We review the high street alternative to eco-sunscreen and look into what it is that makes the holiday essential a danger to the environment.
‘Eco sun cream’ is not a phrase that usually jumps from the shelves of pharmacies when choosing which of the lotions will be accompanying on your holiday. The ones that are currently marketing themselves as environmentally-friendly, will set you back a good £30-£50 or more.
High street drugstore, Boots, have proposed a wallet-friendly alternative which, while it is not immediately clear that this is a type of eco-sunscreen from its packaging, it is more eco-friendly than most options made available on the market.
First things first, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Soltan suncream is far from the most eco-friendly sun cream out there, as if this wasn’t obvious by the plastic packaging. For the purists out there, the brilliant but pricey Aethic Sôvée and Shade cream use all natural ingredients and plastic-free tubs.
Soltan suncream, nonetheless, does not contain oxybenzone or octinoxate, with Boots telling the Guardian that they “work hard to ensure we source ingredients that protect environments across the globe”. Oxybenzone and octinoxate, if you can pronounce them, are two chemicals common in suncreams that have been linked with coral degradation and harmful to marine life.Studies show that one drop of the sun protector is enough to have a toxic effect on the equivalent of six-and-a-half Olympic-size swimming pools. So, when you think about how many of us Brits jet abroad and slap on the lotion, losing these ingredients can actually make a big impact.
The packaging, however, could do with some work. Whilst thought has gone into the eco-friendliness of the actual cream, Boots has clearly gone for price and presents Soltan in unapologetically plastic casing, and a thick one at that. Granted, even some of the super-eco suncreams have plastic within their packaging somewhere, but Boots should really at least be looking into recycled plastic or this is somewhat of a half-baked effort.
Soltan suncream is also a chemical-based suncream rather than a mineral-based one, which requires fewer re-applications throughout the day and thus,is a better value for money and indeed for the plastic use. The packaging also advertises itself as non-greasy, which will surely appeal to all of us, because nobody wants those see-through patches on your t-shirt. There are also options for a baby and kids version, an advanced eight hour protection formula and Soltan aftersun.
In terms of a suncream, Soltan has proved its worth. The cream provides a thick, durable coating which, while slightly stickier than its spray counterparts nevertheless proves to be an effective sun shield. Throughout both the hottest UK month on record and a week in the unforgiving Italian sun, Soltan held its own and I remained thankfully burn-free. (The same cannot be said of insect bites, but that is a problem for another product). Coming in at a mighty SPF50+ my burn-free body comes at no surprise. So it seems that the removal of two key chemicals has not sacrificed the all-important UV protection.
But clearly the biggest appeal of Soltan, however, is the price. Starting from £3.50 Soltan is both affordable and to a certain extent eco-friendly due to how much you need, proving that you don’t have to break the bank to help the environment on holiday. If you can’t afford to spend £30 on suncream (and let’s be honest, who can), then you could do worse than Boots’ Soltan range, just make sure to recycle the packaging.