Things we love about summer. Sun. Things we hate about summer. Sunburns. From both a health and vanity perspective good sun protection is crucial. While the sun is plenty good for us (natural Vitamin D), too much can also be very bad. Not only can sun damage lead to skin cancer (of which South Africa has the 2nd highest incidences worldwide), it leads to sun spots and aging not to mention the awkward looking and worse feeling burns.
Sun protection goes beyond sunscreen to the clothes you wear and accessories you sport. Here’s our picks for the best sun protection no matter your level of activity.
Face & Body Sun Protection
Before you pick any sunscreen off the shelf, you’ll want to know that most commercial sunscreens contain chemicals. You’ll also want to know that your body absorbs those chemicals, and said chemicals can actually do more harm than the suns rays.
Some toxic chemicals commonly found in sunscreen include Oxybenzone, Retinyl (Vitamin A) Palmitate and Fragrances. The easiest way to avoid harmful chemicals without having to sift through dozens of sunscreens is to choose natural options. Natural Brands of sunscreen use Zinc and titanium minerals instead of the above chemicals. This is particularly important when choosing sunscreen for children.
When it comes to wearing sunscreen, it’s most vital when you’ll be spending a lot of time in the sun. As sunscreen doesn’t let your skin absorb Vitamin D, a little time in the sun, sans the cream can be good for you.
Oh Lief Natural Sunscreen SPF 30
The Oh Lief Broad Spectrum sunscreen uses organic carrot and pomegranate extracts to prevent against sun damage. It says water resistant, and that it definitely is. I applied it prior to a sweaty speed run, followed by a 30 minute swim and after all that I could still feel the lotion on my body.
It’s quite thick and can feel slightly greasy, but I liked the “glow” it left on my skin. It’s unscented but it does have a slight scent to it. Although it’s water resistant it still lets you sweat through it.
Highlights: It rubs in easy and doesn’t leave your skin looking ghostly white like some sunscreens do, and holds up well under activity. It’s natural, organic, bears the CANSA seal of recognition and is handmade in South Africa. Best for long days in the sun and outdoor exercise.
Oh Lief Natural Sunscreen Face Stick SPF 30
The Oh Lief Sunscreen stick is similar to the body sunscreen, but comes in a hard stick form instead of lotion. Like most face sticks it is has a sticky feel and isn’t something you rub in. That said it goes on smoothly and doesn’t leave your skin white and streaky.
I used it along with the Body lotion, taking it through a run and swim and came out with the feel of lotion still on my face. It’s very water resistant, but doesn’t block you from sweating and doesn’t feel like you’re blocking your pores.
Highlights: It has a screw cap, which means the lid won’t fall off and the stick ruin the contents of your bag. It didn’t make me feel like I was going to break out and once it settled I didn’t feel it at all. It’s natural, organic, bears the CANSA seal of recognition and is handmade in South Africa. Best for long days in the sun and outdoor exercise.
Badger Active Broad spectrum SPF 30
The active badge and water resistant badges on this tube weren’t lying. After a sweaty 40 minute run and 30 minute swim in over 30 degree (Celsius) weather, my skin still had a waxy sunscreen still on feel. The unscented cream makes for a pleasant application. The zinc oxide makes it a very white sunscreen which although made my pale skin look paler, was very useful for seeing where I had applied to be sure I wasn’t missing any spots. It also forces you to rub it in properly ensuring it has firmly adhered. I prefer this for swimming over running, as when I ran in it, the whiteness of the sunscreen gathered in creases (elbows, knees) and sweat droplets formed over the screen making areas like my knees feel wet while running. For swimming it was phenomenal, I felt incredibly protected and didn’t experience any white residue.
Highlights: Unscented, Incredibly water resistant, 100% natural certified, ideal for sports.
Badger All Season Face Stick Broad Spectrum SPF 35
Like Badger’s active sunscreen, the whiteness of this sunscreen initially made my face look paler but after a few minutes rubbed in, it seemed to settle. I love a stick application for facial sunscreens. It makes it incredibly easy to apply. It also felt really great on my skin. The 98% organic ingredients really go a long way to making you feel you are applying something that will help and not harm your face.
Highlights: Feels great on the face, water resistant, certified natural 98% organic ingredients, a fantastic choice for sports and active day use.
pHformula C.C. Cream UVB+UVA SPF 30+
This C.C. Cream came out tops in our search for the best natural looking foundation and it’s also our top pick for an everyday (not active day) choice of facial sunscreen. It’s such a versatile and multi-tasking product that it makes ensuring your face is protected on an everyday basis so easy.
Highlights: Feels like you’re applying a treatment balm, very lightweight, works well on its own or under concealer/ foundation but is also a great replacement for foundation.
Clothing and Accessory Sun Protection
Aside from creams and lotions, clothing and accessories can also do the job of protecting you from the suns harmful rays. The protection clothing gives you is measured not in SPF, but UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor). If you pick up a hat or top that says it’s UPF40, it means it’ll give you 40 times the protection against solar ultraviolet radiation than non-protected skin.
Emthuzini has an amazing collection of sunhats for women, men and kids that are UPF50, this means they give you 50 times to protection against the suns harmful rays than you would get without wearing a hat. Their hats are tested by the Photobiology Laboratory at MEDUNSA and also bear the CANSA seal of recognition. They’re also really nice hats with options suited to a more beachy look, winter look or active look. I have the Bella Hat which has a wide brim and doesn’t flop around when I do, in fact unless I moved it, the hat stayed put.
Highlights: My favourite thing about these hats is that they are adjustable. They come with a drawstring inside the hat which allows you to make it tighter or looser to fit your head. As someone who struggles to find hats that fit, this drawstring was a gamechanger. Remember when Comrades introduced peak caps? It went straight over my head, down my neck hitting my shoulders. It also makes the hat feel more secure, so it doesn’t blow off at the first breeze of a wind.
Vivolivious Tech Shorts
You may remember these from our picks of women’s running shorts. Printed in Vivolicious’ trademark vibrant fabric, these shorts are moisture wicking, don’t ride up (legs) or down (the waist) as you run and have a pocket for storage. They’re also UPF30 which means they protect your skin. I’ve worm these on runs, at gym and yoga comfortably.
Highlights: They’re incredibly comfortable. They’re a longer length tight short, which is a rare find. Most tight shorts or super short which requires a certain level of confidence / don’t care attitude. A longer length makes them more comfortable for those that like the feel of a tight short without the fear of a butt cheek slip.
What are your top sun protection picks?