Easy Tips to Identify The Most Effective & Safe Sunblocks (which also happen to be organic!)

What should a consumer look for in a safe and effective sunscreen this summer? We’ve developed a list of tips to help you shop. The good news for fans of natural products is that dermatologists and skin cancer experts agree that major points go to Zinc Oxide, a mineral that performs as a natural sunblock offering both UVA and UVB protection and is very stable in sunlight. Everyone from the Skin Cancer Foundation, to Vogue Magazine is recommending consumers seek zinc oxide.



80% of consumers buy their sunscreen based solely on its SPF rating. SPF (sun protection factor) only measures protection from UVB rays, ignoring the UVA radiation exposure that is also cancer causing and damaging to skin. The ridiculously high SPF’s (70+) are unsubstantiated and for the purpose of marketing.

As far as UVB protection, SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB, SPF 30 blocks 97% and SPF 50 blocks 99%.

Since SPF excludes UVA protection information, the only way to insure your sunscreen offers UVA protection is to read the ingredient label. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends “looking for UVA blocking ingredient zinc oxide”, which is the closest thing to a total sunblock on the market today. A high quality sunscreen will have around 20% zinc content.


#2) SEEK MINERAL (zinc oxide) vs. CHEMICAL INGREDIENTS (all the rest)

Zinc is a physical sun blocker that actually reflects or bounces the sun’s ultraviolet rays off of your body. It has over a 300 year history of safety with no known adverse reactions (which is why it is used on even the youngest babies in diaper rash creams). On the flip side, chemical sunscreens (avobenzone, oxybenzone, homosalate, etc.) absorb the UVA rays once they hit your skin. Many chemical sunscreen ingredients have shown to be unstable when the rays are absorbed, causing the chemical to break down and cause free radical damage.



Its difficult to find a mineral sunscreen that is purely zinc. Most formulations rely on a blend of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. As far as performance, Titanium Dioxide degrades in the presence of uv light to form free radicals. Not good…especially if we are talking about use in a sunscreen. A new report from the American Cancer Society identifies Titamium Dioxide as one of their top “suspected carcinogens”.  The safety of Titanium Dioxide is one of the least well studied in humans, although it has been long established as a cancer causing agent in animal exposure studies. There is conflicting evidence as to whether nanoparticles of titanium dioxide can pass through the skin. But if nanoparticles do pass through, the presence of titanium dioxide in a large variety of sunscreens, cosmetic powders and creams may be a cause of concern.



Depending on the brand and zinc oxide content, mineral makeup has the potential to offer great everyday UVA/UVB protection. By applying a high quality organic mineral makeup with 20% zinc content or higher, you’ll get easy, natural sun protection everyday. So easy to apply, reapply and its non-irritating to even sensitive skin and eyes. Be sure to look for non-nanoparticle zinc and a formulation that’s free from titanium dioxide.



If you invest in a few key pieces of SPF treated swimwear, you’ll have a sunscreen alternative available if you are unable to apply sunscreen or need more protection after a few hours in the sun. Look for wide brim hats and rash guard shirts with long sleeves and higher collars. You’ll only have to reapply sunscreen to the skin that’s visible. NO sunscreen or block will stop 100% of harmful rays so adding a second physical blocker (SPF treated clothing) on top of physical blocker zinc oxide will be the ultimate protection for a long day in the sun.




If you are ready to buy sunscreen that meets or exceeds all these standards then check out Miessence Reflect Outdoor Balm on OrganicGlow.com. Its a fantastically effective, broad spectrum sun blocker with no synthetic chemicals (only mineral and organic ingredients). Environmental Working Group annually ranks the safety and effectiveness of 1700 SPF products and Miessence is consistently ranked in the Best Sunscreens list.

Read further into the ingredients and production of this product and you will agree it is above and beyond even other top ranked sunscreens. The Reflect Balm’s gold standard formulation is a whopping 22% microfine zinc oxide which offers protection from harmful rays while organic olive oil keeps the skin supple. Potent antioxidants including natural vitamin E, beta carotene and polygonum extract, protect the skin from premature aging and prevent damage caused by the elements.

  • Creates a physical sunblock that bounces the sun’s harmful rays off of your skin, unlike chemical sunscreens that absorb rays
  • Non-nanoparticle zinc; Reflect uses micronized (physically crushed zinc minerals) that is 150 nanometers
  • Non-coated minerals; Reflect’s mineral zinc is not coated with aluminum compounds, silicone compounds or titanium dioxide

While you are shopping, check out our mineral foundations as well. At 25% zinc oxide, they provide up to 5x the amount of zinc oxide sun protection of other brands. Its awesome!



