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Eco-Friendly Sunscreen: SPF, the Environment, and Your Health

Eco-friendly sunscreen is good for your skin, your health, and the planet. Eco-friendly sunscreen is good for your skin, your health, and the planet.

The sun is shining, the beer is cooling. You’ve got the top down and you’re ready to roll. Not so fast George Hamilton. Did you remember the sunscreen? According to the National Cancer Institute, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, affecting more men than women. Though factors such as heredity and your geographic location can increase your odds of getting a melanoma, it’s the most preventable of the “c” words.

When hard pressed at the drugstore, take caution when grabbing the house brand. There’s a reason it’s cheaper.

In this case, prevention does indeed come by the ounce; but beware, not all are created equal. Read labels carefully, minding the SPF number as well as the UVA and B protection factor. Ask if it is earth-friendly. Does it contain chemicals that are not only potentially harmful to the environment, but your own skin as well? The Natural Resources Defense Council warns that certain “nanoparticles” in creams may be harming your skin and our Mother Earth.

When hard pressed at the drugstore, take caution when grabbing the house brand. There’s a reason it’s cheaper. Think of it as Popov versus Gray Goose. When in doubt, buy the baby appropriate tube. Who cares if there’s a cute duck on the label? It’s what’s inside that counts. We discovered that the more juvenile the packaging, the less chemicals in the product. For example, we’d choose Johnson & Johnson Baby sunscreen over No-Ad any day.

To help narrow your choices, we’ve chosen some of our favorite products for every budget, featuring only products that come clean in the “green” department. Love your body; love the planet – both will pay you back.

Alba Botanica Sun


Recommended for all skin types is Alba's Natural Very Emollient facial sun block. Certified organic, the lightweight and fragrance-free cream lists its natural ingredients as Aloe Vera, calendula and chamomile helping moisturize, calm and soothe your skin. Green tea, gingko biloba and vitamin E provide rich antioxidant protection. Rounding it out is a dose of energizing ginseng. The family of Alba products is available at many online retailers as well as Whole Foods, Target and the natural section of your local grocer. Prices start at $9.95.

Badger Balm


There's so much to love about Badger products: They're all-natural, contain certified organic ingredients and there's a cute critter on the packaging. The family-run business was realized in a New Hampshire kitchen to cure founder Bill Whyte's case of cracked and dry hands utilizing olive oil, beeswax, castor oil and Aloe Vera. He was so pleased with the results that he went into business. Eleven years later, Badger boasts 40 employees all committed to the company's mission - providing consumers with all-natural, quality products. We like the organic SPF 30 sunscreen For Face & Body, $16 for 3 oz. Look for it at REI, Ulta or see the web site.

Dr. T’s Soopergoop


I pity the fool who doesn’t keep a Dr. T’s Supergoop Sun Stick handy. Slip it in your backpack or glovebox (taking care that it doesn’t melt) and reapply to overexposed places like your nose and cheeks. It’s also great for overlooked places like neck, ankles, elbows, hands, and feet. It’s a convertible or Jeep owner’s must-have. A tube is $14.50 and available at Sephora, Nordstrom and Barney’s.

J.R. Watkins Natural Apothecary


Founded in 1868 by its namesake, the J.R. Watkins Apothecary is well-known for mixing up natural potions and elixirs for the body and the home. What you can't slather on your body, you can eat or clean your floors with, and now you can protect your skin naturally against UV A, B & C rays. The Watkins unique formula contains all-natural titanium dioxide to provide your skin protection from harmful damage and premature aging. The SPF 30 lotion is 95% natural, plant-based, housed in eco-friendly packaging and a steal at $11.99 for 4 oz. Request a catalog, buy online or look for it in your neighborhood co-op and select Target stores.

Purple Prairie Botanicals


Purple Prairie was started when a Minnesota mom of three grew sick and tired of what most over-the-counter skin products did to her skin. So, she rolled up her sleeves and created a line of products that are across the board earth-friendly and cruelty-free. The Environmental Working Group gave the SunStuff SPF 15 mineral lotion (9.5 oz for $19) its highest marks as it is 99% natural, biodegradable and environmentally safe. Purple Prairie is available at a handful of stores across the US and accepts orders on its web site. Orders over $40 ship for free and we’re sure you’ll fill up that virtual cart in no time.

Honorable mention goes to these fine products, currently only available via the web:

Soléo All Natural Sunscreen


ecō BODY


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Badger is just one eco-friendly sun block that you can get. Make sure you know what’s going on your skin!
Last modified on Thursday, 30 August 2012 14:22

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