My favourite sunscreens

Well, I don’t know about you, but this past week (the first week of November) we’ve just been hit with February-style weather – ie. scorching hot days that prompts one to check if the road is melting a little?!  The above photo was taken just last weekend, when we experienced a 27ºC spring day at Mount Maunganui (there were hundreds of people on either side of this photo, by the way!)

If you’ve been reading my blog from the beginning you’ll know that I used to make my own sunscreen, but I’ve stopped doing that for a couple of years and I’ve gone back to buying SPF tested sunscreens. Why?

1. I have too much to do; I have to pick my ‘good’ battles based on priority or else pay the price of a nervous breakdown (this has been a lesson learned the hard way …over and over again 🙄)

2. It’s too difficult to control when/how the kids will expose themselves to the sun at the most dangerous times of the day. When they were little, I arranged things so they were napping in the middle of the day, and I could control how much their skin was covered by clothes. Now, that is pretty much impossible. Oh, how I miss my children’s day naps!

3. I swear the sun is getting more and more vicious every year! I have quite olive Asian skin and when I was young (before the days of the Slip-slop-slap campaign) I don’t recall ever getting sunburnt unless I was completely irresponsible and basically grilled myself under the sun for a whole day. Now, I can get sunburnt doing an hour of gardening in the middle of spring and in the late afternoon if I’m not covered or sunscreened up. Basically, I feel there is more risk now in using sunscreens that don’t have guaranteed levels of protection. I can still honestly say that I never had a bad experience using my own homemade sunscreen, but even then I did always acknowledge the risks.

However, I am still SUPER fussy about what products are going to make contact with my skin and the skin of my children.  As most of us now know, there are some funky ingredients mixed through 90-something percent of sunscreens/blocks available to purchase. While some of them are possible carcinogens (ironic considering we use sunscreen in an attempt to reduce our risk of cancer), the ones that scare me even more are those which contain endocrine disruptors like oxybenzone. If you want to read/understand more about this topic, I’d recommend EWG’s 2019 Guide to Sunscreen Chemicals. Fortunately, each summer there are more and more ‘natural’ mineral sunscreens available as the demand for them increases. A conscious consumer for years now, I am, however, very wary of ‘greenwashing’. There are more than a few ‘natural’ sunscreens out there which sneak a scary synthetic preservative or filter into their tiny printed ingredients list.

This year, I am pleased as punch to declare that I have finally succeeded in my quest for a sunscreen that is:

  • SPF tested
  • mineral-based, and contains ingredients that are safe enough for my liking
  • manageable to apply and not sticky or overly greasy
  • made/designed by a NZ company!

And I wanted to share these products with you, just in case you too are on an overwhelming journey, navigating through seas of sunscreen, not knowing which one/s to get!  I must warn you that these sunscreens are not cheap – alas, price is a serious obstacle for people who want safe skincare with limited financial means 😓. I guess I always think that the more of us who make ourselves afford quality/ethical products, the more affordable they might become to us and others through economies of scale…? And of course, health treatment is in the long run significantly more expensive than sickness prevention¹ – personally, I feel that our society has an ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ approach to healthcare.


So, without further ado, my two current favourite sunscreens are Antipodes Immortal SPF15 Face & Body Moisturiser (RRP$55.90 for 60mL) and Earth’s Kitchen SPF50+ Moringa & Sandalwood Baby Sun Protection ($38 for 120mL).  I use the very expensive Antipodes sunscreen on our faces, as it’s light and non-greasy enough to wear comfortably every day. Being a mineral sunscreen, it does leave a very light white film on your face, but it doesn’t bother me at all because I’m not embarrassed to show that I wear sunscreen! We’ve noticed that our son gets breakouts of little pimples on his face after wearing some of the thicker mineral sunscreens, so that’s why the kids’ faces get expensive sunscreen too. For our bodies, I can’t rave enough about the Earth’s Kitchen sunscreen. It’s thicker than the Antipodes one, but it’s not sticky and greasy at all. It’s BioGro certified, SPF50 (apparently the world’s first sunscreen to be so!) and proud not to be even a teeny, tiny bit greenwashed! It smells really lovely too, a nice bonus.

If you’ve never used them before you should know that the mineral sunscreens are a bit harder to remove at the end of the day than chemical sunscreens. I read that two things will effectively remove the white film from your skin: detergent or oil. Hmm, if you’ve read my blog post this far, I’m guessing that the word ‘detergent’ doesn’t excite you much! Apparently, massaging a small amount of good quality oil (hempseed/ apricot/ avocado oils – even olive oil) into your face and then washing it all off with a warm wet facecloth is an effective method of removing mineral sunscreen. I say ‘apparently’ because I haven’t really tried it myself. I’m just not keen on the idea of oily facecloths and oily bathroom sinks because I don’t really enjoy cleaning much since I have children and dogs in my life who undo my good work the moment I’ve got around to doing it 🙄.  At the moment I clean the sunscreen off our faces at the end of the day by using a cream cleanser, which I wipe away with a warm, wet facecloth.  It works well enough for us right now, and my son’s skin looks nice and pimple-free which is a good sign.

Lastly, I’ll just add that one of the ways I get our sunscreen expenses to stretch out a bit in summer is by using GoToob refillable silicone squeeze tubes² (pictured above). I have a few of the small 37mL tubes in my bathroom cabinet and they get put to good use every summer. I squeeze some sunscreen into a tube for each of my children so they can take their own sunscreen with them to school/pre-school in a tube that is 1. refillable, and 2. not prone to splitting. The only part of the Gotoob that could break easily would be the flip-top cap lid, but I believe you can buy replacement caps rather than have to toss out the whole tube. This way I can buy one expensive tube of sunscreen and easily divide it between the four members of our family, and have us use it all up before buying another tube.

If you have a favourite natural sunscreen you would like to share with me and/or other readers of Mrs Goodness, I have just created a forum here on the Mrs Goodness website. Feel free to contribute your ideas/knowledge/experiences via the forum and share your interest in good living with the rest of us!

Please note that I’ve written this blog post of my own free will, with no incentives or inducements from either Antipodes or Earth’s Kitchen. I freely endorse these products as someone who is NOT an expert in sun protection, skin care, chemistry, or cancer. I’m just a mum who has skin, and who sees the health and wellbeing of myself and my family as a top priority 🙂

¹ An interesting read: “Do Prevention Or Treatment Services Save Money? The Wrong Debate” by Ron Z. Goetzel

² At this time I have one 3/pack of GoToobs available in my shop. Otherwise, I bought my first GoToobs from Bivouac. You will likely find them in most camping/outdoor stores. 

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