Our Emma Lewisham sunscreen uses a mineral/natural screen in the form of zinc oxide. This is a physical screen and it works by sitting on the skin in a protective layer (that’s why you may see a faint white cast on the skin) and physically blocking UV rays. It deflects and scatters damaging UV rays away from the skin to protect it.
There are 2 mineral/natural sunscreens available: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Titanium dioxide is effective at blocking UVB and short-wave UV-A rays, but it is less effective than zinc dioxide at blocking long-wave UV-A rays – this is why we use zinc oxide as the best protection for your skin.
In contrast to “mineral/natural” sunscreens, the other type of sunscreen you’ll come across are “chemical” sunscreens. These have active ingredients like avobenzone, oxybenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.
Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing into the skin and you are unlikely to see a white cast on your skin from them, but they are not great for our health or for our planet. This makes sense if you think about the fact that they are being absorbed into your skin and body – for instance, oxybenzone has been linked to hormone disruption, organ system toxicity, allergies and photosensitivity. Chemical sunscreens have also been found to contribute to environmental issues such as coral bleaching and zombie coral (where the coral can no longer reproduce) and accordingly, some chemical sunscreens have been banned in places such as Hawaii. Emma Lewisham uses naturally derived ingredients which are selected for having as minimal impact on our planet as possible, so we will never use a chemical screen.
Our sunscreens are 100% natural, traceable and cruelty-free, we also have full traceability of all the ingredients in them. They are unique sunscreens in that they are 100% naturally derived. This means not only is the zinc oxide screen a natural ingredient, but every other ingredient in it is natural too. There is sometimes confusion in the marketplace around this – some sunscreens advertise themselves as “natural” or having a mineral/natural active, but they include filler ingredients outside of this which are not natural.
If you try to find another 100% truly natural sunscreen on the market, it will likely be a lot thicker than ours and a lot whiter, like house paint on the skin. The whiteness is a tricky element because this is related to the amount of zinc oxide that’s used – if you are providing SPF 30 protection or higher, the amount of zinc oxide used in the formula increases, which increases the whiteness. The higher the SPF, the more zinc oxide that is required. That’s why an SPF 50 will be thicker and whiter than an SPF 30 natural sunscreen. Some brands try to use less zinc oxide to remove the whiteness and this results in them failing SPF testing standards. Our green chemists have worked hard to develop an SPF 30 sunscreen that is truly 100% natural, is light and non-greasy, and with as minimal whitening on the skin as possible.
Our sunscreens are also unique in not only being 100% natural but effective in meeting the SPF 30 claim. They are proven to meet Australian/New Zealand SPF testing standards (AS/NZS 2604 which is based on the International Standards ISO 24443 & ISO 24444) and we test our batches regularly to ensure they meet this. Achieving a minimal degree of whiteness and a 100% natural formulation at this SPF level is difficult chemistry equation to crack and is very unique.
Our sunscreen also comes in a world first sunscreen tube, which is made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic and they’re part of the Emma Lewisham Beauty Circle recycling programme. This means you can recycle them for free (most beauty vessels and packaging aren’t recyclable via traditional kerbside recycling), and ensure the product is recycled and kept in circulation. No other sunscreen product on the market has this complete end-to-end sustainability approach.