What is clean sunscreen?


When it comes to the sun not only is the overexposure a danger but so is the so called sunscreen meant to defend us. These days when you hear about clean sunscreen what does this actually mean and how polluted is the product you have been using all these years?

Let’s look at how we can do a reset and become more mindful of ingredients that do more harm than good.


The sun shines on everyone

We all need our nature days whether its soaking it up on the beach or enjoying a beautiful hiking trail. One thing is for certain we will be exposed to the sun and some of us a bit too much!

The worst mistake for your skin is also the idea that its overcast or cold outside ( snowing even) so no sunblock today right….WRONG. Or the fact that you don’t turn a bright red out there so you don’t need protection right…WRONG.

Let’s look at some more mistakes in the making especially when it comes to SPF choice.

What the SPF

So I’m sure there are some of you who believe the higher the SPF the more protected you are right….WRONG!

The SPF or sun protection factor is protecting you only from UVB rays. You must know that the sun dishes out a double dose of love in the form of UVA & UVB rays. The latter burns you red and the other one ages you ( I’d like to think that’s what the A stands for lol).

According to The Skin Cancer Foundation the guideline on which number SPF to use is relative to the time it takes for your skin to redden outdoors. It will then extend the time preventing that from happening. This time is indicated on by the SPF number.

If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer – about five hours. Most sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job of protecting against UVB.”

Its such a myth that the higher SPF the more you can bask out there. In actual fact there are no guarantees that you can stay out longer. So misleading are these ideas and results in you applying very little for too much time in the sun. Also, if you’re doing sports like swimming or sweating, the sunscreen will get wiped or washed off, leaving your skin unprotected. Don’t bother looking for waterproof sunscreen because that is another myth, sunscreen always need to be re-applied after activity that will cause it to wear off.

Let’s not forget about the convenient sunscreen spray. It seems to be a no brainer option especially for kids. But don’t be fooled as the chances are higher that by spraying you will release more harmful chemicals that you and your child can breathe in.

Can clean protect?

Sunscreen is predominantly made up of chemicals and / or minerals that block the UV ray known as filters. Also, there are other chemicals involved that actually make up 70 percent of the sunscreen and can have harmful effects on your skin and on ocean life.

Read this report done by the Environmental Working Group to see all the chemicals that should be avoided namely, oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. Oxybenzone in particular is the ultimate wrecking ball with its harmful impact not only on the human reproductive system but also on coral reef life.

This brings us back to the question of what is clean sunscreen and does it offer as much protection as the toxic variety?

For me based on all the reports I have included in my article it is clear that clean sunscreen is one that uses the mineral zinc oxide as its UV filter. Zinc oxide is the only UV filter that protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. It becomes quite technical and you need to dive deeper into your label for chemical free sunscreen to ensure that the zinc oxide or whatever mineral that offers broad spectrum filter is nano free.

Read more here on nano particles and health concerns.

Can I make my own?

Well its not just about hitting “the lab” folks, you need to make sure your product provides broad spectrum sun protection and that means preventing burn from a day at the beach as well as daily protection for a 15-min walk with your dog. So you need the UV filter that blocks + plant based SPF that protects.

If you look at olive and coconut oils they are a perfect base oil to build your own natural screen from because they provide SPF8. Another great natural ingredient to make your own sunscreen with is aloe vera. It has amazing properties that help to prevent burning and also helps in healing any damage caused by the sun. Walnut extract is packed with vitamin E and fatty acids that protects the skin from all sorts of environmental baddies. If you know that your days out in the sun are going to be extreme then using these oils would offer a little more protection:

  • Carrot seed oil
  • Red Raspberry oil
  • Avocado oil
  • GMO free Soybean oil

Try this recipe:


  • 1/4 cup coconut oil /carrot/avocado/olive soybean
  • 2 (or more) tbsp. powdered zinc oxide
  • 1/4 cup pure aloe vera gel, the purer the better ( more than 50%)
  • 25 drops walnut extract oil for scent and it is a great defense from air pollution and the sun.
  • 1 cup (or less) shea butter for a spreadable consistency
  1. Combine all ingredients, except the zinc oxide and aloe vera gel, in a medium saucepan. Let the shea butter and oils melt together at medium heat.
  2. Let cool for several minutes before stirring in aloe vera gel.
  3. Cool completely before adding zinc oxide. Mix well to make sure the zinc oxide is distributed throughout. You may want to add some beeswax or another waxy substance for a stickier consistency.

Store in a glass jar, and keep in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to use.

You can pop into your local health shop or visit trusted online stores for the ingredients listed above. Or for clean sunscreen products that are free of oxybenzone and only contain either zinc oxide or titanuim dioxide as its filters:)

How clean is your sunscreen

The focus these days is on how we can keep ourselves and our planet healthy and our choice of sunscreen plays a vital role. Sunscreen has the potential to cause more harm than good and in recent years we are becoming more reliant on plant based alternatives. There exists a witch’s brew of problems in using some of these products that not only causes cancer and other hormonal disruptors but it also damages ocean and coral reef life.

You can try and make your own clean sunscreen or if you not that confident in “the lab” , research companies who use only natural and unbanned mineral sun filters like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

So the next time you purchase a bottle of sunscreen read the label and begin a cleaner approach to sun protection for you and for the environment.

Your skin and planet thanks you!


*Love your skin naturally*


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