Are Mineral Sunscreens Better for the Environment?
What to look for when choosing a sunscreen?
There are various things you have to consider to find the right sunscreen for you. How does it feel on the skin? Do you like the smell? How does it look once applied to the skin? Is it safe for the environment? Does it contain harmful chemicals? A few things that make just a little bit more complicated choosing the right sunscreen to protect you against the sun, so in this blog we break down for you the sunscreen you should choose and the one you should avoid.
UVB & UVA Rays
One thing is certain, you have to protect your skin from the sun. To do that you should be looking at broad spectrum sunscreens, this way you will ensure that you are safe from both UVA and UVB rays. UVB are the rays responsible for sunburn and damage in the superficial layer of the skin while UVA are rays that penetrate in deeper layers of your skin and are the main cause of skin cancers like melanoma. Always look for sunscreens that contain the words” broad spectrum” or a logo stating “UVA”, to ensure you are protected against both UVB and UVA rays.
You have to also look at the SPF, or the Sun Protection Factor. This number that you will normally find on the label of a sunscreen tells you the amount of protection from UVB rays. But did you know that the SPF scale is not linear?
A sunscreen with SPF30 blocks 97% of UVB rays while a SPF50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. The difference is not huge right? So don’t get too stressed about the SPF, as long as you put sunscreen on and are above 30 you will be protected against sun damage. Although remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours regardless of the SPF level.
If you spend a lot of time inside of the water or are using sunscreen while practising sport expecting to sweat you should also consider the water resistance of the sunscreen.
Water resistant sunscreens stay on your skin longer while you are on the water or sweating hence giving you extra protection than other non-water resistant sunscreens.
If you read “Water Resistant” it means that the sunscreen will still provide 50% of its labeled SPF after 40 minutes of being in the water.
If you read “Very Water Resistant” it means that the sunscreen will have 50% of the SPF after a time frame of 80 minutes.
There are some sunscreens like solid ones that may remain on your skin protecting you for longer, since the previous numbers were tested for liquid sunscreens. For example, Suntribe’s Face & Sport Sunscreen is specially formulated to be super water resistant and to provide the best protection for extreme weather and high performance for when practising exercise.
With mineral sunscreens, you can see when you need to reapply as the layer of sunscreen fades. With other sunscreens remember to reapply after coming out of the water, to ensure a protected skin against sun damage.
Are sunscreens safe for the sea?
That depends on the sunscreen, sadly many of the sunscreens that are used around the world contain harmful chemicals like Oxybenzone that are responsible for up to 10% of the coral bleaching in the ocean. Together with global warming, ocean pollution which includes all the chemical sunscreen washed off swimmers is one of the main factors for the death of large areas in the ocean of coral reefs and putting many species that depend on coral in danger of extinction. If you want to read more about coral bleaching, its importance and what you can do to help head over to this blog.
There are two types of sunscreens, one is harmful to the ocean and the other is not. Both protect you effectively against sun damage. Both can cater for different types of skin, both have different SPF numbers but they act on your skin differently. Below we will explain the difference and why you should always choose Mineral Sunscreen.
Mineral Sunscreen vs. Chemical Sunscreen
The main differences are the following:
- Mineral sunscreen is made with all-natural mineral like Zinc Oxide and Titanium while chemical sunscreen is made with harmful chemical like Oxybenzone and Octinoxate which are responsible for the critical state in which we find coral reefs nowadays.
- Mineral sunscreen and their mineral ingredients are recommended by PADI and National Geographic while chemical sunscreen is not approved for divers, snorkeleres or those visiting coral reefs.
- Mineral sunscreen is 100% biodegradable and eco-friendly while chemical sunscreen contains toxic chemicals that harm marine life and threaten the survival of many marine species.
- Mineral sunscreens are hypo-allergenic while chemical sunscreens are harsh on sensitive skin and can irritate it.
- Finally mineral sunscreens work by providing a physical barrier on the skin against UVA and UVB rays which means nothing goes inside of your skin while chemical sunscreens sink into your skin and are absorbed into the bloodstream.
So after all this, we hope you see the difference between these two types of sunscreen and can make a more informed decision next time you need to protect yourself against the sun.
Mineral sunscreen is becoming increasingly popular due to its high effectiveness and eco-friendliness that most other sunscreen like chemical ones lack. Look for Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide based sunscreens that will help you contribute to a safer and healthier world.
Our recommendation for the best sunscreens:
We recommend the following sunscreens that are mineral, with non-nano mineral elements which have been shown to be the most effective and safest elements for sunscreens. They come from truly purpose driven brands that care for the people & the planet.
- Sports Natural Zinc Sunscreen Stick SPF30: Zinc Solid sunscreen that comes in three different colours and that is super water resistant. Trusted by professional athletes like pro surfer Tim Latte, Kitesurfing champion Rachael Hooper and Olympic Sailor Jimmy & Ubo to protect their skin during their adventures. Not only is the sunscreen sustainable, but the packaging is 100% cardboard and 100% recyclable.
- Mineral Face and Body Sunscreen SPF30: A liquid sunscreen with a broad spectrum from the awesome brand Suntribe from Sweden. Suitable for normal, sensitive and dry skin. An extra point for this one for coming packaged in a bio based tube from sugar cane.
- Kid’s Natural Vanilla Sunscreen: An all natural and sustainable hypoallergenic sunscreen formulated for the sensitive skin of children and babies that takes care of the little ones as well as of the ocean.
- We Love The Planet Sunscreen Stick SPF 30: A completely natural and plastic free sunscreen that is vegan, hypoallergenic and appropriate for sensitive skins.
- We Love The Planet Sunscreen Stick SPF 20: A broad spectrum sunscreen that is both vegan and plastic free for those that are looking for a sunscreen with a lower SPF of 20.
We hope this has helped you understand better the different sunscreens out there, what you should be looking and watching out for and hopefully you can make a decision that protects both your skin and our oceans next time you need to get sunscreen. Have fun, stay safe and share the love!