If you caught a glimpse of me in the flesh right now, you possibly wouldn’t believe that I am one of those nutcases who slather biodegradable sunscreen on in the dead of the Canadian winter when there’s a snowstorm outside. Because, yes, right now I am very, very tan, but this was a long, unavoidable and unintentional process. I am very aware that this is contributing to premature skin ageing, but I am taking most precautions (and I say ‘most’ because, unlike Vietnamese women, I am not willing to wear long jeans, socks, gloves, a hoodie, face mask and hat when it’s 40 degrees Celsius outside) and this is one of the few evils I am temporarily ok to deal with for the sake of travelling. I avoid the sun in the middle of the day, wear a hat, slather on a high SPF (always natural!) sunscreen, yet here I am, returning from a few months in the sun, looking like an Oompa Loompa.
The problem is, I do believe that a lot of the commercially available sunscreens – as well as a lot of commonly used cosmetics, for that matter, can actually do more harm than good to you. It’s been discussed time and time again, notably by the Environmental Working Group (E.W.G.), that a lot of the chemical used in our cosmetics have a high toxicity level that can interfere with hormones and be carcinogenic. It’s always better to choose biodegradable sunscreens with a physical sunblock, with ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, versus sunscreens with chemical sunblocks, such as oxybenzone. To make matter worse, I have rather sensitive skin that will react to just about anything, so I am extremely picky when it comes to choosing a good sunscreen to take on holiday.
Since Summer is here, I thought I would present you with my selection of the best natural, eco-friendly, reef-friendly and biodegradable sunscreens I always return to!
I would totally use the same sunscreen for my body and face if I could, but alas, body lotions break me out. This has been my favourite face sunscreen for several years. It smells lovely, leaves no white mark, goes on nice and thin under makeup (it’s a little dewy, but I really don’t mind) and most importantly, it doesn’t break me out. I’m a huge fan of all the Josie Maran’s range as a matter of fact.
In my mind, a sunscreen made for babies is just as efficient for adults as it is for babies, but with the potential bonus that the ingredients may (or may not!) be a little less harsh, so I always go for the baby formula. Victim of the marketing? Perhaps. This is my favourite low budget sunscreen for the body. The list of ingredients is somewhat scary and it isn’t on EWG’s sunscreen guide, but it doesn’t contain oxybenzone, PABA, phthalates or fragrances and I like that it is not perfumed. Possibly not the safest choice, but I still have it on rotation. The tube is big too, so it lasts for a while.
This smells lovely – a very light lavender scent. It goes on relatively nicely when your skin is dry despite being an all natural sunblock, but it’s a little thick and forget trying to rub it in once you’re already sweaty. But the tube is so small! I had this while I was in Otres Beach, and it lasted me 2 days! I would buy it again though.
This isn’t exactly a sunblock per se, but it is said that coconut oil has a natural SPF factor of 4. While I wouldn’t go about my day with only that slathered on to my skin, I protect my hair with this and soak my tips before bed every other night or so. It really helps to keep my hair from going any crazier than it already is by keeping it hydrated and protected from the sun and the sea. As a bonus, I moisturize my body and face with this at night, use it as a shaving oil and drizzle it on my oatmeal. A delicious multi-tasking travel essential.