Reef-friendly suncreams

Many thanks to Hattie Webb for her help researching this post. Go and check out her Instagram for more on sustainability! Post contains some affiliate links, which are the only way I monetise my blog. These do not impact which products are chosen for this piece. 

As we move into summer, it becomes more and more important to take care of our skin. While up to 20 minutes in the sun without protection is great for achieving our recommended vitamin D levels, too much time in the sun can wreak havoc on our skin, both immediately (burns, sun spots) and long term (elevated risk of skin cancer, breakdown of elasticity, wrinkles etc).

Many people recommend we wear suncream year round, even on cloudy days (as up to 80% of UV radiation can pass through cloud cover), but with around 25% of the ingredients in the suncream we apply ending up in our waterways, what’s the environmental impact of this?

First off, how do suncreams work?

Sunscreens have one of two “modes of action”. Chemical sunscreens absorb ultraviolet radiation like a sponge, while mineral sunscreens containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide reflect it back from the surface of the skin like a mirror.

Which is better?

Either can work well, but the latter is better for the environment. Dermatologist Dr Catherine Borysiewicz says:

“Mineral sunscreens with a high sun protection factor, UVA and UVB protection (the former penetrates the skin more deeply but the latter is more intense and the chief cause of sunburn) are as effective as chemical sunscreens, great for people with sensitive skin or inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, and kinder to marine life,” she says. “They went out of fashion because they tended to leave a chalky white layer on the skin, but they are slowly becoming more popular again.”

What are the problematic ingredients?

Certain chemicals, found in many mainstream suncreams, have been found to be damaging to waterways and marine ecosystems. Octinoxate and Oxybenzone have been linked to coral bleaching, actively decreasing our fragile corals’ defences against climate change, and reducing their ability to reproduce and propagate.

Research suggests that coral reefs in Hawaii are exposed to 6,000 – 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotion every year, leading the island to ban suncreams containing Octinoxate or Oxybenzone, due to come into effect on 1st Jan 2021. These ingredients aren’t just harmful for corals though – they have also been linked to endocrine disruption in humans, as they can move through the skin and mimic hormones in the body, damaging sperm and reproductive hormones.

So what can we do?

Understanding why certain ingredients are harmful and choosing to avoid them is the best thing we can do to limit the impact our suncream has. Avoid aerosols too, as most of this doesn’t actually make it to the skin, instead coating everything around, including your lungs. Choosing to wear protective clothing to limit the amount of suncream you use not only saves money but will also help protect the environment.

Haereticus Environmental Laboratory also publishes a list each year of what sunscreens are safe for the environment, and the Environmental Working Group rates products with SPF values – including around 650 sunscreens and 250 moisturisers – on their environmental impact.

These are my three favourite brands and products that I try to buy whenever I’m in need of suncream. We may not be heading on holiday any time soon, but the sun is the same sun all around the world, so don’t think that it’s any weaker just because it’s cooler in the UK than your usual holiday destinations! So stock up and let me know your thoughts on these faves.

 

REN SPF 30

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This is the suncream I use on my face every morning if I’m spending time outside. It’s one of the few I’ve found that is truly mattifying (I like dewy, but there is a limit!), and REN really take their environmental credentials seriously. The bottle is made with recycled plastic and is fully recyclable, and the product is vegan and cruelty free, without any ingredients that are harmful to the environment. I cannot recommend this more as your go-to face suncream!

 

Tropic Great Barrier SPF 50

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Tropic’s entire range is certified reef-safe, vegan, cruelty free and has incentives for returning packaging too, to increase circularity. The brand is carbon neutral and sends very little (if any) waste to landfill), although I couldn’t see whether their packaging was recycled or not. Having used their other products before (though not this one), I can thoroughly recommend!

 

Green People SPF 30

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Green People use plant-based, carbon neutral packaging that is fully recyclable, and 30p from each of their sales goes to the Marine Conservation Society, a UK charity protecting our oceans and wildlife. This suncream is obviously certified reef safe too. Its texture takes a bit of getting used to, especially if the suncream is cold, and if you’re used to nicely scented suncreams this may be a bit strange, as it has no perfumes in. However it does the job – I’ve never burned with this suncream and love their aftersun and daily protection (SPF 15) too!

 

 

 

 

Summer favourites with Philips

This post is sponsored by Philips, a forward-thinking tech beauty brand that I’ve been using since I was younger. I always associated Philips with electric toothbrushes when I was younger, but growing up, the gadget lover in me has become obsessed with pretty much everything they’ve released related to beauty! I love that behind every Philips product is a suite of research, so you really know you’re getting a quality product. Also, as someone who prioritises sleep over pretty much everything else I really appreciate anything that makes my beauty regime easier, which is why I’ve partnered with Philips to share with you my beauty essentials for this summer.

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Philips Lumea Prestige IPL hair removal device

The first time I tried IPL was when I was a teenager, using it sporadically over the summer but never really following any sort of plan (the sort that’s required to get any results). THIS summer however, I’m super excited to finally be smooth as a dolphin on my legs. Like I said, I like to minimise my beauty regime, so a couple of IPL treatments for long lasting smoothness is exactly what I’m looking for! If you’re forgetful like me, the Philips Lumea IPL app will remind you of your next treatment slot, so you can be assured that you’ll get the best results possible.

