Is Banana boat sunscreen safe? A closer look at ingredients and effectiveness

Sunscreen is an important part of any skincare routine. Protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful rays can help prevent cancer and the early effects of aging. However, sunscreen itself has many chemicals and it is important to be aware of what is in the sunscreens you use and how that will affect your skin and the environment. 

Banana Boat sunscreen is generally safe for your skin and is dermatologist-approved however there are some concerns about the use of a fragrance and the effectiveness of higher SPF products may not be as high as expected. It is more friendly to reefs than other sunscreens, but it does still contain chemicals that may be harmful to ocean life. 

Understanding which ingredients to avoid and which are helpful can help you know which sunscreen to use and give you some idea of any side effects.

Please be aware that before you apply any product on your skin you should always consult a professional who knows your health condition. This article provides general information and our opinion on the brands products and shouldn’t be confused with medical or professional advice, instead it should give you some insights to allow you to do your own further research. Always check a products ingredients list as they can change over time.


Is Banana Boat Sunscreen Safe?

Banana Boat sunscreen is safe to use and generally recommended by dermatologists. It offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Furthermore, it is available in a variety of SPF options, which means you can choose which best fits your needs. According to the EWG sunscreen ratings, the fragrance used by banana boat in products such as the light as air lotion and Ultrasport range is concerning.

According to the EWG the safest products made by banana boat are the kids products range and the brands mineral sunscreen lotions. However, one of the biggest concerns people and the EWG have about banana boat is the effectiveness of the higher SPF lotions, especially the 50+ and 100 SPF lotions. It is widely believed they don’t offer protection that is as high as the SPF rating claims and that this can give users a false sense of security.

Banana Boat can also be helpful for people with sensitive skin, as it has mineral-based formulas available. That formula can be helpful for people who struggle with acne. Banana Boat is generally not greasy, so a lot of the pore-clogging effects of other brands will not be present when you use Banana Boat sunscreen. 

It is important to keep in mind that companies are more transparent about UVB protection, which Banana Boat is certified to protect against. UVA protection with Banana Boat may have limits that you do not know because the FDA regulation for sun lotions doesn’t really accurately rate how much protection the creams offers. Always be sure to re-apply and wear other sun protection, such as a hat, umbrella and avoiding too much direct sunlight in the middle of the day whenever possible. 

Recently, sunscreen brands have been recalled over concerns to do with benzene contamination, which has been shown to potentially cause cancer. Banana Boat should not be part of this concern. You can still use Banana Boat sunscreen without worrying about benzene as it’s not currently used in the brands lotions. However, banana boat and many sunscreen brands use Avobenzone which authorities have some very mild concerns about in regards to cancer, allergies and contamination with other ingredients.

Banana boat use fragrance in some of their products and this can be concerning if you have allergies. Be sure to check for any allergy warnings before applying banana boat sun lotions.

How safe are the ingredients Banana boat use

If you want to check how safe Banana boat sunscreen is to use then it’s a good idea to look at some of the ingredients the manufacturer uses. Here are some of the key ingredients found in many of the brands sun lotions and sprays, including the popular Ultra sport sunscreen.

UVA Star rating

Banana boat don’t have a UK UVA star rating, so it’s difficult to say for sure exactly how effective the product is at blocking UVA rays. However, by looking at the ingredients list we get some idea of whether the ingredients used are known to be effective at reducing the effect of the suns rays on your skin.

Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate and octocrylene are used widely in chemical sun lotions so we can see the ingredients are legitimate even though there may be some concerns about other possible side effects of these ingredients on your body and ocean life. We also don’t know sure sure how effective the ingredients work together.

There is an organisation known as the ERG who do try to give some form of rating for skincare products and they have rated banana boat’s ultra sport lotion as having a good balance of UVA and UVB ingredients and relatively high health concerns, mostly due to the use of a fragrance which has a high chance of causing allergies and could irritate skin.

