Love Your Skin & the Planet - The 6 Sunscreen Products We Love

Love Your Skin & the Planet - The 6 Sunscreen Products We Love


Reef Safe, Sustainable, Non-toxic

Let’s be honest. WE ALL LIKE OUR SKIN, and we want to keep it as wrinkle-free as possible. You know, elastic, NOT saggy, baggy, and raggedy (slant rhyme?). You get it.

You know what else we like?! OUR PLANET! OUR OCEANS! OUR MARINE LIFE! Coral reefs are disappearing (they don’t come back) or turning to zombies. Marine life are dying, birthing weird things, choking, suffocating and being poisoned. Sounds horrible..

Let’s make a conscious decision to save our skin and our planet!

**the products recommended are intended more for whole body use. I will make a post directed more towards facial products. There’s a difference because we typically likely to wear sunscreen that will blend with our makeup, and there are just soooo many more options when we’re only considering investing in our face product.

Products we Love:
Mama Kuleana
Kokua Sun Care
Wax Head
Raw Elements
EWG’s sunscreen guide

so what the heck is SPF?

We should be using SPF products all year long (you do, right??), but as summer approaches, we see products lining the shelves shouting out to us, “80 SPF, 10 SPF, 30 SPF!!!”

But I bet if you asked anyone, they wouldn’t have the slightest clue what SPF really means

Simply put, it stands for “sun protection factor,” but even that is still misleading and/or confusing. It definitely isn’t self explanatory. What about those numbers? The higher the better right? 80 SPF is going to protect you for hours, while 10 SPF just isn’t worth a second thought. Well, that’s not exactly the case.

but what do the numbers represent?
let’s break it down.

When we say “SPF”, we’re talking about protection only from UVB rays, which are thought to cause skin reddening and sunburn. **UVA rays are considered the culprits when it comes to causing skin cancer…but where are they in the equation?!!!**

And that number? It’s the measurement of the amount UVB radiation it will take to burn your skin compared to what it takes to burn when the sunscreen is applied.

For example, if your skin typically starts to burn after about 10 minutes of sun exposure, a product with an SPF of 30 would theoretically provide 30 times the protection. That would mean 300 minutes, or five hours.

So 80 SPF is better right? Not really.
The numbers are not directly proportionate! 80 SPF is NOT double the protection of 40 SPF. Instead, the higher the number the gets, the less of a return you will see.

The math? Take the inverse of the number of SPF and subtract it from 100.
Here are the numbers:

SPF 2 will absorb 50% of ultraviolet radiation
SPF 15 absorbs 93%
SPF 30 absorbs 97%
SPF 80 absorbs 99%

and there are a kajillion more factors.

Let’s not overwhelm you, but SPF isn’t the end all be all.

Let’s consider another popular label, “waterproof”. Well, it actually doesn’t exist! In 2014, the FDA intervened and restricted companies from being able to label their products with this misleading information. So now, you see them labeled as “water-resistant.” This represents the amount of time your product is claimed to work at its full strength. You’ve now just limited your sun protection to an hour max. AND you’ve just introduced more synthetic/toxic chemicals.

How much sunscreen should you put on? This is another large factor, and one that is obviously different for each person. Do you slather it on? Spray it? Rub it in? According to some studies you should put on about 2 milligrams per centimeter of skin. And with some ingredients, you actually aren’t supposed to rub the product in. So guess what? You just cut the efficacy of your product in HALF.

If you consider, altitude, reflective surfaces, skin types, etc, you’re probably going to get a headache. Some other less obvious but more common factors are alcohol, medications, and detoxification.

Yep. There is research that suggests drinking alcohol during/prior to sun exposure can increase your chances. Um. Excuse me. But who doesn’t have a “cold one” while lazing around on the beach. If you’re on vacation, chances are slim to none you don’t have some sort of alcoholic beverage in your system.

Sun protection is fun, isn’t it?
why we go all natural (and avoid toxic chemicals).

Studies have shown that a number of chemical sunscreens can react with the sun’s rays to create damaging free radicals, which may actually increase the risk of skin cancer.

