Price: $6 to $30
Weight: 1 oz. to 8 oz.
Materials: Green tea extract, yerba mate, and B5 panthenol
Gluten Free, Cruelty Free, Fragrance Free, Oxybenzone Free, Paraben Free
Features: Broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection stops 97% of UVB rays
Non-greasy and quick-absorbing for a clean, light, dry feeling
PHOTO: Maggie Kaiserman
As a kid, I put up a serious fight when my mom would reach for my face with a palm full of hot oily sunscreen anytime we ventured outdoors. Once I went so far as to tell a lifeguard this sunscreen-toting woman was not my mother and to please help me. Then (and still) I hated the way it made my skin feel greasy and sticky, and I hated being told what to do. But with age has come the harsh realization that sun protection is a must for those of us who like to play outside and who plan to keep doing just that until we’re really, really old. The only thing worse than forgoing sunscreen all together is thinking you’re covered, when in reality the brand of lotion you’re using is doing more harm than good—as is the case with a majority of sunscreens on the market.
Earlier this summer, the Environmental Working Group—an independent, nonprofit—published their annual sunscreen guide, which revealed the best and worst options available. Some of the worst offenders—like Coppertone, Banana Boat, and Neutrogena—were found to have misleading SPF ratings, harmful chemical additives, and often came in spray cans which pose inhalation risk and are harmful to the environment. This really pissed me off.
Luckily, there are good, clean, honest brands that are safe, effective, and—almost most important to me—not greasy. This summer, after reading the EWG’s report, I tossed out nearly all of the crappy sunscreen I’d been using and started lathering on Beyond Coastal’s active sunscreen, because they are the only brand to receive top "Low Hazard" rankings for 100 percent of its sunscreen and lip balm products in both the mineral and non-mineral sunscreen categories this year.
Whether on the beach, in the ocean, or hiking in the alpine, I stuck with their SPF 34 Active Sunscreen for prolonged sun exposure (hope you’re proud mom!). It’s odorless, which I love, and even in the water, it’s good for up to 80 minutes. Reapplying doesn’t come with the theatrics it once did for me because it rubs in easily and doesn’t have much residue. Beyond Coastal doesn’t make any spray products, so bring a friend to get those hard-to-reach areas… or better yet, ask a stranger because that’s a friendship waiting to blossom. The Sun Valley-based company also makes an SPF 16 Active Sunscreen that is mild enough to wear as a regular moisturizer, because even the exposure from driving is significant.
For the fifth year in a row, Beyond Coastal Sun Care ranked high in the EWG’s report and currently holds three of the top five spots out of 435 total products reviewed in the non-mineral sunscreen category. Those are some pretty solid stats on a product that I never expected to have so many variations—who knew there was good sunscreen and bad sunscreen? I always figured as long as I wasn’t massaging canola oil onto my skin, I was doing enough. Not the case. Which brings me to another point—and another season—when sun protection is less obvious but equally important.
As someone who went to her junior prom with a goggle tan, I can attest to winter’s powerful sunshine rays—even on storm days. And while less skin is showing when we ski, (except for the closing day bikini shred, of course) the skin that does show on your face, neck, and ears is extra sensitive to burns. Beyond Coastal makes an Active Face Stick, SPF 30, that you can apply without taking off your gloves and glides on easy. It’s about the size of chapstick+lighter, so just toss it in your pocket and apply on the lift. As my prom date Eric would tell you, peeling sun burn ain’t cute.
Bonus: Also pictured is my Mountain Mint SPF 15+ lip balm made by Joshua Tree Skin Care. It’s made with all organic tea tree, coconut, and sunflower oils, and cocoa butter, so it hydrates big time while protecting my lips from the sun. You can find it here for $4.50.