New Summer, New Sunscreen

As the weather finally begins to warm up, we emerge from our winter-long hibernation and begin to soak up some summer rays. Our skin is at its most vulnerable state in early spring, so it is vital that you begin to apply sunscreen now!

We have created a comprehensive guide to the best sunscreen for your skin and where to purchase them.

New summer, new sunscreen?

While technically, the FDA requires sunscreen to remain at its original strengths for at least 3 years, very few sunscreens actually last that long. Dermatologists and cosmetic chemists agree that you should never use expired sunscreen. Sunscreen is an over-the-counter drug, and should be handled with the same caution as expired medicine. While expired sunscreen won’t harm you, it will not protect you as effectively from the harmful UVA and UVB rays.

Oxybenzone and avobenzone in chemical sunscreens will oxidize over time and become less effective. Organic, mineral sunscreen does not oxidize, but the active ingredients will still degrade over time, rendering it less potent.

Your sunscreen will also expire faster if not kept at room temperature in a dark cabinet, per the FDA’s guidelines. Exposing your sunscreen to heat and the sun will all contribute to losing its potency faster. Unfortunately, given we bring our sunscreen with us to the beach and usually keep it in our cars, you will need to replace your sunscreen fairly often. Further, using sunscreen with dirty hands or frequently opening the bottle can expose it to bacteria. As the bacteria grow in the sunscreen, it can cause skin breakouts. Experts recommend replacing it every couple of months.

How to know your sunscreen is expired?

If you’re still using leftover sunscreen from last year, it’s more than likely ineffective, even if the date on the label says otherwise. You can also check the sunscreen for emulsion separation, preservation breakdown, color and odor changes, and graininess- all signs the sunscreen is not effective.

Organic sunscreen 101:

You should always prioritize wearing organic or non-toxic sunscreen. Chemical and organic sunscreens work in different ways:

  • Organic sunscreens use zinc or titanium dioxide, which block UVA and UVB rays. That’s why these sunscreens are also known as barrier sunblocks. (Zinc blocks both UVA and UVB rays, while titanium dioxide only blocks UVB).

  • Chemical sunscreens filter the rays of the sun and diminish the harmful impacts of UV radiation.

Chemical sunscreens typically contain fragrance, parabens, phthalates, and several ethoxylated ingredients. While the harmful effects of parabens and phthalates are widely known, chemical sunscreens also contain several chemicals you should be aware of.

  • Oxybenzone and octinoxate are estrogenic and allergenic. These chemicals can mimic estrogen in your body and disrupt our natural hormones.

  • Methylisothiazolinone is a preservative used in sunscreen and is highly allergenic.

  • Retinyl palmitate can slow the aging of the skin, but also accelerates the development of some skin cancers if it comes into contact with UV light.

  • Para-aminobenzoic acid is not as commonly used in sunscreen today, but can cause allergic contact dermatitis.

When you use chemical sunscreen, your skin will take in all of the ingredients. Some researchers believe nanoparticles are absorbed by skin cells. When the nanoparticles heat up, they will accelerate sun damage.

Beyond many of these chemicals being harmful to your body, chemicals in sunscreen have greatly damaged coral reefs and harmed marine life.

Hacking your organic sunscreen:

Unfortunately, despite being a much better alternative for our bodies and environment, organic sunscreen can be difficult to use. They are often chalky, thick, and zinc-y. One easy fix to this problem is to add organic oils to your organic sunscreen. Safflower, argan, rosehip, prickly pear, and pumpkin seed oils are all great to soften the texture and make it much easier to apply. Rosehip seed oils can also help to diminish the appearance of sun damage!

What to look for in a sunscreen:

  • Fewer ingredients on the bottle- look for non-nano zinc and titanium particles and avoid parabens, phthalates, or fragrances. Avoid essential oils in sunscreen as well, as they oxidize in sunlight.

  • Aim for 30 SPF- this allows 3% of UVB rays to hit your skin. Sunscreens with higher SPFs don’t actually offer that much more protection. They also contain more chemicals, thus exposing your body to more chemicals.

  • Make sure your sunscreen is organic!

Our favorite sunscreens:

Below is a list of our favorite sunscreens:

Babo Botanicals**

This sunscreen is hypoallergenic, reef-safe, and non-greasy, with non-nano UVB/UVA protection. This sunscreen lasts up to 80 minutes in water.

  • Dairy-Free

  • Cruelty-Free

  • Dye- and Color Additive-Free

  • Fragrance-Free

  • Hypoallergenic

  • Paraben-Free

  • Peanut-Free

  • Phthalate-Free

  • Preservative-Free

  • SLS-Free

  • Soy-Free

Goddess Garden**

This organic sunscreen is easily applied with its air-powered spray with no harsh chemical propellants. The formula is biodegradable and reef-safe!

  • Gluten-Free

  • Vegetarian

  • Biodegradable

  • Cruelty-Free

  • Recyclable

  • Alcohol-Free

  • Essential Oils

  • Non-GMO

  • Paraben-Free

  • Pesticide-Free

  • Phthalate-Free


This organic sunscreen lip-balm is perfect to wear year-round. It contains a moisturizing base and uncoated clear zinc oxide- which won't turn your lips white.

  • Organic

  • Paraben-free

  • Phthalate-free

  • Fragrance-free

  • Vegetarian

  • Cruelty-Free

  • Gluten-Free

  • Pesticide-Free

  • Family-Owned Business

  • Supports Charity

  • Non-GMO

Mad Hippie

This sunscreen is perfect for daily use. With red-raspberry extract, it will hydrate and soothe the skin while the zinc protects you from the UVA/UVB rays. It also contains carrot seed and avocado oil which help to make the sunscreen silky smooth.

  • Organic

  • Paraben-free

  • Phthalate-free

  • Fragrance-free

  • Vegetarian

  • Cruelty-Free

  • No synthetic color

  • Gluten-Free

  • GMO-free

  • BPA free packaging

  • Pesticide-Free

Products with an asterisk can be purchased through Thrive, an online market with high-quality, organic, and sustainable products. If you use our thrive link to create an account, you can receive 25% off your first order!

The importance of keeping your skin healthy and protected through summer cannot be overstated. Beyond sunscreen, the best thing you can do to protect your skin is to use Heliocare! Several studies have gone so far as to suggest Heliocare is nearly as effective as other photoprotective agents like sunscreen, clothing, and seeking shade

Heliocare will protect your skin from further sun damage and repair skin damage. If you would like to learn more or purchase Heliocare, please contact us!

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Colony Park 1997 S Main Street Suite 703, Blacksburg, VA 24060

Norfolk and Virginia Beach; Serving the greater TidewaterArea.