It’s that time of year—spending time outdoors at the beach and pool!! Most of us love the summer, with the warmer weather and longer days, which means more time spent in the sun.
We all know how important it is to protect our skin from the sun’s harmful rays that cause skin cancer and premature aging, and there are many sunscreens on the market to help us do just that. But what is in these sprays and lotions that helps to protect us? Look on the label of your sunscreen, and you will see many chemicals listed. And there are those who think that we may be unnecessarily exposing ourselves to toxins even while we are trying to keep our skin healthy.
Let’s go over some of the ingredients listed on a typical sunscreen. I am looking at a tube of my favorite sunscreen right now. It has a nice beachy, light scent and I never get a burn (I am pretty fair-skinned) when I use it. I really like it. BUT…..it contains:
Oxybenzone—a chemical that enhances other chemicals in the sunscreen to penetrate the skin. It has been shown to be a hormone disrupter, actually altering your hormone levels). It has also been linked to cell damage that may lead to skin cancer.
Homosalate—a UV absorbing chemical that can mimic hormones and build up to toxic levels because our bodies can’t eliminate it.
Paraben preservatives (PABA)—can cause severe allergic reactions and has been linked to breast tumors and skin cell damage.
Octocrytene—a synthetic UV absorber, can cause cell mutation and studies have shown that it may have contributed to the increased occurrence of malignant melanoma.
Retinyl palmitate or retinol—a form of vitamin A, it is considered to be an anti-oxidant. But it has been shown to speed up the development of skin tumors.
Octinoxate—this chemical alters hormones. Its effects on estrogen levels are harmful, especially when it seeps into water. It has been shown to actually accelerate premature aging because it produces free radicals that attack skin cells.
So, now, what to do? Try using an organic, natural option, which will contain plant derivatives, minerals, and herbs to block out UV rays. Many of them contain titanium dioxide as a main ingredient. This is a non-toxic mineral that can block out the sun’s harmful rays. Zinc oxide is another commonly used sunblock ingredient in organic sunscreens.
There are organic, natural sunscreen options that you can buy. Kabana Green Screen, Badger, Ava Anderson, and Kiss My Face are all highly-rated options. Some of these are also water resistant.
I did find a recipe for homemade organic sunscreen. I have not personally tested it, but I have talked to a number of people who have made it and like it. It is easiest to make using a kitchen scale. Here goes:
1 oz. coconut oil
0.8 oz. shea butter
0.1 oz. vitamin E oil
0.1 oz. jojoba, sesame, or sunflower oil
30 drops essential oil (your choice, for scent purposes) like lavender, vanilla, or peppermint
Zinc oxide powder
Your SPF will depend on how much zinc oxide you use.
SPF 2-5, use 5% zinc oxide
SPF 6-11, use 10% zinc oxide
SPF 12-19, use 15% zinc oxide
SPF>20, use 20% zinc oxide
If you have 2 oz. of lotion and you want to make SPF 10 sunscreen, you should add 0.2 oz. of zinc oxide. SPF >20 for 2 oz. of lotion would use 0.4 oz. of zinc oxide, etc.
Add coconut oil, shea butter, and jojoba, sesame, or sunflower oil to a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can just add the ingredients to a Pyrex measuring cup and put it in a small pot that is filled with several inches of water. Heat gently until the shea butter is just melted. Remove from the double boiler and allow to cool a little. Put on a mask that covers your nose and mouth (to avoid breathing in the particles of zinc oxide powder) and measure out the zinc oxide. Add the zinc oxide, vitamin E oil, and optional essential oils to the other ingredients. Stir well to combine. Store in a dark jar in the refrigerator.
Apply liberally every few hours or more often if swimming or sweating.
It has about a 6-month shelf life, and should be refrigerated when not being used. The oils it contains break down in light, so don’t keep it sitting out in direct sunlight. If you take it to the beach or pool, keeping it in a cooler will prevent it from melting.
Here’s to a safe, fun-filled summer season!
Blessings to you,