There’s WHAT in my sunscreen?

I have this rule where if I don’t understand something on a label, I don’t buy it. The same rule goes for food as it does for personal care products. If unsure, I’ve got the trusty Chemical Maze app on the phone, to tell me yay or nay – I highly recommend downloading it from your app store.

I caught whiff of just how shocking an amount of potentially harmful chemicals there are in your average sunscreen, when it came time to buying one for my then 6 month old son. How this stuff is allowed onto shelves to protect us from cancer, when half of what’s in the bottle has been linked to causing it in numerous studies, I have no idea. But hey, we learn, we say no, and we vote with our dollars to seek out the better option.

Here’s what you can expect to find in what we’re NOT using from now on

  • Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC) is one of the most frequently used chemical UV filters worldwide. OMC easily penetrates the upper layer of the skin and, when exposed to UV radiation, generates free radicals in skin cells.
  • Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), octyl-dimethyl-PABA and octinoxate – all hormone disrupting.
  • 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC) Laboratory tests on rats exposed to 4-MBC revealed that male rats born to mothers exposed to this compound had lower testis weight, experienced delayed puberty and decreased adult prostate weight. Human trials found that both OMC and 4-MBC were readily absorbed through the skin and were detectable in urine.
  • Padimate O (2-ethylhexyl-4-dimethylaminobenzoate ), when exposed to sunlight, generates free radicals that cause strand breaks on DNA.
  • Fragrance chemicals – There are usually around a dozen in a bottle, all of which heavily knock us about with hormone alteration
It doesn’t stop there, and there’s a list twice as long, but rather than wallow in the depression of how horrific the average sunscreen is, let’s look at which ones aren’t. I’m absolutely still advocating the need for sunscreen, to make that clear. Sure, we also need some uncovered sun exposure for our Vitamin D levels to be healthy, BUT, that’s achieved in 10-15 minutes on our arms and legs early to mid-morning. In Australia especially with our harsh sun, covering up is essential at peak times and if out in the sun for a while.
ECO is my favourite Australian brand which you can get at Nourished Life and click through here – Irene is so super strict on anything that comes into her shop – There’s no quasi-natural stuff there, it’s all 100%. 100% natural & organic and an ingredient list you can actually decipher.
Hello Sunshine from 123 Nourish Me is a great sunscreen for kids and adults alike. They even offer a duo set where you get a sunscreen and a face stick together. You can check out their range HERE.
A personal favourite is the Young Living Sunscreen. Such a good texture and SPF 50 and has become a family go to for us. Read here how to set up your Young Living account – one of my favourite low tox brands and so much to choose from in their catalogue of products.
And there’s a great ECOTAN sunscreen which a lot of Low Tox Alumni peeps like.
For a facial moisturiser that has an SPF, try this one Andalou Naturals Brightening Vitamin C BB Beauty Balm from Nourished Life which provides all the benefits of a moisturiser, tinted coverage for the face AND a sunscreen in one. Handy especially if you have fair skin and need one for the whole day for the delicate facial skin. It comes in sheer and natural colours.
For a zinc oxide based formula, try the Life Basics SPF 30 all-natural sunscreen for daily facial use. It is a lightweight, non-greasy and easy to apply. Also suitable for use on the whole body and children.

If you play lots of outdoor sports or you’re a regular surfer then try out Surfmud, a mineral-based physical barrier that covers and protects the skin from the external environment. The best bit, the packaging is plastic free and the product is non-liquid, so safe to keep as a handbag/school bag option.

For after sun care try the Life Basic Aloe Vera Gel. Suitable for all skin types, this cooling gel can be applied to sun-exposed areas such as shoulders and the nose or used all over the body as a general moisturiser.

Dr Hauschka’s After Sun cream is a slightly more luxe option, made up of carrot, rosehip and moisture-rich extracts of ice plant and quince seeds. It’s a fast absorbing lotion and it smells divine.


There are more popping up and you can check out a whole bunch here, and brands local to you wherever you may be, so investigate and feel free to share. I will warn that the velvety fine texture of conventional sunscreens will not be found in natural land in those top two as they are a bit thicker, but definitely, in the Caribbean solutions – It’s a seriously good sunscreen.


