Summer is finally on the horizon meaning our dreams of yoga under the sun can, at last, come true. But sometimes our fantasies can skip over memories of desperately applying after-sun after taking the sun salutation, perhaps, a little too literally.

To avoid feeling the burn, sun protection is of course key. But sun protection is widely misunderstood, especially when it comes to sunscreen. If you’re health or eco-conscious, you might be interested to know how to protect yourself, the green way.

1. Block the toxins.

We eat clean, we exercise, but sometimes toxins from other sources can catch up with us and leave us feeling sluggish…and they might be coming from your sunscreen.

Ingredients found in synthetic sunscreen have been linked to harmful side effects in the body, like endocrine disruption and skin irritation. Baking these ingredients onto your skin only makes matters worse. Chemicals can become unstable under the sunlight, like oxybenzone, causing it to generate free radicals, leaving the skin damaged.

So how do you avoid sunscreen toxins? A part from all the other benefits, by choosing an independently certified organic sunscreen instead, you will drastically reduce the toxic load that enters your body via the skin.

2. Choose broad spectrum.

According to a survey by JAMA Dermatology, only 34% of people named “broad spectrum” as a label they look for when buying a sunscreen – which really reveals a lack of understanding in the sun-care department!

‘Broad spectrum’ is one of the most important features of a good sunscreen. It not only protects you from UVB rays (which are responsible for sunburn), it also protects you from the deeply penetrative rays of UVA, which are responsible for collagen breakdown and DNA damage.

Zinc oxide is a naturally occurring mineral capable of broad-spectrum protection and therefore an excellent ingredient to find on your sunscreen label. Unlike synthetic ingredients, which absorb the rays of the sun, zinc oxide blocks it from getting to your skin in the first place.

If you’re not convinced of the benefits yet, Odylique’s Natural Sun Screen doesn’t just offer organic, broad-spectrum protection, but it’s also cruelty-free, vegan and packed with antioxidant-rich herbs to protect and nourish the skin. Buying products like these don’t only benefit you; they’re a vote for more of the same ethical practices and products.

3. There’s more to sunscreen than SPF.

The common misconception is that the higher the SPF, the higher the protection “strength.” However, the SPF number isn’t representative of strength, but of time. It is also only a measure of protection from UVB rays (the rays responsible for burning).

Here’s what you need to know to choose the right SPF:

1. How long you can stay in the sun without burning (in minutes).

2. The SPF of your sunscreen or how long you’re going to be outside.

If you start to burn after 20 minutes of sun exposure, multiply that by the SPF number of your sunscreen (let’s say, SPF 30) and you will come to the number of minutes you can stay out in the sun before having to reapply.

So, 20 (minutes) x 30 (SPF) = 600 minutes.

However, even the science can be a little misleading because it doesn’t account for how well you apply your sun cream in the first place. It can be washed off in the sea (25% of sunscreen is washed off after 20 minutes in the water!), rubbed or sweated off, so consistent reapplication (often before your SPF time is up) is important!

4. The wider impact.

Even without all of the benefits of natural sunscreen, the alternative really isn’t an option when you learn its effects!

In recent years, the negative impact of synthetic sunscreens has attracted a lot of attention, from questionable ingredients, to polluting the environment.

Most people are so focused on the fact they need to protect themselves before a day on the beach that they don’t realise the cost their sunscreen is having on the environment. Unfortunately, many of the ingredients in conventional sun protection wash off in the sea and impact the ecosystem that lives below.

A study from Haereticus Environmental Laboratory revealed that common ingredients in synthetic sunscreen are toxic to coral health and the marine life that live there.

A part from the effect on your health, synthetic sunscreen also contains substances left over by chemical farming, which have been found to have a negative impact on the environment; often coming from unsustainable sources, harming wildlife and disrupting soil pH.

5. Your Influence.

Finally, choosing organic sunscreen means representing healthy, ethical and green choices to those around you.

The next time your friend asks to borrow some of your sunscreen, you’re presenting them with an option that they may not have considered, or even heard of before (that works just as well, if not better than conventional sunscreen!).

What you buy is a representation of you, to those around you. Why not leave them with the best impression possible? You don’t have to have thousands of followers before you make an influence, the ripple effect on those around you could change the world!

Making the right choices through our sun protection this summer can help contribute to a healthier you and a healthier planet!