Oxybenzone– There has been a lot of controversy about this chemical (as well as others) but the concern isn’t valid. Only a small percentage is even allowed in sunscreen and it is non-toxic, non-phototoxic (which means that it doesn’t cause skin reactions to the skin when exposed to sunlight) and it does not have hormone-disrupting effects.
It is great for blocking out UVB rays and some UVA rays.
Avobenzone– Some have said that this is unstable and cross-reacts with other sunscreen ingredients but the truth is, when any sunscreen ingredient is exposed to sunlight, the chemicals start breaking down. It has been around since 1981 and is the most used sunscreen ingredient in the world. It is safe for topical use and does not have a negative effect on skin cells.
Retinyl Palmitate– A powerful antioxidant that is actually found naturally in the skin. A combination of vitamin A and palmitic acid, this does not pose a problem to the skin when properly formulated in sunscreens (meaning stabilizing ingredients are included, which is typical). It has also been shown to offer sun protection all by itself.
Titanium Dioxide– A natural ingredient found in nature but is usually polluted with potentially harmful contaminants such as lead and iron so therefore it is purified through a synthetic process. It protects skin from UVA and UVB radiation and is considered to have no risk of skin irritation. And since titanium dioxide is so gentle, it is an excellent sunscreen active for use on sensitive or rosacea-affected skin. It is also great for use around the eyes, as it is highly unlikely to cause stinging in this area.
Zinc Oxide– This is considered to have no risk of skin irritation. It can also be an anti-irritant and potentially an antioxidant. My favorite sunscreen has this ingredient.