What makes a good sunscreen and which brands make them?
Before really looking into sunscreens, the different types, different ingredients and different uses, I just thought that a sunscreen was a sunscreen; so long as it was rated at least SPF15+ I thought it was fine to use, and it probably is, but I’ve since learned that it goes deeper than that.
It can be overwhelming and quite confusing trying to choose a sunscreen that will
a) do the job
b) not irritate sensitive skin and
c) not cost the earth, in more ways than one!
I’ve read a lot of different and varying articles online but never really came to a conclusion on what the ideal make-up of a sunscreen product was. I always used what I thought was close to ‘natural’, ethical and free of as many synthetic ingredients as possible, however was I really choosing correctly?
I was never really sure what the often-discussed ‘evil’ of oxybenzone was, what the difference between zinc oxide and titanium dioxide was and which sunscreens were harmful to marine life.
A while back I decided to investigate and get to the bottom of all of these definitions! I’ve put pen to paper (well, fingers to keyboard!) in the hope that this article might help clarify similar questions you may have, and to decide what is ideal to put on to your skin and the skin of your loved ones.
have fair skin and red hair with a history of skin cancer, as well as two little girls to protect, so I’m very particular when it comes to what goes onto our skin when we go out in the sun.
In a nutshell:
- What is Oxybenzone? It’s a synthetic estrogen that can upset the hormone system when penetrated into the skin.
- What is considered ‘reef safe’?Products that are generally free of oxybenzone and octinoxate – both ingredients are banned for use in Hawaii and Key West due to the impact they cause on coral reefs and their contribution to coral bleaching.
- Zinc oxide vs titanium dioxide.Zinc oxide’s UV absorption rate has a broader spectrum across both ultraviolet A (UVA) long-wave and ultraviolet B (UVB) short-wave rays. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified titanium dioxide as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.
What is now important to me when choosing a sunscreen? And what did I look for when choosing one to add to our range?
The ethos behind Tribe Tropical is sun-safety, so whichever product I chose I wanted it to offer premium sun protection, to be free of oxybenzone, reef safe and based on zinc oxide; I also wanted it to be:
- From an Australian company.I wanted to buy and support local. Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, and we have some great brands whose products meet the sun protection requirements for all living in our sunburnt country.
- Not tested on animals.Always my preference, with no explanation needed.
- Artificial preservative-free and made with natural ingredients.Artificial preservatives and ingredients in products, not just sunscreens, often cause irritation.
A few great Australian companies ticked the boxes for me; below are my picks for great, trustworthy sunscreen brands:
Made on the Sunshine Coast and meeting all my personal criteria, this is the brand I chose to stock and I’m so glad I did.
I’ve tested the sunscreen on myself and my children in midday sun (which I rarely go out in!) and it stood the test – none of us were red at the end of the day. I also love that the sunscreen dries clear so doesn’t mark swimwear & clothes, and it’s non-greasy. A total winner for me!
We Are Feel Good Inc
Another great Australian brand whose products are reef-safe and based on natural ingredients – they also smell great too! I often use their sticky zinc on my face; it’s lightly tinted also so can be used in place of make-up. The Intercontinental Hayman Island Resort supplies their guests with this sunscreen and always aims to further educate their guests on the affects of toxic sunscreens on the world’s reef ecosystems.
MooGoo’s whole skincare range is fantastic (I love their deodorant!) and I know many who swear by it. Their Natural Sunscreen is rated SPF40, is based on zinc oxide and is non-greasy; it is made for people with sensitive skin in mind.
With a string of awards under their belt, including ‘Winner of the best sunscreen at the Nature and Health Awards in 2013’, Wot Not products contain only natural and organic ingredients; they were developed by two mums who also introduced the world’s first environmentally-friendly disposable nappy to Australia. I used this sunscreen on my children when they were babies.
One of the first brands of sunscreen I ever used on my baby and one of the first developers of a synthetic chemical-free sunscreen, UV Natural are pioneers in the field of natural sunblock. They have a great range of products, also based on zinc oxide.
If I found myself at the beach without my typical choice of sunblock, but with one that containted oxybenzone, would I use it? Absolutely! The risk of not using a sunscreen is far greater than any potential risk posed by certain ingredients. I just wouldn’t choose to buy or use such products long-term.
Would I use coconut oil and carrot oil as an alternative? No way. I believe in the research and science behind these brands, and have no hesitation in using or recommending any of them.
Have you checked lately what ingredients are in your sunscreen?
You can find more info on Surf Baby Sunscreen via our website here.
Author: Emily Gradon
(Please note that the above content is not sponsored in any way and is based on my personal opinion)