Svea

It’s sunscreen week!

This is another guest post from my amazing (and funny, and smart, and talented) skin care correspondent, Svea. In fact, her crazy knowledge of sunscreen and how it relates to acne has resulted in a post that was so epic, it needed to be broken down into three parts!

This is part 3. Click here to read Part 1, and click here to read Part 2.

Also, check out Svea’s own blog here. Go. Do it.


“Safe” Sunscreens for the Body

1) Badger Balm – Sport Sunscreen Unscented – SPF 35

American websites about green cosmetics often highlight Badger sunscreens to be one of the “safest” options available on the market. You can buy these products in many other countries outside the US as well.

I tried the Sport Sunscreen: it separates a bit, is slightly greasy and a little pasty, but tends to rub in better than some other brands of mineral sunscreens.

It‘s a certified organic product, contains only few ingredients and no chemical emulsifiers (in this case, beeswax is used as a substance that doesn’t only make the sunscreen water-resistant, but also has some emulsifying qualities at the same time).

The Sport Sunscreen doesn’t contain any essential oils or seed oils and is an ideal option for the beach (at least it‘s my sunscreen of choice in this case)!

If it separates, you can “re-emulsify“ it manually by kneading the tube. Yet, beeswax (and some of the plant butters contained) can also block your pores and cause breakouts. If you suffer from back acne, try another product (for instance “DeVita Solar Body Block – SPF 30+“ or, if your skin doesn’t burn easily, “Badger Balm – Sunscreen Lotion Aloe Vera- SPF 16“).

  • Sunscreen agent: non-nano zinc oxide
  • Whitening effect: leaves a slightly white cast
  • Texture: creme, a little pasty
  • Spreadability: easier to spread compared to many other mineral sunblocks
  • Emulsifiers: beeswax
  • Preservatives: none
  • Scent: unscented
  • Ingredients: non-nano, uncoated zinc oxide 22.5%, olea europaea (extra virgin olive) oil, cera alba (beeswax), theobroma cacao (cocoa) butter, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) oil. 

2) Badger Balm – Unscented Sunscreen – SPF 34 (or 30+)

This product is very similar to the Badger Balm Sport Sunscreen version, but it feels a little
more moisturizing.

  • Sunscreen agent: non-nano zinc oxide
  • Whitening effect: leaves a slightly white cast
  • Texture: creme, a little pasty
  • Spreadability: easier to spread compared to other mineral sunblocks
  • Emulsifiers: beeswax
  • Preservatives: vitamin E
  • Scent: unscented
  • Ingredients: non-nano, uncoated zinc uxide 18.75%, olea europaea (extra virgin olive) oil, cera alba (beeswax), simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) oil, theobroma cacao (cocoa) butter, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, tocopherol (sunflower vitamin E), CO2 extract of hippophae rhamnoides (seabuckthorn).

3) DeVita Solar Body Block – SPF 30+

This sunscreen lotion could be an ideal choice for those suffering from back acne. It absorbs quickly and doesn’t feel oily or sticky. It‘s suitable for sensitive skin as well!

It‘s emulsified with lecithin only, which is great for acne prone skin. It contains essential oils and rosehip oil, but mixed into a basis of very stable oils. This sunscreen is not water-resistant. Make sure to reapply it after swimming!

  • Sunscreen agent: non-nano zinc oxide
  • Whitening effect: almost no whitening effect at all
  • Texture: lotion
  • Spreadability: easily spreadable
  • Emulsifiers: lecithin phospholipid
  • Preservatives: vitamin E, grape seed extract
  • Scent: essential oils
  • Ingredients: zinc oxide 19%, aloe barbadensis (certified organic aloe vera gel), water (purified), camellia sinensis (japanese green tea) leaf extract, capric/caprylic triglycerides (derived from coconut oil), glycerin (vegetable), butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), olea europaea (olive) oil, lecithin phospholipid, hyaluronic acid (vegan source), simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, squalane (olive), panthenol (vitamin B5), tocopherol (vitamin E), NaPCA, rosa moschata (rose hip) oil, centella asiatica (goto kola), copper gluconate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, fucus vesiculosis (seaweed) extract, allantoin, sodium riboflavin phosphate, chondrus crispus (Irish moss), lavandula officinalis (lavender) essential oil, anthemis nobilis (chamomile) flower essential oil, vitis vinifera (grape) seed extract.

4) Badger Balm – Sunscreen Lotion Aloe Vera – SPF 16

An option for darker skin types, who don‘t burn easily, but suffer from back acne. At least this product claims to be non-comedogenic! It goes on smoothly and isn‘t very greasy. Also, it does not leave a heavy white cast on your skin.

  • Sunscreen agent: non-nano zinc oxide
  • Whitening effect: no heavy whitening effect
  • Texture: lotion
  • Spreadability: easy to spread
  • Emulsifiers: sucrose polysoyate, sucrose cocoate
  • Preservatives: can‘t see any (?)
  • Scent: essential oils
  • Ingredients: non-nano, uncoated zinc oxide 10.55%, aloe barbadensis (aloe) extract, olea europaea (extra virgin olive) oil, sucrose polysoyate (from soybean), aqua (purified water), ethyl palmate (from palm), sucrose cocoate (from
  •  coconut), glycerin (from palm), citrus medica limonum (lemon) extract, chondrus crispus (carrageenan) extract, xanthan gum, hydrolyzed soy protein (from soybean).

Self-Made Sunscreen

I’m a huge fan of do-it-yourself cosmetics! Homemade cremes and potions are creative, unique and free of weird ingredients. By making my own products, I can control exactly what goes in. In addition, most stuff I‘m making works even better than many commercial products!

