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Natural sunscreen - what to look out for?

As much as we enjoy the first rays of the sun, protection for the skin is a must. Because not only sunburn, but also light-induced skin aging cause her problems. What role does UVA and UVB radiation play in this? And which sun protection is justifiable in natural cosmetics? Here you'll find answers. We have also tested natural sunscreens for you. Discover our favorites in terms of ingredients, handling and wearing comfort.

Natural sun protection – what to look out for?

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

Sun protection is a must, but which one?

Sun protection is actually an issue all year round. Because when the sun is shining, your skin also needs protection - it doesn't care if it's winter. But of course the topic is much more present in the summer.

And sun protection has to be able to do quite a few things: first of all, naturally repel UVA and UVB rays . He can also take care of your skin. It should be as natural as possible (keyword "INCI list"). And nature shouldn't suffer for your protection, that's especially true on a beach holiday by the sea, but more on that later.

First of all, it is about what kind of sun protection can rightly be called natural cosmetics . And we have tested a few promising candidates especially for you, because FIVE does not yet have its own sunscreen.

☀️ By the way: Even " those who sit in glass houses" have to apply cream diligently, because window glass does not block UVA radiation!

Is there natural sunscreen? A look at the ingredients

Do you swear by natural cosmetics? Then the search for sun protection that meets your expectations is not entirely without it - not to mention liquid plastic, silicones and other ingredients that are usually found in conventional products. UV filters are not an easy topic from a natural cosmetics point of view, as a look at the different filter types shows...

Sun protection filters at a glance

Synthetic UV filters
💛 Invisible protection
🙁 You have to keep applying cream
🙁 Partly suspected of having a hormonal effect
🙁 Not of course
🙁 Dangerous for aquatic organisms

Conclusion: Natural care looks different. And synthetic filters are also a bad solution for nature.

Mineral UV filters
🙁 Unwanted white film possible
💛 But great for children: visible protection
💛 Photostable with long-lasting effect
💛 Natural protection
🙁 Danger to aquatic organisms not excluded

Conclusion: A clear recommendation for fans of natural cosmetics. And there are products that hardly ever "whiten" at all, as we have seen in a self-experiment.

Mineral UV filter with nano particles
💛 Invisible protection
🙁 Not harmless to health
🙁 Long-term consequences not sufficiently researched
🙁 Dangerous for aquatic organisms

Conclusion: Better be careful with this!

Synthetic filters

Synthetic filters absorb the radiation and convert it into thermal energy. These filters are invisible on the skin. However, after some time they lose their effectiveness. Therefore, the following applies above all here: apply cream frequently and generously . But honestly, who thinks about it all the time? In addition, some synthetic filters are suspected of having a hormonal effect. They are therefore not the drug of choice, especially for children and pregnant women . And, importantly for anyone who enjoys swimming, these chemicals are very harmful to the aquatic environment.

Mineral filters - the choice of natural cosmetics

On the other hand, there are the mineral filters that natural sun cosmetics normally rely on. They form mechanical protection from the two substances zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide , which deflects the sun's rays from the skin like small mirrors. They provide reliable protection and are considered harmless to health without nanoparticles . From a natural cosmetics point of view, the recommendation is clear. Addendum May 2022: Not all natural cosmetics companies do without nano. More on that below.

Only the optics clouds the joy. Because mineral filters often leave a visible, white film on the skin. You should definitely apply this sunscreen in front of the mirror and distribute it carefully. For use on the face, however, the problem with whitening can be minimized very easily by using lightly tinted sunscreens . The tint is faint and invisible, yet strong enough to significantly reduce white haze.

Nano filters are still little explored

In order to counteract the optical "whitening", some manufacturers use mineral filters with nanoparticles. Here the filter particles are so small that they leave no visible traces. However, it is still unclear how nanoparticles affect the body in the long term. Can they get into the bloodstream because of their size? How do they affect our DNA? All of this has hardly been researched. Natural cosmetics will tell you more about why we are cautious about nanotechnology in cosmetics - why plant power simply cares better and these two links:

☝️ Tip: How do you know if your sunscreen contains nanoparticles? The addition "Nano" next to individual ingredients in the INCI list. But they have lost nothing in honest natural cosmetics.

Addendum May 2022, nano in natural cosmetics: In order to prevent the notorious whitening effect, well-known natural cosmetics companies are now also using nano-sized mineral UV filters. It is therefore worth checking the INCI before purchasing.

Our conclusion: without hesitation, there is another way. Fortunately, there are some natural cosmetics manufacturers who have created virtually invisible formulations without this technology. We will present a few of them to you in a moment.

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Coral-friendly sun protection: does it even exist?

