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May 18 2021

Everything you need to know about ocean friendly sunscreen

(and a few of our favorite organic alternatives)


All these young years I had been brushing off the skincare advice I was receiving to WEAR SUNSCREEN. It felt a bit useless to wear it on cloudy days and, while sunbathing, I just did my best to use some mineral 30SPF that still gave me a slight tan. These days are over my friends, because I have decided to take care of my skin until the day I die. I'm doing it to age gracefully but also to avoid melasma (sun spots that I always had on my cheeks) and of course skin cancer. So I'm not going anywhere without a good layer of 50 SPF on my face. 


I searched long and hard to find the perfect healthy and eco-friendly sunscreen. While I did that, I discovered the immense greenwashing techniques of so called "ocean friendly sunscreens" but I also understood what ingredients to avoid and why. Since so many of you have been asking for a safe sunscreen, I can't keep this to myself. It's so complicated that I wish someone had explained it to me earlier. 


What's so bad about conventional sunscreen?

The sunscreen we buy at the pharmacy from big brands usually contains chemical UV filters like octosalate, homosalate, oxybenzone, ovobenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene and more that you can learn all about here. They also contain chemical ingredients that aren't filters like conservatives and other "skin boosting stuff". These molecules tend to accumulate in the body. Some are merely irritants and some cause endocrine disruption, which can later lead to hormonal cancers like breast, thyroid or ovarian cancer. The ingredients to blame are usually the chemical UV filters that react with your skin to create the sun blocking effect. In marine life, these compounds are just as concerning. Lakes, rivers and seas are contaminated with these substances that cause the death of wildlife. So what's the alternative to that ? We say: Mineral filters.

The difference between mineral and chemical filters

One alternative to these chemical filters are mineral or physical filters. These are usually made from zinc particles that physically block the sun on your skins surface (or reflect it away). Zinc oxide sunscreens are a good alternative for your health and the planet, since zinc has not been shown to cause harm to the ocean. But of course there is a condition to this, the zinc particles must be non nano. Non nano zinc means that the zinc particles are big enough to not infiltrate and pollute water sources. You must always look for this indication on mineral sunscreen ingredient lists. 

On the bright side, zinc is actually amazing for the skin. It has a calming effect on blemishes and does not block pores, but make sure to clean it off really well at the end of the day. You are protected as soon as you apply it, since there is no chemical reaction that takes place, zinc just covers your skin. Another slight inconvenient, zinc is really white (that's how it reflects the sun rays away from your skin) so it does give you a nice snowman look. While some alternatives have managed to make the sunscreen invisible, others have definitely not ! 

Our tip is to mix your mineral sunscreen with some of our favorite Oatmilk lightweight foundation. It always does the trick. There are also great tinted sunscreens out there that work, or great foundations like Ilia's Super Serum Skin Tint with a good SPF40

After wearing zinc sunscreens, make sure you wash your face/body really well and exfoliate often. Zinc is quite sticky and can stay on the skin for quite some time if not removed correctly. We recommend our Face Off Cleanser from Neighbourhood Botanicals to do the trick. For the body, a dry body brush is great to eliminate dead skin before and after applying mineral sunscreen. My sister swears that the skin looks better if you have a nice hydrated skin before applying zinc sunscreen. I'll take her word for it. 

What about sun oils ?

 Sun oils are great to get a nice tan but they come with limitations. There are no sun oils that can be made with mineral filters because zinc is white and can not be blended into oil without leaving a white coating. Always be aware when getting sun oils of the chemical UV filters inside. Some chemical filters have been tested and approved for organic cosmetics and don't pose serious health or environmental risks, like  Amiloxate or Avobenzone for example. Some of these filters are new and need to be tested forward, so it's safe to always stay alert to changes in research.

Please do this one thing for the ocean

Sunscreens are a bigger risk to the ocean and the environment than they are to us. Since coral and fish are smaller, small quantities of chemicals can already mess with their hormones. The safest thing to do is to always apply sunscreen at least one hour before swimming in the sea or lake. This way, the sunscreen (mineral or chemical filters) will be absorbed by your skin before they come in contact with the water. This is really the best we can do to avoid contamination.


Also, choose sunscreens that have the most natural ingredients (aside from the UV filters). A little bit of coconut or jojoba oil won't do as much harm to aquatic life (and your skin).


Our favorite ocean friendly sunscreen alternatives

As promised, here is the list of sunscreens that have made the cut. We chose some mineral options of course, for face and body protection. We also added our favorite sun oil to the list. 

1. Seventy One Percent | Eco Sun Spray Invisible 50 SPF

This ocean friendly sunscreen made by surfers is the most natural brand in Europe. The advantage is that it's not even white at all, they have developed an invisible version that we immediately tested and approved for you. It contains 100% natural ingredients, which is really rare in this industry. Massage it well into your skin (preferably well hydrated skin) and sunbathe freely. This is the body option, we have another one for the face !


ocean friendly sunscreen


2. Seventy One Percent | Invisible Eco Sun Spray 50 SPF Face

Same ingredients, only way better for the skin of your face. For some reason it's labelled 99% natural but I couldn't find the non natural ingredient in the list. Their organic certification is enough for me to trust the product completely. If you prefer 100% natural you can always use the body Eco Sun Spray on your face. It's also invisible so it's very convenient when you don't want to look like a ghost. The other natural oils and ingredients will nourish your skin and prevent dehydration. Zinc filters are also very waterproof so it prevents more sun damage.

 eco friendly sunscreen


3. Seventy One percent | Dry Sun oil

For tanning, this is our oil of choice. It can be used on the face, hair and body (although I would not use this kind of oil on my face). It's waterproof, which is amazing and contains organic approved chemical filters that aren't harmful: amiloxate and avobenzone. The oil has an awesome monoi scent that makes you feel like a hot surfer chick. 

ocean friendly sun oil


4. Atinge Solaris daily 30 SPF sunscreen

This great option is for those who want a totally natural sunscreen for face and body. It's only 30SPF so I would prefer a 50SPF on my face on very sunny days, but I would definitely use it as a daily protection when I'm out running errands. The composition is super natural and has basically no controversed ingredients or nano particles. The whitish color is nuanced with carrot oil to give it a more natural color but you can mix it with some foundation too.  


Spread the word

I hope this was a comprehensive post that will help you and hopefully circulate to your peers. Share this article on your social media to spread the news and advocate for a more eco-friendly world. If you have any questions please use the comments section, we would love to discuss and get recommendations !



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