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Using my background in molecular biology, I analyzed the studies and translated vast amounts of data into actionable, straightforward plans that have helped thousands of women overcome infertility and pregnancy loss.  

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Non-toxic Sunscreen

My Recommended Fertility-Friendly Sunscreens:

Everyday/Face SPF

  EWG/Think Dirty ratingPriceOverall ratingWhere to Buy
Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen StickZinc oxide 15%. Lightweight formula that applies easily and without leaving a white layer or heavy/waxy feeling. Preferred option for daily use under makeup.2$$★★★★★US
Beautycounter Dew Skin Moisturizing Coverage (SPF 20)Lightweight tinted moisturizer with added SPF. Allure Best of Beauty Award Winner.2$$$★★★★★US
Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30Zinc oxide. Excellent lightweight and water resistant sunscreen. Contains phenoxyethanol, so may be best for face or rather than applying to whole body.1$$★★★★US
Green People Organic Sun Lotion SPF30 Scent Free FACEBest option for sunscreen in UK. Not available in US. Active ingredients are isoamyl P-methoxycinnamate (excellent UVA-filter, 1 rating by EWG) and titanium dioxide. Think Dirty rate of 4/5 based on old formulation.N/A$$★★★★★(UK) (CA)
Rocky Mountain Soap Co NATURAL SUNSCREEN VANILLA COCONUT SPF 31Zinc oxide 20%. 100% Natural. One of Rocky Mountain’s Best Sellers.1 ★★★★★(US&CA)
Attitude Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 Fragrance Free EWG verified. Zinc oxide (20%)EWG V.  (US &CA)

Best Beach/ Sport Sunscreens

ThinkBaby SPF 50+ SunscreenZinc oxide 20%. Very popular and good value mineral-based sunscreen, with 72% of Amazon reviewers giving it five stars. Received a poor rating on UVB protection by Consumer Reports, but that result is questionable given that the product has a high concentration of zinc oxide and reports of sunburns with this product are exceedingly rare. Light fruit scent from raspberry oil and papaya extract.1$★★★★★US UK CA AU
Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen StickZinc oxide 15%. Lightweight formula that applies easily and without leaving a white layer or heavy/waxy feeling. Preferred option for daily use under makeup.2$$★★★★★US
Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 50+Consumer reports rates as good UVA, fair UVB protection. 72% of Amazon reviewers give five stars. Thick and looks white on skin, but eventually absorbs. Good choice for very sensitive skin.2$$$★★★★★US UK
Badger Active Unscented Cream SPF 30Good rating by Consumer Reports for both UVA and UVB. (Excellent UVA, fair UVB). Can be oily and heavy.1$★★★★US UK
Goddess GardenEveryday Natural Lotion SPF 30 Good rating by Consumer Reports for UVA and UVB. Some amazon reviewers describe it as leaving heavy white residue and hard to rub in.1$★★★US UK AU CA
Block Island Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30EWG’s top rated beach/sport sunscreen. Zinc oxide 22%. Lower average reviews on Amazon ratings than other alternatives.1$$★★★US
Green People Scent Free Sun LotionOne of the best options for sunscreen in UK. Not available in US. Active ingredients are isoamyl P-methoxycinnamate (excellent UVA-filter, 1 rating by EWG) and titanium dioxide. Think Dirty rate of 4/5 based on old formulation.N/A$$★★★★★UK
Eco Logical Sunscreen SPF 30Zinc oxide 20%. One of the best options for sunscreen available in Australia. Australian-made.N/A1★★★★AU

My absolute favorites:

Over the years of trying just about every fragrance-free mineral sunscreen available (since I live in Miami), these are the ones I use most often on myself and my eczema-prone little boy:

  • Face: Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Stick (available here: US)
  • Body: ThinkBaby SPF 50+ Sunscreen (available here: US UK CA AU)

If I lived in the U.K I would also consider Green People Scent Free Sun Lotion (available here: UK)

Detailed Sunscreen Buying Guide

When choosing a sunscreen, there is always a trade-off to be made. The active ingredients that are the least toxic are unfortunately not the most effective.