Eugenia J. Hubbard - June 10, 2012 6:36 pm

How is titanium dioxide not safe? I know that it only protects you from UVB rays. If a sunscreen has 25% of zinc oxide, do you know how much of UVA and UVB rays are blocked? Is it still safe if a sunscreen has both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide?

Organic Glow - June 10, 2012 11:07 pm

Hi Eugenia,
Studies are emerging that show that titanium dioxide degrades in the presence of uv light to form free radicals. Certainly doesn’t belong in a sunscreen for that reason alone… but there are other health concerns as well. As I mentioned in the article, a report from the American Cancer Society identifies Titamium Dioxide as one of their top “suspected carcinogens”. The safety of Titanium Dioxide is one of the least well studied in humans, although it has been long established as a cancer causing agent in animal exposure studies.

The Miessence Reflect Outdoor sunscreen has been tested to an SPF of 29.5 and it has 22% zinc oxide and no titanium dioxide.

Eugenia J. Hubbard - July 3, 2012 3:51 am

How much of UVA rays is blocked by Miessence Reflect Outdoor SPF 29.5? Would more UV radiation be blocked by more zinc oxide?

Organic Glow - July 3, 2012 11:22 pm

Hello Eugenia,
Here are some further details for you. There are some fundamental attributes of UV radiation and sunscreens that, once you are aware of, will make a huge difference to your understanding around skin protection:

UVA constitutes 90-95% of UV light, it has deep skin penetration, it is the primary cause of skin ageing, it causes DNA damage and suppresses immunity, UVA rays are constant throughout the year, in overcast conditions, even penetrating glass, subjecting us to exposure at home, work, and in the car. UVA exposure is linked to malignant melanoma (a deadly skin cancer) and most sunscreens are totally ineffective against UVA.

UVB comprises only 5% of UV light, has shallow skin penetration, is the primary cause of burning, is the strongest during summer and around the equator, and is blocked by sunscreens. Yet, most of the body’s vitamin D supply, about 75% of it, is generated by the skin’s exposure to UVB rays. Using a sunscreen drastically lowers the body’s production of vitamin D3. A low blood level of vitamin D is known to increase the risk for the development of breast and colon cancer and may also accelerate the growth of melanoma.
PHYSICAL SUNSCREENS contain inert minerals such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide and work by reflecting the UV rays away from the skin. Many people believe that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide equally good sun-protection, but this is not true. Titanium dioxide protects against UVB but only some UVA (not long-wave UVA). The other issue with titanium dioxide is that studies have shown that is causes DNA damage (the cells genetic material) due to free radicals when exposed to light.

Zinc oxide is the closest thing to a total sunblock on the market today. It uniformly covers from 290 to 380 nm, thus protecting against UVB and most of the UVA spectrum. No other sunscreen ingredient provides broader protection. And unlike many chemical sunscreen agents, zinc oxide is never irritating. In fact, it is recognized by the Food and Drug Administration as a Category I skin protectant, meaning that it is safe for compromised or environmentally challenged skin. Zinc oxide has over a 300-year history of safety, with no known adverse reactions (which is why it is often used to treat babies).

Therefore, for the best anti-aging and immunity protection, choose a sunscreen based on zinc oxide and has an SPF15 or greater, but ensure you get regular and moderate unprotected sun exposure in the early morning or late afternoon to help maintain a protective tan and keep your vitamin D stores at an optimum level.

Eugenia J. Hubbard - July 19, 2012 6:44 am

Couldn’t by drinking or eating foods that have vitamin D prevent you from being vitamin deficient? I drink milk, and I know it contains vitamin D and calcium.

Organic Glow - July 19, 2012 1:13 pm

Hello Eugenia,
Foods with Vitamin D do help, but are supplemented with a man made, synthetic vitamin D. It is optimal to allow the body to receive what it needs to make its own vitamin D which is how nature intended it.

Eugenia J. Hubbard - July 28, 2012 6:08 am

What is the SPF of a sunscreen with 45% zinc oxide?

Organic Glow - July 28, 2012 11:07 am

I have never seen a sunscreen with 45% zinc oxide. Which brand is it? Our Miessence Reflect is 22% and that is the highest I’ve seen on the market.

Idol - October 9, 2012 10:46 pm

Hello there! Excellent job on this sunscreen post. I will definitely be sharing this with my friends.

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