May is skin cancer awareness month so what better time to write about protecting our skin from the sun. Since I am clueless about new products and developments and simply go for the same old brands all the time, I asked my friend Michele for help. She recommended mineral sunscreens that are environmentally friendly.
Michele knows a lot about beauty having worked in the beauty industry. She now writes a blog Michele Goes Glossy and sells a range of beauty products to keep your skin looking younger and radiant. In short, the perfect person to come to my aid and I’m so grateful for her input ♥❤.
Having Lynch syndrome slightly increases my risk of skin cancer, so it is even more important that I protect my skin prorperly at all times. Especially when we are on our ride, I need to be sure I have a sunscreen that protects me for extended periods in the sun. I certainly don’t want any repeats of burnt calves – or any other body parts – that I had after our Windsor ride.
A Little Bit of Science
When we spend time in the sun, we expose our skin to UVA and UVB rays.
UVB rays are ultraviolet light that reaches the first few millimetres of the skin. They are completely absorbed by the epidermis. They are a relatively small percentage of the radiation, but enough to cause redness and pain when skin suffers sunburn.
UVA rays are low energy light which travels deeper through the tissue past the epidermis. UVA rays deposit most of their energy in the collagen network of the dermal layer. This collagen network keeps our skin supple, smooth and soft. UVA rays don’t cause pain or redness, but they are responsible for premature aging of the skin.
Not all exposure to the sun is bad and it is actually advised that you expose your unprotected skin to the sun for ten minutes. This will increase vitamin D absorption through the skin. Longer than that and you will need to use SPF broad spectrum.
SPF Broad Spectrum – What?
I know that SPF stands for sun protection factor, but I had no idea what the broad spectrum part meant. So Michele helped me out again.
SPF alone refers to how well the product can block the UVB rays and prevent the physical effect of sunburn. It does not block UVA rays, which is where the SPF broad spectrum comes in. Sunscreens with SPF broad spectrum protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays and create an effective barrier against the damages caused by long sun exposure.
The next part, about the SPF numbers, was completely new knowledge to me. I had always thought the number referred to the thickness of the product 🤦♀️. See, I told you I was clueless and needed help! The numbers refer to how long you can stay in the sun. For example, SPF15 would allow you to stay in the sun for 150 minutes, SPF30 for 300 minutes and so on.
How to choose the SPF broad spectrum?
There are chemical, mineral and reef safe mineral sunscreens to choose from. However, if you focus on the ecological safe side for you and the oceans, the range of products is smaller. Reef safe mineral sunscreens are the future. Choosing reef safe sunscreens will protect oceans, reduce pollution and help keep the reefs alive.
What ingredients should you look out for?
Chemical sunscreens have these ingredients that are not save for you or the planet: oxybenzone, octinoxate, PABA or para-aminobenzoic acid, triclosan and parabens, such as methyl paraben, butyl paraben or phenoxyethanol.
Mineral sunscreens that still contain harmful ingredients for the environment have: octocrylene, homosalate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor and any nanoparticles like “nano-sized” zinc or titanium.
Ocean and reef safe mineral sunscreens are free of all the above ingredients.
Based on our research (I helped) we recommend these three reef safe mineral sunscreens.
People4ocean SPF30 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen, 200ml – £29.95
This skin and environmentally friendly Australian sunscreen is developed by marine biologists and a luxury skincare brand called LaGaia. The result is a luxurious formula, non greasy, lovely smell and a high level of protection that even for the fairest skin tone is enough to prevent sunburn under a really hot tropical sun.
The 100% natural sunscreen has a thick texture. You should warm it up on the hands first before applying. When applied, its natural oils are easily absorbed by the skin creating a hydrating matte finish. Considering the quality, quantity, texture, level of protection, price and still being a reef safe formula, this is definitely our first choice.
La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Invisible Fluid SPF50, 50ml – £13.50
If you are prone to acne or have sensitive skin this is the best sunscreen for your skin. Dermatologists recommend it for being lightweight, non-comedogenic and fragrance free. The fluid consistency is perfect in case you want to use it as a SPF primer before makeup.
The formula is infused with La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water giving an extra hydration and creating a barrier on the skin to avoid dehydration. Although it doesn’t say whether it is ocean friendly or not on the label, we checked and the none of the ingredients are harmful to the environment, coral reefs or the oceans.
Overall it’s easy to apply without leaving white stains, protects skin safely preventing sunburns and is suitable for sensitive or sun intolerant skin.
Suntribe All Natural Mineral Body and Face Sunscreen SPF 30, 60ml – £17.99
Suntribe is a Swedish brand founded by three friends who love nature and outdoor sports. Compared to the others, this organic, cruelty-free sunscreen is pricey. However, if you are a surfer, it’s totally worth it , because this is the most recommended natural sunscreen by surfers.
It effectively prevents sunburns even under the harshest climate conditions like strong sunlight and simultaneous exposure to sea water.
Like the People4Ocean sunscreen, it needs to be warmed up first on the hands before being applied to avoid white stains. A little bit goes a long way. It’s always better to start applying a small portion and then add more as necessary. The packaging has a low carbon footprint, based on a sugar cane composition. The coconut oil and cacao smell is not advisable if you don’t like strong scents.
We hope this is helpful when choosing an environmentally friendly sunscreen to protect your skin this summer.
Before you go, I have another confession to make. Before this, I didn’t even know that sunscreens were harmful to our oceans! This is why I’m so grateful to Michele for helping me out. I feel much better knowing that a) I’m protecting my skin properly, and b) I’m choosing products that are safe for our oceans.
Make sure to check out Michele’s blog.
Thank you for being here and reading the post.
Until next time!
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