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Snowberry's sunscreen with unusual actives- reviewed and recommended

Reviewed by Marta March 16, 2012 17 Comments

Pros

Kaempferia galangal extract and feurlic acid to prevent sun damage

Cons

Slight chalky, white cast
One of the most innovative sunscreens yet

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 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.

  • May 31, 2013

    by StylishlyOrganic

    Really interested in trying this but a little concerned about the lack of preservatives. Do you know if the herbal mix that they use is really proven to work?

  • March 17, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Vivian, we always fully list all the ingredients in every product we review. There is no octinoxate or actives other than the ones listed.

  • March 17, 2013

    by Vivian

    Hi,
    What I was really asking is are there other active sunscreen ingredients (e.g., oxtinoxate) or only zinc oxide and what percentage the zinc oxide is, which is not listed in the review. I saw a previous comment that there is 18% zinc oxide but it refers to the spf 15 version, unless the reference was erroneous?
    Thanks again!
    Vivian

  • March 17, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Vivien, the sunscreen actives are listed in the ingredients at the foot of the post and are explained in the review. They are:
    Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide & Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Kaempferia Galanga Root Extract, Larix Sibirica (Siberian Larch) Extract, Ethyl Ferulate

  • March 17, 2013

    by Vivian

    Hi,
    I'm intrigued by this product but can't find any info on the sunscreen actives. Can you tell me what the sunscreen active ingredients are and what percentages they are?
    Thanks!
    Vivian

  • September 9, 2012

    by Kristen

    Hi Marta, I'm looking for a natural sunscreen that won't make my perioral dermatitis flare up( it is almost non existent but sunscreens tend to make it flare) I really love the sound of Snowberrys. Do you think this one might be okay? Thanks for your input! :)

  • August 8, 2012

    by Marta

    Hi Athena
    The expiration date is Feb 2013.

  • August 8, 2012

    by athena

    Hi Martha,

    I am interested in trying Snowberry's sunscreen with SPF 15. Can you pls tell me the expiration date of it?

    Best,
    Athena

  • June 1, 2012

    by elena

    Thank you. Do you know if it's coated? Would definitely purchase it if it was as i'm a believer that it is necessary to prevent it from breaking down.

  • May 31, 2012

    by Marta

    Hi Elena, Snowberry's SPF15 has has 18% zinc oxide.

  • May 31, 2012

    by elena

    Marta,
    i would also love to know the % of zinc in this one, and whether it is coated to protect it from breaking down.

  • April 16, 2012

    by Michele

    I just got this sunscreen and wonder if it should/can be stored in the fridge? Thanks

  • March 23, 2012

    by Ziya

    Hi Marta,

    What is the percentage of zinc oxide used in this product?

  • March 22, 2012

    by Carolyn

    Hi, I'm using a glycolic gel overnight(from a local aesthetician), but the second ingredient is SD Alcohol 40, and that worries me. I'd love to try Snowberry's exfoliator and see if it will treat my sensitive/oily/aging skin better, while still helping to clear my pores.
    Happy Spring!

  • March 21, 2012

    by Marta

    Hi Jen, I don't find it oily at all and it will certainly be OK in a dry climate. In a humid environment I would try it over a serum rather than a moisturizer, but it is very lightweight and I am hopeful that it will see me through the humid New York summer.

  • March 21, 2012

    by Kat

    This product sounds intriguing. They have a stockist here where I live so I'm going to try them. Small note though, I think that ethyl ferulate is probably related to ferulic acid, but they are not the same thing. They are referred to as separate substances in this study: http://ddr.nal.usda.gov/bitstream/10113/13901/1/IND43771020.pdf

  • March 20, 2012

    by Agelessjen

    Marta, does this sunscreen seem as oily as the Soleo sunscreen? Although I loved the beneficial ingredients, it was way too oily for the humid climates in Florida & Hawaii. I use it in Colorado though, as the air is quite dry, so the oils are an absorbed treat to my skin vs. a coating!

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