I love bright, warm sunshine in the summertime! A limited amount of sun exposure can be a great source of vitamin D. However, long exposure to the sun can pose some damaging effects to our skin.
In the health world, there are differing views as it relates to sunscreens and sun exposure. Do you use a natural sunscreen?
I personally tend to take the view that sun is beneficial (experts say spending around 10 minutes in the midday sun can give you roughly 10,000 I.U. of Vitamin D), but overexposure can be harmful and even create skin cancer. I also believe that chemical ladened sunscreens might be able to protect from UV rays, but they can also pose harm and create cancer.
So what are we to do?
Let’s first take a look at UV rays.
What are UV Rays?
“Ultraviolet light from the sun comes in two main wavelengths – UVA and UVB.”
- UVB rays help your skin produce vitamin D. However, these rays are lower in the morning and evening. They are higher at midday
- “UVA is considered the “bad guy” because it penetrates your skin more deeply and can cause more free radical damage. UVA rays are quite constant during all the hours of daylight throughout the entire year.” These rays can even cut through cloud cover
Bottom line is you don’t want to get too much UVA rays and not enough UVB rays.
Don’t Get Burnt!
I have fair skin that used to burn pretty easily. As a child, my mom would lather me in sunscreen before making a day at the beach. But as a teenager and young adult, I didn’t always heed the advice of protecting my skin from the sun. I remember a few times getter burnt so bad that it hurt to lay on a bed or put on clothes. Anything that touched my skin was painful. Thank God for aloe vera to help cool down my skin!
There are many ways to protect yourself from the sun in addition to using sunscreen.
Before talking about sunscreen, here are some substitutes for sunscreen, or at least precautions that can be taken to avoid too much sun exposure.
- Wear protective clothing
- Wear a hat with a wide brim
- Wear UV blocking sunglasses
- Stay in the shade
- Eat a healthy diet – Yes, what you put in your body can help protect you from the sun! By choosing the right essential fatty acids, increasing your consumption of raw vegetables, and avoiding processed foods and sugars, you can protect your skin
Chemicals Found in Commercial Sunscreens
My husband spends a lot of time outside in the sun playing pickleball. In addition to playing, he also coaches, so he’s exposed to a lot of sun. He wears protective clothing and a hat, but he also covers himself in natural sunscreen.
Before buying sunscreen for us, I do my research. I know how harmful the chemicals in products can be. I’m also sensitive to chemicals. Products filled with chemicals can cause me a wide arrange of symptoms.
Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group comes out with a list every year for natural sunscreen alternatives to commercial brands filled with harmful chemicals such as oxybenzone.
Oxybenzone is a hormone disruptor which is soaked through our skin. It was found in nearly two-thirds of the sunscreens that the EWG examined. Oxybenzone poses such a threat to us and the environment that some are taking action.
- Hawaii recently passed a bill which will ban the sale of oxybenzone-containing sunscreen
- By 2020, outdoor retailer REI vows to ban the use of oxybenzone in products which they sell
Another common ingredient found in commercial sunscreen is retinyl palmitate, a form of Vitamin A.
You might think that Vitamin A is a good thing since it is an anti-oxidant that can slow skin aging; however, when it’s used on skin exposed to sunlight, it can form free radicals and speed up the development of skin cancer. (Ladies, be sure to check your cosmetics for this ingredient if you wear it while being in the sun for long periods of time).
Shop for Mineral Sunscreens Instead of Chemical Sunscreens
Mineral sunscreens are typically made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These minerals stay on the surface of your skin. They deflect sunlight away from your skin.
With chemical sunscreens, the chemicals absorb the UV radiation into your skin and then dissipate it via a chemical reaction under the skin.
Recommended Best Natural Sunscreen Brands
All of these recommended natural sunscreens received a “1” rating in the EWG sunscreen guide. A score of 1 means that the product is a low hazard. When rating a product, the EWG looks at 6 criteria. Four factors fall under ‘UV Protection’. The others fall under ‘Health Concerns’ and ‘Other Concerns’.
You should be able to find these brands at your local retailers, such as Target, Walmart, CVS, etc.
Some of these brands have multiple sunscreen products with different ratings. Be sure to check out the EWG guide for all of the products and for ingredient information.
Aveeno, Babo Botanicals, Badger, Bare Republic
Blue Lizard, California Baby, Goddess Garden, Juice Beauty
Kiss My Face, Love Sun Body, Neutrogena, Raw Elements
Thinkbaby, Tom’s of Maine
Be sure to have a natural sunscreen on hand, so you can enjoy some fun in the sun this summer!