There are two forms of active ingredients in sunscreens: chemical and mineral. Chemical sunscreens include oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Mineral (also called physical) sunscreens are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Some of the chemical sunscreens have been found to disrupt hormones and are best avoided while pregnant or trying to conceive. According to the Environmental Working Group, “The most worrisome is oxybenzone, which was added to nearly 65 percent of the non-mineral sunscreens in EWG’s 2018 sunscreen database. Oxybenzone can cause allergic skin reactions (Rodriguez 2006). In laboratory studies it is a weak estrogen and has potent anti-androgenic effects. (Krause 2012, Ghazipura 2017).” Other studies have found that high levels of oxybenzone can lower testosterone levels, reduce pregnancy duration, and alter birth-weights. Octinoxate is another chemical sunscreen that is probably best to avoid, because it too has been linked to hormone disruption.

Fortunately, there are many mineral sunscreens available, which use titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as the active ingredients. For fertility purposes, we can also go a little further and choose products without parabens or fragrance.

Yet we have to bear in mind that these sunscreens are simply not as effective as the chemical blockers. Each year, Consumer Reports tests a selection of sunscreens for how well they block UVA and UVB rays. They consistently find that the most effective sunscreens are those that use chemical filters, rather than zinc or titanium dioxide. In 2018, every single one of the most effective suncreens included oxybenzone, which is likely the most problematic of the chemical sunscreens.

So how do we find a balance between sunscreens that are safe but still provide adequte sun protection? The first step is to choose a physical sunscreen that includes zinc oxide, not just titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide is relatively good at blocking UVB rays, which cause sunburn, but not very good at at protecting against UVA rays, which cause premature ageing and likely increase the risk of skin cancer. Zinc oxide is very good at protecting against UVA, and can protect against UVB fairly well if the the concentration is high enough. For this reason, the sunscreens recommended in this guide include either a high concentration of zinc oxide, or a combination of both zinc and titanium dioxide.

In Consumer Reports 2018 sunscreen tests, the most effective mineral sunscreens include:

SunscreenActive IngredientComment
Badger Active Unscented Cream SPF 30Non-nano zinc oxide 18.75%Excellent UVA protection, but UVB only fair.
Goddess GardenEveryday Natural Lotion SPF 30Titanium Dioxide 6.4%, Zinc Oxide 6%Good on both UVA and UVB
Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 50+Titanium Dioxide 5%, Zinc Oxide 7%Good UVA, fair UVB

Mineral sunscreens that received a “poor” rating on either UVA or UVB include:

  • Thinkbaby SPF 50+ Lotion sunscreen
  • BadgerSport Cream SPF 35
  • The Honest CompanyMineral Lotion SPF 50+2
  • Tom’s of Maine Baby Lotion SPF 30 sunscreen
  • Thinksport Safe Lotion SPF 50+ sunscreen
  • Alba Botanica Kids Mineral Lotion SPF 30
  • True Natural Baby & Family Unscented Lotion SPF 30 sunscreen
  • Banana Boat Kids Sport Lotion SPF 50+
  • MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense Lotion SPF 50 sunscreen
  • CeraVe Body Lotion SPF 50
  • Babyganics Mineral-Based Lotion SPF 50+ sunscreen

The common theme amongst all of these “poor” performing sunscreens is that they either used zinc or titanium dioxide along (rather than a combination) OR if they did contain a combination of both, the concentration was too low (often below 5%).

One more issue with mineral sunscreen is whether they contain nano-sized particles of zinc or titanium dioxide. I am not particularly concerned about nano particles in sunscreen. As the Environmental Working Group has stated “a large number of studies have produced no evidence that zinc oxide nanoparticles can cross the skin in significant amounts.” The real concern with nano particles is inhalation, so for this reason you should avoid spray-on and powder-based mineral sunscreens. For more, see the EWG report on nanoparticles in sunscreen.

From this, Overall rules for sunscreens:

  • Look for at least 6% zinc oxide AND at least 5% titanium dioxide, as a bare minimum, or around 20% zinc oxide.
  • Fragrance free and paraben free
  • Choose a lotion, rather than spray or powder-based sunscreen.
  • Reapply often
  • Use other measures to reduce sun exposure (shade, clothing, staying out of the sun in the middle of the day).

For occasional times when you will be in the sun for a longer period of time and need a more powerful sunscreen, it may be reasonable to choose a product that also contains one of the safer chemical sunscreens. This means no oxybenzone or octinoxate, but instead one or more of the following: octisalate, octocrylene, avobenzone, and Mexoryl. For this, I would recommend La Roche-Posay Anthelios Dermo-Kids Face & Body Lotion SPF 60 sunscreen. It has an excellent score from Consumer Reports and a rating of 3 by the EWG. It is slightly greasy, but does not leave a white residue, unlike most physical sunscreens.

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