Here Comes the Sun (Block)!

Why switching to natural sunblock is very important for you (and our entire planet)…

This post comes from our dear friend and contributor Carlen Altman….

For most of my life, when it came to buying sunblock, there was only one three-letter word that affected my purchasing decision. Can you guess? No? That word my friend, is SPF. (OK fine, I know SPF is an abbreviation, not technically a word — nobody walks around saying it aloud like “spppppffff” — but you get the point…)

If I bought a sunblock with an SPF of 9, I knew I was destined for an intense tan and/or a burn reminiscent of an angry lobster; similarly, when going out with an SPF 50 and a big straw hat, I knew I could keep my natural pasty goth complexion. When strolling through the sunscreen section at the local drugstore, my simple reasoning led me to purchase whatever the cheapest sunblock with the highest SPF was, slather it on my face and neck, and go about my day…

Well, the times they are a-changin (!) and, as we are discovering more and more, what we put in our bodies (through food and topically, through beauty products) can have a huge impact on our health.

Here are 8 sun-related facts I learned recently about sun and skin protection which have led me to change my sunblock purchasing decisions and avoid drugstore brands in favor of natural suncare solutions… Ignorance is bliss, but when it comes to sun protection, ignorance is bliss(ters)… (Read on so this terrible joke makes a little more sense…)


Our skin is our body’s largest organ and, since it is made up of tiny pores, the majority of what we put on our skin is absorbed into our bodies as if we had eaten it, including beauty products and sunblock.


The word, er, abbreviation “SPF” stands for Sun Protecting Factor and refers to the theoretical amount of time a person can stay in the sun without getting sunburned. For example, an SPF of 45 would allow you to stay in the sun 45 times longer than you could without protection… 


There is no scientific proof that any SPF over 50 actually protects skin significantly better. For example, using an SPF of 100 is not double the protection of an SPF 50, only about 1 percent higher. 


It is important that we humans obtain 20 minutes of sun exposure a day (without sunblock) so our bodies can produce all-too-important Vitamin D3, which is responsible for so many good things like protecting our immune systems, elevating our moods, helping to fight cancer and mental impairment. Over 70% of the population is Vitamin D deficient, which means the majority of us need to spend more time outdoors and potentially take Vitamin D supplements. (Note: Consult with your doctor to make sure you can handle 20 minutes of sunshine a day, especially as this 20-minute guideline varies for peopleof different complexions and is conducive to the time of year…)


Moderate sunshine is wonderful but, if you are going to be outside for more than 20 minutes, it is important to cover up with some form of sun protection so as to avoid the chances of burning and health problems such as skin cancer down the line…


Sunscreens come primarily in 2 forms — chemical sunscreen and mineral sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens absorb directly into the skin, whereas mineral sunscreens, known as “physical blockers,” manage to stay at the skin’s surface. Mineral sunblocks are made using zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.


Chemical sunblocks make up the majority of your local drugstore assortment and, as I’ve learned, contain unnecessarily toxic ingredients like oxybenzone, which has been linked to tumors, hormone disruption and more. (Yikes!)


As if chemical sunscreens weren’t bad enough, any time you wear one and go into the ocean, the oxybenzone and paraben ingredients usually wash off into the water (even if the sunblock claims to be waterproof) and, in turn, poison marine life and bleach our delicate coral reef system. (Yikes again!)  

If you love ANY aspect of the ocean (or our planet as a whole), I beg of you — do not wear mainstream chemical sunblock while swimming! The fish beg of you, too! (P.S. Can fish get wrinkles? Sorry, tangent…)

Armed with all these facts, what’s a sun-loving girl to do?!

Luckily, there IS a solution and, out yonder, there exist naturally derived sunblocks that can dependably help protect your skin without harming your body or our planetary body, Mother Earth.

Introducing Free People’s Sun Squad — Juice Beauty, Coola, Suntegrity, Let It Block and EiR!

Whether you’re looking for a tinted facial moisturizer, sports sunblock or lip balm, we have you covered (without jeopardizing your health or the planet’s…). One of our favorite brands, Let It Block, was recently awarded most environmentally friendly sunblock by Surfrider Organization! (I am currently using GOTH BLOCK by Let It Block as I type this, btw.)

Every problem has a solution if you look on the bright side…



+ Which natural sunblock will you be using to enjoy our planet?

Find our complete range of sun protection HERE.

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7 years ago

I love this blog and don’t mean to disparage–I hope this can be seen as constructive. All of the parentheses and little exclamatory tangents in this article made it difficult, and frankly sort of of annoying to read. The information is great but I found the writing style to be confusing. I’ve come to except better from BLDG 25.

7 years ago

Such a great post!

7 years ago

This is so helpful – and good on you Free People for using your blog to educate and sell things that are ✿actually✿ good for us ladies, not just pretty on the surface. As for the parenthesis and style of the writing, I didn’t find it confusing; I think this writer is just making a serious topic try to be funny which I think it definitely was, but maybe that’s just me – What I am saying is … (I am digging it) ✿Serena✿

7 years ago

Haha I’m calling it “spppfffff” from now on! Thanks for this fun and informative article, Carlen! I love the way the gals at BLDG 25 write.

Just wondering…are mineral sun blocks okay for your skin?

7 years ago

Mahalo nui!! I love that you included the part about making sure the sunblock we use is safe for marine life! The Let It Block sunscreens even are in a recyclable pouch which is great! I’ll totally be trying this brand next!

7 years ago

I’m pretty obsessed with sunscreen and sun protection, so yes, I actually knew most of these facts. It’s too bad I didn’t know how important sun protection is when I was younger…