We’re officially in summer and as two relatively pale English girls in Italy, protecting our skin is high up on our agenda. Whilst protecting our skin we also want to make sure that we’re avoiding causing unnecessary harm to the sea, ocean and coral reefs. Since we’re trying to become more conscious with our consumption in general and with summer in full swing, we started thinking about where our suncream comes from as well as where it ends up.
I’ve been noticing the difference in the sea at the beginning and end of the day, in the morning the water is usually very clear whereas by the end of the day there’s a shiny film coating the water, the residue of our suncream. After doing a little bit of research, I discovered that around 14,000 tonnes of suncream cover our coral reefs every year. A classic suncream ingredient, oxybenzone, is alleged to be one of the root causes of suncream’s damage in the water and is said to threaten reefs and marine life across the planet. Many brands are starting to take this on board and are coming up with eco-friendly solutions. Look out for the Protect Our Land and Sea certificate, which certifies that the ingredients are marine friendly, but also be aware that the term ‘reef friendly’ isn’t properly regulated so you will need to dig a little deeper while doing your research.
I’m sharing my findings, I’ve taken into account the brand’s information as well as several reviews of the products. A major factor to consider is choosing mineral suncream over chemical, the main difference being that mineral suncream sits on top of your skin and essentially reflects the rays away, whereas chemical suncream usually contains oxybenzone and is absorbed into your skin and transforms the UV into heat, some of the ingredients can be absorbed directly into your bloodstream.
What To Take Into Account When Choosing Your Suncream
- Avoid products containing ingredients such as Oxybenzone and Oxtinoxate
- Check that the product is labelled with Land and Sea certification or an equal credential.
- if like me you’re blessed with sensitive skin then you might want to avoid any pore-blocking products (hello prickly heat), this often happens in sports based and mineral products, but options do exist! I’ve listed a couple that are suitable for sensitive skin below.
- Does the suncream leave a white residue? This is especially prevalent in thick, mineral suncreams and definitely not ideal for darker skin tones
- Is it suitable for water sports and general exercise (read excessive sweating)?
- Does the brand have sustainable packaging?
- Is the brand local to you (e.g. I’m based in Italy and would prefer to buy from a European brand when possible)
Taking all this into consideration, and I don’t deny that it’s quite a lot to ask, I’ve found the following options. A lot are based in the USA but I also found some in the U.K. (which although is now technically outside of the European Union, in terms of proximity it’s still there).
- Raw Elements (USA). With an array of certifications, developed by an ocean lifeguard and committed to education, environmental awareness and sun safety. It has a slightly thicker consistency so good for water sports, however reviews mention a slight white residue.
- Tropic Sport – (USA) Created by surfers and with adventuring and activities in mind, this suncream has 4 hour long lasting protection. Despite being mineral based it is said to rub in well and reviews are positive about its resistance to water and sweat.
- Manda naturals (USA) Created by outdoor lovers and focused on natural ingredients and designed to perform against harsh conditions. According to reviews it smells great and works very well when doing water sports, it’s also a little thicker so takes some time to work in but once it’s on it keeps you very well protected. The only downside is that it’s a little more pricey than other choices.
- Jason Mineral Natural Sunscreen (UK) Mineral suncream but without the white residue, also importantly it’s hypoallergenic so good for those of us with sensitive skin and also for kids and babies (over 6 months). This product has great reviews.
- Tropic (UK) – Easily absorbed and non-sticky, this brand has really good reviews particularly for people with sensitive skin and suffering from prickly heat. It’s certified reef safe by Land & Sea and the ingredients are sustainably sourced from the Tropics.
- Sun Bum – (USA) They started out making products for family and friends and now provide reef friendly products which are free from oxybenzone. Since they are a community of surfers, their focus is very much to support the ocean’s eco-system and they provide some information about how they are doing so here.
These products aren’t perfect and there’s a lot more to this topic than mentioned above, we hope that it will open your eyes to the possibility of more conscious choices when picking your suncream and help protect your skin in the process.
Let us know if you have any other recommendations, we are here to share our findings but also to learn.
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