Hailing from New Zealand, a country notorious for its harsh sun, Skinnies has solved the problem of white, greasy sunscreen with its innovative range of sun gels. Less is more when it comes to these gels: a pea-size blob covers your face, neck and ears for instant UV protection that stays on longer. They’re also sustainably formulated using zero water.
Skinnies co-founder and mother of four Martha Van Arts has a background in environmental science, and when she looked at the range of sunscreens available, she quickly realised the common ingredient in them was water. And water does nothing to protect you from the sun!
So, together with her husband Olly, they formulated a better and safer alternative, setting out by removing the water and creating a sunscreen that rubs in clear and adapts to any skin tone. We sat down with Martha to find out more – and to answer all of your sunscreen-related questions. (Plus, read on for a special Skinnies offer for Expat Living readers!)
What does SPF really mean?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is a measure of how well a sunscreen blocks UVB rays (the ones responsible for reddening and surface burns). There is a popular misconception that SPF relates to time of sun exposure, but really it refers to the amount of sun exposure. For example, if your unprotected skin usually takes ten minutes to show signs of burning, then properly applying SPF 30 sunscreen will slow the rate of burning so that it will take 30 times longer, or 300 minutes (10 x 30 = 300). However, if you have a darker skin tone and it takes 20 minutes of sun exposure before turning red, an SPF 30 sunscreen will provide you with approximately 600 minutes of UVB protection (20 x 30 = 600).
What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays?
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is part of the natural energy produced by the sun and is made up of UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays have longer wavelengths that can penetrate deeper into the skin’s surface, damaging the skin cells beneath. Think of these as the “ageing” rays responsible for things like skin ageing, sunspots and wrinkles. UVB rays, or “burning” rays, have shorter wavelengths and cause sunburn. They’re also responsible for most types of skin cancers. So, when it comes to purchasing a sunscreen, it’s important to pick one, such as Skinnies, that provides broad-spectrum coverage – meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
Is sunscreen safe for me?
Although all sunscreens are formulated differently, and some contain harmful chemicals, Skinnies is made with minimal ingredients for maximum efficacy. All of the ingredients in our products rate well on the Environmental Working Group and Paula’s Choice Ingredient Dictionary. (These are website databases specialising in the research and evaluation of ingredients.) Skinnies itself doesn’t contain any water, parabens, preservatives, alcohol, thickeners, emulsifiers, nano-particles, fragrances, mineral or paraffin oil, di-methicone or silicones. It’s also vegan-friendly and safe for sensitive skin and babies.
What about the environment?
Here at Skinnies, we don’t use any water in our products because we believe it’s one of the Earth’s most precious resources. This helps us save over 100,000 litres of water each year. Although there’s a lot of controversy around sunscreen ingredients (particularly oxybenzone) and their impact on coral reefs, we think one of the most pressing environmental issues affecting our oceans is carbon emissions, which are causing sea temperatures to rise and acidify.
We make our products as close as possible to the market where they’re sold to reduce carbon miles. Plus, we’re moving from plastic tubes to sustainable sugar cane packaging that captures CO2 during the manufacturing process. We’ve also made the decision not to use oxybenzone in our Skinnies Conquer SPF50+ and Skinnies Kids SPF50; we won’t be using it in any future products too.
What’s the difference between mineral (or physical) and chemical sunscreen?
Chemical UV filters absorb UV rays rendering them harmless to the skin underneath. Mineral filters reflect UV rays, which is why they’re thicker and usually white. At Skinnies, we think it’s important to have the full range of UV rays covered. That’s why we use a combination of both chemical and mineral filters in our sunscreen.
How much should I use, and should I reapply through the day?
For water-based sunscreens, the recommended application is a shot glass (approximately 35ml) for the body, applied every two hours. These formulations often contain emulsifiers. This means that once they dry and then get wet (usually by swimming or sweating) they re-emulsify and wash off. Waterless formulations like Skinnies have higher “substantivity” (stickability to the top of the skin); also, because they don’t mix with water, they stay on longer.
Does the sunscreen in makeup or moisturiser offer enough protection?
It really depends on the level of SPF, and also whether it’s broad spectrum. In our experience, makeup and moisturisers only offer UVB protection, so your skin is still exposed to harmful UVA rays. If you’re looking for a product that does it all, our supercharged BB cream is a great option, as it protects against both UVA and UVB rays, while the soft tint evens out skin tone.
Should children and babies use different sunscreens to adults?
Children have very delicate skin. In fact, some regulations recommend you keep babies out of the sun completely for their first 18 months. (But you try telling that to a nine-month-old on the move!) Our Skinnies Kids SPF50 has a similar formulation as the adult products and is recommended for use on babies over the age of three months. It has the added benefit of coconut oil and aloe leaf to help soothe sensitive skin. The tubes also feature funky artworks by Japanese pop artist, Jun Arita; the kids really love them, and it makes them feel special having their own bottle.
How long does sunscreen keep?
Sunscreens that contain active UV ingredients usually have a shelf life of two years. This is the period of time the manufacturer has tested that the product will deliver on its claims.
For a limited time, enjoy 15 percent off your purchase when you apply the code “EXPATLIVING” at checkout. (Note: this discount excludes combo packs.)
To find out more about the brand, visit skinnies.sg.
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