Our Favorite Natural Sunscreen: Free of chemicals and the ghost effect

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Working in the garden and the hope of summer plans has me thinking about sunscreen. I’m outside whenever possible because the fresh air seems to open up my mind and spirit. More than that, the sun seems to heal me. Soaking in that Vitamin D feels so good for my body and my mental health. Still, I need to protect my skin. This can be a tricky balance, loving the sun but protecting myself from burning.

Conventional sunscreens are filled with chemicals, especially the easy to spray kind that have become so popular for people with young children. While I don’t have children, I use to work summers at a daycare. Lining those children up for sunscreen was like trying to grease a spooked pig. I understand the need for convenience, but deeply care about the ingredients I put on my skin. A chemical free life is so important to me. Since removing these irritants from everyday life my eczema, asthma, headaches, and fibromyalgia pain have all found great relief. In my search for sunscreen, I knew it needed to be as clean as a possible.

The Ghost Effect

When I first tried natural sunscreen products I would laugh at what I called the “Ghost Effect”. It was super thick, stark white, and hard to rub in. You’d leave for the beach looking like a ghost, which was especially obvious on my olive skin. Many natural sunscreens were super oily or smelled like feet. Some brands called themselves natural, but the word natura isn’t a regulated label, meaning companies can easily brand themselves “natural” without really earning the title. Unsafe additives were fooling customers into believing they found a safe product.

Check your products for chemicals

I’ve tried many sunscreen products and I’ve narrowed them down to a few brands I keep coming back to again and again. While many of these can be purchased on Amazon, you might find yourself in a store wondering about a product I haven’t listed. I encourage you to use a couple of apps to check the product rating. EWG Healthy Living App and Think Dirty App will give you products reviews based on the ingredients. If I can’t find something on one app, the other usually has it in the database. I use these apps for more than just sunscreen. Both are useful for checking all personal care and household products.

The Gurney Favorites

Coola Face

Coola is my favorite sunscreen of them all. While expensive, it’s truly worth every penny. The active ingredients are so pure, while the added rosehip oil is deeply nourishing to the skin. I buy it specifically for sensitive areas like my face and neck so I don’t need more than a pea size drop at each application. One bottle has a shelf life of 2 years, my bottle has plenty leftover from last summer. so the cost seems worth it. Coola Face is tinted to save you from the ghost effect. With the texture of a silky smooth cream, it’s so light you cannot feel it on your skin.

This sunscreen is so highly rated because it passes all of the health and environmental tests. I love that it’s safe for my body and marine life. Coola has SPF 50 available, but SPF 30 is plenty for me. For Ohio adventures with intermittent shade I might just apply once in the morning. At the beach with direct sun, I’d apply 3-4 times in a day.

Bare Republic Tinted Face

If you are looking for a similar experience to Coola but hope for a better price, Bare Republic is the one for you. Bare Republic is distributed by the Coola company so their active ingredients are the same. Bare Republic lacks the special additives that make Coola so silky smooth, but it does have its own light texture that is still very appealing. A few years ago we lost Jonathan’s incredible dad to a hard battle with cancer. Knowing that cancer began in the skin, I’m super careful to protect Jonathan which can be tricky. The beard and prickly hairs on Jonathan’s head make it difficult to apply sunscreen, but Bare Republic has the right consistency for the job. This sunscreen is also tinted which blends nicely with Jonathan’s Italian skin. Being so active Jonathan is super picky about sunscreen. Normal sunscreen will run and get in his eyes, but Coola and Bare Republic sink in so well it’s not an issue.

Think Sport

Thinksport is incredibly clean with non – nano Zinc Oxide as the main ingredient. It’s no wonder why EWG rates this sunscreen so well. My sister in law who has two children and also has reason to be cancer cautious recommended this brand to me years ago – we have loved it ever since! While it does have a thick texture, I like how Thinksport is not oily like many natural sunscreens. We work hard to rub it in, but that effort is worth it.

I trust Thinksport to protect Jonathan in all his adventures. Swimming or sweating, this sunscreen stays on really well. Thinksport has a line specially made for kids too. I haven’t tried it, but it seems like the same formula as the regular Thinksport. I noticed some added aloe and other extracts to soothe a child’s skin, but other than that the formula is the same.

Babo Botanicals

I buy Babo because it diversifies my products. Babo is my favorite for all over body protection. They have an SPF 30 option which is nice when 50 feels too heavy. The texture is think like most natural sunscreen and I do get a bit of ghost effect, but I mostly use this sunscreen for legs and arms so that’s okay with me. Babo is one of the best rated sunscreens for children because the ingredients are so safe. While I tend to reach for Coola and Thinksport most often, Babo is still a great product compared to many on the market. I cannot deny the safety ratings for people and our natural world.

For those of you who appreciate spray sunscreen, Babo has a spray bottle option. Understand this does not work like most aerosol sunscreens you might be use to. Those are filled with harmful chemicals which make them so easy to spray. Instead, Babo comes out in a creamy mist, then requires a quick rub in. I’ve used it on my niece and nephew who were 2 and 4 at the time. The application was quick enough to wrestle it on a toddler and my niece thought it was fun to have me spray and then let her rub it in. Babo also has a safe for babies sunscreen that I haven’t tried, but I do trust the company to make a safe product.

In all your sunny adventures, may you be safe and chemical free! Soak in that Vitamin D because it fights disease and depression, two things we desperately need. Follow us on Instagram @GreenGurneys or like our Green Gurneys Facebook page to see our outdoor adventures. Tag us in your own sunny moments, we love to see all the joy you have in your own adventures.

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