The Scottish summer is typically a rainy affair with the occasional bout of sunshine. In these small windows you’ll see everyone rush outside to try and get the barbecue started before another downpour. This year has been a little different – there’s been a heatwave! We can barely remember what a cloud looks like. So instead of holding on tight to those trusty rain jackets, everyone’s raided the backs of their wardrobes for tiny shorts and tank tops to expose that legendary pale Scottish skin. So when the guys at Green People contacted us about their marine-friendly sunscreen we were certainly up for giving it a try!
Sun care is so important no matter whether you’re travelling or enjoying a nice sunny staycation but sadly there are some issues with everyday sunscreens. Most of us head off to enjoy the sun and slap on the sunscreen without much thought about what’s in it or the issues it might cause. Sadly, traditional sunscreens often cause a hidden danger to our natural environments and while we may not be aware of it, each time we sunscreen up, we could be damaging our oceans.
What are the environmental issues with regular sunscreen?
Sunscreen protects your skin from UVA and UVB rays so when creating a lotion, most manufacturers really only have that in mind and so picked the best chemicals to do this. These chemicals might have been great at blocking out the harmful effects of the sun but it turns out they can also cause issues for our oceans.
Most prominently sunscreens have been linked to coral reef damage. When we slap on lots of sunscreen and then head off for a swim or even just wash it off at the end of the day all the ingredients then end up in our water systems and ultimately the sea. Chemical additions such as Oxybenzone and Octinoxate have been found to link directly with coral bleaching which is when all the little creatures which live on the coral reefs die out and leave just a white skeleton-like shell. Effects have been found even at tiny concentrations and studies by researchers found that one drop of these chemicals in a water tank the equivalent size of six-and-a-half Olympic-size swimming pools could be toxic to reef systems! As well as the corals, these chemicals can also affect other marine species such as sea-urchins and fish and have wide-ranging fallout.
Because of the damaging impacts of traditional sunscreens, some places in the world, such as Hawaii, are making moves to actually ban products that contain chemicals such as Oxybenzone and Octinoxate and therefore don’t meet marine-friendly and coral-safe specifications. Changing your sunscreen can be just one small change to becoming a more sustainable traveller.
What makes a marine-friendly sunscreen?
In general reef-safe sunscreens are made with natural ingredients rather than synthetic. That can however, be quite difficult to spot once in an ingredients list but ensuring there isn’t any Oxybenzone and Octinoxate are important steps. Safer alternative include sunscreens with mineral-based titanium dioxide. In the case of Green People, sun care products also contain natural plant material such as Rosemary and Edelweiss which have the same sun protection properties but make it a marine-friendly sunscreen. Green People is also a partner company of the Marine Conservation Society so as well as keeping toxic chemicals out of it’s products it is also actively supporting conservation projects through donations from product sales.
Testing out Green People’s marine-friendly sunscreen
We’ve been having some lovely sunshine lately so perfect timing for trying out some new sunscreen. Green People kindly sent a few items for us to give a go. Our main product was the SPF 15 Edelwiess Sun Lotion along with a few testers including another variation of the sunscreen and an after sun product and so over the course of a week we tried out our new sunscreens during some lovely Scottish sunshine.
The sunscreens are really easy to apply and, unlike quite a few others, these are proper cream consistencies so you can put it on without fear of the liquid running out everywhere and making a mess. It also isn’t greasy which is a big plus. No-one wants to feel greasy and oily at any time but when it’s sunny and warm and you just end up feeling slimy from a sunscreen, that really is just the worst feeling. The one thing we did note was that our SPF 15 option is quite fragrant which I would assume is due to the Edelwiess extract but is is quite strong if you’re not that into your scents.
We applied our sunscreens to all exposed bits before our days in the sunshine and reapplied after lunch. It went on well, no oiliness and most importantly, no burnt bits a the end of the day! The SPF 15 versions actually contain a tan accelerator so if you are someone who loves a golden glow then that might be the option for you. After a few uses we haven’t really noticed a sudden arrival of a tan but then we are testing it out in patchy Scottish sunshine and not intense sun so that might be a limiting factor on that one.
We also received a little holiday sun starter pack with 30ml versions of the SPF 30, SPF 15 and after sun. These little tester type tubes are actually a perfect size for a handbag or in our case a side pocket on a backpack so actually turned out pretty handy. Since Andrew had recently managed to get burnt while away for a weekend in Sussex he proved the perfect guinea pig for the peppermint-scented after sun too. This is also a good time to put a reminder that you can get burnt through cloud cover too so don’t be a numpty and chance it. The Green People after sun also worked well and soothed Andrew’s burnt patches without him feeling icky so we were certainly happy with this too.
While the sunscreens are in the higher price range, they do come with plenty of environmental badges to back up their claims and are both fair trade and cruelty free. The SPF 15 option is also vegan friendly which is another nice bonus and overall the brand has picked up an few awards in the health and beauty sector including Natural Health Beauty Awards and is also Condé Nast recommended.
Overall, we love the idea of a marine-friendly sunscreen and Green People’s products tick all the right boxes for us. We also highly value the effort put into their comments sections on the online product pages which give fantastically detailed answers for any ingredients or sourcing queries people have had. Another plus is that all the packaging is actually 100% recyclable so they’re not only focusing on the lotions but the whole consumer process. In relation to the products that we tried, we found them very good. We’re not big on strong-scented products so we did notice the scent of the SPF 15 Edelweiss sunscreen during application but to be honest once it’s on, you don’t notice it and the higher SPF factor option is available scent-free so there are options for everyone. We found the after sun also worked well and the little bottles in the starter pack are the perfect travel size too. So, if you’re looking for an eco-friendly alternative to the big name brands, these ones might be worth a try.
Have you ever tried out a marine-friendly or natural sunscreen?
Thank you to Green People for sending us a selection of marine-friendly sunscreen products to try out in exchange for an honest review. Our thoughts and opinions are our own.
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