Chemical sunscreens have also been linked with hormone disruption. This means they can act like estrogen in the body, throwing natural hormones off balance. In a study of six common sunscreen chemicals, five acted like estrogen, causing an increase in human breast cancer cells.

In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that nearly all were contaminated with oxybenzone, which has been linked with hormone disruption and allergies.

“Physical” sunscreens like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide have been used for decades but are now manufactured on a nano-scale. Nano titanium dioxide and nano zinc oxide are heavy metals, however, and are potentially toxic if inhaled in large amounts. May cause cytotoxicity and also produce free radicals, ultimately increasing the risk of skin cancer.

chemicals to AVOID

do your research! here is a list of the top 7 chemicals you should be on the lookout for.

OXYBENZONE (BENZOPHENONE-3)(also called “benzophenone-3” or “BP-3”)

reef safe, non-toxic, sustainable, all natural…WHY NOT?

Our skin is our largest organ! We can absorb so much through this organ that we really need to be conscious of what we feed it. Now think about marine life…they swim in this ocean and literally breathe through water that they filter themselves. We are polluting their habitat but WHY? Why are we making a conscious decision to NOT CARE?

Here is a list of products that we find effective, environmentally friendly, have a low impact and a social ethos. They all rate a 1 based off of the Environmental Working Group’s scoring system (which means they are super safe and amazing).


1. Alba Botanica, SPF 50
Biodegradable, NOT reef safe, cruelty free, it does not say vegan but does state its vegetarian…
Yes. It’s a spray. They also have a cream if that’s an issue for you. Sometimes you want convenience, low price and a product that works. We’ve all been there. This is Alba. They are my grab and go, especially if we’ve run out and we need more asap. They are readily available in drugstores and definitely all your favorite health food stores. Here’s a two pack if you need more. Contains octocrylene which is NOT reef safe. We use this when we’re going for runs, hikes, etc. Steer clear from water!



2. Stream2Sea, SPF 30
Reef safe, biodegradable, vegan, sort of cruelty free (testing includes the use of purposely bred live fish and eco-consciously and scientifically obtained coral larvae)
The founder of this product is a diver herself. Over 6,000 TONS of skin care products enter coral reefs from tourist activities alone. This number doesn’t take into account the products entering our rivers, lakes and streams through run off, sewage, and more. They’re used with confidence worldwide.


3. Mama Kuleana, SPF 30
Reef safe, cruelty free, biodegradable, handmade in small batches,
It does have beeswax in it…but otherwise the ingredient list is as simple as it gets. This one goes on smooth like a body butter. I would recommend heading to Etsy to find similar products. Support small businesses! They never use plastic, and we love that they are recyclable/biodegradable.


4. Kokua Sun Care, SPF 50
Reef safe, cruelty free, recyclable
One of our favorites! We love the fact they it contains 23 antioxidant ingredients, they neutralize free radicals and nourish your skin. Typically, with zinc products you have to worry about leaving a white film but not with this product. It goes on smooth and doesn’t cake up or make your skin feel weird. We also love that it’s long lasting, and definitely believe it’s water-resistant.


5. Wax Head, SPF 30
Reef safe, cruelty free, biodegradable
So this is an atypical product for sure. It’s thick. And takes a bit of effort to get on. So if you’re not familiar with the extremely tiny list of ingredients (yay!) then you may not be expecting it. It’s a wax that is meant to sit on top of your skin. The best way to apply is “dot by dot.” Meaning, don’t start with a whole clump and try rubbing that around. Start with small sections and rub those in. It will help lessen the white appearance, but they do make TINTED versions! The product is great because it won’t easily come off and is especially, most definitely water resistant. Oh and coming soon, they will have a plastic free version!

6. Raw Elements, SPF 30
Reef safe, cruelty free, biodegradable
Another one of our favorites!! They’ve got a super simple list of ingredients and have sprinkled in a few extra that contain antioxidants that nourish your skin. Plastic free means it comes in a tin, but they have the option of a squeeze bottle. They also donate 1% of their annual sales to nonprofits who work to preserve and protect the planet!


So now it’s time to go out and enjoy the rays in a safe way for you and the world! Have you tried any of these products? Are you excited to try? Let us know!

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