Many conventional sunscreens contain chemical compounds that dissolve in water and are downright toxic to the marine ecosystem . Unfortunately, this also applies to many "waterproof" products with synthetic filters. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports, even Stiftung Warentest has complained that waterproof protection is often limited in time (twice 20 minutes). After that, the water is better creamed than the skin, which of course also reduces the protection.

Because the chemicals contribute to coral death and damage reefs, many snorkeling trip operators have banned the use of sunscreen. Ideally, natural cosmetics not only keep an eye on skin health, but also on a healthy nature. Therefore, many natural cosmetics manufacturers ensure that their formulations are free of such substances. For example, by using mineral filters instead of chemical ones.

Addendum May 2022: However, a study from 2019 shows for the first time and now also a study by the University of Vienna from 2022 that mineral nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide have a toxic effect on marine organisms. We therefore recommend that you use non-nano all the more. Personally, I assume that non-nano filters also have a damaging effect, but to a lesser extent. However, more research needs to be done on this.

So what to do?
We know the importance of sun protection and at the same time we are learning more and more about the dangers to the environment. So what to do? Sun protection does not only mean creams, but also: first: avoid the sun, second: wear protective clothing and only third: use sunscreen. If we all follow this a little more courageously, a lot will already be done.

Mineral sunscreen filter | Five Skincare

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

Does sunscreen belong in, over or under other cosmetics?

It makes sense to combine your regular skin care product with an effective sunscreen. Sunscreen simply belongs on the skin in much larger quantities. For the face alone, a teaspoonful of sunscreen is a rule of thumb. You normally only apply a fraction of this amount of moisturizing serum and the like.

This is one of the reasons why Five Skincare does not use a sun protection factor in its care products. However, they get along very well with sunscreens. Our moisturizing serum , for example, is very light and absorbs quickly.

FIVE summer care set - dry, mature, sensitive skin

The feather-light and oil-free FIVE facial serum moisturizes and absorbs without leaving any residue. It forms the ideal care basis for sun protection.

Make-up may be added to day care. So what goes where?

Mineral filters act as sun reflectors, so they should be placed as high up as possible. So apply your day cream or moisturizing serum first and sunscreen on top. Finally, you can apply makeup. Tip: If you want to combine mineral sunscreen with make-up, use mineral make-up . This is also based on zinc oxide and may be worn as the top layer.

For synthetic filters, the order doesn't matter that much , since they react with the skin. As a rule, it is sufficient if you apply our FIVE face serum in the morning and sunscreen on top of it. If your sunscreen is very light, you can mix the face serum with some face oil in the palm of your hand and apply both together to the face. Wait a moment, then apply sunscreen over it. Good to know: not all synthetic filters are photostable. They can lose their effectiveness after a certain time in the sun. That's why it's worth replenishing.

Comparison of natural sunscreens

One of the questions I get most frequently is: " Anna, can you recommend a natural cosmetic sunscreen?" That's why I and my team tested three natural products in a self-experiment, two for the body and one product for the face. Of course, only sunscreens have it in made the selection that passed our strict INCI check All tested products are according to their INCI lists ...

✓ Broad spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection
✓ SPF 30 (so that the products can also be compared)
Free from synthetic UV filters
Free from plastic and silicone
Free from parabens
✓ Without alcohol
Free from nano particles
Cruelty Free

Mineral sunscreen for the body in the test:

Eco Cosmetics: Eco sun lotion neutral LSF 30 - without perfume 🧴

Eco Cosmetics is an independent family business specializing in sun care. Eco Cosmetics puts a lot of energy into the manufacture of innovative products and was the first manufacturer to bring a natural cosmetic sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 50+ onto the market. In order for this to succeed, the UV filter titanium dioxide is coated with an even more reflective material: alumina (corundum). Attention: The particle size is too large to get into the body through your skin, so this aluminum compound is harmless.

  • 100% natural ingredients, 28.08% organic ingredients
  • UV filter: titanium dioxide
  • Palm oil free
  • Vegan
  • 100ml, around CHF 20 / EUR 17

Biosolis sun spray SPF30 🧴

Of all three sunscreens tested, Biosolis contains the least processed ingredients and consists of over 50 percent organic ingredients. By the way, you will find the substance Aluminum Hydroxide on the INCI list. This is not harmful in this case, as it serves to encase the UV filters and they reflect the UV radiation even more. The particle size is too big to get into your body through your skin.

