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Natural Sunscreen: The best sunscreen for you and the environment

by Maria Kirmanidou, Dietitian & Sport Nutritionist

16 May 2024 • 0 min read

Have you also felt that we are getting hotter and hotter every year or is it just us? That the sun is burning more and more in the warmer months of the year and that we are renewing our sunscreen much more often than we did 10 years ago? As time goes by, we are experiencing the climate crisis more and more intensely. The sharp rise in the Earth's temperature, combined with extreme weather conditions and very frequent forest fires, are increasingly creating the need to protect by all means the planet we live on and ourselves. Our daily choices, large and small, affect our health and quality of life and exert a huge environmental impact. In 2024, it is imperative that we do our best to protect the environment and choose the most sustainable and eco-friendly choices, whenever possible.

Sunscreen. Why is it necessary?

The penetration of a greater amount of solar radiation into the Earth, due to the modified composition of the atmosphere, not only results in a rise in thw temperature of the Earth, but also the influence of the dangerous UVA & UVB rays, which have been implicated in a multitude of harmful effects on our health, such as:
  • Premature photo-aging on the face. Our exposure to the sun, specifically UVA & UVB rays, "exposes" skin cells to increased DNA damage, resulting in increased oxidative stress. This reduces collagen production in the dermis (inner skin layers) and increases the appearance of premature brown spots - hyperpigmentation - and wrinkles in the outer layers of the skin.
  • Increased likelihood of the appearance of inflammatory skin conditions and even more serious health conditions such as skin cancer.
  • Worsening of symptoms of certain skin diseases, such as rosacea, herpes and atopic dermatitis (eczema).
  • Increased likelihood of sunburn and the development of premature freckles and skin discoloration.
..and the icing on the cake is that our constant exposure to the sun - especially during the midday hours, when the sun "burns" more intensely - reduces our immune response in the long term, i.e. the body's ability to react in time and effectively to identify and deal with pathogens.
As you can see, sunscreen use is not only necessary for aesthetic reasons, but for general protection of the body from the effects of dangerous UVA & UVB rays. In fact, the dermatological community considers sunscreen use necessary all year round, not just during the warmer months of the year.

Sunscreen with natural filter. What more does it have to offer me?

The right use of sunscreen is an essential tool for protecting our bodies from the sun and should never be missed from our bag, especially if we know we'll be away from home for long hours. But which sunscreen to choose? What are the differences between the various sunscreens we can find commercially? Are they all the same with mild differences in texture and fragrance?
In recent years, you will find a multitude of sunscreen formulations on the market, which are divided into two major categories, chemical sunscreens and sunscreens with a natural filter. The main difference between chemical sunscreens and sunscreens with 100% mineral composition is in their composition. Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, which accumulate in aquatic areas and have been accused of contributing in the destruction of marine life due to their toxic impact on the survival of aquatic organisms. The active ingredients in natural filter sunscreens include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, ingredients much more friendly to the marine ecosystem, helping to reduce the accumulation of toxic waste and thus protect marine life and, thus, our quality of life.
In addition, the natural composition of sunscreens with a natural filter makes them extremely friendly to our skin, reducing the risk of allergic reaction symptoms such as redness, swelling and itching. In addition, the natural filter in the new generation sunscreens, protects us directly upon application, as their main ingredients work by reflecting UVA & UVB ultraviolet rays, whereas chemical sunscreens need 15-20 minutes to be absorbed and provide their protection from sunlight.

Finally, proper sunscreen use is vital to provide continual protection to our skin from the sun's UV rays. The more often we sweat or go to the sea, the more often we should apply sunscreen in order for it to work effectively. Sunscreens with a natural filter are an extremely sustainable, eco-friendly choice, which act in favor of protecting the environment and therefore our health, as we should not forget that all ingredients are recycled and we are the final recipients! Discover Laboratories de Biarritz's new products, where you can find sunscreens with 100% natural filter, available from Holland & Barrett and make the best choice for you, those around you and the sustainability of our planet!

Scientific References

Li, L., Chong, L., Huang, T., Ma, Y., Li, Y., & Ding, H. (2023). Natural products and extracts from plants as natural UV filters for sunscreens: A review. Animal Models and Experimental Medicine, 6(3), 183-195.

Resende, D. I., Jesus, A., Sousa Lobo, J. M., Sousa, E., Cruz, M. T., Cidade, H., & Almeida, I. F. (2022). Up-to-Date overview of the use of natural ingredients in sunscreens. Pharmaceuticals, 15(3), 372.