higher SPF level.”
FICTION. Sunscreen is only as protective as the highest level of SPF applied.

“I like my SPF 100. I’ll never burn because it has such a high SPF value. It’s total all-day protection.”
Lots of FICTION here. First of all, what matters more than the SPF number is the application. Dermatologists find that SPF failure is rarely because of the SPF number. To be safe here, apply as much as you think you need, and then apply more! And you read above about the effectiveness of SPF 30 and above, so you already knew the answer to that part!

Beautycounter Sunscreen in the News:

Beautycounter Sunscreen is a FAN favorite, and it’s trending right now, as more and more people go CLEAN:
Traveler- The Best Sunscreen You Can Buy in 2020
Women’s Health- Best Sunscreens of 2020
Cosmopolitan- Best Natural & Organic Sunscreen Brands of 2020
Forbes- Must Have Clean Sunscreen Brands to Protect Your Face & Body Year Round
Good Housekeeping- Best Tinted Moisturizers with SPF 2020
New York Post- Why Switching From Chemical to Mineral Sunscreens Might Be Your Best Bet
The Zoe Report- Beautycounter’s Best-Sellers Feature a Cult-Favorite Tinted Moisturizer

My Beautycounter Page:


Thanks for reading. Please reach out to me with any questions you are thinking about, I love talking CLEAN!!


1 thought on “1/25/20 SUNSCREEN”

  1. Wow. That is a lot of information and a ton of research on your part. Thank you for all the hard work you put into it to keep us all informed Mom uses ALOT of your products. Wish we had known about it earlier. Could have saved her skin problems. Keep up the good work. Love you. Poppy

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