  • 99% natural ingredients, 51.20% organic ingredients
  • UV filter: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (only titanium dioxide in new formulation 2019)
  • Palm oil free
  • Vegan
  • 100ml, around CHF 24 / EUR 16

Our conclusion ✏️

Anna, Founder of Five Skincare:

My first impression of the Eco sunscreen and the Biosolis was about what I expected: both creams are very viscous and spread quite badly. However, my initial skepticism quickly turned into enthusiasm, because the whitening effect on the skin almost completely disappears after a maximum of one minute. That's quite an achievement for mineral sunscreens without nanoparticles.

The Biosolis is slightly easier to apply. From my point of view, however, it has the major disadvantage that the skin feels very greasy after applying the cream (and even later) . I went jogging and could tell right away that I was sweating a lot more on my arm with the Biosolis than with the Eco. That speaks quite clearly for the Eco.

Another advantage , the Eco does not smell at all , while the Biosolis has a typical sunscreen smell. It may be subtle, but it still stands out when used over a large area.

For me the Eco is clearly the winner .

Addendum: I have just come back from a 5-day paddling tour and have been able to test the Eco even more intensively, including on the face: the protective effect was very good, no sunburn even with frequent contact with water and a lot of sun. The only disadvantage: the canoe, black tops and mobile phone display were temporarily covered with a white film. This can be washed out of clothing very easily, but it was a bit more difficult with technical devices.

Sarah Jasmine, Five Skincare Online Editor:

As soon as you apply them, both feel very rich, the Biosolis especially. The whitening effect looks strong at first, but both spread well and then only a very slight shimmer remains. But you have to look closely, so not dramatically.

The wearing comfort is pleasant. The Eco in particular cares for dry areas (rough, dryness lines) really, really well. Both of them also take part in sports without hesitation. Personally, I like it when a touch of "summer" blows around my nose - so a small plus point for the Biosolis, because the other is unscented.

I was quite surprised by Eco on my face (combination skin!). It felt sticky at first, but only until it absorbed. Afterwards the skin was nice and soft. Nevertheless, this product felt a bit too heavy for my face, it may look different with dry skin. In any case, the spray from Biosolis is far too rich for my face. The oily feeling has not evaporated even hours later. I also found it difficult to apply concealer on top of it, because it immediately smeared.

My conclusion: the whitening was not a problem and the skin simply feels really well cared for for hours with both products. This is significantly longer than I know from many other sun creams. My favorite is definitely the Eco Cosmetics sun lotion because it is particularly soft on my dry skin.

Mineral sunscreen for the face tested

MÁDARA: Age Protecting Sunscreen SPF 30 🧴

Luxury sun cream for the perfect finish with regenerating ingredients. The sunscreen is tinted, which is a pretty clever move to prevent the dreaded whitening of mineral sunscreens. Compared to the other two products, the sunscreen for the face makes small compromises in the naturalness of the ingredients and is therefore not certified by Ecocert as "organic", but "only" as "natural". For example, it contains palm oil, but only in small amounts and RSPO certified.

All in all, one has to say: The Mádara stands out clearly positively in comparison to other sun creams that call themselves natural or even organic, but contain silicones, for example. With Mádara, application benefits and naturalness come together in a great symbiosis.

  • 99% natural ingredients, 8% organic ingredients
  • UV filter: zinc oxide
  • 40ml, around CHF 29 / EUR 29

Our conclusion ✏️

Anna, Founder of Five Skincare:

I don't have a single downside for this sunscreen . It's very dark toned and I was pretty sure it wouldn't suit my skin. But lo and behold, you can't see anything on the skin at all. The term Invisible nude used by Mádara is therefore 100 percent correct.

In addition, the cream is super easy to apply, is not greasy and I even started to apply it every morning over the FIVE facial serum and the FIVE facial oil . Actually, I always advise against applying sunscreen or day cream with a sun protection factor to your face in the morning for the office, as chemical filters start to disintegrate shortly after application. The UV filter that was applied in the morning may no longer be effective in the evening at the aperitif. However, this is not the case with sunscreens with a mineral filter – such as Mádara sunscreen. Mineral filters cannot go "bad", so protection is still guaranteed.

I can give an absolute buy recommendation for the Mádara sunscreen. I didn't think this was possible.

Sarah Jasmine, Five Skincare Online Editor:

The tinted cream from Mádara was an absolutely positive surprise for me. Admittedly, the first thing I thought about the color was: Ouch, that doesn't fit at all! But lo and behold, the cream melts so well with the skin that it only looks like I've already gotten a touch of the sun. Completely different than getting the wrong nuance with the foundation. Just be careful with your favorite white blouse, it can rub off.

The consistency is very pleasant, not too heavy, and spreads easily. Even after hours, the skin still feels cared for and surprisingly soft. And that although I only applied the cream over some rose water. Very important for my combination skin: no oily or sticky feeling. Conclusion: I love it!

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