The Best Natural Sunscreens (and what to avoid)

As the weather warms up here in Australia I wanted to share our Top 3 family favourite sunscreens for 2019 and what you definitely need to avoid when choosing a sunscreen

I don’t know about you but I’m a summer babe through and through. I abhor the cold am always dreaming about long, hot, sunny days.

And because sport is life for my kids, long rounds of golf for my son, surf sports and netball for my gal, pretty much all our spare time is spent outdoors.

Which is great because it means my whole family gets all the wonderful benefits that the sun provides. For starters, it’s nature’s wonderful anti-depressant, helping us to feel upbeat and happy, and it also helps our bodies manufacture Vitamin D. Yes, you can and should also get vitamin D by eating vitamin D rich foods like wild-caught salmon, mackerel, sardines, eggs and mushrooms, but it’s far more effective getting it from the sun. The sun is the best way to ensure we get enough, especially since vitamin D deficiency is so common and has been linked to certain cancers, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, depression, osteoporosis and many other ailments.

The outdoors lifestyle definitely puts us at risk of sun overexposure however, even with all our hats, clothes, shade and rashies, so sunscreen is a non-negotiable preventative option for us.

Which brings me to the two types of sunscreen on the market:

1) Chemical based sunscreens use chemical ingredients or active constituents that absorb UV radiation preventing the rays from penetrating the skin. Basically, the sunblock soaks up the rays like a sponge. They contain ingredients like synthetic preservatives, synthetic fragrances and parabens, and toxic ingredients like oxybenzone (endocrine disruptor and bleaches and kills coral reefs. This ingredient is actually banned in Hawaii), avobenzone, octisilate, retinyl palmitate (may harm skin and may lead to skin tumours), to name a few.

Keeping in mind we need to coat sunscreen thickly onto the skin, and reapply every 90 minutes, multiple times a day, so hours of skin absorbing exposure to all those toxins is putting our kids and our own health at risk.

2) Mineral based sunscreens tend to block UVA better than chemical sunscreens and the good ones use zinc oxide which creates a physical barrier for the skin from the sun. But not all mineral sunscreens use safe ingredients, so ALWAYS check out the ingredient list. 

Naturally, I go for the mineral based sunscreens but there’s another problem.

Over the years of buying natural sunscreens we have struggled to find one which the kids are happy to use.

Does this sound familiar?

“This sunscreen makes me look like a ghost”

“It’s too thick”

“It stinks”

“It’s too oily”

“It doesn’t rub in”

While I’ve personally been prepared to just suck up all the shortcomings, the kids end up sneaking off and using their mate’s sunscreens which is defeating the whole purpose.

But with all the trial and error over the years and a recent vast improvements in natural sunscreens, I’m happy to say I can narrow it down to the top three favourite sunscreens as listed below.

Firstly, here is my easy 2-step rule when shopping for a sunscreen:

1) Always choose a sunscreen that offers broad spectrum protection, is a mineral based sunscreen using Zinc Oxide (now comes in invisible form) and is ocean and marine friendly.

2) Avoid sunscreens which have the chemical ingredients which have been shown to penetrate the skin contributing to allergic skin reactions and other health impacts including hormonal disturbance: – Chemical UV filters/absorbers, Nanoparticles, sulphates, parabens, petrochemcials and artificial fragrances.

It pays to note however, that in Australia the full list of ingredients is not required to be fully disclosed!  Because brands can hide certain ingredients I recommend always asking the brand for a full ingredient list.

My Top 3 Favourite Natural Sunscreens, all Australian made, in order of preference:

  1. Hello Sunshine – easily the best smelling of them all and special mention to their Facestick which we can throw into all our little bags and easily reapply as needed and now they have a fab new tinted facestick! 

  1. Little Urchin – just love their tinted option too
  2. Whatnot – this one is the thickest of the lot to apply but makes you feel like you’ve got great coverage. It’s a little greasier too. 

Do you have a favourite natural sunscreen? Let me know in the comments.

Bren xThe Wholefood Collective

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