Brush on Block is a unique product, standing apart from other sunscreens with its powdered mineral formula and brush applicator. The powdered sunscreen is extremely easy to apply and won’t sweat into your eyes. Being water-resistant, you don't lose any functionality when using Brush on Block. I personally use this sunscreen almost every day, and would recommend it for any activity. The mineral formula doesn’t contain toxins found in most chemical sunscreens, meaning the sunscreen that does make its way into the environment has less of an impact. Additionally, the all-natural ingredients are better for your skin, and won't cause irritation. The retail price for the Brush on Block Translucent Mineral SPF Powder Sunscreen is $32. This is more expensive than other sunscreens, but given the brush bottle is reusable and the ingredients are all-natural, the pricing seems reasonable. Despite being better for the environment than other sunscreens out there, a lack of transparency on the production side prevents this product from getting a 3/3 score. Overall, I’d give this product 2 earths.
Brush on Block is very transparent about its ingredients, listing their active and inactive ingredients. The inactive ingredients are all-natural minerals and botanical extracts, and do not contain Oxybenzone, Parabens, PABA, or Phthalates, making it reef friendly. They also include details on the active ingredients Zinc and Titanium Oxide. Although powdered minerals have a smaller impact on the environment than toxic chemical ingredients, bioaccumulation is still possible with Zinc and Titanium minerals, which can be harmful to some organisms. Overall though, mineral sunscreens are less toxic and damaging to the environment than chemical ones. In terms of packaging, Brush on Block is doing better than other sunscreen brands. With the goal of being better for the environment, Brush on Block provides refills of their powers in recyclable containers to reduce plastic waste. Despite the bottle being made of plastic, the refills allow for consumers to reuse the brush bottle over and over again. Additionally, their products come in paper boxes instead of plastic, making it easily recyclable.
Where Brush on Block could do better is by including how and where they source their ingredients from. The only information provided on the production side is that the brushes are hand-made in Shenzhen, China by a family-run company. In China, labor laws and environmental regulations are not as strict as the US, so despite being “family-run,” the company that makes this could still have poor working conditions, low wages, and many emissions. The products ship out of the United States, meaning a large amount of transportation, and therefore greenhouse gasses, are required to ship the product from China, to the US, and finally to the consumer. Since Brush on Block is a smaller brand, producing in China instead of the US may be for monetary reasons. There is no further information on where the sunscreen is made and where the ingredients are sourced from. Additionally, there is no more information provided on their supply chain or factory conditions. The website confirms that no products are tested on animals. However, that is the extent of what is available on their production side. Being a smaller brand, this was somewhat expected, yet they could easily do better by providing this information.
With the goal of creating a better sunscreen to protect skin, Brush on Block has some sustainable aspects, yet doesn't have a commitment to protecting the environment or its workers. Their main marketing is aimed at functionality, with brush on sunscreen being better for the skin and easier to apply. The About Us page mainly includes information on the cofounders' background, with Andrea Wetsel being a mother from Portland, Oregon, and Susan Posnick being a professional makeup artist and skin cancer survivor. The company is mainly focused on their desires to improve products that help protect your skin from the sun by making sunscreen easier to apply on the go. Despite its mineral formula being better for the environment than chemical sunscreens, Brush on Block does not make sustainability part of its marketing campaign, lacking any sort of pledge to protect the environment. Additionally, the lack of transparency when it comes to who makes their products and where they source materials indicates no promise of ethical production. With no information on the demographics of their company, it is not possible to tell if they are practicing socially responsible hiring practices too. Increasing their transparency about production, as well as promoting sustainability in their marketing are the best ways Brush on Block can improve their rating.