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Home/Blog/Best Sunscreens of 2023 and How to Protect Your Skin from the Sun

Best Sunscreens of 2023 and How to Protect Your Skin from the Sun

By Ethan Boldt

August 18, 2023

Best sunscreens of 2023

In moderate doses, the sun provides all sorts of health benefits, including helping our bodies manufacture vital vitamin D. However, with the sun like many other things, too much of a good thing can be dangerous. Therefore, many people are always looking for the best sunscreens to cut their risk of sun overexposure, sunburns and possibly skin cancer.

For the list of best 2023 sunscreens, we rely on the Environmental Working Group's (EWG’s) 17th annual Guide to Sunscreens. The group introduced the EWG VERIFIED® Sunscreen, which are sunscreens that meet both the EWG's strict standards for sun protection and avoid harmful ingredients. 

Startlingly, only around one-quarter of the 1,700 sunscreens reviewed met those standards. And on average, U.S. sunscreens allow about three times more UVA rays to transfer through skin compared to European sunscreens.

Therefore, it’s very important to choose sunscreens that provide quality UVA protection and use safe ingredients.

Why It’s Important to Protect Your Skin from UVA Rays

UVA rays are more abundant than UVB rays, and UVA damage is more subtle than the sunburns induced mainly by UVB rays. 

UVA rays can damage your health and skin invisibly by suppressing the immune system and aging the skin over time. 

Overexposure of these rays are also linked to different types of skin cancer. the development of melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, too.

Best Sunscreens of 2023 

The Environmental Working Group especially recommends sunscreens with the mineral active ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Why? They are the only two ingredients the FDA recognized as safe or effective.

Here are some of the most highly rated sunscreens that met EWG’s criteria for safety and effectiveness:

  • Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30

  • Babo Botanicals Sheer Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50

  • ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Unscented, SPF 30

  • ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Kids, Unscented, SPF 30

  • ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Orange Blossom, SPF 30

  • ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Kids, Tropical, SPF 30

  • ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Tropical, SPF 30

  • Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30

  • Babo Botanicals Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50

  • ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Face, Unscented, SPF 30

  • Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30

  • ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Kids, Face, Unscented, SPF 30

For its 2023 sunscreen report, EWG also rated these products for daily use to be among the best:

  • Solara Suncare Clean Freak Nutrient Boosted Daily Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 30

  • True Botanicals Everyday Skin Tints, SPF 30

  • Beautycounter Countersun Daily Sheer Defense for Face, SPF 25

  • Ao Skincare 6000X Elemental Screen, SPF 30

  • Solara Suncare Time Traveler Ageless Daily Face Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 30

  • Solara Suncare Clean Freak Nutrient Boosted Daily Sunscreen, Naturally Scented, SPF 30

  • Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30

  • Rejuva Minerals Sheer Daily Wear Face Protection, SPF 16

  • True Botanicals Skin Barrier Sun Shield, SPF 30

  • Biossance Squalane + Mineral, SPF 45

What Types of Sunscreen to Avoid

The EWG recommends avoiding all spray sunscreens. These are not only difficult to apply effectively and evenly, there’s also concern the ingredients could potentially cause lung problems (with the troublesome ingredient benzene). 

Oxybenzone is another troublesome ingredient that still appears in some sunscreen formulas. While it now only appears in around 6 percent of sunscreens, it can harm health and should never be used. In places like Hawaii and Key West, it’s already been banned because of its ability to bleach and kill coral reefs.

Surprisingly, the EWG also recommends avoiding high-SPF sunscreens. Why? They provide limited benefits compared to lower-SPF sunscreens, and they may give people a false sense of security against the sun. 

Lastly, sunscreens with vitamin A should be avoided (and up to 40 percent of sunscreens may contain it). Vitamin A can react with UV rays and may increase the risk of skin cancer. 

Additional Precautions

Sunscreen is not a perfect product. Unlike many other personal care products, you may slather sunscreen on your skin multiple times a day. That type of repetitive, hours-long, skin-absorbing exposure doesn’t occur with our other skin-related products.

Therefore, it’s imperative to use safer sunscreens with the best ingredients. 

Even then, no sunscreen is fully protective from the powerful sun, especially when the UV scale is high (6 to 7) or very high (8 to 10), let alone extreme (11+). Plus, no product will last on your skin for more than two hours max, as the EWG notes. Therefore, when out in the sun, at the pool or at the beach, thickly apply sunscreen coatings. Roughly every two hours, reapply every time you're out of the water or have sweated it off.

Meanwhile, make sure to employ other sun protective measures such as sunglasses, hats, “sun shirts” and other sun-protective clothing. Also try to stay in the shade during the midday sun.

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