All You Need to Know about Natural Sunscreen

Natural Sunscreen Plastic-free Sunscreen

One of the most difficult things to find without plastic for me was sunscreen. It's not only important for me to stock plastic-free products, they also need to be natural and wherever possible, made in the UK. 

I was really struggling, I found a few natural plastic-free sunscreens but they either came in plastic or were made on the other side of the world.

Enter ShadeTM Natural Sunscreen! It's 100% natural with only four ingredients, comes in a tin and it's not only made in the UK, it's made in Oxford, very close to Vida Eco Shop!

Here's everything you need to know about natural sunscreen from ShadeTM 

Frequently asked questions

Who is ShadeTM suitable for?

Suitable for all skin types, of all ages. We get feedback from people with sensitive skin who normally react badly to chemical sun creams that they can use Shade™ without any reaction and it soothes their skin. People with oily skin have found it to be fine for them also - zinc oxide is naturally astringent and so will help to dry out any excess oils. People who like to use the Shade™ daily to prevent sun and wind damage in winter for example have found it useful to apply a little moisturiser and allow time for it to absorb before applying Shade™ to counteract the drying effect of zinc oxide.

How should I apply it?

If it’s cold and quite firm, rub it vigorously with warm fingertips to make it softer, or scoop some out of the tin and warm it between your hands, then apply generously at least 15min before exposure to the sun, and then reapply regularly, particularly after exposure to water or after sweating.

What consititutes 'Apply Generously'?

'Applying generously' means you need approximately a teaspoon for an adult face, and a shotglass full for an adult body. Be aware that putting an inadaquate amount of sunscreen on effectively square-roots the SPF! So an SPF50 is rendered an SPF7, SPF25 is rendered an SPF5!!

 How does SPF actually work?

SPF25 means that the protection is 96% - that also means that 4% of rays are still reaching the skin. The '25' means that you are approximately protected fro 25 times the length of time it would normally take you to burn, under the same environmental conditions, without any protection whatsoever.

Unlike many chemical sunscreens, Shade™ does not contain burn inhibitors which switch off the burning sensation. If you feel you are beginning burn, it's your body's warning to you that you have been exposed for too long, and the sensible approach is to cover up by wearing clothing or move out of the sun altogether. Applying more sunscreen only ensures you are still covered for the original 25x timeframe - it does not extend the amount of time you can stay in the sun - those 4% of rays are still doing their damage. It's important that you listen to your body and its signals - the danger of sunscreens that contain burn inhibitors is that the damage is still being done, but you just can't feel it - a bit like taking painkillers that mask the pain - ignoring the body's messages that there is a problem does not resolve the problem.

Does ShadeTM protect against UVA as well as UVB?

Shade™ offers broad spectrum protection, the SPF25 covers the UVB and the UVA emblem on the bottom label refers to the UVA protection.

The UVA Star rating system can no longer be used by sunscreen manufacturers such as ourselves other than the higher priced ones Boots itself sells and Boots own brands, as it is trademarked by Boots the Chemists, so we have been unable to use this test specifically to give it stars based on this testing system.

However the UVAPF Mean in the SO24443:2012 test conducted on Shade All-Natural Sunscreen (Unscented) came in at 24.77, giving it a PA++++ UVA grading, and if we were to be able to use the star system it would come out at 4/5 stars.

Does ShadeTM leave a white cast on the skin?

Shade™ can leave a white cast on the skin, this is the mineral non-nano zinc oxide sitting on the skin rather than being absorbed into the skin, and it's the active ingredient that protects you from the UVA & UVB rays. When you see a white cast on your skin don't dismay, be pleased! You can see that not only are you physically helping to protect yourself for the dangerous rays, you can rest assured we are only using non-nano particles of zinc oxide, which is why they sit on the skin as a physical barrier and don't absorb into the skin and the bloodstream - the very safest form of active ingredient for sunscreens. When it comes to doing something recognised as dangerous, such as exposing yourself to strong sun, we believe it's important to put safety above vanity...

Why do you only make an SPF25?

We only make an SPF25 because the recommended ideal SPF is between 15 and 30. As SPF25 protects you from 96% of the sun's harmful UVB rays which cause burning, we believe that users will not be as complacent as they would be about using a high SPF, and if you need it to be a really super sunblock lay it on thick. Also, very high SPF is only achieveable with chemical active ingredients, something we're tryng to avoid.

We are inclined to agree with the Environmental Working Group about the pitfalls of high SPF products. You can read them here.

How can I trust that it's a really effective sunscreen?

