Summer is coming and we are all hopeful for days spent in the sun or perhaps on sunny or exotic holidays somewhere. One thing I know for sure is wether you are planning to stay in your garden or travel the world, it's important to protect your skin - I am certain you all know that. However; have you ever thought about protecting environment (especially coral reefs) while you protect your skin?
I must admit, I did not until I was travelling to Mexico and while I was planning my trip I came across information that you need biodegradable sunscreen to protect the Cenotes, which I was planning to visit. I started researching the topic of biodegradable creams, and of course it was a rabbit whole that spiralled from one knowlede to finding brands and took some time to research and find brands that were good enough to protect my skin and environment at the same time.
Is your SPF destroying environment?
As I said before, I am sure you know you have to protect your skin with SPF when on holidays and exposed to sun. Ask any dermatologist and they will tell you to wear it every single day even on a cloudy day (UV rays can cause cancer and are responsible for 90% of skin ageing)! However; bad news is that scientist estimate that up to 14k tons of sunscreen washes off us into oceans every year. As a result coral reef life is disrupted: in short - baby reef does not develop and die, damage is caused to coral DNA making them unable to reproduce, and make them more prone to bleaching. Two most talked about ingredients that are causing this havoc are oxybenzone (absorbs UV rays) and octinoxate (absorbs UVB rays but harms coral reef) which are found in most sunscreen that we can buy on shop shelves.
Thankfully, in response to more ecological awareness among beauty companies there are more mineral-based, reef-safe SPF beauty products that care not only for our skin but also our eco system.
How am I an expert in this?
Before I talk about those sunscreens protecting environment, I want to give you little bit of history of how I got interested and started searching for good protection sunscreens, to show you that I have some authority to preach here :-) Since 2015 I have been actively looking for organic creams that will protect my sensitive bust - which very often got burnt in the sun and ended with prickly heat. Going back to 2015 I was on holidays in Fuertaventura and our hotel was visited by a direct sales person of a sunscreen brand that was produced in Canary Islands and Florida. I was not convinced at first but my fellow sunbathers were swearing by these products and how they helped with their sunburnt (mind you there were of English rose carnation - more pale than me!) The seller gave me the basic knowledge of why regular creams (the ones you buy off the shelf in beauty shops) are giving me prickly heat or sunburns - it was the main ingredient that caused those burns on sensitive skin - AQUA!!! That's how my quest to find perfect suncream, without water, begun. Sadly the brand he was selling is not available online, so I only had that one bottle that I bought on holidays in Canary Islands.
That cream was a miracle as it was first time I did not get burnt while on holidays. How did that happen you may ask, simply the cream did not contain water and was made from organic ingredients! That simple. Water attracts sun rays - and the same principle works when you are using cream that contains water.
The following year in 2016 I was travelling to Cuba and knew I needed a good cream as it would be first non european, but tropical sun for my skin and I needed good protection. My research for organic product without water started and that's how I bought Green People SPF30. It has organic ingredients and does not contain water - at that time these were two criteria I was looking for in a cream. I did not get sun burn or prickly heat, even though I spent a lot of time on the beautiful beaches. I was amazed and so delighted that I was not going through that unpleasant feeling of burnt skin again and did not need to hide in the shade.
The only con of this cream for me is its consistency which was quite thick and hard to apply, and you had to rub your skin quite hard. It also left white residue marks on your skin.
The following year a trip to Mexico required me to look for biodegradable cream, as I was planning to visit Cenotes. As I mentioned before, it is requirement to have biodegradable cream for cenotes - in some cenotes there are guards who monitor it, in some there's no one and they count on your honesty. I needed to find something organic with no water as ingredient and additionally biodegradable! Ohhh dear the search has begun, I was not sure if this combination was even possible. At that time the market for such creams was really small, and not many choices (compared to today - 2023 where the choice is significantly bigger). However I found Goodness Garden Organics which ticked all the requirements, plus it was easier to apply - however still needed rubbing into your skin but was much better than a previous one. What is important this cream is safe for the reef, for delicate eco system of Centotes, and marine life. It travelled with me to Thailand at the beginning of 2018 and I must say again it did not disappoint and I can report I did not get sun burnt (apart from the time when I forgot to put cream on my toes!).
Having found such a good cream, you may think my research was over but I was still checking if there are other new brands. on the market. And there was a new brand; made in Sweden - again ticking all requirements for organic, mineral, reef friendly, no water as ingredient and great ethical company. Sounds too good to be true? Sun tribe is my absolute favourite and a cream that is currently my number 1 - although it is the most expensive of all three I will be usuing it for the next holidays. Not only it is ticking all requirements, but also smells nice and is super easy to apply - just like a face cream. It was successful to protect my skin under Mauritius sun which was the strongest I ever experienced (I guess close proximity to equator or Southern Hemisphere). And I know I will be using it for my future trips... unless I find even better product? Who knows!?
AND finally.... Mum's choice
Since now I am a mom and we do have sunny days in England while I take my little one for a walk, I had to research a cream for the delicate baby face for when we go for a walk and it is sunny outside. Of course, I was looking for mineral sunscreen, organic, no water as ingredient. The following list is my shortlist, and although I have not tested all of them yet, I hope you might find my list helpful, because you will be surprised it is not easy to find good creams for babies too. If you have experience of any other creams, share in comments below.
Mustela High protection - high protection for a newborn, French make (and they know thing or two about cosmetics - I do trust them), it is available as spray or cream. It comes in a large spray bottle, which makes it a cinch to apply generously, though fiddly on the face - I just spray on my hand and then rub onto baby's face.
Mustela claims that the liquid rubs in easily and absorbs fast, leaving only a slight greasy residue. It is my second bottle from them and I love it - plus it smells nice.
Childs Farm - British brand created by a mum with high protection, its roll on is approved for newborns from 0+, it is great for sensitive skin, it has a smaller size bottle. It is easy to apply but consistency is on the thicker side (I bought this one for the size of bottle) it is fiddly on the face with a baby under 6 months but I think it will be fun for my daughter to apply on her body when she is older.
Green People - Organic Children - I know the brand and tested on myself adult products as mentioned earlier so I would definitely go for this for my baby; however their creams are 6 months + so will buy it when my baby turns 6 months.
Earth Mama - ingredients list sounds great with its mineral oils, and high protection for uber sensitive skin, it was not available to buy online when I wanted, but I will test it out for sure in the future.
Babo botanicals - worth checking out too, mineral sunscreen
La Roche Possay - another French brand that worked well with my daughter. Great consistency, easy to apply with a nice smell. It does not specify if infants can use this cream so I am only using it on my older daughter (6m+)
I hope this article was helpful and you will find a sunscreen for yourself or your baby and if you purchase through links in this article I will earn a small commission on these products (maybe if 5000 people purchase via link, I will be able to afford a new cream for myself :-) ). You can rest assured that I tried and tested all of these products mentioned above and all opinions in this article are mine. Therefore I am happy to recommend them.
*2023 update - since no one was buying through my links Amazon switched off my affiliate links, so you can still purchase the products linked ut I will not earn anything.
Safe tanning and fun in the sun xx