But before you are going to invest in zinc oxide powder, gloves and a mask, hold on!

Homemade sunscreen mixtures can go on unevenly leaving portions of your skin vulnerable to the sun. Moreover, most forms of zinc oxide (or titanium dioxide) available on the market consist of nano particles, which can easily be absorbed by your lungs and nasal passages and represent a serious health risk.

That‘s why powder or spray sunscreens are not recommended, especially if they contain nano particles and are applied to the face!

Nevertheless, I was naughty and curious enough to try a few sunscreen concoctions (I bought non-nano zinc oxide!), but I must say that I didn’t get any results, that were cosmetically acceptable: too greasy, extremely whitening, not spreadable – and they simply didn’t feel “safe“ enough. In my opinion, it‘s not worth it!

After Sun and Sunburn Treats

And what if you get a sunburn? Natural sunburn remedies can be as close by as your kitchen table. Realize that all burns will continue to go deeper, even after removing yourself from the sun. That‘s why you need to cool the area as soon as possible! Don‘t put any oily substances on sunburned skin! The oily layer will prevent your skin to cool down.

  • A self-made spray out of mineral or distilled water (or a ready-made thermal water spray) will cool down the burning sensation: Spray liberally over face and body whenever you feel you need it! Keep the spray bottle in the fridge!
  • Aloe vera gel has anti-inflammatory properties, is moisturizing and cooling. In addition, it‘s a first aid remedy for gazes, bites and stings as well!
  • Alcohol-free organic floral waters are another great cooling and skin-healing option: hamamelis, lavender, tea tree, chamomile and helicrysum floral waters are always a good choice. Avoid mint hydrosols, because these will likely increase the burning sensation when your skin is so delicate!
  • Apply compresses soaked in very strong (and cold!) black or green tea as a gentle anti-inflammatory treatment for at least 10 minutes several times a day. Tea contains tannic acid which will help to fortify and cool your skin, while supporting the healing process. Use compresses that are permeable to air. Avoid to seal your skin hermetically at any cost.

If you are just looking for some after-sun pampering, you can also add some oils to your
skincare “routine“:

  • Coconut oil feels nice and cooling and melts as soon as it gets in contact with your skin. Keep it in your fridge for an extra cooling sensation.
  • In the evenings, you can apply a few drops of rosehip, pomegranate or evening primrose oil to your face. These oils are phototoxic during the day, but are great skin-healers at nighttime: linoleic and linolenic acids have an anti-inflammatory and soothing effect on sun-damaged skin. Moreover, rosehip and pomegranate oil are full of antioxidants and can help to restore skin tissue and make existing hyper-pigmentation marks fade – at least a little bit.

Final Tips!

  • Try to avoid chemical sunscreens and those containing nano particles, parabens or unstable oils. Choose a sunscreen containing the mineral reflector zinc oxide (not nano!) instead. Sun protection factors of 20-30 are great to protect your skin against sunburn, the main cause of skin cancer. Think, that all 100+++ factor claims are just another sneaky selling trick! Essentially, these products won‘t give you a much higher protection than any regular SPF 30 sunscreen, but will most likely overload your skin with unnecessary irritants!
  • Mineral sunscreen should be the last product you apply. Yet, mineral foundation or a few dabs of makeup can be applied on top of your sunscreen.
  • Depending on your skin type, 5-15 minutes of sun exposure daily – without any sunscreen applied – are beneficial for your skin and for the health of your whole organism: The sun helps to stimulate vitamin D production. At the same time, we should always remember not to overdo our sunbathing sessions. The more time we spend in the sun, the more liver spots and hyper-pigmentation marks we will get. The more moles we have, the greater is the risk of developing skin cancer. Keep in mind, that the difference between medicine and poison is the dose!
  • Clothing can protect you, especially a wide-brimmed hat (a sombrero or one of those big chinese straw hats are great for this purpose), big sunglasses and long-sleeved shirts. However, a white cotton shirt is not enough! It has a maximum protection factor of 10, which means that dangerous UV-A and-B rays can easily penetrate through the fabric. If your shirt it wet, the SPF goes nearly down to zero. Wear tightly woven, dark, but airy and comfortable fabrics instead. In addition, sunglasses are not just a fashion accessory! If your sunglasses have been certified by the CE label, your eyes are not only protected from UV radiation, but also from a well known eye disease – cataracts. It‘s a progressive disease, which clouds the lens of your eyes: Affected people begin to see things blurred at first, then contrasts will decrease, while sensitivity increases.
  • The sun’s UV radiation is most intense during the middle part of the day between 10-11 am and 3-4 pm (this time range is varying a little, depending on where you live). During these hours, stay inside – or stay in the shade wearing your hat and sunglasses. Make a siesta! It depends on your skin type, the time of day and the weather conditions, how long you can expose yourself to the sun. As a general rule of thumb, several short periods of exposure are less “dangerous” than a long one. Small children up to one year of age should always stay in the shade!
  • Remember to drink enough water (2-3 liters a day) and to integrate lots of antioxidants and carotenoids into your diet: fresh greens, berries, tomatoes, carrots, paprika, broccoli, peaches, grapefruits, melons, apricots, mangos, avocados, … . All in all: lots of fresh and colourful vegetables and/or fruit. Red, yellow and green! Feed your skin from the inside out!

Okay, I know, I know! This was long! Maybe your friends are already calling you every three minutes to ask you out, simply because it‘s such a lovely sunny day! I know, it was a whole lot of information and definitely not easy to digest.

Well? Go out and have some fun!

What about you? Which types of sunscreen do you prefer to use? Do you use any sunscreen at all? Have you ever found a sunscreen that doesn’t make you break out? Share your holy grails with us! And tell us about your doubts, concerns or convictions!