The Best Sunscreens Without Oxybenzone and Octinoxate
Last spring, Hawaii lawmakers passed a bill to ban certain sunscreen ingredients that are believed to have a negative environmental impact: oxybenzone and octinoxate. We spoke to Skincare.com consultant and dual board-certified pediatric dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon, Dr. Latanya Benjamin, to learn more about this ban and her oxybenzone- and octinoxate-free sunscreen recommendations.
What to Know About the Sunscreen Ingredient Ban
The bill Hawaii passed would prevent the sale of over-the-counter sunscreens containing two common sunscreen ingredients — oxybenzone and octinoxate. According to Dr. Benjamin, the idea behind the ban is to “prohibit sunscreens that contained chemicals that could contribute to bleaching of the coral reefs.” However, as of now, you can still jet off to Hawaii and purchase a sunscreen formulated with either ingredient as it doesn’t take effect until January 1, 2021.
The Difference Between Chemical and Physical Sunscreen
With oxybenzone and octinoxate present in many sunscreen formulas, an attempt to avoid these two ingredients does cut down on the number of options available to consumers. However, oxybenzone and octinoxate are typically found in chemical sunscreens — not physical sunscreens — which raises the question, what’s the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, a chemical sunscreen protects you by absorbing the sun’s rays and is formulated with one or more of many possible active ingredients (one of which is oxybenzone). Physical sunscreens, on the other hand, provide protection by deflecting the sun’s rays and usually contain titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide as active ingredients.
Dr. Benjamin recommends opting for a mineral-based physical sunscreen for children with sensitive skin, in order to not irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction. Physical sunscreens are also a great pick for anyone looking for a formula that isn’t affected by Hawaii’s ban. While it is possible to find chemical sunscreens that don’t contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, they are not in the majority.
4 Sunscreens Without Oxybenzone and Octinoxate
It’s important to keep in mind that oxybenzone and octinoxate are FDA-approved ingredients in sunscreens, but if you’d like to still steer clear of them entirely, we rounded up four options formulated without oxybenzone and octinoxate.
If you’ve ever smoothed on sunscreen only to be left with a noticeable white cast, you’ll likely find yourself interested in this chemical-filter free sunscreen. Why? Because the formula, which contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, has a transparent, weightless finish. Essentially, it won’t look — or feel — like you’re sporting sunscreen.
Having acne is no excuse to skip out on sunscreen. This option by Kiehl’s is suitable for acne-prone skin, negating that issue. What’s more, it provides a universal sheer tint and antioxidant vitamin E protection.
Sunscreens often leave skin with a shiny appearance, which especially isn’t ideal for those with an oily skin type. Thankfully, this mineral sunscreen by La Roche-Posay boasts a matte finish to keep you shine-free.
Protecting the skin on your body is equally as important as protecting the skin on your face. CeraVe’s daily body lotion sunscreen offers 100%-mineral sun protection while also hydrating for minimal irritation. It’s suitable for all skin types, meaning you only need to cart one sunscreen around on your next vacation to have everyone covered.