Protect. Nourish. Love. Those are the fundamentals on which Australian Natural Sunscreen brand, Little Urchin, was built. Protecting our skin from the harsh effects of the sun, and our body as a whole, with clean products that are not potentially harmful to us. Nourishing products enriched with essential oils, organic ingredients and antioxidants for magical anti-ageing properties. And finally, a love for our environment and everything Mother Nature has already provided for us.
The brand name was also inspired by the wonders of nature. Like humans, sea urchins are sensitive to light and chemicals. In fact, these clever little fellows have evolved to create their own natural sunscreen to protect their young from the sun’s harsh rays. We could bet you didn’t know that these spindly creatures are known to live more than 100 years without showing any biological signs of ageing!
Little Urchin was conceived in in 2014 when founder, Chris Matthews daughter came home from kindergarten caked in a chemical-smelling sunscreen. "I knew just enough about the potential effects of these chemicals to know we needed a better alternative. So, I took the task on myself, and after 6 months of Breaking Bad-esque experimenting in my kitchen with zinc-oxide and essential oils, I passed it onto Australia’s leading professionals to whip up the naturally-sourced and protective sunscreen that is now Little Urchin."
As someone who has always been a lover of surfing and the ocean and all its inhabitants, Chris didn’t quite realise the potential impact of wearing chemical sunscreen every day until he embarked on this mission.
Most mainstream sunscreens contain tongue-twisting chemicals such as Oxybenzone, Benzophenone-1, Benzophenone-8, OD-PABA, 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor and 3-Benzylidene camphor. These chemicals are known as UV-Filters, which absorb UV rays and convert them to heat on our skin (WHAT DOES THE HEAT ON OUR SKIN DO?), as opposed to reflecting.
Chemical Sunscreen VS Ocean Life
In a 2015 study, a team of international scientists found that amongst these chemicals, Oxybenzone, especially, has contributed to the current phenomenon of coral bleaching in our reefs. The study found this chemical to be highly toxic to juvenile corals and other marine life. For context, Oxybenzone starts causing serious damage to corals at concentrations as low as the equivalent of one drop of water in six-and-a-half Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Did you know that Oxybenzone (also known as BP-3) is found in more than 3500 skin care products worldwide? It’s the simple act of this chemical washing off our skin when we swim or when showering (even if you’re nowhere near the ocean) that the particles enter the water and wreak havoc.
It’s a lot to take in, but there is a movement coming. Hawaii recently passed a law to make it illegal for stores to sell sunscreen products that contain this chemical from January 21, 2021. If you think about how many tourists travel to this tropical location each year where the beaches are packed - this is a monumental start!
If certain chemical UV filters have the power to lower the immune systems of coral, consider what this chemical may be doing to our own bodies every single time we apply it…
In 2019 and 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published two startling studies showing that the ingredients oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and avobenzone are all systemically absorbed into the body after a single use. Oxybenzone was found to have hormone disrupting capabilities, a high rate of skin allergy reaction, as well as traces of this ingredient being detected in mother’s milk after it was applied to skin. The FDA also found that these sunscreen ingredients could be detected on the skin, and in blood, weeks after application ended.
Also examined were zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, active (laboratory-processed) ingredients commonly found in naturally-formulated sunscreens. (Zinc oxide is the only active ingredient contained in Little Urchin sunscreen products.) The examiners found that there was less than 0.01% skin penetration of these active ingredients and no evidence of hormone disruption. Gold stars all around!
This is why Little Urchin is proud to be a leader in the movement for naturally-formulated sunscreens. "We want you and your family to have peace of mind about what you apply to your skin and what floats around in the ocean, all the while knowing that you’re making the right choice in your sun safety."
Little Urchin Natural Sunscreens
Little Urchin currently provides a naturally-formulated sunscreen with a 30+ SPF rating. It’s made with no nasties, is preservative free and is suitable for the whole family (6 months and older) as a body and face sunscreen. Free of any dangerous chemicals, it does not contain any UV absorbers, titanium dioxide, parabens, synthetic preservatives or synthetic fragrances.
For those wishing to have a smooth, medium tint in their sunscreen, Little Urchin Natural Tinted Sunscreen provides the same benefits, while hydrating and nourishing your skin and offering a glowing finish to enhance your natural skin tone.
If you're looking for a natural sunscreen with a heftier SPF option you can choose from the Little Urchin Natural Clear Zinc Sunscreen SPF50+ which is also available in a convenient hand-bag sized and easy to apply stick.
Explore the complete range of Little Urchin Natural Sunscreens