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Protecting your skin AND the environment: how to choose a non toxic sunscreen?

beach with sunscreen

I used to associate sunscreen with that nice summery smell that reminded me of holidays. Well you know that I’m pretty white so I definitely need to pay attention to using high protection for my skin.

When I learned about the negative impact of fragrance, parabens and the actual chemicals that are used to shield your skin from the UV rays, I started trying more natural products. These chemicals are not only bad for your health, but they also damage the marine ecosystem, so that’s a double reason to make better choices when it comes to sunscreen. It’s hard to find good products that don’t leave you looking like a clown though. So I thought I’d share with you how to choose a good sunscreen and also which products are best.

Why choose mineral-based sunscreens?

When it comes to sunscreens, mineral-based options are gaining popularity for good reason. They don’t disrupt your hormone balance, and are also better for the environment.

Mineral sunscreens typically contain two key ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Unlike their chemical counterparts, which are absorbed by the skin, mineral sunscreens work by forming a protective barrier that reflects harmful UV rays away from your skin. This physical barrier helps to prevent sunburn, premature aging, and reduces the risk of skin cancer.

Hormone Balance: Chemical sunscreens often contain ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which have raised concerns regarding their potential hormone-disrupting effects. These chemicals have been found to mimic hormones in the body and interfere with the endocrine system. In contrast, mineral-based sunscreens use naturally occurring minerals that are less likely to disrupt hormonal balance, making them a safer choice.

Did you know that certain sunscreen ingredients are harmful to marine life, particularly coral reefs? Chemical sunscreens can contribute to coral bleaching and damage, posing a significant threat to delicate ecosystems. By opting for mineral-based sunscreens, you can minimize your impact on the environment, as they are biodegradable and reef-safe.

Ingredients to look out for:

When choosing a mineral-based sunscreen, keep an eye out for these key ingredients:

  1. Zinc Oxide: This powerful mineral provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. Look for a sunscreen with a minimum of 20% zinc oxide for optimal coverage.

  2. Titanium Dioxide: Similar to zinc oxide, titanium dioxide is effective at blocking both UVA and UVB rays. Aim for a sunscreen with at least 15% titanium dioxide for maximum sun protection.

Choosing non-nano zinc oxide or titanium dioxide is an important consideration when selecting a mineral-based sunscreen.

Here's why: particle size matters: nano-sized particles are incredibly tiny, typically measuring less than 100 nanometers in diameter. While they provide effective sun protection, there are concerns regarding their potential to penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream. Non-nano particles, on the other hand, have larger sizes, reducing the likelihood of absorption and potential health risks.

Tips to avoid the white coating and clown effect:

  • Use a tinted formula: many mineral-based sunscreens now come in tinted versions, which can help counteract the white cast. Tinted options blend more seamlessly with different skin tones, providing a more natural-looking finish.

  • Opt for micronized formulas:some mineral sunscreens utilize micronized particles, which are larger than nano-sized particles but smaller than traditional non-nano particles. Micronized formulas tend to have a smoother texture and can be easier to blend into the skin. Look for products that specifically mention micronization or micronized minerals on the label.

  • Layer and blend: if you're using a high SPF sunscreen or have particularly fair skin, applying a thin layer first and allowing it to absorb can help reduce the white cast. Follow up with another thin layer and blend it in thoroughly. Layering the sunscreen can provide better coverage while ensuring a more natural appearance.

Ingredients to avoid:

Steer clear of sunscreens that contain the following chemicals:

  1. Oxybenzone: This chemical has been linked to hormone disruption and can harm coral reefs.

  2. Octinoxate: Like oxybenzone, octinoxate has been shown to have harmful effects on marine life and hormone balance.

  3. Parabens: Commonly used as preservatives, parabens have been associated with potential health risks and can be avoided by choosing paraben-free sunscreens.

Top brands for mineral-based sunscreens

Here are some trusted brands that offer excellent mineral-based sunscreen options:

Available in the US & Europe:

  • Badger: Known for their natural and organic products, Badger offers a range of mineral sunscreens that provide effective protection without harmful additives.

  • Alba Botanica: This brand focuses on sustainable and reef-safe products, including mineral sunscreens with high zinc oxide content.

  • Green People: This UK-based brand offers a range of mineral sunscreens that are non-nano, reef-safe, and suitable for sensitive skin. Their products are certified organic and free from harsh chemicals.

  • Acorelle: Acorelle, also from France, offers mineral sunscreens with non-nano zinc oxide. Their sunscreens are organic, suitable for sensitive skin, and come in a variety of formulas, including for the face and body.

  • Laboratoires de Biarritz: Another French brand producing mineral-based sunscreens using non-nano zinc oxide. Their sunscreens are organic, reef-safe, and designed for different skin types.

  • Attitude: a Canadian brand that offers mineral sunscreens that are non-nano. They prioritize using natural, hypoallergenic ingredients and ensure their products are vegan and cruelty-free.

The budget is about the same for all of these: more or less 20€ per bottle.

Europe only:


  • Biosolis

Choosing the right sunscreen goes beyond protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. By opting for mineral-based sunscreens, you're not only safeguarding your health and hormone balance but also contributing to the preservation of our fragile ecosystems. Remember to look for sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, while avoiding oxybenzone, octinoxate, and parabens.

So, the next time you head out for some fun in the sun, make a conscious choice and let mineral-based sunscreens be your skin's best friend!

Nourishing your skin: nutrients for sun protection

While sunscreen is an essential part of sun protection, did you know that certain nutrients can also play a role in preparing and protecting your skin?

By incorporating these nutrients into your diet, you can provide your skin with an extra layer of defense against the harmful effects of the sun.

Let's explore some key nutrients that promote skin health and sun protection:

Antioxidants are powerful compounds that help neutralize harmful free radicals caused by sun exposure. They can protect the skin from oxidative stress and reduce the risk of sun damage. Some antioxidant-rich foods include:

  • Vitamin C: Found in citrus fruits, berries, kiwi, and bell peppers, vitamin C supports collagen production, promotes skin elasticity, and helps repair damaged skin cells.

  • Vitamin E: Nuts, seeds and avocados are excellent sources of vitamin E, which can protect against UV damage and soothe irritated skin.

  • Carotenoids: These pigments found in colorful fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens, have been shown to enhance the skin's natural defense against sunburn and photoaging.

Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that has gained attention for its potential benefits in protecting the skin from sunburn and UV damage, deserves to be mentioned separately: Astaxanthin is a carotenoid pigment found in certain marine plants, algae, and seafood. Astaxanthin is believed to provide an internal layer of sun protection when consumed orally. Studies have suggested that taking astaxanthin as a supplement or incorporating it into your diet may help increase the skin's resistance to sunburn and improve overall skin health.It has been shown to neutralize free radicals, reduce inflammation, and enhance the skin's natural defense mechanisms.

Omega-3 fatty acids: have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce sunburn and skin sensitivity. They can be found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel.

Green tea is rich in polyphenols, which have been shown to provide protection against UV radiation. Consuming green tea regularly can enhance the skin's natural defense mechanisms and reduce the risk of sunburn.

Water: hydration is crucial for maintaining healthy skin and optimizing its ability to withstand sun exposure. Drinking an adequate amount of water helps keep your skin hydrated from within and aids in regulating its temperature. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially when spending time outdoors.

With these 2 products, you’re getting all of these nutrients to optimally prepare & protect your skin not only from the sun!


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