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Is your sunscreen natural and chemical free? Probably not

man applying sunscreen

Science Vs: "100% natural" and "chemical free" sunscreen claims

With the rising demand for sunscreen made without 'chemical' UV filters, many sunscreen brands are claiming to be 100% natural and chemical free. Unfortunately, it is just marketing bullsh*t. There is no such thing as 100% chemical free sunscreen and “natural” sunscreen isn’t necessarily healthier for us or better for the planet. Why? Because everything around us is made of chemicals. I get it! When I see the word “natural” on a product I think ooh yes I like nature and natural things! But then my science brain (and people like the Sustainable Scientist, whom this blog post was inspired by) makes me search for a more scientifically accurate answer. And here it is.

Chemistry 101

A chemical is defined as “any substance consisting of matter”. Water is a chemical! 
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Chemicals can however be natural or synthetic (created in a lab).
“Natural chemicals” are also not necessarily better than synthetic. Example: mercury, arsenic and cyanide are all natural chemicals, but are extremely toxic. Some natural substances, like palm oil, are having a devastating effect on our environment. Imagine if we could make palm oil in a lab, without destroying rainforests in the process. 
We often see the words “toxic chemicals” thrown about, especially on social media.
But the truth is that the dose makes the poison. Everything is toxic in certain amounts, including water! (Yes, even water is harmful when you have too much of it).

Science of Sunscreens

Active ingredients in sunscreens come in two forms, mineral and chemical filters. While minerals are ultimately made up of chemical elements, they are distinguishable from chemical UV filters as they are physical particles that sit on top of the skin (as opposed to being absorbed).  Sunscreens that are made with mineral UV filters are more likely to be branded as “natural” and “chemical-free”.
You won’t find any of the following ingredients in our products:
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Petrochemicals
FD&C dyes
Synthetic fragrance
Parabens
Nano-particles
oxybenzone
octinoxate
octisalate
octocrylene
homosalate
avobenzone
titanium dioxide
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Summary

Ultimately, the most important thing to keep in mind is to read the ingredient list and buy products with simple ingredients that you recognise and trust. We believe less is more which is why our sunscreen is made with as few ingredients as possible and we have detailed information available on our website about all of our ingredients. All of our ingredients are “non-toxic” when used in the expected concentration in a cosmetic product. Learn more about our ingredients that are safe for your body and the planet.
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This blog post was inspired by Alysha, 50% Scientist, 50% Hippy A.K.A the Sustainable ScientistAlysha is a microbiologist and climate activist. She educates, inspires and connects people with science through her awesome instagram profile. We highly recommend following her!

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