Understanding Sunscreens

natural sunscreens clarity wellnessChemical? Physical? Natural? Broad spectrum? Reef safe?

– Understanding Sunscreens


There are so many options in terms of sunscreen out on the market and it can be confusing trying to choose the right one for you and your family. However, in order to understand the different types, we should firstly go over some fun facts about the sun and our skin.

Our skin and the sun


To keep it simple we have our lower layer called the Dermis and the upper layers called the Epidermis. The production of pigmentation or brown spots on your skin is caused by cells called melanocytes which live in your epidermis. The sun’s rays that reach us are called UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are the longer of the two and penetrate your dermis which causes skin sagging. UVB rays which are a bit shorter penetrate through to your lower epidermis which causes damage to your newly forming skin cells (basal layer) and gives you wrinkles. Therefore, in terms of looking after your skin in the long term, a broad-spectrum sunscreen (guarding against UVA and UVB rays) is a must and not just in summer. Especially here in S.A, our sun is harsh and our weather conditions and air quality are usually dry which means our skin is prone to premature aging.

Vitamin D?


There is conflicting information about making sure we get enough sunlight to synthesise vitamin D which can also be confusing. If you are vitamin D deficient then I recommend getting your sun dose in the early morning before the sun is too high in the sky and wearing something like our Organic Spa Beauty Balm which has an SPF of 10 ( which isn’t on the label as our laws state that a product needs to be SPF 15+ in order for it to be on the label). This will still give you some sun protection but allow you to get some vitamin D synthesis happening.

What is the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens?

Chemical sunscreens


– These penetrate your epidermis and your dermis and function within your skin as well as on the surface to absorb the suns rays before they hit your dermis. The problem with this is that pigmentation happens in your epidermis.
– They use compounds such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone which work by creating a chemical reaction that changes UV rays into heat.
– Due to this increased internal skin temperature, existing pigmentation and discolouration increases.
– If you are prone to redness or have Rosacea then the extra heat will do you no favours.
– There is also an increased chance of stinging and irritation especially for skin types that have an impaired barrier (acid mantle-link to acid mantle article). The higher the SPF on a chemical sunscreen the higher the risk of irritation.
– If your skin is oily or you have acne then chemical sunscreens will increase the clogging of your pores as they are designed to absorb into the skin as well as sit on top.
– If you care about our oceans then it is important to know that many ingredients found in chemical sunscreens cause significant harm to our coral reefs.

Physical sunscreens


– These contain active mineral ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which sit on top of the skin to deflect the UV rays away from the skin. This means that they will not add extra heat to your skin and protect all layers of your skin. Our sunscreen options that we stock here at clarity all use zinc oxide.
– They are also much less likely to cause skin irritation and clogged pores so a much better option for sensitive, barrier impaired or oily skin types.

Keeping it natural here at Clarity


Here at Clarity we only stock physical sunscreens as it is clearly a better option for all, but not only that, we want them to be natural also. Check out our range of sunscreens on our online store.
Zinc oxide is usually derived from mined zinc which is then purified into a pharmaceutical grade zinc oxide. This is as natural as we can get whilst still having an effective product that keeps your skin safe. So, in terms of a natural sunscreen, we need to have a look at the other ingredients in the product to determine this. We’ve done the hard work for you, all our sunscreens that we stock are natural and are safe to use on both adults and children.

More info on our different options at Clarity (and their skin loving ingredients!):


  • Natural Sunscreen SPF 30 by ECO (ECOTAN) contains some beautiful natural ingredients to help keep your skin healthy and reverse damage from the sun such as rosehip oil, green tea, cucumber extract and shea butter just to name a few.


  • Natural Sunscreen SPF 40! By MOOGOO has a higher amount of protection at SPF 40 and contains Jojoba oil to keep your skin hydrated and nourished as well as tropolene which is a plant derived compound that soothes your skin.


  • Natural Cover-up Buttercup SPF 15 natural moisturiser by MOOGOO is both a sunscreen and skin moisturiser for those who want one less step in their morning skin ritual. With ingredients such as Aloe Vera leaf juice to quench thirsty skin and raspberry seed oil which is an anti-inflammatory with moisturising properties, your skin will be protected and hydrated to take on the day.



On a final note, whatever you choose to use on your skin, read the directions about how often to reapply and don’t forget all the other things you can do to protect your skin such as covering up, wearing a hat and sunglasses and not spending prolonged amounts of time in direct sunlight if you can help it.


About Chantal: Chantal is a Remedial Massage Therapist and Skin Specialist with a wealth of knowledge, passion and insight in all things skin-health. She is available for appointments on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday for Remedial Massage, Facials and Packages.

Click here to book in with Chantal

Clarity Admin

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