Banana boat sunscreen is only safe if you use it correctly

Choosing the right brands of sunscreen is important and Banana boat offer a range of SPF factors, but often even more important than choosing the right product and SPF rating, is how, and how often you apply the lotion on your skin. Being from the UK, our sunscreens are rated using a star rating system so its much easier to find a sunscreen that’s proven to work effectively at blocking UVA and UVB rays.

Protect the ocean

With growing concerns about climate change and the health of our ocean, studies have found that certain chemicals in popular sunscreens could be dangerous for life on coral reefs, which is why we recently wrote about whether Banana boat is reef safe.

The chemicals that are dangerous for coral reefs include: 

  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Octocrylene
  • Homosalate
  • 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
  • PABA
  • Parabens
  • Triclosan
  • Avobenzone
  • Octocrylene

The main chemicals companies seek to avoid when creating reef-friendly sunscreens are Oxybenzone and Octinoxate. Hawaii recently banned the sale of sunscreens that contain those chemicals in an attempt to help further preserve their corals.

Some of the Banana Boat sunscreen range does not contain Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, but a few products do. A lot of the brands sun lotions also contain Avobenzone and Octocrylene, which are believed to be harmful to reefs, although no regulations are in place to reduce their use so far.

Which Brands of Sunscreen are Safe for the Ocean?

Some brands offer good sun protection that is safe to use when swimming or spending time near the ocean.  The best brands that are completely reef safe are: 

  • Mama Kuleana
  • Raw Love All Natural Mineral Sunscreen
  • Raw Elements
  • Manda 
  • Babo Botanicals 

How Much SPF Protection Do You Need?

Sunscreen and SPF protection are important to prevent skin cancer and the effects of aging on the skin. Making sure you have the right amount of SPF protection is crucial for choosing the right sunscreen for your needs. SPF refers to the Sun Protection Factor that a particular sunscreen has to protect against UVB rays. SPF does not refer to the protection offered against UVA rays. 

Doubling the SPF in sunscreen does not offer double the protection, but it does offer more protection, so that is important to keep in mind. While the difference may be marginal, opting for a higher SPF can account for the fact that many people do not apply enough sunscreen. 

Most dermatologists recommend SPF 50 or higher for maximum protection. There is currently no evidence to suggest danger in using a higher SPF sunscreen. When using sunscreen, always make sure to apply a thick coating. Reapply your sunscreen every 2-3 hours, as sun defense wanes over time. You will especially need to reapply if you are spending time in the water. 

How Much Sunscreen Should You Use?

Applying a thick coat of sunscreen is important to make sure that you have proper sun protection. Thin coats can diminish the effectiveness of your sunscreen. You should apply 1 to 1 and a half ounces of sunscreen. This would look like a shot glass full or a dollop the size of a golf ball. Don’t only think about the amount though, you need to keep re-applying often especially between the hours of 10-3 when the suns UV index is often at its highest and most likely to burn your skin.

Final thoughts about the safety of banana boat sunscreens

How safe a sun lotion is in protecting your skin against the suns rays, is an important factor when choosing which product to apply. Banana boat haven’t been rated in the UK with a UVA star rating which would give us a better insight into their effectiveness. The EWG rate banana boat 3/4 and have concerns about the fragrance and a number of other ingredients used in the sun lotions. These ingredients are used in a wide range of sun products so there are always some industry wide concerns and attempts to try to innovate and use safer ingredients even if the risk is low with these more concerning ingredients.

The biggest concern with any sun lotion is how effective it is at protecting your skin against the sun. Banana boat offer some very high SPF factor products but there isn’t enough information to be able to say for sure whether they offer comparable protection to other sun lotions with high SPF ratings which do also have a high rating with the UK UVA protection rating system and PAA+ sunscreen ratings which would give a clearer indiction as to how safe they are.

Because banana boat doesn’t have these ratings and the requirements issued by the FDA aren’t so strict, I think its likely that the sun lotions aren’t as protective as other brands who do meet these more stringent requirements. If you are going to use banana boat lotions, make sure you aren’t allergic to the fragrance and be sure to re-apply regularly and also use other forms of sun protection, including a sun hat and don’t sit in direct sunlight too long.

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