This post aims to show you the truth about waterproof sun cream so you can make an informed choice on how you protect your skin from the sun.
Many people choose to use a waterproof sun lotion to protect their family’s skin from the sun, allowing little ones to swim without burning. But whilst a waterproof sun lotion may keep your protection in place whilst in the water, using them is actually like wrapping your skin in cling film.
What makes a sun cream waterproof?
Waterproof sun creams are so effective at clinging to your skin despite prolonged contact with water due to their combination of synthetic chemicals, such as silicones and petrochemicals.
Derived from crude oil, petrochemicals such as mineral oil have no affinity to human skin and work by creating a seal that stops water getting through.
While this ‘seal’ may help to stop your sun protection from being washed away, it can spell bad news for your skin.
People with sensitive skin, blemishes, allergy prone skin or those prone to prickly heat may find that waterproof or highly water resistant sun creams cause irritation, rashes and may aggravate any inflammation or dryness.
This is because these chemicals are too effective at stopping moisture entering your skin; they can block your pores and prevent your skin from breathing.
USA bans 'waterproof' from sun cream labels
In the USA, the claims ‘waterproof’ or ‘sweat proof’ have been banned by the Food and Drug Administration* (FDA) to help prevent damage by excessive sun exposure.
Concerns that people were failing to reapply sun lotion throughout the day, under the illusion that ‘waterproof’ meant 100% protection, led the FDA to ban this claim as well as limiting SPF levels to avoid confusion.
No sun lotion can ever be 100% waterproof, just as no sun lotion can ever block 100% of UV rays.
The danger with using waterproof sun cream is not only that they can block your pores and cause irritation, they may also lead people to reapply sun protection less frequently, leaving them more susceptible to long term damage from UV radiation. Read about how to apply sun lotion.
It is important to be aware that the SPF of a sun lotion only indicates the level of protection against UVB radiation. It does not tell you anything about the protection it offers against dangerous UVA light.
Waterproofing agents will not stop chemical sun filters from breaking down over time and losing their efficacy. Read more about UVA protection.
Whilst many people may believe that a waterproof sun cream keeps their sun filters effective for longer, this is not actually the case; if a sun lotion uses chemical filters (a chemical sun filter can be natural or synthetic), these will gradually break down during wear and if protection is not reapplied, it may increase the risk of sun damage in the deeper layers of your skin.
Discover natural and organic sun lotions
Green People never uses harsh, irritating chemicals such as silicones and petrochemicals in any products, and our sun lotions only use ingredients that are well tolerated by the skin.
Green People’s naturally water-repellent sun lotions contain either Berry wax and Beeswax to keep you protected without clogging your pores.
These gentle, mildly water repellent natural waxes are suitable for even the most sensitive skin and allow your skin to breathe, making them ideal for those prone to prickly heat.
Our SPF30 sun creams for adults and children offer high factor, broad-spectrum protection against both UVA & UVB rays that is water repellent without irritating chemicals. They are also reef safe.
To maintain a high level of protection we recommend that you reapply our sun lotion every 2 to 3 hours and after swimming.
Shop natural water-repellent sun creams now
A 20p donation from every Scent Free Sun Cream SPF30 sold goes to support the Marine Conservation Society to help support the vital work they do to protect our marine environment.