I try my best to eat good quality foods because I understand the logical principle that you only get out what you put into your body. High quality, preferably organic foods are the best way of of supplying your body with the nutrients it needs to run properly and for a long time. Eating healthy will increase your cycling performance and stamina, meaning you will be able to cycle faster, for longer and make it up those hills without passing out half way! This alone is enough motivation to hunt around for better quality foods as much as possible. If you are interested in reading and learning more about holistic food, exercise and general well-being I highly suggest you have a look at this website which covers all of this in far greater detail than I could ever muster.

When making efforts to reduce the amount of toxic chemical into your body, it’s also important to think about what we are putting into our bodies through our skin. Thanks to my northern-European ancestry, I have quite fair skin which is burnt easily in the sun. This is a major issue in Australia where the UV levels are at very high or extreme almost every day of the year, even on cloudy winter days.

Although I prefer to avoid the hottest and sunniest parts of the day, cycling either early in the morning or later in the afternoon, I am inevitably going to be exposed to some level of skin-cancer-causing UV radiation from the sun. The logical solution is to simply cover up as much as possible, wearing a UV resistant long sleeve jersey and a cycle cap, and then put some sunscreen on the remaining exposed areas such as your face, neck, ears, and the back of your hands. Pretty simple, right?

Unfortunately it appears that most mainstream sunscreens contain hidden nasties such as chemical UV absorbers, nanoparticles  titanium dioxide and synthetic preservatives which, at best may cause allergic reactions and at worst are strongly suspected of being carcinogenic (read here, here, and here for further information and discussion).

The irony is not lost with me that the very product people are using to protect from sunburn, and ultimately UV exposure and skin cancer, is potentially doing just as much harm. It’s even more ironic that many sunscreen manufacturers have realised the market for ‘natural’ sunscreens and have released many sunscreens with a ‘eco’ or ‘natural’ label which contain just as many toxic or otherwise dangerous ingredients as standard sunscreens do.

I began my quest to find a safe, chemical-free, nano-free and genuinely organic sunscreen that was also a product of Australia. I visited my local health store who suggested that WotNot sunscreen was one of the more popular products and they believed it was of high quality. I also found many articles online, including the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which rated Soleo Organics sunscreen as being effective and free of nasties. With my shortlist down from literally dozens of potential options, I was left with these two. When contacted, both companies were happy to send an information and sample package to me for the purpose of this review.

Soléo Organics SPF30+ ‘All Natural Sunscreen’ (LINK)

so03-soleo-150gm

Ingredients:
  • Free of chemical UV absorbers YES
  • Free of nano particles YES
  • Free of titanium dioxide YES
  • Allergy safe (free of synthetic preservatives, colours, fragrance etc) YES
  • Certified organic NO (note: they state that ingredients are “All organically sourced” on the tube, however they are not officially certified by any independent body)
  • Not tested on animals (cruelty free) YES
  • Biodegradable (reef safe) YES
Real world testing:
  • Easy to apply YES (you have to knead the tube to mix it together nicely before using)
  • Feels nice on skin YES (doesn’t feel too greasy)
  • Pleasant or neutral smell YES (I think it smells a bit strange, but my friend didn’t mind it)
  • Goes on clear YES (leaves a minimal residue, typical of any sunscreen I have used)
  • Effective at preventing sunburn YES (even after 2.5 hours of exposure of high to very high UV)
  • Sweat resistant YES (rated for 3 hours on the packaging, in real world testing it lasted approx 2.5 hours while before requiring re-application)
Other considerations: 
  • Value for money ~$22.95-$25.00 for a 80g container
  • Available at a physical store (health store or chemist) YES (there are some stores which sell it, but it is quite difficult to find)
  • Easily sourced online YES
  • Australian made and owned YES (Based in Perth, WA)
  • Recyclable packaging YES
Final comments:

I’ve been using Soléo Organics sunscreen for the past two weeks and I have been overall impressed. Aside from a few small criticisms and difficulties finding a physical store that would stock it (strange considering it is made right here in Perth) I found it to be an effective, high quality product for surfing, cycling and other outdoor sports where you need it to be water/sweat resistant and keep you protected from UV exposure.  It’s just a pity that it costs considerably more than standard sunscreen. I’d also like to see an organic certification for the ingredients.

Soléo Organics is now my sunscreen of choice and I am happy to recommend it to friends, family and colleagues.

WotNot SPF30+ sunscreen (LINK)

WOTNOTSunscreen

Ingredients:

  • Free of chemical UV absorbers  YES
  • Free of nano particles NO (note: WotNot contains ZinClear IM which is now believed to be a nano ingredient. Click here for more information)
  • Free of titanium dioxide YES
  • Allergy safe (free of synthetic preservatives, colours, fragrance etc) YES
  • Certified organic YES
  • Not tested on animals (cruelty free) YES
  • Biodegradable (reef safe) ??? (not stated)

Real world testing:

  • Easy to apply YES (shake well before use to mix ingredients)
  • Feels nice on skin (doesn’t feel too greasy) YES (it feels quite oily when you initially put it on, but it does seems to absorb a bit after a 15-20 minutes)
  • Pleasant or neutral smell YES (I personally find that it kind of smells like mayonnaise, but in a good way. Must be the ingredients)
  • Goes on clear (doesn’t make your skin white) YES
  • Effective at preventing sunburn YES (even after 2 hours of exposure of high to very high UV)
  • Sweat resistant YES (not stated on packaging, in real world testing it lasted approx 1.5hours while cycling before requiring reapplication)

Other considerations:

  • Value for money ~$22.95-$25.00 for 135g container
  • Available at physical stores (health store or chemist) YES
  • Easily sourced online YES
  • Australian made and owned YES (based in Brookvale, NSW)
  • Recyclable packaging YES

Final comments:

Looking at the rated performance of WotNot it should be a highly desirable sunscreen as it has a high concentration of zinc oxide (25%), contains aloe vera, has all certified organic ingredients and comes in a larger tube for the same amount of money compared to the Soleo sunscreen. The main downside was that it required reapplication more often as it was not as water resistant. That aside however, the main red flag at the moment is that it contains ZinClear IM which has recently been found to technically be a nanoparticle.

It is important to note that this ingredient is not made by WotNot themselves, so they were most likely unaware that this ingredient is potentially harmful. It is also important to keep in mind that at this stage there is not enough scientific research and evidence to prove 100% that nanoparticles are harmful, and to what extent. However with this said I would suggest staying clear of any products that contain nano particles for the moment until more research is done to find out whether it is safe or not. It would be terrible to have another asbestos situation all over again.

I would definitely recommend WotNot sunscreen as a general purpose sunscreen if it did not contain ZinClear IM or any other nano ingredient.