It amazes me how many drugstore sunscreens have the ingredient retinyl palmitate. The reason why it surprises me is because, although this ingredient is an excellent skin conditioner, it makes you increasingly susceptible to the skin cancer and wrinkle causing UVA rays. That’s right: your sunscreen might be making you more susceptable to skin cancer. Eeep.
Then I continued to research sunscreens. I knew that nano-particles of zinc were potentially harmful because they aren’t absorbed by the body if inhaled, but I had no idea that the two most commonly seen ingredients in chemical sunscreens were hormonally distruptive or at the worst, neurotoxic. And the most scary thing was that these two chemcials bioaccumulate: this means that the more you use a product with these chemcials in them the higher the levels will be in your body. I don’t know about you, but voluntarily building up a neurotoxin in my body so that I can protect myself from skin cancer doesn’t sound like a good plan. Oxybenzone is one of these chemicals. Although there is no conclusive evidence yet as to the direct harmful effects on human bioaccumulation, when animal cells are exposed to this chemical in a laboratory setting the toxic effects are very evident and well documented. I wasn’t willing to wait for the research to finally come out to indicated that this chemical along with a few others common in sunscreens were indeed harmful to your health.
So the search for a natural sunscreen (read: physical UVA/UVB blocker verses a chemical blocker) began.
Green Beaver Daily Face Cream
I sampled a few different face sunscreens at my local health foods store and this is the one I finally decided on for a few reasons: first, it didn’t leave that tell tale white powder behind that indicates one is using a natural sunscreen, it wasn’t greasy at all, and it didn’t have the overwhelming scent of zinc cream. I’m kind of disappointed that this one only has an SPF of 15, but the ones with higher SPF either left a super white sheen behind or smells so strongly of zinc cream I kept having flashbacks to changing my niece’s diaper. There are a few naturally derived ingredients in this product but the majority of the ingredients are organic so that also won my vote. My boyfriend also likes using this one as it does not get caught in his stubble like some of the other natural sunscreens did when we tested them out. ($20 at health foods stores)
Green Beaver SPF 30 Waterproof Sunscreen
I don’t have a picture because I bought this one, opened it and tried it and returned it the next day. This one couldn’t have been a bigger disaster if it tried. It literally felt and smelled like I was spreading rank butter on myself. It was incredibly greasy, left a weird sheen and the stench, and yes I mean stench, was so overpowering I had to shower it off right away. No dice. ($20 at health foods stores)
Goddess Garden Spray Sunscreen SPF 30
I also don’t have a picture of this one because I just tried it in the store. I almost bought it but then I discovered Aubrey. It was definitely more lotion-like, and went on without a strong odor, but it was still a little on the greasy side even after 15 minutes. This one was water resistant, though, which means that it maintains it’s SPF in water for at least 40 minutes so I may go back for this one for when I am planning to spend some time in the water. ($20-25 at health foods stores and online at goddessgarden.com)
Aubrey Natural Sun SPF 30
I was ultimately sold on this one because of the smell. I bought the tropical scent because it was a subtle coconut-fruity smell that hid the zinc smell very effectively. The scent didn’t last long, however, which suits me just fine because I don’t fancy having a ton of bugs follow me around because my sunscreen smells delicious. It went on and soaked in within five minutes leaving no residue (white or greasy). It was a little bit more expensive, but I will happily pay a little more to not have neurotoxic central nervous system depressive effects later down the road. There wasn’t a water resistant version at my health foods store, and as far as I can tell online there isn’t one available either, but his one does say ‘Active Lifestyles’ so I’m hoping it has a little holding power. I’m going to use it this summer and if I need to update this review I will at the end of August. ($15-$35 at health foods stores and online at aubrey-organics.com)