What you need to know to choose safe and eco-friendly sunscreens

What you need to know to choose safe and eco-friendly sunscreens

Are you choosing your sunscreen for the summer? To choose the most safe, efficient and eco-friendly one is good to know some variables.

Here all of them.


The skin type


Skin, hair and eyes tones are different because of melanin, that is produced in different quantities by our DNA to protect us from the dangerous effects of ultraviolet radiation.

For this reason, dermatology has classified six different skin types in which we can identify:


Skin Types



  • Type I: very fair skin – light blue/light green eyes – red or light blonde hair – lot of freckles;
  • Type II: very fair skin – light blue/green eyes – blonde hair – lot of freckles;
  • Type III: fair skin – blue/green eyes – dark blonde/brown hair – some freckles;
  • Type IV: slightly dark skin/olive – brown/light brown eyes – brown/dark brown hair – few freckles;
  • Type V: dark skin – brown eyes – black hair – no freckles;
  • Type VI: very dark/black skin – dark brown eyes – black hair – no freckles.



Each skin type should use a different degree of protection: the lower the skin type is, the higher the sunscreen should be.




SPF (Sun Protection Factor), compulsory in the sunscreens labels for the European Union law (Commission Recommendation of 22 September 2006, n. 2006/647/EC), establishes the multiplication factor of the time in which a skin type can be exposed to the sun before getting a sunburn:



  • 6 and 10 SPF: low category of protection
  • 15 and 20 SPF: medium category of protection
  • 30 and 50 SPF: high category of protection
  • 50+ SPF: very high category of protection



For example, if a person got a sunburn in a certain time without protection, applying a 30 sun protection factor, it multiplies the possible time of risk-free exposure by 30.

Indications to respect rigorously in order to get the right protection:

Spread the right quantity of product: 2 mg/cm2, which equals 6 teaspoons of lotion (approx. 36 grams) for the entire body of one average adult person (as indicated by EU law), much more than a common consumer applies;

Apply more times a day, in particular after the bath, to keep the efficacy of the product.


Sun filters


Filters are the ingredients in the sunscreens that protect from ultraviolet radiations (UVB/UVA).
They can be physical or chemical.

Physical or mineral filters


The physical filters are obtained by natural minerals and act as reflecting barriers against sun radiations (see pic n°1). These ones combined with specific plant extracts, are efficient on the whole range of UV radiations.

The most common mineral filters are zinc dioxide and titanium dioxide. They are got by the crushing of minerals. The most strict cosmetic producers use these filters in an “encapsulated” shape, covered by substances that avoid the direct contact between minerals and skin and they improve the “reflective effect”.


Chemical filters


The chemical filters, instead, absorb the ultraviolet radiations and they partially transform those radiations in heat, with a real chemical reaction on the skin, feeling a warm perception after the application of sunscreens (see pic n°2). The different chemical filters differ according to the wavelength of absorbed sun light, they are often present in the lotion with a high number and they have to be photostable (heat-resistant) or made them that way.

But they are cause of bioaccumulation and not eco-friendly, while other have been accused to interfere with the endocrine system.

Since the chemical industry continuously creates them, it is hard to well know the safety in a long term, as the use in a limited time.


Other “dark” ingredients on the label



  • Allergenic components, present as perfume;
  • Complexing agents as EDTA, non-biodegradable which create an accumulation of heavy metals in fishes;
  • Silicones, they make sunscreens more spreadable and less hydrosoluble but not safe for skin (you can find them in the “waterproof” sunscreens);
  • Toxic colorants and preservatives, such as substances that release formaldehyde;
  • Parabens, some studies look like showing their dangerousness for hormonal system;
  • Other ingredients that conceal preservatives and perfume agents that are not easily recognisable.


All of previous aspects are fundamental in the choice of a sunscreen that is safe for skin and for the marine environment.

SUMMER ESSENTIALS by Officina Naturae, with only physical and natural filters, respect those characteristics. Try to better know them, the choice will be much more easy. ;-)


Comments Post your comment

Elisa Siracusa

Salve Vorrei sapere se questi solari proteggono anche dai raggi UVB.

Risposta di Officina Naturae:
Sì, Elisa, certamente! Il numero SPF certifica proprio la protezione dai raggi UVB. Va indicato per legge, mentre non è obbligatorio riportare l'indicazione della protezione UVA, che è a discrezione del produttore (sulle nostre etichette vedi l'indicazione cerchiata). Ti consigliamo, perciò, di non affidarti a solari che non abbiano il numero SPF sull'etichetta!


Nei vostri solari, ossido di zinco e biossido di titanio sono in forma nano? Sono rivestiti, nel caso con cosa?

Officina Naturae's reply

Buongiorno, nei nostri solari utilizziamo ossido di zinco e biossido di titanio in forma rivestita ovvero incapsulata (con Stearic Acid) e non sono comunque rilevabili nanoparticelle.