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Safe Sunscreens

Back to holiday themes. Since starting giving more thought to the clothes I buy and the clothes that I have (working progress still), I also started thinking more about everything around me: what I use to wash up, how I do food shopping and how I can holiday a bit more sustainably. I heard that sunscreens damage coral reefs, so I decided to avoid products that contain dangerous chemicals and do my research. Certain chemicals contribute to the bleaching (stressing out) of the coral reefs, which is causing algae and nutrients to leave the reef. If this carries on long enough, it causes the coral reef to die. To learn more scientific facts watch this video (it includes academic articles for those who want hardcore facts). After reading countless blogs and confusing names of chemicals that say nothing to me, I have bought supposedly environmentally friendly creams. I tried them and happy to report to you guys. I have also put down the ingredients you should avoid.


- Oxybenzone

- Oxinoxate

- Nano Zinc Oxide (some say any Zinc Oxide)

- Enzacamene (4-MBC)

- Titanium Dioxide

Some add these to the list

- Butylparaben

- Triclosan


- Octocrylene

- 4-methylbenzylidene camphor

I ordered Raw Elements Eco Form Sunscreen Stick, Badger Active Mineral Sunscreen, Omuci's Nothing To Hide and Babo Botanicals all SPF30. All of these were advised in countless blogs that I read (except got Omuci's, which was Amazon's suggestion). Note that all of these are creams/ sticks. Apparently, sprays are no good, since the

Raw Elements was in a stick form. It worked well for the face and my tattoos and was small enough to be carried around on the day trips in my bum bag. It felt a little bit greasy, but spread well and worked well. Did not leave much white residue either.

Babo Botanicals worked fine but wasn't my favourite. It was quite liquid-y, which made it come out of the bottle uncontrollably sometimes. It was tough to spread, which is due to NON-nano Zinc. I used some moisturiser before applying the sunscreen. It did help a little, but using it on the beach with the sand everywhere, was a little bit annoying. It also left a white residue, but that did not bother me as much. However, if you like to scrub while putting sunscreen on, that might be just for you...

Omuci's was the best. Smelt well applied easy, left no residue. However, it contains Bemotrizinol (Trinosorb S), the effects of which are unknown to the environment at the moment.

I did not manage to try Badger, because it arrived late, but looking at ingredients, I think it will be similar to Babo Botanicals. Sun Bum lotion is also highly rated. I did not have time to order it in time for my holidays, but also the bottles are bigger than 100ml so I will not be able to take it to my next one. If you have a chance, try that one for me, will you?

While doing research, I noticed how hard it is to understand what chemicals are harmful, since some are 'hidden' under other names in the products, so I end up having to Google everything. Most of the 'safe' sunscreens except for Omuci's (another + for it) are made in the US, which makes prices for most of them significantly more expensive than the commercial sunscreens, but also makes it harder to get. For example, I used to buy Garnier, the one I bought is £3.50/ 100ml (according to Boots), Omuci's is £8.85/ 100ml and Badger £20/100ml, which is not precisely price friendly. This makes me question who sustainability is for. I get it - small business bust their .... to be environmentally friendly, find new ways, do research and somehow have to make some profit. But I am not sure if everyone would buy sunscreen for £8.85/100ml when they could simply get £3.50/100ml and get slightly more prolonged protection.

Overall, I was glad to find sunscreens that could reduce my environmental impact. I did not mind that it was hard to spread or that it lasted less than the usual sunscreen - on the first day, I burnt a little because I didn't follow the instruction to reapply the cream after 80 minutes, rather than the usual 2 hours.

Today, while looking at more blogs to find more information about the sunscreens, chemicals and coral reefs, I found this interesting perspective. The lady highlights the fact that sunscreen's effect on the coral reefs is much smaller than the global warming, pesticides used in agriculture, carbon dioxide and the ozone layer is destroyed. So it is in a way similar to the plastic straw ban income countries, while everything else from food to all sorts of other products (including fashion) are still packaged in plastic that cannot be recycled or is not recycled. It is up to you what you do. I feel like every little helps and if you manage to find cheaper sunscreens that do not have nasty chemicals, please use them. Or at least avoid using sprays and go for the water resistant creams, apparently, they don't get washed off as easily, therefore not as many chemicals get into the sea.

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