Both medical experts and beauty brands have been promoting the importance of protecting your skin against the sun for some time. As much as you’d like to ignore it, the sun isn’t going away anytime soon — even in the UK — meaning you need to start incorporating SPF into your daily skincare routine. But with the majority of sunscreens proving to be bad for you and the environment, finding affordable non-toxic sunscreens can be a challenge, especially since stores like Boots and Superdrug have such limited options.
For years, chemical sunscreens have reigned. These work by absorbing radiation rather than pushing it away and often contain harsh ingredients that can cause allergic reactions and breakouts. They’re also bad for the planet with some chemicals causing serious damage to the oceans. Hawaii is set to ban the sale of sunscreen containing two chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate, which have been harming coral reefs for some time.
The alternative? Mineral sunscreens. Just as effective as their chemical counterparts, these naturally sourced formulas usually contain zinc oxide or titanium oxide. These act as a barrier over the top of the skin, deflecting the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Once ridiculed for leaving a white chalky residue behind — I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of your parents on holiday in Spain with white noses — advancements in technology are spelling a new era; one in which the advantages of natural sunscreens are far outweighing old-school chemical formulations.
And while we may be in a lockdown right now, and not see the purpose for SPF, experts, such as Facialist and Skincare Expert Lisa Franklin, agree that you should still try and wear one when you’re on your daily outing, and even if you’re inside. "Glass effectively blocks UVB (the UV rays that cause sunburn), but about 75% of UVA penetrates glass," she explains. "UVA rays are the UV wavelength that lead to skin damage, ageing and can eventually lead to cancer. So, while you won’t get sunburn through glass, our skin is still very susceptible to damage." So if you’re sitting anywhere near a window inside, you’ll want to slather on some sun protection.
As for your daily walk, run, or cycle ride (if you’re taking them during daylight hours), you should also definitely be wearing SPF, even if it’s not sunny out. Up to 80% of UV rays can penetrate through clouds, so don’t be fooled if it looks dull out.
Choosing a mineral option should be considered while we’re all at home, too. While we may not be at the beach, there’s a potential for chemicals from sunscreen to go down the drain if you shower with them still on, meaning they can reach vulnerable eco-systems in different ways. With that said, here are 13 of the very best for all budgets.
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