3 ways to make sure your natural sunscreen is the real deal

July 4, 2017
3 ways to make sure your natural sunscreen is the real deal
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Summer is here and part of having fun is being safe in the sun. With so many sunscreens on the market claiming to be “natural,” it can be hard to distinguish between the real deal and the greenwashing.

What goes onto our bodies is as important – if not more – as what goes into our bodies. As our biggest organ, skin absorbs more than 60% of products applied topically right into our bloodstream, according to recent studies. So, choosing a natural sunscreen is important to our health as well as our safety.

At The Green Beaver Company, we believe that when talking about skin products, “natural” isn’t up for interpretation. It either is or it isn’t.

Here are the three things we recommend to look for to ensure your sunscreen will keep you safe all summer long.

1. Understand the nuances of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

These are the only two minerals used worldwide in mineral sunscreens. Zinc oxide is the most popular and protects your skin from the sun by acting as a physical block. Conventional products, on the other hand, protect you from the sun by providing a chemical barrier between your skin and the sun. But even if the sunscreen you are considering has a mineral component doesn’t mean it’s all natural.

Some sunscreens use a version of zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide that are coated with chemicals such as silicone—or are micronized to nanoparticles. Many products also contain other toxic additives such as artificial fragrances, chemical preservatives, synthetic polymers or other photo-reactive chemicals.

That means that when you put your lotion on in the house or shade, it will be fine. But, after being absorbed by your skin, these chemicals will transform in the sun. This can cause skin redness, pimples, blistering, or worse. Decidedly not fun—in summer or any season.

2. Check the ingredients list carefully.

Many products tout that they’re natural because they use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide—or both— as the main component. But make sure you read the whole story. Many are mixed with other chemical additives.

Other potential harmful ingredients found in sunscreens that you may want to avoid include silicones, artificial fragrances, dyes, PEGs, etc.

The Green Beaver Company offers an ingredient glossary to help make this easier and more transparent. Here’s an alphabetical list to help you check what’s really on your labels and identify safe and natural ingredients.

3. Buy certified.

Want a guarantee? Buy a certified natural product. Achieving product certification exists to take the guesswork out of consumer safety – that means it’s easier for you.

The meticulous process to attain certification is not easy or inexpensive: every ingredient, along with manufacturing processes, are scrutinized and inspected for compliance. Certification goes beyond self-proclamations and is not for the faint of heart or flexible interpretive code. We recommend looking for an Ecocert or NSF International certification—they are some of the most reliable on the market today.

With so many sunscreens on the market claiming to be “natural,” it’s more important than ever before to be able to discern between truth and green washing. Any product package can be designed to include the word “natural,” and there’s a wide latitude of meaning there.

Look for a product that does the job you are hiring it to do: protect you and your family. Then, turn up the tunes, jump in your inner tube and have fun. Summer’s here!


Image source: Pexels

Alain Menard

Alain Ménard, microbiologist, co-founded The Green Beaver Company with biochemist Karen Clark. They were both appalled by the amount of chemicals found in kid’s shampoos, bubble baths and other products. With their new family in mind, they decided to do something about it. They left the pharmaceutical and pesticide industry behind to create healthier natural products. Alain regularly gives seminars on the potential health risks and environmental hazards associated with the chemicals found in everyday personal care products.

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