Folks are learning more and more that the dangers of commercial sunscreen may outweigh the benefits. Many sunscreens have toxic ingredients, that can cause skin problems. In fact, skin cancer rates have risen and many reports indicate that sunscreens may actually raise the risk of skin cancer. In addition, it’s recommended that children are not exposed to the chemical found in many sunscreens, oxybenzone, which is known to disrupt hormones.
Research is also showing that the use of sunscreen is causing damage to ocean life, especially coral. It’s estimated that over 5000 metric tons of sunscreen wash off swimmers in the ocean each year.
Additionally, some exposure to the sun is imperative to health. Moderate exposure to the sun can increase your levels of Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has been found to be a factor in many types of breast cancer as well as problems during pregnancy.
So what to do?
Moderate time in the sun – a little sun won’t hurt, but you should never allow your skin to burn.
Keep your face shaded by wearing a wide brim hat.
If you are very fair, do wear lightweight fabric to shield the strongest rays.
Plan outdoor activities in the morning or afternoon and avoid the heat of the midday.
Use a natural sunscreen
There are some articles that are circulating on the internet now that warn of the dangers of homemade sunscreen, primarily because it’s impossible to tell how strong the sunscreen is and what the SPF of your final product will be. Use common sense in the sun: limit exposure, stay in the shade, wear a hat, etc. This natural sunscreen is an extra layer of protection but is not 100% effective in eliminating the suns rays.
Some ingredients that we commonly use in our herbal preparations contain small amounts of SPF.
Coconut Oil – although coconut oil alone will not protect against the sun, it does offer support and protects the skin from sun damage.
Sweet Almond Oil – nourishes the skin by providing Vitamin E, and contains a small amount of SPF, about 5.
Carrot Seed Oil – has been shown to have SPF qualities from 35 – 40.
Shea Butter – has a natural SPF of 4-6 and is deeply emollient and nourishing to the skin
Zinc Oxide (non-nano) – has an SPF of 2 – 20 depending on how much is used. Use the non-nano type, as it is.
Here’s an easy recipe for some homemade sunscreen.
1/2 cup sweet almond oil
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup beeswax
2 Tbsp zinc powder (non-nano)
1 tsp carrot seed oil
2 Tbsp Shea Butter
10 drops lavender essential oil
1 Tbsp Vitamin E
* Combine all the ingredients except the zinc and essential oils in a glass Pyrex measuring pitcher
* Place the glass pitcher in a saucepan with a couple inches of water
* Heat the water over medium heat until the ingredients in the pitcher start to melt. Stir occasionally.
* When all the ingredients are melted, remove from the water bath.
* Stir in the zinc oxide, vitamin E, and essential oils.
* Pour into small jars. Label and date.
The sunscreen is not waterproof. Reapply often and definitely after swimming.
Do not inhale the zinc – wear a mask!
Store in a cool dark place, or in the fridge. It’s good for about one year.