Shopping around for sunscreens can be mind boggling, there are so many brands to choose from and so many different options… Do I go for the natural sunscreen or the chemical one? What are the advantages of buying a vegan sunscreen? How long does an application last for? Where do the ingredients come from? Which natural sunscreens are safe for our babies and kids?
We have outlined 12 key things to consider to help you with your sunscreen purchasing decisions:
1. What are the main differences between a chemical sunscreen and a natural sunscreen?
Chemical Sunscreens contain carbon based compounds, such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone, which create a chemical reaction and work by changing UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin. Chemicals are immediately absorbed into the blood stream and are then circulated throughout the body. Research has found that many sunscreens contain chemicals that are estrogenic — meaning that they disrupt the endocrine system and can play a major role in cancer development. For example, octyl-methoxycinnamate (which is estrogenic and has thyroid hormone-disrupting effects) and homosalate (a hormone-disrupting UVB blocker), can both be found in many of the commercially available sunscreens stocked at our local supermarkets or chemists. Some chemical compounds can possibly cause and increase in existing brown spots and discoloration due to a higher internal skin temperature. This is not ideal for ageing skin. There is an increased chance of irritation and stinging or increased chance of redness for rosacea-prone skin types. It also requires about 20 minutes after application before it starts to work.
You will find that most natural sunscreens contain active mineral ingredients, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as natural sun filters, which work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect and scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin. This makes them effective as soon as they are applied; there is no waiting time for the sunscreen to start blocking out the sun. The only downside of going for an organic or vegan sunscreens is that they may leave a little white residue on the skin, especially if it is not rubbed in properly, which takes a little time.
2. What is the difference between Organic and Vegan sunscreens?
Both types have natural ingredients, the difference is that VEGAN sunscreens are 100% natural. Vegan sunscreens contain no chemicals, they are 100% naturally derived. Part of those natural components may be farmed organically, making it even safer. Vegan sunscreens are the absolute number one choice for babies as they are the equivalent of applying veggies and plant oils onto skin. Babies and kids have very sensitive skin and can easily be irritated, especially infants prone to eczema and other skin conditions. It is also ideal to keep our kids away from chemicals wherever it is practically possible to do so.
Organic sunscreens will also be made up of natural components (up to 97% natural ingredients). Part of those natural components may be farmed organically. Chemical components may amount to around 2-5%, these are usually the preservatives that extend the shelf life and prevent product spoilage. You may find that the percentages of organic components range from 20-85% for any given natural sunscreen brand.
3. Country of Manufacture and Packaging
If you have made the choice to stay away from chemical sunscreens, your body will thank you in the short term and long term. So, the first step is to purchase your first natural sunscreen. The most important factor is quality. For a natural sunscreen to be effective, moisturising and feel pleasant on application, it has to be made by a reputable manufacturer with quality ingredients. Look out for country of manufacture (some sunscreens say they are made in Australia but incorporating imported ingredients. Unfortunately, this usually implies they are from china. China is renown for using high concentrations of pesticides and other chemicals during farming). Another thing to look out for is country of packaging. Some natural sunscreens are manufactured in a certain country, only to be sent back overseas to be packaged. This double transportation can compromise the quality of the ingredients and make them more prone to spoilage, or the need to increment the use of chemical preservatives to last the long voyages. A perfect example of this was when I read the packaging details on my Jurlique travel set; Jurlique Lip Care Balm, Jurlique Moisture Replenishing Day Cream and Jurlique Citrus Hand Cream. All three tubes proudly state “Made in Australia” then if you keep reading on, at the very bottom, they also state “Packaged in China”. I was so very disappointed to discover this!
4. Is broad spectrum important in a sunscreen?
When you are looking out for a new sunscreen, make sure it contains the term “Broad Spectrum”. Broad spectrum means that it protects against both UVA and UVB sun rays. UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, the skin's thickest layer. Unprotected exposure can lead to premature skin aging and wrinkling (photoaging), and suppression of the immune system. UVB rays will usually burn the superficial layers of your skin. It plays a key role in the development of skin cancer.
5. Make sure your sunscreen is Reef Safe
Recent studies have found that sunscreen chemicals in many popular products actually hurt corals. The main chemical culprits are oxybenzone and octinoxate, which convert sunburn-causing UV rays into harmless heat on human skin (chemical sun filters). But once these chemicals are in the water, they actually decrease corals’ defenses against bleaching, damaging their DNA and hurting their development. It’s almost as though sunscreen for humans has the opposite effect for corals! By choosing mineral sunscreens with mineral sun filters as opposed to chemical ones, we can make different choices that lessen our impact on the ocean. Our Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms. It became a World Heritage Site in 1981 and it was also labelled one of the seven natural wonders of the world. We all have to do our part to protect it, and choosing a natural sunscreen is an easy way to do our part.
