A Sunscreen Guide

Together with one of my oldest friends Sophie - we've put together this sunscreen guide, which we hope will help you chose a sunscreen that is right for your family, without feeling overwhelemed. Sophie has written the content and provided some handy links for further reading, while I've compared the sunscreens that Little & Loved stock. 

I consider myself a walking melanoma risk, with the type of fair, freckled skin that can still get burnt at 6pm. Safe to say I'm well acquainted with sunscreen so I've put together a few pointers to help you choose one that works best for you and your family.

Know your rays
The sunlight that reaches us is made up of two types of harmful rays: UVA rays which penetrate deep into the skin and cause premature ageing, and UVB rays which burn the superficial layers of the skin. So make sure your sunscreen offers both UVA and UVB protection, otherwise known as broad spectrum. 

Chemical vs Physical 
Chemical sunscreens are the most common form of sunscreen on the market and contain active ingredients such as Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Oxybenzone, Octocrylene and Helioplex, which work by absorbing the sun's rays. These chemical filters are considered to be generally safe although it is a hotly debated topic, with little conclusive evidence either way. 

Chemical Sunscreen Pros: 

  • Affordable and widely available
  • Easy to apply and rub in

Chemical Sunscreen Cons: 

  • Potentially iffy chemical ingredients 
  • You must wait 20 minutes after application for effective sun protection
  • More likely to cause a reaction on sensitive skin

Physical sunscreens, also known as mineral sunscreens, contain the active ingredients Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide, which work by physically blocking the sun's rays. Zinc Oxide is the superior of the two as it provides greater UVA protection but they also work well together. 

Physical Sunscreen Pros: 

  • Active ingredients provide strong sun protection with few health concerns
  • Great for sensitive skin (zinc oxide is actually the main ingredient in most nappy-rash creams)
  • Starts protecting immediately upon application.

Physical Sunscreen Cons: 

  • Pricier and less widely available (most likely found online and in health food stores)
  • They tend to be slightly thicker, whiter and harder to spread than chemical sunscreens. 

SPF in moisturisers and foundations
It's all very well using a moisturiser or foundation containing an SPF but don't assume it will 
provide adequate protection if you plan on spending any amount of time outside. There is 
simply not enough of the active ingredient present in a product that's not specifically designed 
for sun protection. Personally, I only rely on this level of protection for the winter months and 
upgrade to a full layer of facial sunscreen in the spring.

Further reading
The Environmental Working Group website is an excellent resource of well-presented information and research on toxic chemicals present in our environment, from skincare and household products to food additives. Here is its 2014 Guide to Sunscreen, the Alba Botanical sunscreen we stock made it to their best sunscreens list!




  • Posted by Tracey Willing on

    I thought The same regarding skinnies being NZ made. Have they taken production off shore? (I thought it was Hawkes Bay made).

  • Posted by Emilie on

    Great article, thanks!
    Just wondered if you have any recommendations of preference for which of these sunsceens would be best for eczema prone skin? My 2.5 yr old gets a little eczema under her eyes, cheeks, and patches on her arms and body. It seems to flare up in heat/temperature changes and with any sunscreens – even the shop bought sensitive brands. I’d like to see how she goes with a mineral sunscreen. Any advice appeciated, thank you :)

  • Posted by A on

    Is there anything suitable for three month old baby? I will keep him out of sun as much as possible but it will be tricky with a 7yo outdoors lover!

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