My first experience using natural sunscreen – an honest story.

So, the past week I've been busy writing a guest article for Organic Natural Beauty Directory, where it was first published 26/06/2013. It's a rather hilarious story about how transitioning to natural cosmetics isn't always what you expected.

In my recent search for natural cosmetics, initially sunscreen didn’t came to mind. Promoted heavily in health campaigns, sunscreen should be protecting you from cancer, right? It can’t be that bad. Soon I found out it certainly can, and unfortunately, is.

According to the sunscreen guide from EWG (the leading environmental health research and advocacy organization in the US) there are some serious issues about “normal” sunscreens. There are, for instance concerns about the frequently added forms of vitamin A (retinyl palmitate and retinol) in sunscreen, that can increase the risk of skin tumors and lesions when exposed to the sun.

Also, several scientific studies show that most common used UV-filters actually release free radicals that damage your skin. Although at first there are fewer free radicals on sunscreen-skin in comparison with those sunbathing without protection, one study found after one hour of UV-radiation the skin without any protection had less free radicals formed than the one with sunscreen.

On top of all this, common sunscreen chemicals can disrupt the hormone system. Allergies, reproduction problems and interference with normal development are mentioned. The chemicals from sunscreens are even found in breast milk, demonstrating how much this stuff penetrates your whole body. And I’m not even mentioning the other synthetic ingredients being used in all cosmetics, including sunscreen, that all have their own health risk factors to consider.

Oh my, and this stuff I was putting on my skin over and over again, day after day, convinced I was taking care of my body instead of poisoning it! That couldn’t be right. So I went online, searched, read reviews, and bought a natural, mineral sunscreen. Apparently, mineral sunscreens work in a very different way than the average synthetic ones. Instead of using UV-filters that sink in your skin, mineral filters form more of a layer that works as a shield between you and the sun. These mineral filters don’t break down in the sun, and they work immediately. No more waiting thirty minutes before being able to go out, and less need to reapply over and over again!

Happy as a child when my package with healthy sunscreen arrived, my enthusiasm was tempered a bit. Not because of the look of the product, but because the sun just wouldn’t come out. When nice weather eventually did came along, I rushed to the bathroom, ready for my first experience with mineral sunscreen.
Spraying the cream into the palm of my hand, I noticed it was kind of thick. Not a problem, until I started rubbing it in. Actually, that sentence should be “tried rubbing it in”. This was much harder than with my previous sunscreen, which always glided smoothly over my skin, being quickly absorbed. As good as I was able to I continued spreading the new thick cream over my body.

Having done that, it was out to the sun! My sister looked a bit worried, when I approached her. “Are you alright?”, she said. Turns out I was looking so ghostly white, she thought I was having some kind of attack depriving me of blood or oxygen, making me all pale and blueish. Ouch, that was not the result I had hoped for!

The plus side? I didn’t get the slightest bit of sunburn that afternoon :) .

Waking up the next day, I was still looking white. If I wouldn’t have showered, I’m sure I could have gone right in the sunshine again and still wouldn’t have burned. So ten points for holding power! Showering was a good test for the waterproof-claim though. And yes, a plus on that part too! It was very hard to get the sunscreen off, and I’m not even sure I really did get it all removed that morning.

Later I found a good trick though. To get this sunscreen off quickly, when you have to go out at night or something and don’t have the time to scrub it off in the shower: just take a cotton pad, put some kind of oil on it and use it to take the sunscreen right off. I actually used plain kitchen olive oil, and that worked fine. No scrubbing needed!

I had to admit, apart from my new white look, the sunscreen did do its job. I didn’t get sunburned, it was waterproof, and it stayed on for a long time, so you don’t have to reapply often, which makes sure your bottle is going to last a long time.

That’s all great, but what about the looking like a ghost-part? I wasn’t sure I would feel comfortable showing myself to people like that. The trick for overcoming that one downside to mineral sunscreen is quite easy. Just scroll to the top of this article again, and read those toxic facts about regular sunscreen. If you have to choose between vanity or health, the choice is easily made. At least for me it is.

An important footnote: All right, I admit, I’m a little bit more vain than described above. I’m currently doing a little experiment, that might be a solution to my ghost-issue. I haven’t been able to test it in the sunshine yet, but once I have, I’ll give an update. But even if it turns out not to work: I won’t go back to my old sunscreen, ghostly or not.

Probably most people wouldn’t look like they’re having a serious health issue anyway, like it was the case here. Hadn’t I’ve had heart problems already, my sister wouldn’t have been immediately ready to call 911 :-) . Also, some brands of mineral sunscreen will leave less white residue than others. The one I’ve tried, actually worked fine for others, who said they didn’t experience the same whiteness. I’m guessing it depends a lot on your skin, so try it out, maybe for you it will be a much smoother experience! Your health really is worth everything, even the risk of looking white – trust me!

Is your skin cooperating better with mineral sunscreen than mine? Or are you a fellow ghost? Please let me know!

UPDATE: for my solution to this issue, look here!


  1. LOL.. This article brought back some memories of when me and hubby went on holiday and we slapped on our sunscreen looked fine in doors until we went out in the sun... OMG!!! Shock horror, we looked at each other and ran back to our room to wash it off. I go for the clear kind now and really need to find a more organic range... Saw a recipe for a homemade sunscreen from another blogger I'm going to try and make and test. Great post thanks for sharing. ;-)

    1. Lol, sounds like a similar experience! Let's hope we'll find a great solution soon! When the sun hopefully someday will be out here again I'm testing my trick to see if it still protects... I'll keep you posted! Thanks for commenting! X

  2. This made me laugh as I too am a fellow ghost! Sun protection is the only thing I really struggle with. Haven't found anything that works so far, short of wearing a yetti suit in the blaring sunshine!! :D Let us know how your experiment goes, really interested to see the results! X

    1. Well, I'm definately not the only one struggling with this :-)
      Hm, don't know which would make me look better: the white layer or the yeti suit!
      Thx for stopping by Dana! X


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