Beauty Topic: A short rant about sunscreen & chemicals

I recently visited a local Target after work to pick up a few items, and one of them was a new tube of sunscreen for my family. Being a former esthetician, and a sufferer of very sensitive skin that is also prone to sunburn, I knew exactly what brand and product formulation I was looking for.  While I won’t mention the location of this Target, I will rant about my disappointment in the selection that I was presented with in store, and why I’m afraid that the average consumer doesn’t realize that this is a problem. I normally don’t say negative things within my blog. But I’ll admit that I’m very concerned and rather ticked off, since a company or a brand’s product offering decisions can negatively affect people’s health and perception when it comes down to their purchasing options.

I walk into the aisle, and this is what I see:


  1. Rows of products that are chock-full of chemical sunscreens that have known issues (ie. oxybenzone). Simply Google “safe sunscreen” or “sunscreens to avoid”, and you will be presented with a long list of professional opinions on chemicals to avoid in formulations. I would say that the majority of this wall (and my photo only shows part of the upper half) was composed of mostly ALL chemical-based formulas.
  2. Spray formulas or aerosols – if you Google this as well, you’ll find a ton of research over the years that shows these spray formulas send tiny particles into the air, and can aggravate asthma or allergies. In addition, these often have high levels of oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate, which are known from government data and reports to cause skin reactions and lesions. I get that it’s a convenient delivery method, but you have to weigh the cons in lieu of any pros for a “fast application”.
  3. “Sport” or SPF 100+ claims on a sunscreen product. I’m sorry, but WTF? SPF 100?? Does it mean that a tent or a roof comes out of the tube, and builds itself like a Transformer over your head so that you can walk around all day in the shade? If you read the labels, like on Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 100+, it still says that you have to reapply after 80 mins of swimming or every 2 hours. So, in essence, it’s still following the rules that any other sunscreen asks for, which is to reapply every 2 hours or so if you are active (sweating due to sports) or swimming. Why SPF 100+ or “sport” then? To me, this is a misleading label on a product, since the instructions are basically the same as any other sunscreen and doesn’t give the user any extra advantages.
  4. And lastly, the selection available of safer sunscreens was TINY. If you look in the upper left corner of the photo that I took, or at my other photo below of a different angle of the wall, there was a small space held for brands such as BARE Republic or Sun Bum that actually offer legit mineral-based formulas that perform. These broad-spectrum formulas are based on Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide physical sunscreens, and are not only safer for humans, but also the environment (such as ocean reefs). Neutrogena does offer a few mineral sunscreens, but they label them as “baby” formulas when, in truth, anyone can use them. Baby formulas are great for anyone with sensitive skin, as they are often fragrance-free, and safer in formulation for people who suffer from eczema or acne.


Bottom line, in retail, the brands pay for shelf placement to get the eye-level views and arms-reach distance to most consumers; but these are NOT always the best formulas or products to choose from when it comes to overall skin health and allergy avoidance. Fifteen product rows just to promote the Up & Up (Target private label) brand of Sport sunscreen alone says, to me, that the buying and merchandising teams are out of touch with the growing concern among consumers to buy safer sunscreens. And Neutrogena’s product claims of SPF 100+ is a bit ridiculous, which can give a false sense of security to an average consumer who is rushing in to buy a few last-minute products before attending an outdoor event. Target has been on-point with other product lines and assortments, giving more space and promotion to health-conscious brands. So, I’m thoroughly confused on why they don’t give the same thought and consumer-research planning into the sunscreens they merchandise each summer. Especially with a product that contains chemicals with known health concerns.

Also, one of my favorite brands, CeraVe, didn’t get any product placement within the wall of sunscreen offerings at this Target. Their products utilize micronized Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, so that the formula is more sheer, and absorbs quickly. Their sunscreens are also fragrance-free, and incorporate ceramides, which add anti-aging benefit and help maintain the skin’s natural moisture barrier.

