It's Summer time and the weather is heating up! Whilst we're always happy to see the sun here in the UK, it does bring with it some difficulties. It is essential to stay safe when spending time in the sun, but there's a lot to consider when choosing sun protection, especially when it comes to sustainability. We're here to walk you through all of your options for keeping safe from the sunshine and to help you choose the best, most sustainable option for you. From zero waste SPF to ethically made sun-safe clothing, here's our ultimate guide to sustainable sun protection...
SPF is a non-negotiable essential for your Summer days. Sunscreen works by stopping UV rays getting absorbed by your skin, reducing the damage done by the sun. Many sustainable sunscreens are made using the ingredient Zinc Oxide which provides broad UVA and UVB coverage. Zinc Oxide is a natural ingredient and doesn't cause harm to sea and land ecosystems, whereas many widely available sunscreens do. The key things to look for when choosing a sustainable sunscreen are labels saying reef-safe, fair trade and/or cruelty-free. It's also a plus if you can find a sunscreen in recycled or recyclable packaging, and some zero-waste sunscreens do exist. It's important to remember that sunscreen wears off. Be sure to put it on again if you stay out in the sun for more than 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or using a towel. Though it might take you slightly longer to find a sustainable sunscreen option, we really do think it is worth the extra effort.
Sun glasses aren't just a fashion accessory, they're a vital part of protecting ourselves against the sun's harmful rays. Not only do sunglasses protect your eyes themselves, they also help to protect the delicate skin around your eye area, reducing the appearance of ageing. It is especially important to wear sunglasses when around bodies of water (such as the sea) as you will not only experience direct sun exposure but the water will also act as a giant mirror, reflecting the light back at you. There are some great options for sustainable sunglasses on the market. Our top tip is to choose frames made from recycled and/or recyclable materials such as wood, recycled plastic or even plant-based acetate. Sustainable prescription sunglasses options do exist, but may be slightly harder to find. When picking out your sunglasses, choose a timeless frame that you will wear for years to come, rather than opting for a trend-based style.
The easiest way to keep the sun out of your eyes and to protect your face is with a sun hat. For the most protection, wear a hat that has a brim all the way around. Not only does this classic style look great, it also offers the greatest amount of sun protection from UV rays. Plus, they're very easy to find second hand! Keep an eye out in charity shops or have a look at online resale sites such as Vinted, eBay and Depop. When picking a hat, go for something made from a dense material such as a tightly woven knit fabric or straw. Again, try and pick a style that you think you will wear for years to come, rather than choosing what is most fashionable now. For kids, try and find a hat that can be adjusted to fit them as they grow as this will reduce waste by prolonging the life of the items we buy. The fashion industry is amongst the most wasteful and damaging on the planet, so it is important to consider clothing and accessories purchases very carefully before diving in.
One of the most effective (and often most over-looked) methods of protection against sun damage is the clothing that you wear. Clothes can help to block and absorb harmful rays, keeping your skin protected. Dark or bright colours are better at absorbing and blocking UV rays than light coloured clothing. Similarly, densely woven fabrics offer better protection than light, sheer materials. If you can see through it, it's not going to offer you very much protection at all. Natural materials like cotton and linen are better at protecting your skin that synthetic materials as they reflect radiation. Loose fitting closes offer better protection and will also keep you cooler. This is because tight-fitting clothes will stretch, allowing UV rays to penetrate and thus reducing the amount of protection your clothes offer.