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Snowberry's sunscreen with unusual actives- reviewed and recommended

Reviewed by Marta March 16, 2012 17 Comments


Kaempferia galangal extract and feurlic acid to prevent sun damage


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

    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!

  • 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

    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?

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