• Ethical Edition

Sustainability Sunday #40

Slather on the Sustainable Sunscreen this Summer!

It pleases me greatly to be writing this from the garden table at my parents house, nestled in the countryside of Northamptonshire listening to the birds sing, bees whizz by and seeing the washing blowing on the line. And it’s damn hot I tell you. I have myself a SULA (Sweaty Upper Lip Alert), I’m in a bikini top and the shortest shorts I can find to maximise potential tan and I’m squinting like mad to actually see my screen in the sun. But it’s cool, I’m British,  this is normal. I’ve also applied a healthy layer of sunscreen, 50+ of course, which by the way, isn’t normal for the British. As a nation we’d rather get roasted alive and then fidget around all night emanating heat and wishing we’d not been so stupid.

Lately, since my foray into organic beauty products, I have been looking into natural and organic sunscreens. You know those spray sunscreens you buy from Boots, Superdrug or any drugstore really, when they’re a little old and have been taken on multiple holidays they lose that dreamy signature sunscreen smell and start to just reek of chemicals? That’s probably because they are full of chemicals, which whilst it’s not that great to be putting on your skin (after all the skin absorbs what we rub into it), it’s also not great for the environment – here you should envisage streaky shiny slicks of sunscreen on the ocean surface…

So, I hear you ask, what’s the alternative?

1. Suntegrity’s Mineral Suncreen (£30)

Although made in the USA, you can get this on Free People’s website. A little pricier than the bog standard sunscreens but not much more than you’d pay for the likes of a P20. Certified vegan and free from chemicals Suntegrity’s products are made with a bunch of antioxidant-rich ingredients that are all completely natural.

2. Organii’s Anti-Ageing Facial Sun Cream (£9.68)

This contains natural plant oils for protection and skin hydration and is certified by the Italian Organic Certifying Authority ICEA. You can find this one in or online from Planet Organic.

3. Green People’s No Scent Sun Lotion (£22)

Free from parabens, synthetic fragrances, or petrol-based oil, this one is vegetarian certified (it does contain beeswax so isn’t vegan), and is really good for fair complexions. You can find this, amongst others that may take your fancy on the So Organic website.

4. The Organic Pharmacy Cellular Protection Sun Cream (£38.50)

High factor and infused with rosehip, aloe vera, shea butter and marigold to nourish and protect this one is probably my favourite almost just because of it’s smell. You can get it online from The Organic Pharmacy, although you should note that it’s best to reapply this one after swimming.

If you’re just looking for the most effective sunscreen, you may just plump for any lotion that says “natural” or “organic”, but there is more to a good sunscreen than this terminology. Organic labels can be misleading, as I mentioned in my previous organic beauty post, so using these products can still mean chemicals on your skin and in the ocean. Terrifyingly, according to recent research found that even a drop of oxybenzone (a common chemical in sunscreen) in an ocean area the size of six-and-a-half Olympic swimming pools can damage coral, which is a fundamental part of the ocean ecosystem. Therefore, making sure you’re buying mineral sunscreens is far more important than looking for something labelled natural or organic.

So, to be 100% sure your sunscreens don’t include chemicals, why don’t you have a go at making it yourself? 


The key ingredient for sunscreen is non-nano zinc oxide in some kind of base cream or oil. For those of you feeling the need to Google, non-nano products are those that will not absorb into the skin and subsequently the bloodstream. A nano particle will enter the blood stream but a non-nano will not, thus making non-nano products much better for us.

For making approx 250ml of sunscreen:


  1. 40g non-nano zinc oxide – you can get this from Amazon or more specialised webistes such as Aromantic.

  2. 28g Shea Butter (Amazon)

  3. 28g Beeswax (Amazon or eBay)

  4. 65g Jojoba oil (from Holland & Barrett, Neal’s Yard or Face Theory)

  5. 90g Coconut oil (Holland & Barrett, Aldi or eBay)


  1. Place all your ingredients except the zinc oxide into a glass bowl

  2. Place this over a shallow pan of water and boil on the hob until all your ingredients are melted and mixed

  3. Pop your glass bowl of ingredients on the scales and slowly, I mean slowly, slowly add the zinc oxide. As the zinc settles the weight increases so you want to just add a little at a time until you get to 40g

  4. Whisk, either with an electric one or a small hand whisk until it’s all combined

  5. Then pour into a Kilner jar or tub and leave to set.

  6. Then all you have to do is slap on liberally when the sun comes out, it’ll have the consistency of a thick soft butter so should rub in nicely 🙂

I do know that this can be a bit of a faff, but if you were one of those kids (like me) who was obsessed with making potions, this is a pretty fun activity!


#health #sunscreen #summer #holidays #beauty #travel #sustainability #environment #nature #natural #climatechange

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