Sunscreen: All You Need to Know + Our Top Picks!

We are stepping into the beautiful hot summer months which means it’s also time to seriously start applying sunscreen – like SERIOUSLY. And we mean every – single – day. By now most of us know that protecting our skin against the harmful UV rays from the sun is important in order to maintain healthy and beautiful skin (but also health in general). However, it does often seem to be such a dilemma because conventional sunscreens often include harsh chemical UV filters which can be harmful not only to our skin/health but also to the environment. But then again, when we choose a more natural or mineral sunscreen, we are left looking like ghosts as the mineral UV filters tend to leave a white layer/coating on our skin. So which sunscreen should we choose, which is best for our skin, the environment, the animals AND which doesn’t leave us looking like ghosts? In today’s blog and video find out more about why you should opt for a mineral sunscreen and some of our top sunscreen recommendations + enter our giveaway for a chance to win some mineral sunscreens! 

Sunscreen: All You Need to Know + Our Top Picks!

Because sunscreen is SO important for our health and for our skin, we were super excited to start “digging a bit deeper” to understand more about the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreens, how they protect us from UV rays and, above all, how to find and choose the best vegan and natural sunscreen. 

WHY WE NEED TO WEAR SUNSCREEN

We believe in the power of understanding the WHY behind everything. When you know and understand why, you are more likely to take the necessary action. So why do we need to use sunscreen and how exactly are UV rays a risk for our health?

Skincancer.org explains what UV radiation is:
"UV radiation is part of the natural energy produced by the sun. On the electromagnetic spectrum, UV light has shorter wavelengths than visible light, so your eyes can’t see UV, but your skin can feel it. Tanning beds also emit UV radiation.”

There are two types of UV radiation that come from the sun; ultraviolet A (UVA) which has been associated with being damaging to the skin in terms of premature aging and ultraviolet B (UVB) which has been associated with skin burning. The UV rays which lead to sunburn have been linked to developing e.g. melanoma, which is one of the most harmful types of skin cancers, but also to other non-melanoma skin cancers. Basically, exposure to an excess amount of UV radiation (whether from the sun or sunbeds) can damage the genetic material in your skin cells. With time when enough DNA damage builds up, your skin cells start to grow exponentially and out of control which can lead to skin cancer. So, in summary, UV rays from the sun can cause premature aging, skin cancer and finally, if those aren’t already reasons enough to start wearing sunscreen, sunscreen will also help maintain a beautiful and even skin tone in general.

It’s good to note that 80% of UV rays penetrate through clouds and since UV rays are not what cause the heat which we feel from the sun, you can’t exactly “feel them” on your skin. Therefore, even if it’s a cold and cloudy day, UV rays may be doing some damage to your skin and health which is why you should be wearing sunscreen every single day whether it’s cold and cloudy or hot and sunny. 

CHEMICAL VS MINERAL SUNSCREEN

Ok, now that we all understand the importance of sunscreen it’s time to choose the right sunscreen for you. This will depend a lot on your skin type and how sensitive it is but let’s first talk about how high the SPF (sun protection factor) should be.
First of all, it’s important to look for a broad-spectrum SPF which basically means the SPF protects from both UVA and UVB rays. The SPF number itself will tell you how long it would take for your skin to burn (or redden) in comparison to when not wearing any sunscreen. So e.g. an SPF 30 means it would take you 30 times longer for your skin to redden or burn than if you weren’t using any sunscreen. In general sunscreens lasts about 2 hours on your skin so it’s important to reapply throughout the day (it doesn’t matter what SPF your sunscreen is – it needs to be reapplied every two hours!!). 

There are two types of sunscreens to choose from:
1. A Chemical Sunscreen
2. A Mineral or Physical Sunscreen (this is usually considered the more natural option)

The major difference between these two types of sunscreens is that a chemical sunscreen uses chemical UV filters which allow the UV rays to penetrate the skin and react with the skin to absorb the UV rays and convert them into energy before they can harm the skin. For this reason, because chemical sunscreens need to absorb into the skin before they work, it’s important to apply the sunscreen 20-30 minutes before you expose yourself to the sun. A mineral or physical sunscreen on the other hand uses the minerals zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide as their UV filters which protect the skin from UV rays by reflecting them “off” and not allowing them to penetrate the skin i.e. they act more as a “shield”. These mineral UV filters offer immediate protection.

Both chemical and mineral sunscreens have been proven to be effective in protecting us from the harmful UV rays of the sun. So, which one to choose? As mentioned earlier, it will most likely also depend on your skin type, but generally, because mineral sunscreens don’t absorb or penetrate the skin, they have been shown to be less irritating. However, if you don’t have particularly sensitive skin, it’s important to mention here that chemical sunscreens are not necessarily always bad for you and not all chemical UV filters have been linked to be harmful to our health. In fact, with most chemical UV filters, there is no evidence for this at all. However, the chemical filter oxybenzone has been linked to hormone disruption, cell damage and allergies so it might be a safer bet to stay away from this specific chemical UV filter. All in all, it’s always better to choose any sunscreen than to go without sunscreen. 