In my opinion, the technology and skincare knowledge that we have today proves that safer sunscreens are a necessary part of overall health, and being a conscious consumer. Skin cancer is a huge issue across the globe, and I ask retailers, such as Target, to do a better job in giving their customers better choices to protect themselves – especially with the transparency and ample amount of information there is for any buyer or product developer to use in their decision-making process. I understand that they look at sales and last year’s numbers to make their plans, but this also puts customers in a bind who may not do their own research and put “trust” into the retailer to offer them safe products. Allergies, asthma, chemical burns, eczema flare-ups, dermatitis, and acne break-outs aren’t worth just spreadsheets of past customer buying decisions – it’s worth helping people to make better health choices, and giving brands who are responsibly making products the credit and shelf space to accurately market themselves.

© 2018 28daysbeauty

Beauty Topic: Safer sunscreens for face & body

It dawned on me this morning as I was applying sunscreen that I haven’t actually done a post dedicated to this topic. Plus, earlier this week my friend Holly told me that she broke out after wearing sunscreen over the weekend, and asked me what sunscreens she should wear to avoid that again. Soooo, duh, I completely flaked on posting a topic that would probably be really helpful!!! Especially for those who do have sensitive skin, and have reactions from these types of products regularly. My bad…. Here we go! 

There is a pretty heavy debate about sunscreens and sunblock, and their safety due to the types of chemicals and ingredients they contain. The debate is even bigger in Europe. My best advice it to do your own research, and also check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database to ensure the products you purchase align with what you want to use. What I will recommend below are those products that my family and I use, and have had extremely good luck with – not only from a sun protection aspect, but also as people who have highly reactive, sensitive skin. Also, I believe in avoiding products containing allergen-causing sunscreens (particularly Avobenzone and Oxybenzone). The reason that they are used is that in product testing, most users favor a silky, sheer texture – this has driven most cosmetics and skincare manufacturers to use those ingredients in order to meet the requests of the general consumer. But in my logic, what is the point of using something that will most likely cause you a reaction? (See: breakout, rash, irritation) This logic also effectively narrows down my choices in the marketplace too. Oh, and please don’t ask me my opinion about spray sunscreens – I’ll just say I avoid them at all costs. Not to sound extremely harsh, but if you want to know more about them, just Google the topic to see the amount of controversy surrounding their usage. 

Bottom line, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and octinoxate sunscreens are what I’ve had luck with as ingredients within products to be effective and not cause reaction. Plus, don’t worry too much about SPF numbers higher than 30. Research has shown that anything higher than SPF 30 isn’t really that more effective. Ok – enough of that – on to the fun part!


cotz, miracle skin transformer, cerave
great sunscreens & sunblock for sensitive skin
For Face:

Everyday I wear SPF 15 between using my Olay Complete moisturizer for sensitive skin, and then layering with my foundation (which also contains sunscreen – hint: see my previous posts on these). However, for those days where the sun is really intense or I know I’ll be active outside, I skip the Olay and instead moisturize first with my Trader Joe’s Nourish oil-free moisturizer, and then apply Cotz Face. This formula comes in both a Light and Medium shade to pick from, and has a sheer, matte finish. Let’s just say that this stuff ROCKS!!! I have had great luck with it as a base under my foundation too! This is a newer brand to gain attention on the market, and I think they really hit the nail on the head for what sensitive skins need.

For Body:

If you need a great, basic sunscreen for the whole family, CeraVe really gives one of the best overall body formulas to choose from. It uses micronized zinc oxide for a very smooth formula, and lasts through sweat and fun in the pool. Plus, it contains ceramides to give a skincare-like quality to help care for sensitive skins. 

If you want something more sexy, try Miracle Skin Transformer’s Tinted Beauty Balm. This gives body skin a beautiful bronze tint and protects with SPF 20. I love it on legs and arms when wearing summer dresses. It also contains great skincare qualities such as firming and toning. Just make sure to use a body puff or sponge to exfoliate skin before using a bronzing product – it will ensure smooth color application. 

As a rule of thumb, sunscreens usually labelled as “baby” formulas are generally good to choose. Typically, they don’t contain those allergen-causing ingredients. But just make sure to read the labels and ingredient listings. You’ll lessen your chance for a reaction and maintain great looking skin! 

© 2015 28daysbeauty