top of page

Zero waste sunscreen

Oh my, the sun is high in the sky and what nice summer weather! Most people will agree that it is just lovely to enjoy that sunshine. Feeling the warm rays on your skin, vitamin D in abundance. Butttt... Yet it is also important to protect our skin sufficiently against the sun and that is not always easy if you want to do it in a natural and low-waste way.

Chemical filters vs physical filters

In this day and age everyone knows that it is important to protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. And that protection preferably comes in the form of a UVA and a UVB filter. And if you are a somewhat familiar with the zero waste movement, you probably know that there is a difference between chemical filters and physical filters. But what exactly is the difference and how do they work?

Chemical filters

Let's start with the chemical filters, which most conventional sunscreens use. A chemical filter is absorbed into the skin. After about half an hour it really does its job and you are protected. The protection comes from the chemical filter absorbing the sunrays so that they are not absorbed by the skin itself.

The disadvantage of chemical filters is that they are not always environmentally friendly, aswell as not always healthy for us. Research shows that a lot of the filters used can cause skin irritation, something that my sensitive skin often suffers from. Other Research shows that different chemical filters can also cause hormone imbalances.

Physical filters

Physical filters are also known as mineral filters. These filters do not penetrate the skin but form a layer on top of the skin that reflects the sunrays. So the rays do not reach the skin. This effect is clearly visible in the whitecast that the sunscreen leaves on the skin, which is also a disadvantage of mineral filters.

The minerals commonly used for these types of filters are titanium oxide and zinc oxide. Sometimes you see the word "nano" next to it. In simple terms, this means that the filters are cut into extremely small pieces. As a result, they leave less of a whitecast, but possibly because they are so small they can still penetrate the outer layers of the skin.

Mixed filters

And then there is a mix of the two different filters. In this type of sunscreen, both chemical and physical filters are used. I personally prefer not to use this because you still use the chemical filters.

Factor, what does that really mean?

You probably know that the factor of your sunscreen says something about the protection it offers against the sun. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. But what is that all about? SPF provides protection against UVB rays, ultraviolet-B rays. A mnemonic is UVB, UV-Burn. This is the radiation that causes you to tan, but also to burn. This radiation is stronger in summer than in winter. Dark-skinned people naturally have a higher "SPF" in their own skin, so they can spend longer in the sun without burning than someone with lighter skin.

UVB rays do not go beyond the outer layers of the skin, another well-known radiation that does penetrate deeper into the skin is UVA, UV-Aging. This is the radiation that causes your skin to age prematurely, partly due to the breakdown of collagen, which is located deeper in the skin. This, for example, causes you to get wrinkles earlier. It can also damage the DNA of your skin cells, which can eventually lead to developing skin cancer. This radiation is comparable in strength throughout the year. However, the SPF factor says nothing about the protection against these UVA rays. A dark-skinned person is therefore NOT better protected against UVA rays than a light-skinned person. For this everyone is dependent on sun protection.

The SPF factor stands for how much longer you can stay in the sun without burning (the UVB, so UV-Burn rays). If you can normally stay in the sun for 5 minutes before getting a sunburn, with an SPF 30 that is 150 minutes (30 x 5 min). This does not mean that it is wise to bake in the sun all day without reapplying your SPF, or rather, just getting out of the sun and seeking some shade.


A great option for sun protection is clothing. Think long sleeves and long legs, hats etc. It's about covering up. In order not to melt away completely, I find linen a very nice fabric. A natural material that breathes well and is pleasantly cool to wear during the warmer days.

There is special clothing with SPF, which has been tested for how well it protects against the sun. Other things you should take into account is that a fabric through which you can see more light when you hold it up to the light, gives less protection than something through which you see less light. The denser the fabric, the better the protection.


I haven't tested too many low waste sunscreens myself, but I thought it was worth sharing the ones I have used myself and what I think of them.

Naïf care

Naïf care is so far the only low waste sunscreen brand of which I actually used up an entire package. So that's a good sign. I use their facial sunscreen daily. This spreads nicely and the white haze is minimal and, at least with my light skin, easy to get rid of.

The only downside about it is the fact that it has perfume in it. Another downside is that it feels quite oily on the face. And that comes from someone with fairly dry skin who happily uses pure oil on her face every day. But where normal oil just soaks in, this cream doesn't. Using less is an option, but the protection is of course less in that case.

The packaging is made of plastic, but as raw material they use sugar cane and not petroleum. That is better but still not ideal as I prefer not to use plastic at all.


A sunscreen that I only recently started using is by Junglück. Big advantage, no perfume. It absorbs quite well. When you pump the cream out of the bottle, it is quite thin, a kind of lotion. Where the Naïf Care cream feels greasy, this cream feels more sticky when applied to the skin. But it absorbs quite well, so it doesn't stay very sticky.

The downsides of this cream are that it is a bit more difficult to spread. You can work the cream into the skin, but not as easily as the Naïf one. The spreading itself is not a big problem due to the thin consistency, but getting rid of the whitecast takes a little more effort. I have fairly light skin so it's quite doable for me but I think someone with darker skin will have more trouble with it. Another disadvantage is that this sunscreen sticks to every bit and piece of dry skin. Making those patches beautifully white and that is impossible to work in. Which is not ideal for someone who already has dry skin by nature. If I have some patches of skin that are extra dry, I do not use this cream.

That said, since I got this cream, I wear it more often than the one from Naïf Care. Especially because I find it more pleasant on the skin and it has no perfume. Sometimes I just go back to Naïf Care when my skin is really, really dry.

The cream comes in a glass pump bottle. The pump is made of plastic (although I don't think I've ever seen it any other way), but the bottle itself is made of beautiful brown glass. The bottle has a beautiful and luxurious appearance.

That was it for today. If you have tips about low waste sunprotection, do let me know! For now, goodluck with the next steps on your bridge and I wish you all the happiness and an amazing rest of your day.

❤ Eva



Heurung, A. R., Raju, S. I., & Warshaw, E. M. (2014). Adverse reactions to sunscreen agents: epidemiology, responsible irritants and allergens, clinical characteristics, and management. Dermatitis : contact, atopic, occupational, drug, 25(6), 289–326.

Wang, J., Pan, L., Wu, S., Lu, L., Xu, Y., Zhu, Y., Guo, M., & Zhuang, S. (2016). Recent Advances on Endocrine Disrupting Effects of UV Filters. International journal of environmental research and public health, 13(8), 782.

Related Posts

See All


DISCLAIMER: External links Bridge of Life studio uses might be affiliate links. This means that when you buy a product or service via the link, Bridge of Life studio receives a small commission. Read more about the use of affiliate links by Bridge of Life studio in our disclaimer.

bottom of page