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Not all sunscreens are created equal

Not all sunscreens are created equal, so do you know what's in your sunscreen?

Our skin is our largest organ and what we put on it is absorbed into our body. 

The best form of sun protection is to avoid prolonged sun exposure. Cover up, and when you do apply sunscreen, check the ingredients first and opt for one made with natural/organic ingredients (like Earth's Kitchen, which you can learn all about why we love it here or buy it directly here. 

There are two forms of sunscreen available out there - chemical and mineral sunscreen. 

So what’s the difference between natural and chemical sunscreen?

  1. Chemical sunscreen – the type most readily available, works by being absorbed by our skin and in turn, it absorbs and breaks down the UV rays that hit our skin.
  2. Mineral aka. natural sunscreen – is made of naturally occurring ingredients like zinc and titanium dioxides, blitzed into tiny particles, which sit on top of the skin and act like a shield, deflecting damage instead.

The ingredients in chemical sunscreens can cause sensitivity for some skins, but more alarmingly, its active ingredients such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate can be absorbed by the body and can be found in places sunscreen chemicals have no business being. In particular, oxybenzone is a known hormone disruptor and kills our coral reefs.

Also, many sunscreens don't actually live up to the claims they make.  In 2019, Consumer NZ found that 9 out of 20 sunscreens didn't provide the sun protection claimed. These included some big-name brands. 

So what about mineral sunscreens then?

Mineral sunscreens are proven to be less likely to cause skin sensitivity or be absorbed into the body where they can do damage.

But, like anything, not all natural sunscreens are created equally.

While the active ingredients might still be zinc or titanium dioxide, it always pays to read the label and check that they aren’t mixed with other chemical nasties such as petrochemicals, sodium lauryl sulphates (SLS) or genetically modified ingredients.

Your skin is your largest organ and what you put on it can be absorbed into the body. Just as you watch what you eat, it’s important to think about what goes into your body via your skin.

Sunscreen is hurting our oceans

But sunscreen isn't just hurting us, it's also impacting our oceans.  Many sunscreens are made with ingredients such as Oxybenzone and Octinoxate. These ingredients are not only harmful for us, but also detrimental and damaging to our oceans. These ingredients are often found in sunscreen and some cosmetics. They enter our waterways through our sinks when we wash our hands or shower, by applying them at the beach - and of course when we swim.

It is estimated that up to14,000 tonnes of sunscreen enters our oceans each year. The harmful ingredients create havoc in the underwater world. They bleach, damage and kill off the coral. Coral reef's are a sanctuary, protection and feeding ground for marine life.

Palau and Hawaii have already passed a bill to ban these two ingredients in sunscreen. In Palau it is said to take effect in 2020, and Hawaii in 2021.

How often should I apply sunscreen?

Natural or mineral sunscreens are effective from the moment they’re applied to the skin, unlike chemical sunscreens, which require at least 20 minutes to become effective.

This doesn’t mean you should set and forget though. We recommend reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours during sun exposure and immediately after swimming, sweating excessively or rubbing against surfaces that may disrupt your sunscreen barrier (like wiping yourself with a towel).

As always, try to minimise extended sun exposure, especially between 10am and 2pm, when the sun is at its strongest.

 As you can probably tell, we are incredibly fussy about what sunscreen we stock, and Earth's Kitchen is the only one that passes our rigorous screening process. We are very proud to be stocking a world first for sunscreen that's made right here in Northland! 

You can buy it in store or online.

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