At Puratium, we take sufficient time to research and read extensively on sustainable skin care products such as zero waste sunscreen.
Remember that, as customers, buying products from eco-friendly brands means that you actively participate in a greener planet.
Moreover, most of the brands we recommend are relatively small and try to produce locally.
Therefore, help reduce your carbon footprint by buying locally made products, as well as supporting your local economy.
Whether for food, bathroom, or cleaning products, adopting a Zero Waste lifestyle goes beyond the 5 Rs.
Namely, live a more simple life, conscious of how invaluable natural resources are.
When it comes to conventional sunscreens, the harm done to corals is alarming. Let’s take corrective actions all together!
Zero (or at least low) Waste products: What Does It Mean To Us?
All in all, we want to find personal care products respecting the descriptions below. We understand that finding cosmetics and goods recognizing all criteria’s can be a challenge.
However, we do encourage you to at least opt for those ticking half of the criteria.
A Zero Waste journey takes time, but any change that you make accordingly is better for your well being! Amongst them, you will find:
- Sustainable packaging, i.e., recyclable, reusable, or compostable.
- High quality and active ingredients.
- Natural and organic ingredients that do not harm the environment.
- Transparent and highly ethical brands.
- Locally produced, to decrease the pollution linked to transportation.
Why not necessarily vegan? For those of you who are unsure of the difference:
- Cruelty-free means the product was NOT TESTED on animals: that is for us an absolute must.
- Vegan means the product does not contain any animal-derived ingredients.
We like products made out of beeswax, for example. This is why we do not necessarily have vegan products in our bathroom.
Nevertheless, it is essential that all our readers can purchase goods according to their values and principles. Therefore, vegan components will be one of the criteria checked.
Let’s now take a look at our top Zero Waste sunscreens in more detail.
Our Top 5 Plastic-Free Sunscreens
Ready to switch to a Zero Waste Sunscreen? Here is a list of must-have characteristics:
- At least SPF 30 (Sun Protection Factor) and broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays, as recommended by the American Cancer Society.
- Biodegradable, so that you do harm marine life and reefs when taking a swim in the ocean.
- Water (and sweat) resistant for at least 40 minutes so that you can safely swim or exercise outside. However, be wary as the label water-proof can be misleading, as eventually, all sunscreens wash off. However, on a water-resistant product, the label states whether it is resistant for 40 or 80 minutes (and if it was tested accordingly).
- Cream, not spray. Sprays usually contain more of these harmful chemicals. And, spray often misses its mark and end up on the ground or beach (which can easily wash into the sea).
- In case of doubts when reading a list of ingredients, have a look at the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory (HEL) and their certification and names of chemicals to boycott.
- One lotion for the face, another for your body ideally.
Let’s take a look at our reviews per brand and country. As usual, opt for the one closer to home to decrease pollution linked to transportation.
Let’s protect our skin and marine life at the same time. Choose sustainable and environmentally friendly sunscreens creams that are water-resistant and with a minimum of SPF 30.
Maui - USA
The story of this brand is a bit peculiar. Jenna Davis created the Raw Love sunscreen on the island of Maui in 2015.
She combined her expertise in marine biology and months of trials to develop a reef-friendly, biodegradable, moisturizing mineral sunscreen.
We particularly like this Zero Waste product as it is baby safe, plant-based, and contains many beneficial antioxidants. It is water-resistant, i.e., up to 40 minutes, and is certified with non-nano Zinc Oxide.
Raw Elements - USA
This Zero Waste sunscreen is safe for kids and is very water-resistant, i.e., up to 80 minutes. What we appreciate about this product is that it is soy, gluten, and nut-free.
Quite useful in case you are allergic to these: you can safely use the lotion on your lips and face. We like their transparency of the percentage of non-Nano Zinc Oxide: 23% of this active ingredient.
Lastly, they are committed to donating 1% of their annual sales to nonprofits that are working to protect nature’s most precious resources.
Empire Squid - USA
We like their products as they offer one for the face, more natural rand thinner, and one for the body.
Even though their standard recipe is not strictly vegan, bear in mind that they can create their sunscreen upon request without any beeswax or other animal-derived ingredients, namely, with candelilla wax.
The other reason why we recommend this sunscreen is for its lifeguard style. Indeed, the texture will lighten your skin once applied. Joke aside, it is highly efficient to the presence of zinc oxide, a burn-saving substance.
Be mindful that they do not specify the exact SPF per sunscreen, but instead label it as either ‘original’ (between SPF 25 and 50) or ‘extra protection’ (above SPF 50).
Suntribe Sunscreen - Sweden
We are big fans of this European brand based in a small Swedish town.
Their Zinc Sunscreen is 100% natural and reef free. Their tropical formula is ideal for all kinds of outdoor activities, as it is easier to apply during warm weather. Many professional athletes use it.
Their sunscreen is entirely free from harmful chemical UV-filters, parabens, alcohol, preservatives, perfume, and synthetic chemicals.
It is highly effective and is gentle with all types of skin. Their sports formula is based on three natural & certified organic ingredients, available in four fun colors in plastic-free packaging.
Indeed, the material used is tin made from 56% recycled tin sheet, and it is fully recyclable.
Lastly, it is labeled as very water-resistant and sweat resistant (i.e., efficient for 80 minutes).
Dirty Hippie Cosmetics - Australia
We like this incredibly creamy and non-greasy formula; it dries off to near perfection.
