The 5 Best Hormone-Safe Sunscreens, Recommended by Doctors
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With rising concerns about toxins in sunscreens, protect your wellness with these high-SPF, mineral-based picks from dermatologists, hormone experts, and a naturopathic doctor.
Let’s start here: It’s great that you’re wearing sunscreen. The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests that 20 percent of Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70, with 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers caused by sun exposure. So no matter your age, gender, skin type, or other characteristic, applying sunscreen daily is arguably one of the most worthwhile self-care rituals—especially when you consider that daily use of an SPF 15 or higher may reduce the risk of some skin cancers by 40 percent.
But as we increasingly prioritize sunscreen use and other wellness practices, it’s also come to light that some sunscreens may be safer for you than others when your system absorbs them through your skin and into your bloodstream. (Read Sunscreen Safety Is Under Fire This Summer—Doctors Share the Facts)
Dr. Deena Adimoolam, MD, an endocrinologist and internal medicine specialist, explains to The Healthy @Reader’s Digest: “Certain sunscreens may contain harmful ingredients and endocrine disruptor chemicals, such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, parabens, and phthalates. These chemicals, when absorbed in excess and over time, can be linked to several hormone issues.” Some research has suggested these hormone issues can include early puberty in children, obesity, and possibly even some types of cancer (though the investigation we link to above lays out important details).
To this list of potentially concerning ingredients, Andrea Poy, ND, a naturopathic doctor who practices evidence-based holistic medicine in DuBois, PA, adds homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, and avobenzone. “Titanium dioxide is considered safe when not used in a spray form, due to its probable carcinogenic effects upon inhalation,” Dr. Poy adds. Another rule of thumb from this naturopathic physician? “Higher SPF sunscreens typically have more endocrine-disrupting chemicals than lower SPF sunscreens.”
In any case, of course, you still need to protect your skin—while ideally also keeping your endocrine system, the air traffic control center that regulates the release of hormones, safe too.
Hormone-safe sunscreens are typically mineral-based, with either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient, sometimes combined with antioxidant-rich botanicals. Mineral-based sunscreens also tend to be free of harmful chemicals that can mess with your hormones or other systems of your body. “All in all, these [mineral-based] sunscreens seem safer than most on the market,” says Dr. Poy.
What to look for in a hormone-safe sunscreen
As with just about any product you buy off the shelves, including packaged groceries, it’s wise to read the ingredients list to ensure it’s free from potentially harmful chemicals. Look for mineral-based products with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient. These ingredients aren’t absorbed into the skin like chemical sunscreens, and they tend to be more soothing to sensitive skin.
Dr. Janiene Luke, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and associate professor, tells The Healthy, “I recommend looking for a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher, broad-spectrum that you reapply every two hours, and is water-resistant if you’ll be in or around water. You can always look for the formulation that works best with your skin type or your preference when deciding if mineral- or chemical-based is best for you.”
The best hormone-safe sunscreens
Check out these dermatologist-recommended mineral-based sunscreens if you’re looking to protect your general health when you’re enjoying time and activity outdoors.
Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Sunscreen SPF 50
Aveeno’s Positively Mineral sunscreen uses naturally sourced, 100 percent zinc oxide combined with nourishing oats to shield sensitive skin. Its broad-spectrum SPF 50 coverage provides water-resistant skin protection against UVA and UVB rays. Also, this sunscreen is hypoallergenic and free of oxybenzone, parabens, phthalates, fragrances, and dyes.
Dr. Luke says, “I like this sunscreen for people with sensitive skin. It’s fragrance-free and contains oat and feverfew, which can have calming and soothing benefits.”
Cetaphil Sheer Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
It soothes skin using vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect skin from free radicals.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Ultra-Light SPF 50
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the active ingredients in La Roche-Posay sunscreen, which combines powerful antioxidants and broad-spectrum coverage to shield skin from free radicals and harmful UV rays. This sunscreen is hypoallergenic, oil-free, fragrance-free, and free from harsh chemicals like oxybenzone.
EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
EltaMD’s mineral-based sunscreen uses transparent zinc oxide as the active ingredient to protect your skin by reflecting the sun’s damaging UV rays. It’s oil-free and designed for acne-prone skin, so it won’t cause breakouts. Dr. Luke likes this sunscreen for people who are prone to acne. She explains, “It’s oil-free, but also contains niacinamide (which can help with oil production, inflammation, and discoloration) and hyaluronic acid, a highly effective moisturizing agent.”
This formula also helps calm and protect sensitive skin prone to rosacea and dark spots. It provides broad-spectrum coverage to protect against UVA and UVB rays.
Alba Botanica Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
Formulated free of oxybenzone, octinoxate, and gluten, Alba Botanica sunscreen is also hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, vegan, and reef-friendly. This plant-based formula contains no parabens, phthalates, or sulfates and uses 100 percent vegetarian ingredients. It’s also a recommended product by the Skin Cancer Foundation.
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- Dr. Deena Adimoolam, MD: Specialist in Endocrinology and Primary Care Prevention.
- Dr. Janiene Luke, MD, FAAD: Board-Certified Dermatologist, Associate Professor, and Residency Program Director at the Loma Linda University Department of Dermatology.
- Dr. Andrea Poy, ND, Whole Health Naturopathic Wellness Center.
- Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology: "Dermatological and environmental toxicological impact of the sunscreen ingredient oxybenzone/benzophenone-3"
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: "Endocrine Disruptors"
- Skin Cancer Foundation: "Recommended Products"