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When a package arrived from New Zealand crammed with products from the Snowberry brand, I was intrigued. Snowberry was founded by Soraya Hendesi, who wanted, to use her own words: “an uncomplicated system of natural beauty care that worked.” Sounded good to me and I immediately alighted on Snowberry’s sunscreen, Everyday Broad Spectrum SPF15 ($36 in the shop) as it has sun-protection actives the like of which I had never seen before. For a beauty nerd with a love-hate relationship with sunscreen, this was exciting enough to make me feel quite flustered.

I am on a perpetual quest to find an alternative to harmful chemical sunscreens and chalky minerals. Could Snowberry, with its unusual actives, be on to something?

The first is kaempferia galangal extract. Galangal, related to the ginger family, is used extensively as a spice ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisine. It is described as natural source of ethyl methoxycinnamate, which is known for its sun-protecting properties (source). Ethyl methoxycinnamate is produced chemically as the sunscreen active known as octinoxate. There are concerns that octinoxate can produce excess reactive oxygen species and lead to cell death, so a natural alternative, should it be safe, would be very appealing.

Actually, galangal has a high concentration of cinnamic esters (source) that are structurally similar to Ethyl methoxycinnamate, and as far as I can judge from my research, it is safe. It may also boost the efficacy of other sunscreens and inhibit tyrosinase activity that can lead to hyperpigmentation (source). As an added bonus, galangal is anti-bacterial, making it potentially useful in the treatment of acne-prone skin.

As a side note, kaempferia galangal extract is also in Hydropeptide SPF 30 Anti-wrinkle sunscreen, although they make no mention of its sun-protecting abilities, saying that it reduces shine.

Snowberry has a couple of other interesting sunscreen actives. One is ethyl ferulate, which is ferulic acid and I have long wondered why it hasn’t made it into sunscreen products. A Duke University study found it particularly good for preventing sun damage, and studies elsewhere have demonstrated that exposure to ultraviolet light actually increases the antioxidant power of ferulic acid.

For good measure, Snowberry has added larix sibirica (Siberian larch), which has antioxidant quercetin, according to research and may also inhibit melanin production (source).

Now it has to be said that Snowberry’s sunscreen still relies on the mineral sun protection standby zinc oxide. As a result, this sunscreen is not entirely guiltless of the chalky white cast. However, it does dissipate quickly and is virtually undetectable under my Osmotics Inner Light, a foundation without any tint at all. The texture is light and goes on easily. There’s nothing nasty in Snowberry Everyday Broad Spectrum SPF 15, and I think that this qualifies as one of the most innovative sunscreen products that I have yet come across and certainly one that I am happy to wear everyday.

In the meantime, I am eager to get to know some of the other Snowberry products. They are created mostly from wilderness and rainforest plants such as white peat, neem, lingon and cloud berry oils. And I like to know that there is a garden in sub-tropical north New Zealand where Snowberry cultivates near extinct indigenous species.

Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide & Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Kaempferia Galanga Root Extract, Larix Sibirica (Siberian Larch) Extract, Ethyl Ferulate

Ingredients: Aqua (Demineralised), Zinc Oxide & Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Sorbitan Olivate (Olive), Cetyl Palmitate & Sorbitan Palmitate, Coco Glucoside Cetearyl Alcohol (wheat Extract), Glycerine (Coconut), Coffea Arabica (Coffee Bean) Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Inga Edulis (Inga) Seed Extract, Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Oil & Stearic Acid & Glycerin & Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Glucose & Glucose Oxidase & Lactoperoxidase, Kaempferia Galanga Root Extract, Ethyl Ferulate, Porphyra Umbilicalis (Seaweed) Extract, Cassia Alata Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Guar Gum, Tocopherol (mixed) & Beta-Sitosterol, & Squalene (Sunflower), Sclerotium Gum, Larix Sibirica (Siberian Larch) Extract.