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Everything You Need to Know About Environmentally Friendly SPF

By Arina Cezara Dobre

@arinadobre

Spring is here, warm weather is right about the corner and our skin needs more care than ever. Because in the cold season many of us tend to forget about properly taking care of it (many of us not hydrating it or not using SPF – which is recommended to be worn throughout the whole year), with the arrival of spring and new temperatures, we get a new chance to reconsider our skincare routine. Just as the white blooms of cherry blossoms can brighten up a whole season, a good eco-friendly SPF can make a difference not only for your skin but for the environment too. And it is not only for the next few months, but for the long run.

So you probably heard many times how important it is to wear SPF, but few tell you what it is, how it works and what are its benefits. Simply put, SPF stands for sun protection factor. But why do we need to protect our skin from the sun so much? Well, because of its radiations. The ultraviolet light that is emitted from the sun and that we cannot see due to its short wavelengths contains in its spectrum 2 types of rays that are damaging for our skin. These are the UVA and UVB rays.

 

Two hand photographed while applying sunscreen. The beach is behind them and they have applied a small amount to one hand. They are white and wearing a beige jumper plus have several gold rings.

 

UVA and UVB rays

The UVB rays are the ones that can produce sunburns and lead to developing skin cancer. The UVA rays are the ones that can do a big disservice to our skincare routine. These are the ones that can produce wrinkles, broken blood vessels, dark pigmentation and of course, premature ageing. To protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays, it is recommended to use a sunscreen that has a broad spectrum on the label.

This way, you protect yourself from these two types of rays. You may also wonder what the number on an SPF means. It represents the amount of time you are safe under the sun’s rays before your skin starts to burn.

For example, if you wear SPF 20, it means that your skin would take 20 times longer than the normal time when you don’t wear any sunscreen, to redden.

Many times, a very high SPF, like 50+ for example, can sometimes, cause more harm than good.

This is because one can forget to reapply it, thinking that once is enough, due to its high protection. But sunscreen needs to be reapplied more than once throughout the day. First, before we go outside the house and before we apply any other creams or make-up on the face. We also need to let it absorb into our skin for a few minutes before applying another layer of a different product. It is also essential to apply it after sweating or after every swim we do, to make sure we are protected.

Now that we discussed and understood why SPF is so important, I am asking you why not shoot two birds with one stone? Taking care of ourselves and our skin is highly essential, especially because it is our largest organ. But, knowing that we can take care of the nature around us at the same time, takes skincare to a whole new level! I mean, seriously, how awesome is that? We can now all contribute to preserving the environment for the next generations. That is why I want to introduce you to a new way of understanding and perceiving environmentally friendly SPFs.

 

Girl with sunscreen on right cheek photographed while smiling in front of a white background

 

Eco-friendly products

To do this, we first need to understand what an eco-friendly product is. In today’s world, more and more people are becoming aware of the abuse we commit to the environment. That is why it is important to implement this awareness in as many sectors of our life as possible.

And skincare is a very good one to start with. Environmentally friendly products do not harm the environment in their production, use or disposal. This means that they don’t contribute to the process of pollution that is so harmful.

Moreover, today we have a variety of products that are ocean-friendly and coral-reef safe. Because a product’s packaging can be also highly damaging, it is also important to check if it is biodegradable or recyclable.

 

How do we know when an SPF is environmentally friendly?

By checking the label and making sure it is free from harmful ingredients.

Oxybenzone, for example, is considered to be among the most damaging ones.

On the good side, it can absorb UV light. On the other hand, it has been linked to decreased energy, infertility or increased rates of endometriosis for women and an excess of oestrogen and low sperm count for men. It is also known that it can cause various allergic reactions. Oxybenzone is also bad for the environment and can lead to coral bleaching.

Other ingredients that are damaging for the humans and the environment are:

  • Quaternium-15 - a skin toxicant and allergen, found in many skincare products and is a formaldehyde-releasing preservative
  • Avobenzone - accelerates the ageing process and can lead to skin cancer
  • Homosalate - this can impact hormones and is a potential endocrine disruptor
  • Microbeads – these have a hugely damaging effect on marine and human life. The tiny plastics from their composition can end up in oceans, lakes or rivers and are responsible for the endangering and the extinction of many species
  • Parabens - these can lead to allergic reactions, skin cancer and impact fertility
  • Phthalates – these are used in many cosmetic products and can damage the kidneys, liver, reproductive system

 

Two girls photographed with blue sky behind them 

 

Eco certifications

In addition to checking the ingredients, you should also check their certifications that are labelled on products.

One thing to check for is green certifications. These are given by third-party organizations that help demonstrate a company’s compliance with certain standards. Some of these are “USDA Organic Seal”, “Green Seal”, “ASTM” or “Free-of”.

 

Interesting fact: According to studies, every person has a sun capital that helps people protect themselves from a certain amount of damaging ultraviolet rays. When this reservoir is exhausted, one’s skin can no longer regenerate, and it can lead to the development of melanoma.

 

If you want to fully enjoy this season’s warmth, don’t forget to get your skin ready for it. Protecting your skin is important, so adding SPF to your daily routine is an essential step in looking after yourself. Making sure you’re using an environmentally friendly SPF is vital in ensuring you’re also being kind to the planet – a win-win!

 

Stay healthy, choose eco!

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