So, last summer, I went on a rant about sunscreens and how annoyed I was at the selection available to customers at local retailers (such as Target®) since the majority of their products contained chemical sunscreen and fragrance, which can cause severe allergic reactions. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE Target®, and I’m happy to see that their selection has started to improve by providing customers with more variety. But there are also other specialty retailers that have stepped up to the plate and are focused around holistic and healthier options that actually perform. One of them is Thrive Market®, which is membership-based, and provides a lot of great beauty and bath products that align with greener, more conscientious formulas. In the last several years, growing concerns around chemical sunscreen ingredients from consumers has caused even the American Academy of Dermatology™ to weigh in on the subject. Their current guidance, per the FDA, is that there are two sunscreen ingredients that are considered “generally recognized as safe and effective” (GRASE), which are Titanium-dioxide and Zinc-oxide. Reason is that these are physical sunscreens, and generally cause no irritation or reaction on the skin. The FDA is currently calling for more safety data on the majority of chemical sunscreen ingredients on the market (like avobenzone) in order to determine if they can be classified as GRASE. Remember to take that into consideration as you shop for products! The product technology keeps getting better and better, and I’m excited what these newer brands are bringing to the table for both kids and adults.
This past Spring, I selected both Target® and Thrive Market® as retailers to shop for mineral-based sunscreens, and put them to the test for the first half of summer. My competitive sailing season starts in May, and our outdoor concert series (that I help organize) begins in June, so I’ve had plenty of opportunity to truly test out the performance of these products by spending some long hours outside. Here’s my review of two brands that I’ve really come to love over the past two months!
First up, Bare Republic® is gaining wider shelf presence and online assortment depth within Target. Their products offer higher-SPF levels, closer to other national brand sunscreens. Most experts will say that you should at least use an SPF 30, but some people with ultra-fair skin may want a higher Sun Protection Factor (SPF) based on their personal needs. This Zinc-oxide + Titanium-dioxide formula is easy to apply and melts quickly to absorb, and doesn’t leave the feeling of a film on the skin. Plus, it’s fragrance-free, hydrating, and acts like a beauty product – it contains antioxidants derived from algae extracts, and natural oils. It’s also vegan, paraben free, and water-resistant. The staying power of this product is great too. My husband commented that he felt it performed well during his longer cycling rides, and wants the stick version for his bike pack. This brand offers up multiple sunscreen application styles, such as sticks and sprays. With all the controversy around spray sunscreens affecting asthma and allergy sufferers, I’ve decided to stay with the simplicity of the tube style and avoid any adverse side effects.
Second, Thrive Market® has been offering a growing assortment of suncare items, including the brand Raw Elements®. I decided to try two styles from them (stick and tin), as I was really intrigued per it’s multi-purpose approach and avoidance of plastic packaging for the larger product. I always have a sunscreen stick in my purse since they are so convenient and quick to use. But I’ve been super critical of formulas – they can’t feel like a ton of wax or be sticky, and need to be smooth under my lipstick. Well, Raw Elements® definitely delivered and then some. This is a Zinc-oxide based formula, packed with natural extracts and ingredients. Like Bare Republic, it contains beeswax, but even in the stick style it didn’t feel heavy. Oh, and the tin style? Amazing. It’s hydrating, creamy, and buildable – almost the same type of adjectives you’d expect to describe a good foundation. It does not feel heavy under makeup, and the product does what it says. Application tip: run the back of your index finger along the top of the product, using your fingernail to scrape up a dime-sized amount and rub gently between your fingers to heat it up for smooth absorption in to the skin. The tin looks small, but really lasts. Also, it’s been great to travel with, as the cap screws on tightly and has less risk of bursting open from pressure.
In short, both brands really deliver great protection for kids and adults and are very affordable. The skin-friendly formulas are as performance-driven as they are eco-conscious. For those living on the coasts, or going on a beach vacation, both are also reef-safe. If you’ve done any research on the topic of tourism and ocean water around reefs, you’ll know that the sunscreen chemicals of oxybenzone and octinoxate harm corals and are of growing concern to marine biologists. My tip? You’ll provide huge impact to speak with your wallet by choosing safer formulas for yourself and your family, which in turn will help convince large manufacturers to change their formulations.