Kate Puts Four Natural and Organic Sunscreens To The Test

Slip, Slop, Slap

Kate Hall

My intentions this summer: to hit the beach… hard. As a sustainable consumer, I want my beaching decisions to look after the planet, and my sunscreen choices play a big part in this.

It would be far too ironic to enjoy nature whilst damaging it. So, I need my sunscreen to cover three important things: protect my skin from the sun, avoid damaging ocean habitats, and reduce the risk of chemicals seeping into my body.

The natural sunscreen topic is so controversial I can hardly keep up.


natural sunscreen

"The experience made me realise it was more important to look after my skin than use a natural product that didn’t protect my body; the only body I have."

I could talk for hours about how natural sunscreens are the only way to go, but at the end of the day, sunscreen needs to protect your skin from harsh rays and prevent you from getting burnt.

The right sunscreen, natural or not, can literally save your life.

Honesty attack:

I struggled through my honeymoon across Myanmar and the South Pacific attempting to prove my husband wrong by beating his chemical based sunscreen with my natural one. I failed; miserably. The experience made me realise it was more important to look after my skin than use a natural product that didn’t protect my body; the only body I have.

For the past few months I’ve put four natural sunscreens to the test under the harshest judge: The New Zealand sun. All four products claim to be chemical free and eco-friendly, but I had to test for myself if they would protect my precious skin from the blazing sun.

Swisse Natural Defence BB Cream SPF30

This little BB cream is a winner. I hate having to put sunscreen under my foundation when I’m dressing up in summer. It gets sticky and messy. Having a sunscreen and colour cover in one has worked a treat, and so far, my face has stayed ‘Rudolph free’. The BB cream is easy to apply to your face, and the ‘light beige tint’ shade was the perfect amount of light cover-up. At approximately $25NZ (depending on where you get it from), I would definitely invest in this again.

ECO Tan Natural Coconut Sunscreen SPF30

The Eco Tan sunscreen is what I will use most this summer, but only because of its sun protection and water resistant qualities. I find it hard to apply to my skin and it leaves me looking like a ghost. Application takes forever and I end up exhausted from the whole process; making me dread using sunscreen. I’ve come to realise this is the compromise for natural sunscreen as it sits on the skin deflecting rays rather than being absorbed, but it doesn’t make it any easier! This is one of the most affordable natural sunscreens I have come across at $29.95 for 150ml and to continue counterbalancing the downfalls, it smells delish.

Simple as That Natural Sunscreen Lotion SPF30

I had a bad experience with this sunscreen at the beach, so now I can truly confirm: this sunscreen is not beach friendly in the slightest. I realise it is not advertised as a water-resistant product, but even light sweat in the sun makes this cream redundant, ruling out sunbathing or sporting activities. Be REALLY careful when using this cream and take another option with you in case you end up in sweat inducing or water activities. Myself and others around me also noticed the unpleasant smell when applying. The smell settles once rubbed in, but is not at all enticing to put on your body. For $30AU a 100ml bottle, I personally wouldn’t bother wasting my time with this product in the future.

O Cosmedics Mineral Pro SPF30+

This is absolutely my personal favourite out of the four. A hint of vanilla, easy to apply, and a little goes a long way. The O Cosmedics sunscreen doesn’t claim to be water resistant, but it handles splashes and sweaty sunbathing bodies superbly. The down side of this product is the price… $47AU. Even though it has been impeccably produced and designed to the highest quality, it is hard to justify this amount of money for 75mls that may be gone in a few weeks of beach hangs.

Final thoughts

Since I was a child, my dad has always been called “The Sun Police”. I could never get out of the house without a sunscreen and hat check, and sunbathing just wasn’t an option. Even though I would roll my eyes and moan with frustration, the importance of sun protection is a lesson I’m incredibly grateful for.

Knowing what is in your sunscreens and reaching out of your comfort zone to try natural alternatives is important to protecting our oceans and reefs. But sacrificing your health and risk of sun cancer isn’t worth it. Be cautious in your natural sunscreen ventures. Always cover up when you can, wear a hat, and I’ll see ya at the beach!

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Kate Hall

I live and breathe sustainable living and ethical fashion. This alternative way of consuming and existing dominates my every waking moment- and sometimes more. Ethical fashion and living are no longer my hobbies, it has become my mission... to change the future of fast fashion and the way we consume. My husband and I strive to live a zero-waste lifestyle, live at thrift stores, and always look to 'up-cycle' rather than throw out. Eco-living is not a choice for me, it's in my blood, and I am trying with all my power for it to be the new 'norm'.