First Coast family business offers ‘Conscious SunCare’ alternatives to commercial sunscreens


With concerns about the dangers of commercial sunscreens mounting, a First Coast family business is offering alternative solutions for protecting your skin from the sun this summer.

St. Augustine-based Tribe Apothecary features an array of “Concisous SunCare” products formulated with natural ingredients that are free of synthetic, genetically modified or petroleum-based elements. The products include two different sun block formulas, a few lip balm options and an aloe and green tea after-sun spray - each of which are formulated from scratch by owner Lauren Estes in her St. Augustine home.

“All of my ingredients that I purchase are organic and fair trade,” Estes told the Recorder. “It’s important to stick to the very natural and simple alternatives for caring for our bodies.”

Nut butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, beeswax, non-GMO vitamin E, non-micronized zinc oxide and organic cacao are among the many ingredients Estes uses to formulate her Tribe Apothecary products. She started creating her own sun care formulas in 2014 after her husband Dustin, an avid surfer and owner of St. Augustine Surf School, told her that the commercial sunscreens weren’t staying on his skin in the water. In addition, Estes started becoming more and more aware of the dangerous chemicals that she says characterize these sun block products, including oxybenzone, which she said is both hazardous for human health and the environment.

So, she started experimenting with formulas at her house until she arrived at her current products, which are thick and water resistant to create a barrier of protection from damaging UVA and UVB rays, and also to moisturize and nourish the skin. Estes first provided the homemade, natural sunscreen to Dustin and their three daughters, and then instructors at Dustin’s surf camps began using it as well. Soon enough, parents of the camp’s participants started asking about the sun care products, so Estes began selling her formulas in 2015.

Two years later, several stores in St. Augustine carry Tribe Apothecary’s sunscreen products, including Savage Swim, The Rosy Cheek and Cambium Surf Shop. A tin of the zinc-based sun block, which can last for more than a year, costs $12. Estes noted that her second sun block formula, which is also $12, is a recent creation that includes organic cacao, which results in a slightly browner tint that matches the skin tone of people with darker skin.

Tripe Apothecary’s lip balm is $4, and the after-sun spray is $11. The business also sells a number of other balms, salves, ointments, creams and herbal treatments for first aid, pain relief, rashes and general skin care. More information can be found about the business and its products at or by calling 904-806-5507.

“No one wants a sunburn or increased skin damage, but there is a safe and effective solution,” said Estes on her business’ Facebook page. “Tribe Apothecary Sunblock…from our TRIBE to yours.”