Nearly all sun lotions sold in supermarkets and chemists contain ingredients that harm aquatic life. They are also not good for your health. Chemical sunscreens contain toxins, so natural sunscreens are used made with titanium oxide or zinc oxide. But these cause ‘white cricketer’s nose’, so most companies use nano-particles to blend them down to be invisible. But just like microplastics, these then wash off (in the sea or down the sink) and cause harm (just a few drops can cause untold damage to square miles of ocean). The alternative is to use a purely natural sunscreen that does not use nano-particles. Also see where to find biodegradable sunglasses.
NHS has tips to keep babies safe in the sun. Keep babies out of direct sunlight and use a sunshade and apply a safe baby sunscreen, and use a sunhat with a wide brim or long flap on the back, to protect heads and necks. Inside or outside, remove extra hats and clothing when going into warm places (even if it means waking babies) to help prevent risk of crib death. And use a room thermometer to check for safe temperatures.
Never expose babies to direct sun. Ensure shady areas for pets (older pets and sun-loving cats can get heatstroke). See below for tips to protect pets:
- Stay out of the sun from 10am to 4pm. If your shadow is shorter than you, find some shade.
- Drink water (don’t drink beer, and fall asleep!)
- Use a sunhat that covers your head and ears.
- Use wraparound sunglasses, with 99% plus absorption
- Some medications can make you more sensitive.
- Take care at high altitudes (and sunny, like skiing).
- Wear long shirts and trousers (ideally in dark colours), like they do in hot countries. Sun-protective clothing is mostly made with chemicals and synthetic fibres (if you use it, wash in a microfiber catch bag).
A trustworthy sunscreen will always say reef-safe and no nano particles. Never use sun lotions with oxybenzone (banned in Florida and Hawaii) that mimics human hormones (just one drop in the ocean is toxic to a huge area of coral reef and remains in your urine, so pollutes the ocean. Two good sunscreens are Sun Tribe (Sweden, which also offers a child’s sunblock). It does not offer above SPF30 saying the difference in protection to SPF50 is just 1%, and requires more chemicals. Amazinc! is a Czech brand sold in cardboard and aluminium packaging, made with zinc oxide and shea butter (all items are vegan, bar Mineral Shield).
Sun Protection for Dogs
Never use human sunscreens on dog’s noses and paws as zinc oxide (used in most natural sunscreens) is very toxic. Don’t let dogs near your skin until after you’ve showered.
This vet says the perfect safe sunscreen for pets does not yet exist, but he says ones with titanium dioxide are best to use for vulnerable white ear flaps etc for now (some pets are at higher rates of tumours in the sun, just like redheads with pale skin for humans).
Moo Goo Zinc-Free Dog Sunscreen says although spent hops (and hops in tea) are toxic to pets, the tiny amount they use (1/10 of one percent, the last ingredient) is the least troublesome preservative, to avoid zinc. From them ‘even if the whole tube was eaten in one gulp, this would not be enough to be toxic, whereas zinc would harm’. Obviously keep them away from the tube, and contact them or your vet with any questions.