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How Do You Choose the Best Sunblock?

Choosing the best sunblock to use these days can be totally overwhelming — there's so many different brands on the shelf. Are there any real differences? How can you tell which ones are the safest and most effective?

Most people will go with a familiar brand name, but are they any better than the bargain brands? The strange-sounding chemical names in the list of ingredients doesn't make it any easier, either.




Actually, choosing a safe and effective sunscreen isn't really hard at all — there's just a few simple things to look for. Are you ready? I'm going to reveal what they are, and give you some specific recommendations.


General Sunblock Buying Tips

There are two basic types of sunblocks: physical barrier and chemical barrier.

Physical barrier sunblocks are, in general, the safest and most effective. They create a reflective surface on the skin that repels UV light or scatters it off of the skin's surface. The active ingredients in these sunscreens are zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide. These types of sunscreens are very effective in blocking both UVB and UVA sun rays, and are considered to be the safest sunscreens to use. The best sunscreens of this type will contain all-natural ingredients; mostly names that are recognizable to the average user.

Chemical barrier sunblocks, on the other hand, contain chemical ingredients that absorb UV light before it can cause any skin damage. To get "broad spectrum" protection against both UVA and UVB radiation with chemical barrier sunscreens, you need to purchase a product with more than one active chemical ingredient. However, the more chemicals present in the sunblock, the more potentially hazardous they become.


Things to Avoid
When Choosing the Best Sunblock

Chemical barrier sunblocks, which make up the lion's share of the market, including most of the well-known brands. Cost is no indication of superior safety or effectiveness.

Spray-on sunscreens create the risk of inhaling some of the mist — not a good idea!

Fragrances that can cause allergies and other problems

Sunscreens with added bug repellent that add toxic pesticides to the other harmful chemicals in the sunscreen


Doesn't the FDA Test
Sunblock Ingredients for Safety?

They certainly should, but the FDA last reviewed the safety of sunscreen ingredients back in 1978! In the meantime, independent labs such as those at the Environmental Working Group have found that chemicals used in most commercial sunscreens have significant toxic properties.

Right now, sunscreen manufacturers in the U.S. are free to market products containing any ingredients they desire, even those that have never been proven safe.

See my page on Sunscreen Ingredients for more details.


Is a Higher SPF Number Better?

Sunscreens with very high SPFs (50 or higher) are becoming more popular these days. They offer the promise of longer protection but they actually don't work much better than a lower-SPF sunscreen. A product with an SPF of 15 blocks typically about 93 percent of the sun's UVB rays; an SPF 50 protects against about 98 percent. High-SPF products also may tempt you to stay out in the sun longer, which increases your risk of skin damage.

High-SPF products also contain greater amounts of sun-blocking chemicals than low-SPF sunscreens. These ingredients may pose health risks when they penetrate through the skin, where they have been linked to potential hormone disruption.

It's best to use a more moderate SPF of 30 and reapply often. Typical users apply only one-half to one-fifth the amount of sunscreen used in the laboratory SPF tests.


Best Sunblock Products

The best sunblock will have a SPF of 30; that gives you the most protection at the lowest cost. Sunscreens with higher SPFs may last longer (and tempt you to stay out longer in the sun), but they don't protect you any better than a SPF 30 sunscreen. To illustrate this, a product labeled SPF 15 blocks about 93 percent of the sun's UVB rays; an SPF 50 protects against about 98 percent.

The active ingredients are zinc oxide or titanium dioxide for safe, broad spectrum protection. You want at least a 7 percent concentration of either one.

All of the products listed below are among the top-rated sunblocks for safety and effectiveness, as determined by the Environmental Working Group. Before buying any sunscreen, check out the EWG Sunscreen Guide. There, you'll find detailed ratings for 292 brands and 1,700 products, all in one place!

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• Great Prices — 30% to 40% off most name-brand products
• New Customer Discount — save up to $10 off your first order
• Loyalty Rewards – Earn 10% credit off your next purchase
• Selection — over 35,000 products and 1,200 brand-names
• FREE Same-Day Shipping — no charge for orders over $20
• International Shipping — discounted rates on orders over $40
• Live Customer-Care Service — on the phone or live chat
• Bonus Discounts — extra 6%-8% OFF for orders over $40
• Rewards Program — earn store credit for referring your friends!