6. Moisturising ingredients
]From my research to date, the more natural oils and botanical plant extracts contained in your vegan or natural sunscreen will make a difference to how well it nourishes your skin, as well as giving you a divine aromatherapeutic natural scent. Our UV Bio Paris line combines a rich blend of Karanja Oil, Goji Berry extract, Jojoba and Sunflower wax. Karanja Oil, in addition to its hydrating and nourishing properties, has the capacity to boost the efficiency of our body's mineral sun filter as it naturally absorbs the UV rays. I adore the scent and how pleasant it feels to apply it and its non-greasy after touch.
7. Duration between applications
Keep an eye out for the instructions on your natural sunscreen, which will state the frequency of reapplication. Natural sunscreens may need to be reapplied more frequently than chemical sunscreens.
8. Will it leave a white residue?
Natural sunscreens use mineral filters to block out the sun. Particles of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide function are known as physical UV filters. These (inorganic) molecules act as barriers by shielding the skin from sunlight by way of particulate matter, reflecting & scattering UV rays. The particles work like thousands of atomic mirrors on the skin. Physical barriers are near-perfect sunscreens; they protect against UVA & UVB and start working immediately. They’re also stable, seen as safe, and don’t break down in the sun. (If you don’t swim or sweat a lot, they will still work exactly the same after hours of use — so you don’t need to reapply so often.) Well then, why don’t we all use them? Since the zinc oxide and titanium dioxide particles are white, they can leave a little white residue on the skin at higher concentrations. This is prevented by reducing the size of the pigment particles to about 200 nanometers (millionths of a millimeter) — which makes them more transparent on the skin. Physical filters are even suitable for the sensitive skin of children, as well as people with allergies. Zinc oxide is generally seen as very safe. It’s been used without problems for a long time in many skincare products and hardly anybody is allergic to it. It’s anti-inflammatory, and can work wonders on acne (which is why switching from conventional makeup to mineral makeup can help minimize breakouts). Zinc oxide sits on the skin, so it does not get absorbed or block pores; it can be used on delicate skin, being a main active ingredient in diaper rash cream, as it aids in healing the skin by protecting it from external warmth and moisture. You can also consume it in tiny amounts without problems; it’s even added as a nutrient to some cereals and vitamins.
Large vs small and travel friendly. Make sure your natural or vegan sunscreen fits in your beach or handbag comfortably. If you are looking for a convenient travel size vegan sunscreen to keep things light, we have a 30ml perfectly transparent sun gel available for sale on our site. Alternatively, our sizes are 75ml for Sarmance SPF 50 and 100ml for UV BIO SPF 50 and SPF 30 range. Personally, I like to have a larger tube of vegan sunscreen in my beach bay and a smaller one in my handbag and car.
10. Certifications by renowned bodies
When you are on the lookout for quality, make sure you look for the logos of internationally renown certifiers. If your sunscreen claims its vegan, look for the vegan certified logo. If it claims it is organic, check the organic certifications. You would be amazed at how many false claims exist in the beauty industry concealed by clever marketing tactics and fancy packaging. There are a few certifiers out there but if you are unsure, you can always look up the credentials on google. The main certifier in Australia is the ACO Australian Certified Organic. In Europe, it is Cosmebio.
11. Water resistant
If you are planning a little dip, be it pool or beach, make sure you choose an organic or vegan sunscreen that is labelled water resistant, to keep up the sun protection while you swim.
12. What is the difference between the SPF scores?
The SPF score of a sunscreen signifies its level of protection against UVB rays: SPF-15 filters out about 93%; SPF-30 blocks 97% of UVB; and SPF-50 only blocks one percent more, 98%. SPF 30 is quite suitable for everyday use.
So, to sum up, the number 1 option is to go for a VEGAN sunscreen. This way, chemicals are avoided altogether. This is something very important to consider especially if you are breastfeeding as these chemicals are passed through the mother’s milk to her bub. The second choice is still quite up there, go for a sunscreen with over 95% natural components. The sun filters in natural sunscreens are not hormone disrupters, nor do they damage The Great Barrier Reef or our environment. Organic certifications in natural sunscreens can also provide peace of mind. As a last resort, use a sunscreen with a chemical filter in it, if it means it will save you from sun burn.
At beautynhealth, we stock organic and vegan sunscreens from France. They are certified Vegan and organic, highly effective and they smell amazing. To shop our full range, click here.
Happy natural sunscreen shopping!
Bye for now beauties,