Natural sunscreens: Alba Botanicals and Naked Bee Company

As a follow-up to my sunscreen research, I want to tell you about two new “green” facial sunscreens that I’ve been using lately: Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sunblock Facial SPF 30 and The Naked Bee Vitamin C Facial Moisturizer SPF 30
In short, the main differences between the two:
Naked Bee Organics: 70% organic ingredients but uses chemicals for sunscreen
Alba Botanica: zinc oxide/physical sunblock and almost no organic ingredients

Detailed review

I bought a big 4oz tube of the Alba sunscreen at Whole Foods for $6.59 which is fairly cheap. Even the full price of $10.99 isn’t bad. And since it was at Whole Foods, it passes their vague body quality standards. It has SPF 30 and uses zinc as its sunblock (a plus!). Other stuff the label claims: “Powerful antioxidant rich Green Tea, Grape Seed Oil and Vitamin E nourish skin while Aloe Vera, Lavender and Chamomile moisturize and smooth.” The formula says NO to:
  • Animal Testing
  • Artificial Colors
  • Parabens, Phthalates
  • Oxybenzone
  • PABA
  • Nano-technology
  • Vitamin A
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Myreth Sulfate
Naked Bee Facial Moisturizer
The Naked Bee comes in a 2.5oz tube and I paid $8 for it at a bar on the beach, of all places. Sidestory: I was on vacation in Gulf Shores and had mineral sunscreen but no moisturizer and my face was feeling dry so I bought this at the bar without any research.
I was impressed because it said right on the label: made with 70% organic ingredients. It also seems to be a smaller company, which is neat to support. The label boasts: “We also add in honey, hyaluronic acid and palmatoyl tripeptide-3, developed to reduce wrinkles, along with a host of beneficial plant extracts like arnica, lavender, chamomile, calendula, cucumber and alpine lichen.
Similar to Alba, the Naked Bee says NO to:
  • Paraben and PABA
  • proylene glycol or mineral oil
  • alcohol
  • laurel or laureth sulfate
  • EDTA (don’t know what this means)
  • animal testing

Performance

I found Naked Bee to be a bit sticky. It’s not a problem when I use it on my face underneath my makeup, since my foundation just covers it up. But when I put it on my neck & chest, my skin feels sticky every time I touch it. I think this is better as a winter lotion. Natural moisturizers in general tend to have this “sticky” quality, oweing to the waxes used to to bind the ingredients. Mass moisturizers add a lot of chemicals to get that texture just right.

You’ll notice that the Alba is prefaced with “very emollient.” Zinc-based sunblocks tend to also make things sticky and streaky, so alba added emollient properties to make it more spreadable on the skin. It works without feeling oily or heavy. It settles into more of a matte finish than Naked Bee.

The Naked Bee has strong honey orange smell. I think the decision to add fake scent takes away from the natural-ness of the product. If you have 70% organic ingredients, why do you have to coat it all in fake perfume? Alba doesn’t seem to have any added perfumes. It just has a faint sunscreen smell, definitely not as strong as others. If you are only using it on your face, I doubt anyone else will smell it on you.
I wore Alba on a beach day and my face did not burn even though my shoulders did. I am happy to report that neither of the moisturizers did anything weird when I sweated. This is in stark contrast to one hot day when I wore Neutrogena on my body AND face on an outdoor run, and my arm sweat made it turn into white streaks. I can only imagine what it looked like on my face. I used to wear Coppertone Spray, but I threw it out because it was one of the most toxic things to use.
These are two great products that also represent the types of choices we have to make when considering what it means to live more cleanly – Do I go for 70% organic but with chemical sunscreen, or the product that has almost no organic ingredients but with physical sunblock and no nanoparticles? I’m sure there are scientific articles that would support either choice so the only deciding factor is whether you like how it performs.
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2 thoughts on “Natural sunscreens: Alba Botanicals and Naked Bee Company

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