After conducting research into sun protection methods across the globe, Dutch design studio Belén has developed Factor 8 — a range of textile-based alternatives to sunscreens and synthetic sun protection wear.
Modern man’s attempt to protect himself from the harsh and negative effects of sun exposure has lead us down a perilous path, according to the duo behind Belén, Brecht Duijf and Lenneke Langenhuijsen. Today, the sun protection market is worth billions: from creams and lotions to sunglasses and protective clothing. However, are the ways in which we protect ourselves actually doing us more harm than good? The team at Belén sought to unearth the origins and production processes of sun protection materials, assessing the quality and the impact this industry has on the environment to find out.
The main conclusions they drew were that some chemical sunscreens and lotions can actually damage skin. Additionally, the plastic bottles they are packaged in are harmful to the environment and many empty bottles end up in the ocean, adding to pollution. “Sunscreen products currently on the market come with serious disadvantages that outweigh their usefulness in the long run,” explain the Belén founders.
To help solve the problem, the designers have created Factor 8 — a range of sun protection products including clothing, a tent, and a UV translucent parasol — all made from textiles instead of plastics. The parasol, called ‘Prosol D’ is made from a biopolymer fabric specially developed by the studio. It works by letting “good” UV in and blocking “bad” UV. The rest of the items are made from different lightweight fabrics such as linens which come in different thickness levels. The idea is that customers can choose a different fabric depending on their needs instead of continually wearing the same Vitamin D-blocking sun protection.