With summer having firmly arrived, we thought we’d offer up some tips on eco friendly sun protection.

Why are traditional sunscreens bad for the environment?

Big brand sunscreens often contain chemicals, including Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, that can harm or kill coral and marine life when they enter the water system.

Vitally important ecosystems, coral reefs, often referred to as the “rainforests of the oceans” (because they store Carbon, help to guard against costal erosion and to provide habitats for thousands for creatures), are also threatened by climate change, over fishing and other forms of pollution.

Sunscreens are typically manufactured by large companies that are generally not very environmentally friendly as a whole. For example, Estée Lauder, Johnson & Johnson, Clarins, L’Oréal and Proctor and Gamble.

And of course many come in heavyweight bottles made from virgin plastic and include hard to recycle spray mechanisms.

What does SPF mean and how do sunscreens work?

Applied and used correctly, sunscreen can help to reduce the risk of sunburn, skin damage, ageing and skin cancer. It’s important to remember that our bodies need sunlight and Vitamin D to remain healthy.

Sunscreens generally contain an emulsion (a cream, lotion, milk, oil, gel or foam), which works to carry and an active ingredient (that either absorbs of reflect UV rays) designed to protect your skin.

SPF simply stands for ‘sun protection factor’. For example, a sunscreen labelled SPF30 will protect your skin against 96.7% of the harmful UV rays it may be exposed do during hot, sunny weather. A SPF50 sunscreen will protect against 98% of the UV rays, so the difference is not as sizeable as it may first seem.

As a simple rule of thumb, if you multiply the SPF factor by ten, this will indicate approximately how long the sunscreen may provide your skin with protection for. For example, an SPF15 sunscreen will safeguard your skin against sunburn for around 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours, compared to just 10-15 minutes if no sunscreen at all is applied.

Environmentally friendly sunscreens – for adults and children

SunscreenPriceSPF ratingOcean/reef safeVegan/cruelty freePlastic free
Shade All Natural SunscreenFrom £4.20 (100ml)25YesYesYes
Green People Sun LotionFrom £7.00 (30ml)30YesYesPlant-based
Suntribe Mineral Sports & Face SunscreenFrom £14.99 (30ml)30YesYesYes
Badger Company Sunscreen From £11 (90ml)30YesYesNo

You can find us on Facebook by searching for Plastic Free Home or at http://www.facebook.com/plasticfreehomeuk.

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