Before heading out to the beach yesterday, I heard some upsetting news: benzene was found in sunscreens from Neutrogena, Aveeno, and various other brands. Benzene is a carcinogen that has been linked to blood cancer and various other illnesses. In addition, benzene is detectable in raw materials that are derived from petrochemicals and petroleum. I was shocked to learn this; I’ve been using sunscreen from Neutrogena and Aveeno for years! This got me thinking...what brands of sunscreen can I actually trust? So off I went to CVS, to look for an alternative sunscreen, when I stumbled upon the brand, Coola. Coola is making great strides towards sustainability, regarding the ingredients they use and the packaging of their products. Furthermore, they explicitly claim on their website that benzene is not an ingredient in any of their products. I would have given this company an even higher rating, but I cannot find much information regarding their manufacturing process, energy usage, and labor practices. The price of this product is $25.00, as compared to Neutrogena’s SPF 30 spray sunscreen that is $10.99. Although Coola’s products are more costly, I believe that it is worth paying more for a quality product, with ingredients you can trust.
Every Coola product is made with at least 70% certified organic ingredients, in which they claim that they use ingredients grown without the use of pesticides. According to their website, Coola claims that they believe, “...we are all a product of our environment, and are committed to protecting our bodies, waterways, and habitats by using ingredients grown using biologically-based substances and farming methods to the fullest extent possible.” Furthermore, Coola uses plant cell actives to support healthy skin, which they claim is part of their commitment to using natural and sustainably sourced ingredients. The fragrances Coola uses are also 100% natural, with all constituents extracted from plant sources. This is important, since almost all chemicals used in artificial fragrance are derived from petroleum. By using natural fragrances, Coola is helping to reduce the harmful effects of petroleum, such as climate change.
Regarding ingredient sustainability, Coola claims that they believe in using ingredients that follow sustainable farming practices and support local communities. In addition, they claim to use responsible sourcing, in which they seek to use ingredients that are sourced using minimum impact extraction and harvesting methods. Nevertheless, I wish they provided more information regarding exactly what these sustainable farming practices are. Furthermore, all of Coola’s products are cruelty free and almost all of their products are vegan, except for a few products that contain beeswax. Every vegan product is clearly labeled on Coola’s website. In addition, all of Coola’s products comply with Hawaii Act 104, which indicates that none of their products contain Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, which are chemicals linked to coral bleaching. By keeping these chemicals out of their products, Coola is helping to protect coral reefs. Regarding their packaging, over 75% of Coola’s containers are fully recyclable and their goal is to make 100% of their containers recyclable by 2023. In an effort to reduce Coola’s plastic use, all of their tubes are made of sustainably sourced sugar-cane resin and their secondary packaging is made of recyclable materials.
As mentioned earlier, I could not find much information regarding Coola’s labor and manufacturing practices. The lack of transparency regarding labor practices makes me question whether Coola is treating their workers fairly, although I do not want to jump to conclusions. The only information I could find is that all of Coola’s products are made in the United States. The U.S has strict labor laws, as compared to other countries, regarding minimum wage and child labor. Nevertheless, I wish that Coola was more transparent regarding their labor practices, which is why I gave them a low score in this category.