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Sustainable sunscreens for your summer beach bag

by | Jan 11, 2022

The heat of the summer is here and we need to get our sun protection on. Sunscreen is a skincare necessity for protecting against sun-related damage. Especially in the summer, our skin is most susceptible to skin cancer caused by UV rays from the sun. With the depletion of the ozone layer, our skin has become more vulnerable to the sun, requiring us to use more sunscreen.

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries explains that, “The ozone layer is important for life on earth, as it absorbs most of the harmful Ultraviolet-B radiation from the sun and filters out lethal ultraviolet (UV-C radiation). The amount of ozone above the surface of the earth differs with location, depending on time scales that range from daily to seasonal. The variants are caused by the stratospheric winds and the chemical production and destruction of ozone.” [See graphic attached below to further explain sunscreen harm to the planet.]

However, many sunscreens have a reputation for causing coral bleaching. While corals are not prevalent on our coastlines, approximately 6 000 to 14 000 tons of sunscreen wash off into the ocean globally each year. So, we need to be mindful about what we use to protect our skin. Even if you aren’t going to the beach, sunscreen can still end up in the ocean through water systems from your home.

Oxybenzone and octinoxate are the main chemical filters responsible for coral bleaching. But, other chemical filters and some preservative can also be harmful to aquatic life. As little as one drop of oxybenzone in six and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools can have a detrimental effect on corals. Although research into oxybenzone’s effect on other aquatic life is minimal, there has been some evidence of this chemical damaging algae and zebrafish.

Non-nano zinc oxide or titanium dioxide is proven to be the safest for our seas. The downside is that these suncreens are more likely to leave a white cast, especially on darker skin tones. To counter this, mix a little bit of foundation to adjust the colour.

Although the safety of our oceans is a result of several other harmful habits of climate change, switching up your sunscreens can go a long way in protecting our planet. We know these chemical compounds may seem like a mouthful to memorise. Don’t stress – we’ve got you covered. We’ve done the research for you and compiled a list of safe, ocean-friendly sunscreens:

SPF 30 Brush-On Sun Defence
By Mineral fusion

A powered form of titanium dioxide, this Mineral Fusion sunscreen is perfect for people on-the-go. The built-in brush makes reapplication so much easier. It’s also great for cutting shine for oily skin and works well over make-up.

SUNNYBONANI Day Defence Sun Cream SPF20
By Skoon

With antioxidants such as rooibos, this sunscreen protects you from sun damage and pollution. The lightweight consistency absorbs easily into your skin, and can be mixed in with a little foundation for the perfect daily skin tint.

Hydra blast Moisturiser with SPF 20
By Silki

For sensitive dry skin people, this product is for you. Moisturiser and sunscreen in one, this products cuts down your skincare routine with its Jojoba Oil and Glycerine to keep your skin moisturised and protected.

By Back 2 Nature

For those planning on maximising their time by the sea this summer, Back 2 Nature’s sunscreen is a great option. Surf Zinc is a water resistant sunscreen that is biodegradable, making a perfect companion to the beach. It is also formulated with Vitamin E to help nourish your skin and protect it at the same time.

By Esse

Formulated with Jojoba Oil, this sunscreen will keep your skin supple and hydrated as well as protected – a must for dry skin. It is certified organic and biodegradable, making it environmentally friendly. It is also fragrance free and mildly preserved, ideal for sensitive skin


Note: Remember to reapply every 2 hours for the best protection. Image: Armin Rimoldi from Pexels

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Our work is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 12, which aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production. Read More