The best natural sun protection is a combination of common sense and choosing a good natural sun lotion. Educate yourself, so you are empowered to know how to protect skin from the sun, while still helping to preserve our oceans, marine life and coral reefs, all harmed by tiny amounts of conventional sunscreens.
Never expose babies to direct sun, and ensure shady areas for pets (older dogs and sun-loving cats can get heatstroke). See below for tips to protect pets in the sun.
- Stay out of the sun from 10am to 4pm. If your shadow is shorter than you, find some shade.
- Drink water (don’t drink beer, and fall asleep!)
- Use a sunhat that covers your head and ears.
- Use wraparound sunglasses, with 99% plus absorption
- Some medications can make you more sensitive to sun.
- Take care at high altitudes (and sunny, like skiing).
- Wear long shirts and trousers (ideally in dark colours), like they do in hot countries. Sun-protective clothing is mostly made with chemicals and synthetic fibres (if you use it, wash in a microfiber catch bag).
The Best Natural Sun Lotions
Most sunscreens contain chemicals that are absorbed by your skin and washed off into the ocean. The following lotions work to physically block sun with mined zinc oxide (the white stuff on cricketers’ noses), blended down to be invisible. But importantly, these brands don’t use nano-particles to do that, which harm marine life.
A trustworthy sunscreen will always say reef-safe and no nano particles. Never use sun lotions with oxybenzone (banned in Florida and Hawaii) that mimics human hormones (just one drop in the ocean is toxic to a huge area of coral reef and remains in your urine, so pollutes the ocean, as you pee).
Never use human sunscreen on dogs (zinc oxide is toxic to pets). Dog kisses are lovely, but don’t let pets lick you until after you’ve showered. See below for info on keeping pets safe in the sun.
- Sun Tribe (Sweden) ticks all the eco boxes and has a child’s sunblock. It does not offer above SPF30 saying the difference in protection to SPF50 is just 1%, and requires more chemicals.
- Amazinc! is a Czech brand sold in cardboard and aluminium packaging, made with zinc oxide and shea butter (all items are vegan, bar Mineral Shield). The SPF30 Mineral Butter contains zinc and magnesium oxide and there’s a SPF50 sunscreen if you want one, along with a Lavender Almond Body Oil to nourish dry skin, after exposure to the sun (avoid essential oils for pregnancy/nursing and children).
- Surf Durt (US) was invented by Californians, with help from one of their dads (a chemist). This brand is reef-safe and free from nano-particles.
- Shade has 4 natural ingredients in a tin, and has good reviews all round. Alas, one is beeswax so not presently suitable for vegans. However, the founder has since gone vegan and is actively trying to search for a suitable replacement ingredient. Again, she is not a fan of big brands scaremongering redheads with freckles into choosing above SPF30, as the difference in protection is minimal, and requires more chemicals.
- The Oil Hut Natural Aftersun Oil (Devon) is ideal to massage into skin, after a day in the sun. Sold in an aluminium tin, it contains lavender, chamomile, geranium and bergamot oils (avoid for pregnancy/nursing).
- Hurraw SPF Lip Balm (US) is sold here, the best lip balm with SPF protection. It’s scented with oils of tangerine, vanilla and Roman chamomile (avoid essential oils for pregnancy/nursing).
Never Use Human Sunscreen on Dogs
Never use human sunscreen on dogs (zinc oxide is toxic to pets). Dog kisses are lovely, but don’t let pets lick you until after you’ve showered. See below for info on keeping pets safe in the sun. This vet says the perfect safe sunscreen for pets does not yet exist, but he says ones with titanium dioxide are best to vulnerable white ear flaps etc for now (some pets are at higher rates of tumours in the sun, just like redheads with pale skin for humans). See this fab book of dog safety tips.
Moo Goo Zinc-Free Dog Sunscreen says although spent hops (and hops in tea) are toxic to pets, the tiny amount they use (1/10 of one percent, the last ingredient) is the least troublesome preservative, to avoid zinc. From them ‘even if the whole tube was eaten in one gulp, this would not be enough to be toxic, whereas zinc would harm’ Obviously keep them away from the tube, and contact them or your vet with any questions.