I’ll admit, I get a little red in the cheeks when people notice and comment on how literally red my cheeks are from not wearing sunscreen on my Instagram photos and blog posts. It doesn’t exactly make me feel great when I think I’ve posted an awesome photo of some ancient Mayan ruins, and all people can pay attention to is the lobster arms I’ve suddenly sprouted.
Yes, Ok, I’ll admit, the majority of the time I forget to bring sunscreen when I travel. It’s just not something I immediately think of when I’m trying to shove as many 3oz bottles of liquids into one little plastic bag in order to get through TSA with only a carry-on. Then, of course, I get to my destination and realize the sun is A LOT stronger than I’m used to in LA, and it’s only a matter of minutes before I’m colored bright red. The icing on the cake is always that when I try to buy sunscreen abroad after I’ve been burnt, it’s always insanely overpriced because they know there’s going to be tons of people in my exact situation, who have no choice but to buy the pricey protection.
But that leads me to my next issue with sunscreen. The big name brands that are typically sold in tourist shops or convenience stores are not only way overpriced, but way overloaded with chemicals and crap that are not only harmful to you, but harmful for aquatic environments that some sunscreens can actually cause a lot of damage to. In fact, most natural wonders like the cenotes in the Mexican Riviera, and anywhere with a coral reef, forbid you from entering the water without showering off your toxic sunscreen.
So most of the time my options are usually get burnt and get to go in the natural wonders, or smother myself in unknown chemical goop and avoid getting called out on Instagram. If you ask me that sounds like the ultimate double fail.
Me as a lobster…because I couldn’t wear non-natural sunscreen in the natural protected cenotes in the Riviera Maya
I’m no fan of a double-fail, or a single fail at all for that matter, so I researched my options for how I could have it all, and found something I should have been using from the beginning!
I guess I was always just too frustrated with the “Not Allowed” signs at the natural areas to keep reading that there’s an exception to the “no sunscreen rule”…sunscreen that’s made from natural ingredients and doesn’t contain the harmful toxins or chemicals from fragrance or color.
So after that DUH moment, I started researching the different types of sunscreens made with natural ingredients. After comparing and contrasting the ingredients and benefits of a couple different brands, I ended up ordering a brand called Sunology, which has SPF 50 for your face and body, and it comes in a 2oz tube which is, AKA, TSA approved.
I brought it with me in my carry-on to use in the Philippines, where low and behold, their number one rule was don’t destroy the natural areas, which included wearing non-natural ingredient sunscreen. Seeing how one of my main priorities was swimming in the new 8th Natural World Wonder; the underground river in Puerto Princesa, I felt petty responsible and awesome about having the appropriate sunscreen, and not being hot pink in my Instagram pictures. Oh, and, you know, the fact that I was keeping myself safe from skin cancer…I have way too much Earth left to see to be messing around with not taking care of my body!
Me not as a lobster in the Philippines because I remembered to bring natural sunscreen like Sunology, which is allowed in marine protected areas!
So it’s pretty obvious why a mineral based sunscreen like Sunology is better for you and the environment than a regular chemical block. It’s free of things like parabens and fragrance that regular sunscreens have, and especially the harmful chemical called Oxybenzone. Of course, that might not mean much to you unless you’re a sunscreen expert like I’ve apparently become. So to help you see the difference, I’ll instead tell you why the ingredients in regular sunscreen are bad for you and the environment, and then you’ll be able to see the benefit of a natural-ingredient block.
Regular sunscreens contain harmful toxins and chemicals like Oxybenzone and Avobenzone. In fact, some of the ingredients in regular sunblock can actually contribute to the formation of cancer cells instead of preventing them! Regular sunscreen also absorbs into your skin, which isn’t good for you.
I also keep talking about the effect the chemicals have on natural areas, and I know it may be hard to visualize a sunscreen noticeably destroying a reef or environment, but apparently this is how it goes down: the chemical additive known as oxybenzone that is used as a product stabilizer and UV protectant, may also be gradually bleaching and killing the world’s coral reefs, as reported by the extensive research in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology reports.
Not only does natural ingredient sunscreen not harm you or natural areas, but it can actually improve the health of your skin too. For example, Sunology sunscreen contains an essential oil complex called VitaOleféra that’s made with antioxidants found in plants, which promotes and decreases the appearance of wrinkles, minimizes hyper-pigmentation, and counters dryness. That is what I would refer to as a double win.
So yeah, there’s my little rant about my new found appreciation for natural-ingredient sunscreen, and since Sunology and I love each other so much now, I have a discount code so that you can appreciate it too! In honor of its protection during my Maysia trip, the code is appropriately called, MAYSIA.
Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Sunology sunscreen, however I personally requested and use the product, think it’s awesome, and highly recommend it!
Alyssa is a self-made, full time travel blogger who loves adventure and typically travels the world solo. She's been to 53 countries and 6 continents so far, and believes she has mastered the art of chasing waterfalls, traveling solo, wine drinking, and making budget-traveling look good. Curious to know how she started this career? Check out the About section above!