Test results confirm that not only is ShadeTM an effective broad spectrum sunscreen which helps protect against UVA radiation which can penetrate deep into the skin and cause ageing, it is also an effective SPF25, which blocks up to 96% of the UVB rays which cause burning. We believe it’s better to use an SPF in the range of 15 - 30, because your burning mechanism is your early warning system which is really best not switched off! SPF25 covers 96%, SPF50 covers only 2% more at 98% and SPF100 covers only offering only SPF25, we hope people will use ShadeTM responsibly, and not be complacent about the dangers of sun exposure. Higher SPFs we believe can lead us into a false sense of security. Please read our blog post 'A Word of Warning about Natural Sunscreens', and this Excellent Article, 'Can Sunscreen Ingredients Increase Your Risk of Cancer?' which highlights all the issues with using sunscreen to prevent skin cancer.

A Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 25 does not mean it is half the strength of an SPF 50 – it means you can remain exposed to sun with it adequately applied for up to 25 times the length of time it would normally take you to burn in the same environmental conditions you would if you did not apply any sunscreen protection.

When many of the chemical ingredients found in mainstream high-street sunscreens have been found to be carcinogenic in their own right, it makes sense to choose a sunscreen which only uses the most basic, nourishing skin-protecting natural ingredients. This eliminates the risk of adverse reactions, chemical absorption through the skin into the bloodstream, and the highly undesirable ‘switching off’ of your early warning signals. Of all the radiation dispersing and adsorbing ingredients available to sunscreen manufacturers, we have opted for the most naturally-occurring one which happens to be the only one which proves offer the broadest protection available – the mineral Zinc Oxide.

The non-nano zinc oxide we have chosen for Shade™ is able to protect against both UVA and UVB ultraviolet light and is a physical UV blocker being capable of scattering solar radiation and is excellent for those who are sensitive to the sun.

What tests has it undergone?

Stability testing, microbiology testing, broad spectrum sunscreen testing of effectiveness against UVA & UVB rays, and SPF validation tests. All tests conducted to EU standards by Alba Science of Edinburgh.


  • ISO24443 In vitro Broad Spectrum Protection.
  • ISO 24444 In vivo with 13 live subjects. A Cosmetic Study to Determine the In-Vivo Sun Protection Factor of a Sunscreen Formulation.
  • Cosmetic Product Safety Data Analysis, conducted by Luciano Molinaro BSc Forensic Science & Investigative Analysis (Hons) (Kingston University), Forensic Chemistry and Trace Analysis, Analytical Methods in Forensic Science (Kingston University).
  • Accelerated Stability Test


ShadeTM is listed on the Cosmetic Products Notification Portal (CPNP), as per EU requirements.

Is Shade tested on animals?

No way! Absolutely not! Only human volunteers have taken part in Shade™ testing, unless you consider myself and my family to be guinea pigs...! As an anti-vivisectionist, animal lover and a vegan, I would never allow it, and besides it's illegal to test cosmetics on animals in the UK. We're proud to display the 'not tested on animals' icon on our labels. So, if I'm a vegan, why do I allow beeswax in my formula? The answer is that I only became vegan three years ago, a few years after Shade™ was originally formulated. Since then I have been working on the development of a vegan formula, but beeswax is a hard wax to mimic with very few ingredients. We are getting closer though, so please watch this space.

So what's so bad about commercial, chemical-based, sunscreens?

Where do I start? How about digging around in the back of your bathroom cabinet, and pulling out last year's 1/3 full tube with the crusty, gunky lid that won't close anymore, and taking a look at the ingredients?

The first question you need to ask yourself is do you even pronounce that? Exactly. These manmade chemicals are not something we as humans have evolved with, like 'nut'  or 'oil'. They are incredibly new to us on the evolutionary scale, and if you take the time to type some of those ingredients into your search bar on your browser and add 'health risks' then you will discover for yourself why many people are beginning to question why they're relying on this stuff to try and prevent skin cancer.

Also, many chemical sunscreens have ingredients which switch off the burning mechanism. That's all well and good, but we burn for a reason - it's our skin's early warning system telling us we've had too much time in the sun and we need to do something about it. It's easy to avoid burning if you reapply your sunscreen regularly, and at the height of the sun's strength, wear suitable clothing to cover up.

And all that's without mentioning the plastic packaging, which is choking our beautiful oceans and killing our marine life...

What is Shade’s shelf life?

Once opened use within 12 months, otherwise it has a 3-year shelf life.


Where to Buy?

Shade Natural Sunscreen 15ml

Shade Natural Sunscreen 100ml

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