Safe and Natural Sunscreen Tips for the Season
Okay, the season is upon us. Yippee! Is what I say.
However, along with sunny days are the pitfalls of Mother Nature; bugs, burns, bruises and unexpected bumps.
Nonetheless, I am not going to sit around in fear of misadventures.
Instead, we need to jump right in, have fun and seize the day!
Carpe diem is an aphorism usually translated as “seize the day”; taken from a poem written in the Odes in 23 BC by the Latin poet Horace, Book 1, number 11.
Source from Wikipedia Carpe diem.
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I have to say that the majority of conventional sunscreens are composed of toxic ingredients.
Just think about it, how often have you developed a rash after applying sunscreen?
Unfortunately, many people blame the rash on allergies instead of the true culprit.
Although long term effects of the chemicals in sunscreen are unknown, studies show that skin cancer continues to rise at a rapid pace. Some studies show that sunscreens does protect against certain types of less aggressive forms of skin cancers. While other research claims that sunscreens can actually contribute to the risk of some of the most deadly forms of skin cancer.
Did you know that in the United States, the FDA does not regulate cosmetics (including sunscreen) as austerely as food or pharmaceuticals? This in itself allows cosmetic companies the ability to use numerous types of chemical ingredients. Some of these ingredients are even banned in other countries.
There are over 1500 sunscreen products on the market. With such a large selection, it can be difficult to decide what brand is the healthiest. Here are a few helpful tips.
Oxybenzone – this is a hormone disrupting chemical that is easily absorbed in the skin and enters the bloodstream.
It is also one of the most common ingredients in chemical type sunscreens.
What’s crazy, oxybenzone only blocks UVB rays, which are healthy sun-rays that provide vitamin D. I cannot emphasize strongly enough “Avoid all sunscreens that contain oxybenzone!”
Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate) – Research done by U.S. government scientists (2009) released by the National Toxicology Program found that vitamin A may speed the development of skin lesions and tumors when applied to the skin while exposed to sunlight.
Sprays or Powders – For the most part, sprays and powders have additional chemicals. They are added for performance reasons. These extra chemicals are generally not something you want to spray on your body. Plus they can be toxic to the lungs. Moreover, several of the lung side effects of sprays and powders are not tested before the sunscreen is approved.
Fragrance–For the most part, fragrance is petroleum based and has been linked to allergies and organ toxicity. Select unscented or products that use essential oils.
High SPF – The FDA doesn’t regulate sun protection factor (SPF) higher than 50.
Additionally, there’s no scientific evidence that they work better than lower SPF. Several of the higher SPFs don’t provide additional protection.
In addition, studies suggest that users are exposed to as many or more ultraviolet rays as people who use lower-SPF products.
Popular Conventional Brands – In terms of safety, according to the Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen Guide, some of the worst sunscreen brands are Aveeno, Banana Boat, Bull Frog, Coppertone Sport, Coppertone Water Babies, Neutragena, Hawaiian Tropic, Storebrands (Rite Aid, Walgreens), and many other common brands.
Titanium dioxide – Recently, studies show that titanium dioxide could be a carcinogen and photocatalyst. Conversely, there are numerous “health” sites that claim it is safe. Personally, I really do not feal there has been enough research done for an accurate conclusion. In my book, if you are not sure, then don’t use it.
For further reading: Titanium dioxide in our everyday life; is it safe?
Zinc oxide – Many health experts agree that zinc oxide is the only safe sun protection available in a tube. It is very effective and protects you from UVA and UVB rays. It is a sunblock that sits on the surface of the skin. However, there are a few minor downsides. Zinc oxide sunscreen is difficult to rub in, making your skin looking rather ghostly. This is because it does not contain toxic chemicals for easy application. Additionally, some zinc oxide sunscreens can stain your clothes. Note: Some people are allergic or sensitive to zinc oxide.
Other helpful hints – Choose lotion based sunscreens that have water resistance. Stay clear of nano products (quick skin absorption). Choose sunscreens that are rated 0-2 in the Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen Guide.
Here are a few of my favorite brands:
Kabana Green Screen® Organic SPF 32 Sunscreen and SPF 31 Tinted Sunscreen
Price: $16.49-19.79 (4 oz.)
