How to Read The Ingredients Label on Sunscreen

reading ingredients on sunscreen

There are so many sunscreen brands out there that it can be quite overwhelming to figure out what is best for you.  There is a lot of green washing that goes on with labeling in the sunscreen industry.  To help you out, we created a super simple guide to figure out what to look for when buying sunscreen, especially when it comes to ingredients. 

Our Simple Guide: 

  1. Check the SPF.  You should always be using a SPF of 30 or higher
  2. Make sure it is Broad Spectrum.  Broad Spectrum safeguards against both UVB and UVA rays. 
  3. Do not go by what it says on the front of the sunscreen packaging.  This is where a lot of the trickery and what we call green-washing comes in.  A lot of times it will say things like “Reef Safe” or “Reef Friendly”-unfortunately these types of marketing terms are not regulated.  It may also list what is not in the product like:  No parabens, no sulfates, …. You need to look on the back where the ingredients are to find out what is truly in the sunscreen. 
  4. Understand the difference between Chemical and Mineral sunscreensChemical sunscreens rely on ingredients that cause chemical reactions to absorb UV rays and release them from the skin. Mineral sunscreens, on the other hand, use inorganic compounds, which sit on top of the skin to deflect and scatter rays.
  5. Look at the Active Ingredients on the back of the package.  Ideally, you are looking for non-nano titanium dioxide (naturally-occurring mineral found in the earth’s crust) and/or zinc oxide-these are the active ingredients in mineral sunscreens. 
  6. Chemical sunscreens have the following Active Ingredients (sometimes they use different names to describe certain chemicals, so make sure you know what to look for) but do your research when buying chemical sunscreens as many of the active ingredients are linked to endocrine disruption and may harm coral reefs and aquatic life among other things: 

-Avobenzone   

Also known as:  Butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane.  

This chemical is soon to be banned in sunscreens sold in Hawaii. 

-Dioxybenzone 

Also known as:  Benzophenone-8 

-Ensulizole   

Also known as:  Phenylbenzimidazole sulfonic acid 

 -Homosalate 

This ingredient is linked to hormone disruption and it may also enhance the absorption of pesticides, including bug sprays. 

-Octocrylene 

Also known as:   2-ethylhexyl ester  

This chemical is soon to be banned in sunscreens sold in Hawaii 

-Octinoxate   

Also know as:  Octyl Methoxycinnamate  

This ingredient has been linked to endocrine disruption by an abundance of data, as well as to reproductive toxicity.  It has been banned in sunscreens sold in Hawaii due to its harm to coral reefs and aquatic life. 

-Octisalate 

Also known as:  Octyl Salicylate 

-Oxybenzone   

Also known as:  Benzophenone-3  

It has been linked to endocrine disruptionorgan system toxicitycontact allergies, and photoallergies, meaning exposure to light is required to generate an allergic response.   It has been banned in sunscreens sold in Hawaii due to its harm to coral reefs and aquatic life. 

  1. Don’t ignore the inactive ingredients.  This is where you may find artificial fragrance which can be a skin irritant or other ingredients that you may be allergic to or have a sensitivity towards.  The less number of ingredients and the more natural the ingredients the better.  Just because it is a mineral sunscreen doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have other nasty chemicals as well. 

At Goddess Garden, all of our sunscreens are made with minerals Titanium Dioxide and/or Zinc Oxide.  Most of them have a light lavender fragrance made with organic lavender essential oils.  They are all broad spectrum and water resistant.  And we #GiveChemicalsTheBird so you won’t find any nasty chemicals in any of our products. 

“Our mission at Goddess Garden is to educate consumers about the benefits of natural mineral sunscreens, which are safe for people, the planet and the coral reefs,” said CEO and Founder Nova Covington. “Since they are different than traditional chemical sunscreens, learning why mineral sunscreens are safer and knowing how to use them are important parts of the educational process.”

Shop our reef safe mineral sunscreens here.

Daily Mineral Sunscreen

Goddess Garden – Daily Mineral Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Sheer, Zinc, Broad Spectrum, Water Resistant, Scented with organic lavender essential oil, Vegan, Reef Safe, Leaping Bunny Cruelty Free

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Sport Mineral Sunscreen

Goddess Garden – Sport Mineral Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Sheer, Zinc, Broad Spectrum, Water Resistant, Unscented, Vegan, Reef Safe, Leaping Bunny Cruelty Free

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Kids Mineral Sunscreen

Goddess Garden – Kids Mineral Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Sheer, Zinc, Broad Spectrum, Water Resistant, Scented with organic lavender essential oil, Vegan, Reef Safe, Leaping Bunny Cruelty Free

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Baby Sunscreen

Reef safe sunscreens & cooling spray
Made with organic aloe vera & lavender oil