Hypoallergenic Sunscreen: What It Is And Why You Need It
Keeping your skin protected from the sun’s rays is important. But it can be a real downer when your sunscreen leaves your skin irritated, red, or stinging. This is where hypoallergenic sunscreen swoops in to save the day!
In this article, we’ll discuss why hypoallergenic sunscreen may be the perfect fit for your whole family, as well as ingredients to avoid to be sure your sunscreen agrees with your skin.
We’ll also take the guesswork out of choosing the right one and give you a couple of sunscreen recommendations. But first, let’s define hypoallergenic sunscreen.
What Is Hypoallergenic Sunscreen?
“Hypoallergenic,” by definition, describes something that is less likely to cause allergic reactions. When applied to sunscreen, this means that a sunscreen is made with ingredients that will cause fewer reactions (think irritated, red, stinging skin).
However, the word “hypoallergenic” is not actually regulated by the FDA (Food And Drug Administration).
Essentially, this means that companies are using their own definition of “hypoallergenic” when they put it on a product’s label, and you have to take their word for it or do an ingredient-check yourself.
But let’s back up a little bit. What’s the big deal about hypoallergenic sunscreen anyway? And why go through the trouble of finding it? Here’s what we think.
Why Your Family Needs Hypoallergenic Sunscreen
Hypoallergenic sunscreen doesn’t contain questionable ingredients, making it less likely to irritate your skin when you lather up. This is especially important for anyone with eczema-prone skin, sensitive skin, or your little one’s delicate, kissable baby skin.
The right hypoallergenic sunscreen can be both effective enough to provide protection from the sun and also soothing — not irritating — to your skin.
But here’s the thing: Hypoallergenic sunscreen isn’t only for people who have easily irritated skin. What makes a sunscreen hypoallergenic also makes it better for your overall health and for the oceans, too.
How so? Here’s an example: Oxybenzone, an ingredient in traditional sunscreens, can seep into your body through your skin and disrupt your hormones.
And, as far as the ocean goes, this ingredient is also one of the chemicals that can bleach the coral reefs when your sunscreen washes off as you splash in the sea.
As you can see, hypoallergenic sunscreen is a must-have for sensitive skin, but it’s also great for anyone else in the family and, of course, our friends in the sea.
If hypoallergenic sunscreen sounds right for you and your family, you’ll want to look for a “hypoallergenic” label. But you’ll probably want to do a little sleuthing yourself, too, since hypoallergenic is not a regulated term.
Because the point of hypoallergenic sunscreen is to avoid irritants, we will cover a few of the ingredients that you should stay away from when looking for the right sunscreen.
Sunscreen Ingredients To Avoid
Remember that just like every body is different (and uniquely beautiful!), every person’s skin is different as well. This means that what irritates your skin may not bother the next person and vice versa.
Below, we’re going to list three ingredients that often cause skin irritation. Just remember that if any other ingredient doesn’t jive with your skin, you’ll need to avoid it, too.
We always recommend doing a patch test before using any new skincare product.
In order to understand why these ingredients should get the boot, you’ll need to know a bit about how sunscreen works.
There are two types of sunscreen: chemical sunscreen, which uses chemical blockers to ward off the sun’s rays, and mineral sunscreen that uses — you guessed it — minerals! (Note: Some sunscreens use a combination of chemical and mineral blockers.)
Chemical blockers are ingredients such as oxybenzone (which we mentioned earlier), octinoxate, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, and avobenzone.
While a combination of these chemical blockers can effectively keep you from sunburn and sun damage, there is a dark side to them that makes them less than desirable.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) says that octisalate can cause allergic contact dermatitis (read: skin reaction), and it “may have endocrine effects, weakly binding to the estrogen receptor.”
They go on to say that octocrylene “causes relatively high rates of skin allergies” and is frequently contaminated with benzophenone, a carcinogen. And we already talked about oxybenzone, which can irritate your skin and throw off your hormones.
All in all, chemical blockers are no-no ingredients for the sake of your skin as well as your overall health.
If you’re aiming for a non-irritating, hypoallergenic sunscreen for your sensitive skin, you’ll also want to stay away from synthetic fragrances.
Typically listed simply as “fragrance” or “parfum,” these are umbrella terms used for a variety of ingredients. It may smell wonderful, but all sorts of chemicals can be hiding within the one ingredient called “fragrance.” And they can irritate sensitive skin.
Avoid products with “parfum” or “fragrance” in the ingredient list or an “unscented” label on the bottle. Instead, for the most hypoallergenic sunscreen, choose one that’s fragrance-free.
Click here to read more about the difference between fragrance-free and unscented.
If you’ve never heard of this ingredient, let us tell you a bit about it. Phenoxyethanol is used as a preservative in products like shampoos, lotions, and the like. It helps stop bacteria in its tracks and keep your product fresh.
Fresh is good, but phenoxyethanol isn’t exactly the best way to go about it since it can cause your skin to react.
We won’t do a deep dive now, but if you want to read more about phenoxyethanol, click here.
What To Look For In Hypoallergenic Sunscreen
We’ve shared three skin-irritating ingredients that you’ll want to steer clear of. Now, we’d like to discuss what sort of effective, skin-friendly sunscreen will do the trick.
But what ingredient can replace chemical blockers and keep your skin safe from the sun? Mineral blockers. The good news for you is that there are only two — zinc oxide and titanium dioxide — so they’re easy to remember!
We recommend a sunscreen made with pure non-nano zinc oxide or a combination of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Here are three we think you’ll love.
Mineral Sunscreen Lotion
Mustela SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion offers the safe and effective sun protection that your whole family needs. And it does so with non-nano zinc oxide and 93% naturally derived ingredients.
Plus, this fragrance-free sunscreen is crafted with coconut oil, macadamia oil, and vitamin E to hydrate your skin and absolutely no chemical blockers, parabens, phthalates, or phenoxyethanol.
Mineral Sunscreen Stick
If you prefer to apply sunscreen with a stick, go with our SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Stick. It’s made with 70% organic ingredients, including shea butter, avocado oil, sunflower seed oil, and jojoba. Plus, it’s accepted by the National Eczema Association and safe for sensitive skin.
This is an easy choice, and its small size makes it convenient for traveling!
Mineral Sunscreen Spray
For those of you who prefer the convenience of spray-on sunscreen, look no further than Mustela SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Spray.
Made with both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, this water-resistant sunscreen contains other natural, skin-soothing ingredients, including aloe vera, calendula, chamomile flower extract, and sunflower oil.
And, of course, it’s free of fragrance as well as phenoxyethanol and is compliant with Hawaii’s sunscreen ingredient requirements to protect the coral reefs. That’s a win all the way around.
Hypoallergenic Sunscreen For The Whole Family
Hypoallergenic sunscreen is perfect for the whole family because it’s non-irritating to sensitive skin and safer and more soothing than traditional chemical sunscreen.
To help prevent skin irritation, stay away from chemical blockers, synthetic fragrances, and phenoxyethanol, along with any other ingredients that disagree with your skin.
Instead, go with natural, hypoallergenic ingredients, like the non-nano zinc oxide found in our Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Mineral Sunscreen Stick, or Mineral Sunscreen Spray. All of our suncare is certified by the National Eczema Association (NEA), so you never have to worry.
One sunscreen for the whole family and you’re good to go!