Here Comes The Sun: Safer Sunscreen

We’re home from the beach and I’ll be back tomorrow with a recap! Our sunscreen stash was stocked and ready, and I’m sharing the products we use and why we’re serious about using safer sunscreen. 

We just got back from a week at Bald Head Island, and while it unfortunately rained the first four days, we had our full stash of sunscreen on standby. Despite more grey weather than we had anticipated, we actually used our sunscreen quite a lot. (As you probably know, it’s important to use SPF even on cloudy days!)

How I switched to safer sunscreen

I’ve shared about all of the other clean beauty essentials we use in our household, whether that’s Counterman products for Thomas, hand soap by the bathroom sink, or body wash for the kids. I honestly love the products and love them even more knowing they are not full of any questionable ingredients.

Sunscreen was actually my gateway into Beautycounter

You might recall that we went to the Florida Keys when Birch was about 6 months old. I picked up some cheap chemical spray sunscreen at the grocery store while we were there, and I just felt really yucky about spraying it all over the kids and me. I remembered that my mom had given me some Beautycounter sunscreen she ordered through her friend, and I vowed to buy some more when I got home. That very same day my long-time blog friend Teri reached out to me about Beautycounter in general, and I knew if I was placing a big sunscreen order I might as well sign up as a consultant to get a discount. Once I decided to switch to safer sunscreen, I committed to detoxing all of our personal care products at the same time.

Safer Sunscreen 101

Sunscreen Basics 

UVA = Sun’s Aging Rays

These rays penetrate deep into the skin to cause the free radical damage that contributes to premature aging and skin cancer. They are present year-round and penetrate glass and clouds.

UVB = Sun’s Burning Rays

These rays are the primary cause of sunburn and skin cancer, so we see and feel the damage as it occurs.

Blue Light = Sun & Screen Rays

High-Energy Visible (HEV) blue light comes not just from the sun, but also smartphones, tablets, and computer screens. It can cause skin damage, including visible signs of aging.

Higher SPF can = higher amounts of toxins

Little known fact: higher SPFs do not always translate to more protection. There is only a 1% difference in protection from SPF 30 to SPF 50 and beyond that, the protection increases are negligible.

“Sunscreens with higher SPF values have higher concentrations of chemicals that can disrupt hormones, trigger allergic reactions or damage skin. They may also contain SPF boosters that simply mask the signs of damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays, rather than protect you from it.” – Environmental Working Group

Chemical vs. Mineral Sunscreens

Chemical Sunscreens are technically sun filters. They’re called sun filters because they absorb the sun’s UV energy and release it back into the air as heat. They are popular because they provide easy, transparent blendability into the skin. But Beautycounter never uses chemical filters due to their potential for skin irritation. MOST sunscreens that MOST people buy are chemical sunscreens.

Mineral Sunscreens (physical sunscreens) are Beautycounter’s preferred sunscreen technology. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are physical particles that sit on the surface of the skin and scatter or reflect sun’s rays away from the skin. Mineral sunscreens are great for people with sensitive skin and they are reef friendly. If chemical sunscreens kill coral, what could it do to our body?

“The FDA announced that it has proposed a rule to declare mineral sunscreen ingredients as safe, specifically zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The agency said 12 other chemicals commonly used in sunscreens need more research to determine if they can be officially listed as safe, including oxybenzone and octinoxate.” You can read the full article here.

Obviously the answer is not to stop wearing sunscreen. It’s to look for sunscreens that feature zinc and titanium dioxide as the active ingredients. It’s to do your own research (I love the EWG.ORG/SKINDEEP database to see how toxic products are) and make the best choices for you and your family.


Countersun, Beautycounter’s safer sun care line, contains physical blocking sunscreen (using non-nano zinc oxide). Countersun products do not contain chemicals (like oxybenzone) known to damage the coral reefs. Plus, not only do they protect against UVA rays (aging) and UVB rays (burning), but blue light as well.

Conventional chemical sunscreens might protect you from the sun, but you’re also applying a lot of unnecessary chemicals to your skin, many of which are banned in other countries and not regulated in the U.S. Beautycounter always excludes 1,800+ potentially harmful ingredients from all of their products – known as The Never List.

Why We Love Countersun + How We Use It

While you could certainly get the lotion and call it a day, there are 5 different Countersun formulas, and I use them all differently!

The Lotion – a classic lotion that is thick and easy to spread. It almost has a whipped texture so it won’t run down your legs. I use it for kids legs and on smaller parts of me (like my neck).

The Stick – this is great for kids faces and necks. The cocoa butter-infused stick won’t run into eyes. It does leave a little bit of a white cast, but it’s not going to turn their whole face white. I like that you can sort of see where you have already covered to make sure you don’t miss a spot! I use it on myself when I’m reapplying on the beach or at the pool.

The Mist – this is a spray-on zinc that you do have to rub in, but the spray distributes a mist across your arms, legs, and back so that it’s super fast and easy to rub in. It also has a dryer texture, so your hands aren’t greasy after. (The worst part of sunscreen if you ask me!) I use the mist all of over my body and sometimes on kids legs or backs if they don’t wear a rash guard. Plus, it’s a non-aerosol spray – thumbs up.

The Tinted Mist – this is the same as above but with a tint to it so there is zero white cast. It’s kind of like foundation for your skin, and gives you a smooth look. It’s also great for darker skin tones who don’t want any lightening with the white mist. I would not wear white while you use this, and it will rub off before it soaks in (kind of like foundation would). Use with caution.

Daily Sheer Defense for Face – this brand new face sunscreen sold out fast and will be back in July. It’s the perfect sunscreen to wear daily under makeup and doesn’t have any white cast at all.

Now through tomorrow (Tuesday), Beautycounter is having a huge site-wide sale – including the sunscreens!

How to get the best deal: If you plan to shop the sale, consider adding the Band of Beauty membership (like Amazon Prime) to get free shipping, a free $25 Citrus Mimosa Body lotion, and 10% of your order in product credit to use the next time you shop.

Here are all my favorite products to check out!

Learn more about safer sunscreen: