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I Tested The Top 7 Zero Waste Sunscreens So You Don't Have To

I Tested The Top 7 Zero Waste Sunscreens So You Don't Have To

There are a lot of blogs out there talking about "the best zero waste sunscreens", but almost none of these bloggers actually try out all of the products for themselves.  

We don't want to waste your time or money buying sunscreen you don't like, so I'm testing  the top 7 sustainable sunscreen brands so you don't have to.

What's The Problem With Traditional Sunscreen?

1. Plastic

I don't think I need to say much on this. We all know that we're in a plastic crisis, and that after plastic is produced it will never disappear.

2. Health

The skin is the largest organ, and because it's porous, it absorbs everything we put onto it. Making it important to choose safe ingredients.

For example, just in 2021, scientists found benzene—a carcinogen which is also found in vehicle emissions and cigarette smoke—in 78 U.S. sun-care products. This sparked a huge sunscreen recall for popular brands such as: SunBum, Coppertone, Neutrogena, and Aveeno for containing carcinogens. 

And in animal research, the popular chemicals in sunscreens called: oxybenzone and octinoxate, were found in our breast milk and urine. They've been linked to hormonal and reproductive disorders.

Now, to be clear, there is NO conclusive evidence that these ingredients cause harm in humans. And big corporations will love to tell you this. However, scientifically speaking, it is incredibly hard to find conclusive evidence between chemicals, and health impacts on humans. That's because, in order to do so, you need to be able to perfectly control hundreds of different variables with hundreds of people over several years; which is just about impossible. So the best that scientists can usually, do is to just find a link or correlation.

3. Aquatic Environments

The National Ocean Service says that oxybenzone and octinoxate contaminate aquatic environments, and may bleach or kill coral and cause reproductive issues and birth defects for fish, mussels and sea urchins.

What's the Difference Between Chemical & Mineral Sunscreen:

Mineral (natural) sunscreen sits on the surface of our skin and reflects UV radiation,  while chemical sunscreens sinks into our skin, and absorb UV rather than reflecting it.

So warning up front, it's not supposed to rub in! Which I know some people might not be used to. It will also be harder to wash off than normal chemical sunscreen. 

Brands I've Tried:

    Each brand is reef safe, organic, uses non-nano zinc oxide as their active ingredient, and free from benzene.

    Winner - Raw Elements

    Score: 5/5

    Works just as mineral sunscreen should!

    The stick applies smooth, and easily rubs onto my entire face. Plus, when it comes to working out, the products pass the sweat test, and doesn't budge. Keeping my eyes free and clear of sunscreen. 

    In terms of the body lotion, it applies smoothly, and it doesn’t leave streaks or too much of a “zinc” look. It also smells great and is easy for the kiddos to get on!

    Runner Up - Little Hands Hawaii

    Score: 5/5

    This sunscreen has an easy application with a dreamy smell (frankincense, my fave!) to leave your skin feeling ready to block bad rays all while enjoying the sunshine.

    I enjoyed using this one daily, adding some color to the face without having to worry about actually going in the sun to get some color.

    It is not irritating, smells so good (again, I feel like they made this just for me) and it even uses kokum butter which makes it a great option for sensitive or acne-prone skin!

    The tin is also SPF 35, which is the highest SPF rating out of all the sunscreens which I think is a great plus.

    Buy Little Hands Hawaii Suncreen from Ecoternatives for $16.50 | Retails for $22.00

    #3 - All Good Sunscreen

    Score: 4.5/5

    This sunscreen was good, and did a great job at not getting me burnt. 

    The reason I rated it lower is just because although it's similar to the first two, it seemed a bit more oily. The company also has a few products made with plastic in their catalog, which obviously isn't sustainable.

    the tin is very small, but like all of these mineral sunscreens, a little goes a long way.

    #4 - Surf Durt

    Score: 4/5

    The name is sick, the packaging is dope, and it works!

    It applies smoothly, but with small "durt" particles that take some rubbing before they blend into the rest of the sunscreen.

    Like Little Hands Hawaii, it also states it has an 80 minute water resistance, so you can enjoy your time without having to worry about getting out of the water to continuously reapply.

    The cons were that it smelled a little more like, well, "mud" - and felt a little thicker on my face than the first two brands which were a bit lighter. 

    #5 - Tidal Wave Organics

    Score: 3.5/5

    This sunscreen was enjoyable to put on and didn’t feel too thick or leave a bad residue. And of course, all the ingredients were safe and natural, as well as hydrating for the skin.

    Unfortunately, it was really difficult to get off after a day in the sun, that's why I'm giving it a 3.5 out of 5.

    #6 - Forah

    Score: 3/5

    The cute yellow metal tube, the ease of application, and the smell were an instant attraction for me.

    I loved the brand and sunscreen but the only downside is that it’s active ingredient isn't: non-nano zinc. Instead, it has titanium zinc oxide, which can cause irritation to sensitive skin or the eyes, nose and throat.

    It's incredibly expensive and didn't work any better than the ones I've tested already, so overall, this sunscreen gets a 3 out of 5.  

    #7 - SunTribe

    Score: 2.5/5

    I was really hoping to like this, but it was almost impossible to get out of the tin.

    It closely resembles clay, and someone could most definitely form it into a tiny espresso cup, no questions asked. 

    Once warmed for a bit, it is a lot easier to remove from the tin and use. Overall the texture wasn't great. 

    Concluding Remarks

    I try to cover up with my clothes and hats as much as I can when I'm in the sun, but when I do use sunscreen, I use Little Hands Hawaii. It's incredibly affordable at Ecoternatives compared to other brands, and works great.

    They're the only FDA approved zero waste sunscreen made by a sustainable family-run company in Hawaii. They also donate a portion of their profits to environmental nonprofits!



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