My favourite so far is definitely the Caribbean Solutions available from IHERB – Check that out here.  We have tried many and this really is a pleasure to use.
I like to call it “KID PROOF” in that it smells nice and isn’t too thick going on.
Another great option is the Badger Broad Spectrum SPF 35 suncream, which also has a formula for kids, available from iHerb.
For an international after sun care option the Badger unscented Aloe Vera Gel is great.
IHerb also has a SPF50+ sunscreen suitable for babies and small kids call Think Baby, check it out here.
Some good news!
Hawaii has become the first US state to ban the sale of sunscreens containing two common chemicals; oxybenzone and octinoxate because of their damaging impact on coral reefs. The findings are based on a 2015 report. Sadly the Australian government is not yet convinced and no laws have been passed.


Here’s come of our top DIY recipes:

1. Cyndi O’Meara has this simple one.  

2. This one is also DIY and great value once you have all the ingredients.

An alumni of this course, Michelle, actually made the latter and costed it out at $13 for 210ml – A big saving on eco brands if you’re prepared to make it yourself.

Home Made Sunscreen

Recipe/Full ingredient listing: Wellness Mama 

Ingredients I chose (see recipe for all options):

  • 1/2 cup almond oil (125ml)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (62.5ml)
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) beeswax yellow beads (approx 25g)
  • 2 Tablespoons Zinc Oxide(approx 28g)**
  • 1 teaspoon Carrot Seed Oil (5ml) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vitamin E oil(2.5ml)
  • 1 tablespoons Shea Butter (approx 15g)

** I’m a Young Living member and have been using their essential oil for years. To read more on the benefits of these oils and/or how to open an account, click this link.

Key also is to not overprotect to the point where you cause a deficiency. Allow yourself a little splash of sun on bare skin for at least your legs and arms, for 15 minutes, 10 minutes if really fair and make sure this isn’t smack bang in the middle of the day. We need vitamin D for so many of our body’s functions. Our ‘over protecting’ is bringing back things like Rickets, which is crazy BUT we do have to be careful nonetheless. We’ve always been outdoor types historically, and it’s essential that we stop buying into the fear of the sunscreen industry. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating sun burn or long term sun exposure, unprotected. It’s just a fact that short amounts of sun exposure keep our D levels healthy, so as long as you keep to the morning or afternoon sun, this is perfectly natural and common sense practice to get 10-20 minutes unprotected gentle sun per day.

What to do about the mandatory kid’s sunscreen wearing at preschool and school?

BYO. I’ve never had an issue. If you don’t want to be seen as a hippy freak and don’t feel entirely comfortable with the scenario, feign allergy to something / sensitive skin and do that. It’s your little one’s body and YOU decide what goes on it. My little guy has hand sanitiser and sun screen in his bag and has done since preschool.

Natural sunscreen will give you all the benefits of providing protection and prevention, without having the burden of the harmful chemical cocktail, absorbed into our skin. If money’s tight, it’s better to protect with light, full cover clothing and a good hat, and use a natural sunscreen when you really need it, than it is to settle for the cheap, chemical laden variety and slap it on all the time.

Low Tox. Happy Bodies. Happy Planet.

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Geek out… Further reading and more in depth explanations from trusted sources, backed by numerous study citations, which I have verified. Also a link to an extensive exploration of nano technology by the EWG.


Comments 6

  1. Thx alexx, I will purchase. These sound like great alternatives. Do u know much about nanoparticles and if these products are safe?

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      Hey George,

      Super welcome. Nano technology is dodgy territory too. I might in fact add that into the post as I’m sure you won’t be the only one wondering… Chemical Maze app reports of respiratory tract cancer development in rats, and oxidative DNA damage. Definitely one to stay away from 🙂

  2. I recall you mentioned through the Thriving Kids course FB group that you wouldn’t recommend using Little Innoscents sunscreen – it’s the one I’ve found the kids like the most. Can you please let me know why you wouldn’t use this brand – is this still the case? Nourished Life do stock this.

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  3. I really wish Life Basics would disclose the full ingredient list for their sunscreen. It makes it difficult to properly compare products when they only share the ‘key’ non-active ingredients.

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