Moreover, the quality versus price ratio of this preservative and the toxin-free product is excellent (less than 7 USD).
We recommend this Zero Waste Sunscreen thanks to the choice of sustainable packaging they offer: you can choose between compostable cardboard tube, compostable sample pot, or reusable tin pot.
To note as well: the shallow pure essential content, which is ideal for people with sensitive skin.
Last but not least, we love the combination of bug repellent and sunscreen. So handy during hot and sunny days!
Why Switch To Sustainable Sunscreen
Some of us might not use sunscreens for different reasons. We hope that after reading the below, you will not only start using sunscreen regularly for health motives but also choose one that is reef safe and Zero Waste.
Living a more simple, natural life also means to take off your skin and health, and take includes using a natural sunscreen.
1. Protect Your Skin From UV Rays
Sunscreen is one of your most essential beauty products: it protects your skin from the damage ultraviolet (UV) rays can do.
However, as often repeated by experts, sunscreen acts as a filter, it does not 100% block all types of UV rays. For example, an SPF 30 will block 97% of UVB rays, while an SPF 50 will block 98%.
More importantly, most skin cancers are the result of too much exposure to these rays. It can be due to sun exposure, but also human-made rays such as tanning beds.
The greater the disclosure, the higher the risk of skin cancer.
There are mainly two types of rays: UVA and UVB. Even though UVB rays contain more energy, both models are dangerous. Therefore, as explained by the American Cancer Society, safe UV rays do NOT exist.
- Hide your skin from the sun: cover it with long sleeves and wear a large hat, for example. Even better, create your shade with an umbrella. And keep your sunglasses on! Since our eyes need appropriate protection.
- Stay out of the sun when the UVs are stronger (especially in summer and spring months), i.e., from around 10 AM to 4 PM. Bear in mind that other variables can affect the strength of these rays. For example, the latitude of your location (distance from the equator) or the reflections off surfaces (water, snow, pavement, etc.).
- Even if it is cloudy, experts recommend applying sunscreen, as UV rays can get through clouds.
- The UV index from 1 to 11 will give you an indication of the intensity of light on a given day and place. The higher the number, the more chance of sunburn and skin damage. Stay tuned on your local weather forecast!
- Apply sunscreen regularly and generously! And, do not take it for granted: it is not a reason for you to prolong your exposure to the sun. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, you should apply sunscreen 30 minutes before exposure. Then, every two hours. Do not forget your ears, lips, ankles, etc. In short, all areas not covered by clothing.
- Be mindful of expiration dates and read the label carefully. Most often, it is essential to shake the lotion before application. In general, there is a maximum of 2 years of efficiency.
- Always apply the sunscreen first, i.e., before makeup or insect repellent.
Sunscreen alone is not enough to protect your skin from the sun. Make sure to combine it with other protective measures. Make sure to apply eco-friendly sunscreens that will not harm the corals.
2. Stop Harming Coral Reefs & Marine Life
The issue with conventional sunscreen is that it contains chemicals like oxybenzone.
When swimming, these chemicals are released in the water and ultimately absorbed by the corals.
Theses ingredients are made of nano-particles that can disrupt reproduction and growth cycles of corals, which leads to bleaching.
What if you apply sunscreen lotion, but don’t go for a swim? Unfortunately, it will eventually reach the ocean through the shower, then down the drains.
It gets worse in case of aerosols, as the spray releases large amounts of these chemicals onto the sand, later washed into the sea.
Did you know? According to the National Geographic:
- An estimate of 14,000 tons of sunscreen is washed into the seas each year.
- 82,000 chemicals contained in personal-care products may be contaminating the oceans.
- In the last 50 years in the Caribbean, about 80 percent of corals have been lost. This is caused by coastal development, warming waters due to global warming), but also pollution!
Local governments, such as in Hawaii, are passing laws to ban harmful sunscreens. And we, as beach lovers, can play a significant role by choosing eco-friendly products.
3. Better ingredients for your skin, free from harmful chemicals
There is a correlation with what is good for the environment and what is good for us.
When it comes to cosmetics, one of the first ingredients to avoid is parabens. If you would like to find out more about this type of preservative, have a look at our analysis done for conventional deodorants.
More generally, when looking at the ingredients traditionally present in sun protection, oxybenzone comes at the top in terms of toxicity. Whether for the corals or our health, most of these chemicals should be avoided and replaced by safer skin protections.
On the other hand, natural, zero waste sunscreen has many benefits. In addition to the facts described above, they need to follow the below “care standards”, according to us:
- Free of preservatives, toxins, and fragrance, which in turn decrease the risk of irritations.
- Biologically active antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and extracts (at different concentrations depending on the brand, of course).
- Moisturizing but usually non-greasy
This 360 review aimed at providing you a detailed analysis of why sunscreen is essential to protect your skin, but, most importantly, why a Zero Waste, toxin-free sunscreen is an absolute must as of this summer.
Read labels carefully and grow your knowledge as customers. There are many brands that will help our ecosystem and the needs of the planet.
And remember that things such as sunscreen packaging, cruelty-free, amongst others are also very important.
Our choices matter for our health and the planet. As always, do not hesitate to contact us with any comments or questions.
A bit funny, a bit whacky. Lots of curiosity, lots of creativity. All for organic, minimalism and local. More of zero waste, more for our future 🌿