The Green Girl's Quest For Safe Sun Protection

Ever since the Green Girl discovered all the sun protection products she owned contained toxic ingredients, she has been on a quest for a safe but effective sunblock.

To summarize my last post, an ideal sunblock would be free of synthetic chemicals, parabens, PABA and nano particles. It would also not contain oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is an organic compound that is commonly used in sunscreens. This ingredient absorbs UVA rays but also has been shown to penetrate into the skin where it acts as a photosensitizer. In other words, oxybenzone increases the photosensitivity of an organism and actually makes your skin more sensitive to the sun's rays. This makes this substance a likely photocarcinogen.

I've been using Burt's Bees Chemical-Free Sunscreen with hemp seed oil SPF 30 which is rated a 3 out of 10 (the lower the number, the lower the hazard) on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) hazard scale. Burt's Bees sunscreen is reasonably priced at about $11.99 for 3.5 oz.

This weekend, I stopped by an Origins store. After scrutinizing the label and not seeing any immediate red flags, I decided to give theirSunshine State SPF 20 a try. It was $23.50 for 5 oz.

Unfortunately, this product has not yet been reviewed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) so I couldn't get a rating on it. Instead, I checked the ratings on each ingredient:

Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide (6.9%)
Inactive Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Mentha Piperita Leaf Water (Peppermint), Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Water (Chamomile), C12 15 Alkyl Benzoate, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Butylene Glycol, Dicaprylyl Maleate, Cetyl/PEG/PPG 10/1 Dimethicone, Magnesium Stearate, Isostearyl Palmitate, Aluminum Stearate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Mentha Arvensis Leaf Oil (Field Mint (Essential oil)), Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange Peel) Oil (Sweet Orange (Essential oil)), Mentha Viridis Leaf Oil (Spearmint (Essential oil)), Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil (Rosemary (Essential oil)), Limonene, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Bisabolol, Pantethine, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Polyglyceryl 6 Polyricinoleate, Polyglyceryl 4 Isostearate, Hexyl Laurate, Sodium Chloride, Synthetic Wax, Alumina, PVP/Hexadecene Copolymer, Isopropyl Titanium Triisostearate, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, BHT, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Zinc Oxide (CI 77947)

The ingredients that were identified as potentially hazardous were:I'm not entirely sure how it compares to Burt's Bees rating of 3 because Origin's highest hazard rating is a 6 but Burt's Bee's fragrance is rated an 8.

I am anxiously awaiting EWG's 2010 update. As much time as us runners spend in the sun, we need to make sure we're not only protecting ourselves but also minimizing our exposure to potentially toxic chemicals.


  1. I hope they get that updated soon- you have me all curious now!

    How does the one from Orgins smell?

  2. Yeah, I'm really anxious to see the updated ratings.

    Like most Origins products, it smells faintly of citrus.

    My dream would be a non-toxic sunblock spray.


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