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W. S. Badger Company

Badger is a small, natural body products company based in Gilsum, New Hampshire. Badger products are blends of fresh, whole, organic oils, waxes, exotic butters, herbal extracts & pure essential oils — nothing else! No chemicals, synthetics, parabens, GMOs or any of the other dubious stuff you’ve read so much about.

Badger Sunscreens are able to provide full spectrum protection naturally through the use of zinc oxide, the active ingredient that's considered to be the best sunblock ingredient available. Badger sunscreens are rated one of the safest sunscreens according to the Environmental Working Group's Sunscreen Guide.

You can get a discounted price on Badger's SPF30 Sunscreen at iHerb.com; plus, you'll get up to $10 OFF if you're a first-time customer! An additional benefit you get from shopping at iHerb is that you can read through dozens of reviews of the products and discover what consumers liked or didn't like about them.

Browse thru Badger's complete line of body care products at my Badger Company Store at iHerb.com.

Visit the Badger Company website to learn more about the company.


Desert Essence Organics

Desert Essence Organics products are free of parabens, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates, phthalates, artificial colors, silicones, EDTA, glycol, and petroleum-based ingredients. Their products use natural and organic ingredients from producers around the world who support sustainability and protect the health of the environment.

Desert Essence is a 30-year-old company that started with two magical ingredients from the desert: jojoba oil & aloe vera. The company went on to introduce tea tree oil to the United States. Since then, they have expanded their line to include chemical-free and organic beauty care products.

You can get a discounted price on Desert Essence Organics SPF30 Sunscreen at iHerb.com — plus, you'll get $5.00 OFF your purchase as a new customer!

Browse thru over 70 body care products at the Desert Essence Store at iHerb.com.

Visit the Desert Essence website to learn more about the company and their product line.


Caribbean Solutions

Caribbean Solutions offers natural skin care products that are formulated without chemicals, parabens and other forms of toxic allergens and irritants. Their natural skin care products meet and exceed consumer demands for all natural, hypo-allergenic ingredients that deliver beneficial, safe, and effective results.

The Environmental Working Group has given their biodegradable sunscreens one of their highest ratings and has listed their brand as one of the safest to use. The preservative system they use is natural, a claim many natural products cannot make. None of their products are tested on animals.

Caribbean Solutions SolGuard Sunscreen is a non-toxic blend of natural skin conditioning ingredients and natural sunscreens. The natural ingredients, including cucumber extracts, organic aloe vera and kukui pod oil assist the skin's ability to hydrate and cool itself. Added are plant extracts with natural photoreceptors that help screen UV rays, like wild pansy, hibiscus and green coffee bean. The natural minerals titanium dioxide and (transparent) zinc oxide afford your skin true broad spectrum protection from both UVB and UVA rays.

You can get Caribbean Solutions SolGuard Sunscreen at a discounted price at iHerb.com — plus, you'll get $5.00 OFF if you're a first-time customer!

Browse thru Carribean Solutions complete line of body care products at my Carribean Solutions Store at iHerb.com.

Visit the Carribean Solutions website to learn more about the company.


Aubrey Organics

Why use something synthetic when something natural works so much better? That's the practical philosophy behind every Aubrey Organics product. This simple idea has been the cornerstone of this pioneering company since the beginning. Read the labels. You’ll find only the finest herbals and plant extracts in their most natural form, and no synthetic additives or petrochemicals of any kind.

Aubrey buys only the purest natural and organic ingredients from fair trade sources, and uses them in handcrafted, all-natural products that are good for you — and good for the Earth. It is this commitment that has made Aubrey Organics the finest hair, skin and body care products manufacturer, and an industry leader.

Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Green Tea Sunscreen is their richest antioxidant blend. This intensive, protective formula prevents free radical damage and fights the aging effects of sun exposure and pollution with organic green tea and herbal skin conditioners.

You can get Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Green Tea Sunscreen at a discount at iHerb.com; plus, you'll get $5.00 OFF if you're a first-time customer!

Browse thru Aubrey's wide selection of body care products at my Aubrey Organics Store at iHerb.com.

Visit the Aubrey Organics website to learn more about the company.



See Sunscreen Facts for more useful sunscreen information.

Antioxidants Home Page from Best Sunblock


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