I had bought the Cancer Council Natural Sunscreen for the New Zealand cruise I am taking next week but the sun here in Melbourne is hot (sadly, the heat plus the wind created one of the worst fire disasters in their history, though optimism and hope is in the air here). Just a few days ago, the temperature reached a scorching 115 degrees—the hottest day ever recorded in Melbourne's history. I'm not sure if that's a good thing, but thankfully I had arrived when the weather wasn't too bad. The strong winds from the river keep the city cool, but deceptively masks the hot Australian sun beating down on you. Just a few days here and I felt that my skin was turning that funny, orange tint, and becoming ever so dry no matter how much moisturizer I applied.
So it hit home when I found out Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.
I did the right thing by hopping into a grocery story where Australia's leading sunscreen was in stock. What's promising about this brand is that it's not really a brand—it's produced by the Cancer Council of Australia, a national non-goverment cancer control organization. Their whole vision is to promote awareness and minimize the threat of cancer to Australians, so I'm already happy buying the product knowing it's going to fund cancer research, patient support and education. If only Americans caught on to this...
In any case, of all the "flavors" offered, I chose the Natural sunscreen. It's free from synthetical chemical sun blockers, there's no fragrance and it's proudly made in Australia. What's interesting about this (and for all their sunscreens, actually) is that it lists "preservatives" on the packaging. Besides the active ingredients, sunscreens contain ingredients (moisturizers, water, oils, emulsifiers, etc) that help maintain the cream emulsion and make the sunscreen actually pleasant (if you will). Without preservatives, sunscreen lotion and creams would support the growth of bacteria that could ultimately "spoil" the cream and lotion if they were to contaminate the sunscreen. Here, it's hydroxybenzoates , phenoxyethanol and benzyl alcohol, and —ahem—parabens.
If you want to know more about parabens, check out Marta's informative post
. Decades of research have been put into the Cancer Council's sunscreens, so you would think that they are monitoring closely, especially when skin cancer is so prominent here. I like to think of they're reasoning as replenishing with probiotics after you've taken tons of antibiotics. Parabens here are necessary to make that "balance," if that makes any sense.
My sunscreen was pretty thick, and didn't run, flake or smear. I'm content with it. And—I'm assuming—so are the Aussies. The web site is also chockfull of information. I can safely say I'll be using this sunscreen on my cruise. When it comes to sunscreens, parabens really aren't my main concern... it's the wealth of crap some brands pack into their products, and Cancer Council does not do that.