Another important thing about chemical sunscreens or chemical UV filters is that some have been proven to damage coral reefs. The chemical filters oxybenzone and avobenzone have been linked with the bleaching of reefs. In fact, they have been seen to cause so much damage that Hawaii has passed a law where, as of 2021, using sunscreens with these chemical filters is forbidden. Thus, it can be said that mineral sunscreens are also more likely to be ocean and reef safe.  

In general, we would definitely opt for a mineral sunscreen for these four main reasons:
1. They are less irritating to our skin
2. They offer immediate protection
3. Some chemical UV filters are damaging to reefs
4. It’s generally easier to find vegan options

THE BEST VEGAN, MINERAL & ECO-FRIENDLY SUNSCREENS

Alright, it’s time to find the best mineral sunscreen which, if you have ever used a mineral sunscreen, you will know is not always exactly super easy. The biggest argument “against” mineral sunscreens would be the ugly white coat that they tend to leave on our skin. However, a lot of progress has been made in this area and we have found some goodies which we are excited to share with you.

Here are out top mineral sunscreen pick which are all vegan, reef-friendly and certified natural: 

1. OUR FAVOURITE: Good Smell, Good Price, Good Size & Nice Application

I + M Berlin – WIN A SET

I-M-Small

Let’s start with I + M who launched a new sun protection range this year. We were super excited about this because I + M is one of the few 100% vegan cosmetics or, in this case, skin care brands who also create natural cosmetics. WE LOVE THAT. 

We tested their sunscreen “milk” with SPF 30 and we were super impressed with how smoothly it applies and there was no noticeable white coating. On top of that their sunscreens are reef friendly, without nanoparticles, waterproof and are broad spectrum. It also had a very subtle citrus smell which we also LOVE! The bottles are 100ml which makes it a good size for us to use it all over our body from head to toes. We also like the price which is very affordable when it comes to mineral sunscreens; 12,90 EUR.
Check out all their sunscreen products here

GIVEAWAY
On our Instagram we have teamed up with I + M for an amazing giveaway where you can win the I + M SPF 30 for sensitive skin, I + M SPF 20 AND their after sun aloe vera gel + three summer perfect Kia-Charlotta nail polishes. Find this post on Instagram and follow the instructions on the caption for a chance to win! 

2. THE MOST ECO-FRIENDLY

WE LOVE THE PLANET 

We-Love-The-Planet_Small

Just like the I + M Sunscreens, the new sunscreen from We Love The Planet also doesn’t leave a noticeable white coat. It is also available in SPF 20 and SPF 30 and it is hypoallergenic and super moisturizing. It is also of course reef friendly and waterproof but it’s also zero waste and made completely without any plastic! What we also love about this sunscreen is that it’s super easy to travel with as it doesn’t have any water and is actually solid meaning you can easily pack it with you in your hand luggage! 

3. THE BEST ALL-ROUNDER

BOEP 

Boep-Small

Finally we have, for us, a new brand which we found in the drugstore DM which we think is amazing because a natural, vegan mineral sunscreen should be easily available for whenever we need it the most and BOEP is, in our opinion, the best all-rounder which is good for the whole body from face to toes. It’s also suitable for children and elderlies and, if you have sensitive skin, they have a sunscreen for sensitive skin too. The sunscreen has been developed by a doctor and a mom which really makes you feel like the right thoughts and efforts have been put into this sunscreen. It is of course reef friendly, doesn’t leave a white coat, is made in Germany AND it is free from microplastics. 

That was our blog post for today. We hope you enjoyed and learned something new about mineral sunscreen and we also hope that this summer you will be a dedicated sunscreen user. The brands above are all amazing sunscreens which work super well! They are all vegan, certified natural, with mineral UV filters and reef friendly. Let us know which one is our favourite! 

Lots of LOVE,
Your Kia-Charlotta Team

Remember to share our blog posts or videos and also make sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest for more fun and informative content! Remember to use #kiacharlotta so that we can see your posts with @kiacharlotta

Sources:

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/sun-uv-and-cancer/how-does-the-sun-and-uv-cause-cancer
https://www.skincancer.org/risk-factors/uv-radiation/
https://www.ehe.health/blog/always-wear-sunscreen
https://www.skincancer.org/blog/ask-the-expert-does-a-high-spf-protect-my-skin-better/
https://www.healthline.com/health/what-spf-should-i-use
https://www.pennmedicine.org/cancer/about/focus-on-cancer/2013/july/chemical-sunscreen-vs-physical-sunscreen--whats-the-difference 

The fields marked with * are required.