The Lumea Prestige compared to my old IPL device is like a space-ship to an old 2CV – it’s beautiful, relatively compact and really works. Onto the good stuff.

IPL, or intense pulsed light works by inducing a ‘resting phase’ in the hair follicle, causing a reduction in hair regrowth. With treatments spaced 2 weeks apart over a 6 week period it’s possible to get rid of pretty much all hairs in the treatment area – up to a 92% reduction in hair growth! After that, treatments are only needed every month or two if hairs start to grow back. Helpfully, the device has a ‘SmartSkin sensor’ which assesses the skin tone and automatically uses the correct setting, so you get the best results. I’ve been using the product on my legs (goodbye shaving cuts!) and for me it gave setting number ‘4’. Check out the brand official page here for skin and hair type suitability.

The product comes with full instructions and all the necessary kit, including different heads for the device, for underarms, bikini and face. It can be used with or without a cord so it’s super convenient. The app gives step-by-step instructions too and creates a personal treatment plan, so you’ll be getting professional level results without that price tag, which I think is amazing!

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Philips VisaPure Advanced three-in-one at home facial cleansing device

As a busy person with relatively little free time each evening, I really try to max out my ‘me’ time when I get it. The VisaPure Advanced has been a welcome addition into that routine. Not only is it absolutely beautiful (and it really is), it also has multiple functions to help you streamline your routine. Usually multi-functioning products scare me a little, and complicated controls really throw me off, but the ‘intelligent head recognition’ design means that whichever head you put onto the main body, it does the correct programme for that head, so no complicated controls!

The whole cleansing programme only takes a minute, with the brush head pausing between different areas of the face – so you do the right cheek, then it pauses, then the left cheek, another pause, then forehead and nose, so you end up doing the whole face correctly. I use a little cleanser and a splash of water every evening, which removes all makeup from the day. I love this because it means I don’t have to keep buying expensive (and wasteful) makeup remover wipes! This cleansing device is also 10 times more effective than cleansing by hand, which explains why my skin is so much brighter after using the VisaPure Advanced for just over a week.

The other heads I use maybe twice a week for a little extra ‘me’ time. The fresh eyes attachment is very cooling (especially useful if you’re tired and/or have puffy eyes as it encourages lymphatic drainage from the area) and the face massager just helps me relax and I feel like it’s doing a lot of good. It’s based on Japanese massaging techniques, which probably explains the relaxation factor! It’s the perfect excuse for a mini facial in the comfort of your own home.

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The VisaPure Advanced has three different heads for the perfect mini-facial at home!

Philips VisaPure Mini

Just like the VisaPure Advanced, the VisaPure Mini has been incorporated into my everyday routine as my go-to facial cleanser for on the move. As someone with oily skin, I love that it reduces oil levels without drying out the skin which is really important for me. When you spend a lot of time at the gym, oil and sweat can build up, but over cleansing can leave your skin dry. The VisaPure Mini is perfect for that – it offers the perfect level of cleansing after a gym session or before bed. It’s also super easy to stick in your gym bag because it’s so compact! It also lasts for about 45 uses before re-charging, so it’s good to keep in your gym bag for several weeks before needing to take it out to charge or for travelling.

I would recommend this product if you’re looking for something easy to travel with that improves your skincare regime (it’s 6x better than cleansing by hand!) but that’s also really good value.

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Perfect for your gym bag or travels, the VisaPure Mini is a very welcome addition to my life

Philips Anti-Pollution brush head

If you live in a big city, you’ll probably be aware of the amount of pollution we encounter everyday. Pollution is not only bad for our lungs and arteries, but it also clogs up our skin, dulling it. It’s always amazed me how much grime can collect on the face after a day out in the city! The Philips Anti-Pollution brush head has been a life saver for me. It connects to the VisaPure Mini and the VisaPure Advanced, so it’s really easy to take wherever you think you’ll need it most.

I hadn’t noticed the amount pollution had been dulling my skin until I used this brush head, but the amount of people who have told me my skin is glowing after just over a week of use is proof enough for me! The combination of the charcoal sponge and soft bristles work to dislodge particles from the pores, meaning your skin will look SO much clearer. 10/10 would recommend with either the VisaPure Advanced or Mini based on my experience!

I hope these reviews help you choose which product will help you step-up your summer beauty game! I for one, cannot live without them!

TL:DR

My recommendations: if you’re looking for an easy facial cleanser that basically does all the hard work for you, get the VisaPure Mini – it’s super transportable and easy to use. The Anti-Pollution brush head has been a godsend for brightening my skin, so if you live in a city, I would recommend this too.

If you want something a little more luxurious for some serious ‘me’ time, the VisaPure Advanced has everything you need, with 3 different heads for cleansing, eye cooling and facial massage. The intelligent head design means that it basically does all the work for you, so no fuss trying to get the right settings!

For long-term hair removal without the price tag of laser (and yes, they are two different things), the Lumea Prestige IPL device is amazing. Matched with the Philips Lumea IPL app and smart skin sensor it will help you get the best results you can. It’s super quick too, with 92% reduction in hair growth within 6 weeks when used properly! Honestly this has been a vital addition to my routine, and I can’t wait to be hair-free soon!

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Enjoy your summer, whichever product you choose!