If there's one saying all Australians can recall each and every summer, it's "slip, slop, slap!" Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. This wasn't just a clever ad campaign in the 80s – it has turned into a saying to live by! Throughout summer, not to mention all year round, it's important for us to prioritise daily sun protection. In this guide to zinc-based physical sunscreens, explore the difference between SPF30 and SPF50 and find your ideal reef-friendly natural sunscreen.
The difference between SPF 30 and 50
When choosing a sunscreen, it can be tricky to decipher what the difference between SPF30 and SPF50 is. Will one protect me more than the other? Both work to protect you from harmful rays. The SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a measure of how long the formula protects you from sunburn, determined by dividing the time it takes to burn wearing sunscreen by the time it takes without it – e.g., if it takes 300 minutes to burn with a sunscreen and 10 minutes without (300 ÷ 10), the SPF = 30.
According to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the government body which regulates therapeutic sunscreens in Australia, SPF50+ and SPF30 sunscreens offer the same UVB protection – the difference is in SPF50 sunscreens' extra UVA protection. "SPF50+ sunscreens allow 1/50th of ambient UV radiation through, but filter out 98% of UVB radiation. SPF30 sunscreens admit 1/30th of ambient UV radiation, but block out 96.7% UVB." UVA is believed to be the main culprit for long-term sun damage, so SPF50 sunscreens offer a slightly greater amount of UVA protection. No matter what you choose, the TGA recommends reapplying sunscreen liberally every two hours. Use at least one teaspoon for each limb and the front & back of your torso, and half a teaspoon for your face, ears and neck.
Natural SPF30 physical sunscreens
Life Basics SPF 30 Natural Coconut Body Sunscreen
Ideal for the whole family, including children, the Life Basics SPF 30 Natural Coconut Body Sunscreen is designed for daily use on the face and body. With a very mild tropical Coconut scent, this broad-spectrum sunscreen comes in a large 200ml tube and is formulated to feel lightweight and non-greasy on the skin, leaving a satin finish. The active ingredient, Zinc Oxide, is complemented by nourishing Green Tea, Rosehip Oil and Calendula Extract.
100% Pure Green Tea Facial SPF30
This 100% Pure Green Tea Facial SPF30 will not only help to protect you from those summer rays but also hydrate and nourish your skin. Enriched with Green Tea Extract, Raspberry Seed Oil, Rosehip and Avocado, this light-textured lotion contains Zinc Oxide and provides broad-spectrum protection with a moisturising finish. Ideal as both a moisturiser and sunscreen for those with oily skin, and suitable for use underneath makeup.
Sukin SPF30 Sheer Touch Facial Sunscreen
The Sukin SPF30 Sheer Touch Facial Sunscreen is another lightweight formulation designed for the face, with hydrating Rosehip, Cucumber and Green Tea for smooth application and easy absorption without leaving a white cast or greasy finish.
SPF50 physical sunscreens
Ethical Zinc Natural Clear Zinc Sunscreen SPF50+
The Ethical Zinc Natural Clear Zinc Sunscreen SPF50+ can be used on both your face and body, with a lightweight feel and a clear finish once rubbed in. This formulation contains hydrating Vitamin E and moisture-locking Beeswax, with a subtle tropical scent from Coconut and Vanilla.
SunButter SPF 50 Water Resistant Reef Safe Sunscreen
The SunButter SPF 50 Water Resistant Reef Safe Sunscreen comes in a reusable tin, rather than a tube, and is a buttery smooth cream formulation. This Zinc-based sunscreen can be used on the face, body and even sensitive baby skin, and is designed to leave skin feeling smooth and soft, with a clear finish.
Edible Beauty Basking Beauty Natural Sunscreen SPF 50
The Edible Beauty Basking Beauty Natural Sunscreen SPF 50 is designed to blend seamlessly into the skin, containing Zinc Oxide along with smoothing Vitamin E, Rosehip and Kakadu Plum. This SPF50 sunscreen is suitable for use on both the face and body, and is also ideal for children, babies and pregnancy.
Read more on natural sunscreens in these other blog posts:
• The Difference Between Chemical and Physical Sunscreen
• Ultimate Guide to Facial Sunscreens
• Natural Sunscreens for Children
With all sunscreens avoid contact with eyes and if irritation persists discontinue use. Sunscreen is only one part of sun protection. Wear protective clothing, hats and sunglasses when exposed to the sun, and stay in the shade where possible. Prolonged high-risk sun exposure should be avoided. Frequent reapplication and use in accordance with the directions is required for effective sun protection. Always read the label and use only as directed.