SPF: 31-35 (updated 2013)
Active ingredient(s):zinc oxide (25%), non nano
Antioxidants added: Vitamin E
Where to buy: Green Screen Organic Sunscreen SPF 31
Badger Balm Sunscreens (many varieties)
Price: $17.99 (4 oz.) OR $13.59 (2.9 oz. sport)
EWG rating:1 for all formulas
Active ingredient(s): Zinc oxide (10-22.5%, varies) non-nano uncoated
Antioxidants added:Varies, EVOO, shea butter, sunflower oil and Vitamin E (sunflower oil), various essential oils like sea buckthorn and vanilla extracts. (Great ingredient descriptions)
Where to buy:
Badger Balm SPF 30 Kids Sunscreen Cream
Price: $11.19 -18.95(3 oz.)
EWG rating:1 for all formulas
Active ingredient(s): Zinc oxide
Antioxidants added: varies; Jojoba, shea butter, olive oil, Vitamin E (sunflower oil) and green tea extract. Several essential oils like apple fruit and rose hip.
Where to buy: Babo Botanicals 30 SPF Clear Zinc Sunscreen
Aubrey Organics Natural Sun
Price: $12.89 -20.42 (4-6 oz.)
EWG rating:1 for lotions and 3 for spray
Active ingredient(s): Zinc oxide (some of their sunscreens contain titanium dioxide; below is a list without the controversy ingredient)
Antioxidants added:Varies; aloe, shea butter, jojoba, tocopheryl acetate and sunflower oil (vitamin E), Baobab Oil (vitamin D) Fireweed flower and leaf, larch tree extract and camellia sinensis (green tea). Several essential oils like lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle), rosemary leaf extract and onicera caprifolium (honeysuckle) flower extract.
Where to buy:
We all know that prevention is the best measure. However, I am sure that you’ve had sunburn at least one time in your life.
The best natural treatment for burns is aloe vera. It is an amazing cooling and anti-inflammatory burn remedy.
In truth, aloe vera is so effective that many hospitals now use it for severe burns.
Apply an aloe vera soaked cotton ball on sunburned skin at least twice per day. You should also take a cool or lukewarm shower to further reduce inflammation. Never take a scorching hot shower. Your skin is hot because you have increased the blood supply on the surface of the skin. A hot shower will only increase the irritation. Taking a cool bath or shower will constrict the blood vessels and help you feel more comfortable.
Forget about aloe vera creams and toss the year old tubes lying in your cabinet out the door. It’s best to buy new aloe vera gel each year. Also, make sure to store it in the refrigerator so that it keeps its freshness and healing properties. I buy pure organic aloe vera gel that doesn’t contain any additives. Some brands of pure aloe gel may contain Irish moss (a natural preservative). In honesty, I think straight aloe vera gel works best. Plus, if you plan on drinking the gel or adding it to smoothies, Irish moss has a horrible bitter taste.
Also, rub sunburnt skin with a thick lotion containing vitamin E to decrease long term skin damage. Vitamin E is a great antioxidant and skin healer such as for scars. Make sure to select an alcohol free lotion to avoid further irritation.
Special Note: Grow a few aloe vera plants in your home or garden to use for emergencies such as when someone gets a kitchen burn. Before cutting, make sure that your aloe vera is a mature and healthy plant.
Remove the leaf: Create a clean cut with a sharp knife to prevent damage to the plant. Slice near the base of the leaf and away from the center of the plant.
Rinse:When you have the aloe vera leaf, out skin and knife under running water
Trimming:Put the curved side of the leaf face down on a cutting board. Slice around the border then remove the top layer of the skin by running a knife closely under the surface and peeling it away. Repeat the same steps on the opposite side.
Storing: Place the aloe vera gel in an air tight container (glass work best). Refrigerate. It will last for up to a week.
Soothing and Healing Aloe Vera:
Aloe vera close up: Food Trails via photopin cc
Aloe vera with flowers: sarowen via photopin cc
Lady with sunburn: griff le riff via photopin cc
People swimming: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc
Water and feet: Julien Haler via photopin cc
Sunscreen on boys nose: the half-blood prince via photopin cc
Young girl covered in sunscreen: The Familylee via photopin cc
Mother and child on the beach: Malingering via photopin cc