With the summer season starting in just one week outdoor activities are going to pick back up. In wake of the global pandemic, visiting pools and having large get-togethers may limit our time together but doesn’t have to limit our time in the sun. When spending time soaking up the sun’s glorious warming rays we must keep in mind our skin protection. With a lack of sunscreens, this leaves our delicate outer protective first line of defense layer vulnerable to damage. Not only can this lead to burns, dryness, and wrinkling of the skin but can also lead to more ominous conditions.
The most common skin condition associated with UV rays of the sun is skin cancer. Actinic keratosis, basal cell carcinoma, benign tumors, and melanoma are common disease states precipitated by excess ongoing sun exposure. The first line of defense is topical applications of sunscreen. Unfortunately conventional sunscreens have used the same ingredients that have been used since the 70’s. These ingredients are known as chemical filters and act to absorb the UV rays before they can be absorbed by your skin cells. Common active ingredients you’ll find on store shelves include: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, octinoxate, zinc and titanium oxide. These compounds have been shown to be absorbed in the skin and cause hormonal dysregulation. There can be a stimulation or inhibition of estrogen and androgen production. Reports of menstrual cycle irregularities have been reported as well. Zinc and titanium oxide have been reported as safer and less absorbed by the skin then the other compounds listed. Other compounds that are typically inactive ingredients have also been known to be irritants to the skin and cause hormone dysregulation. These include parabens and also phthalates which are both known reproductive toxins. In utero these can also cause harm to an unborn fetus. So in light of trying to protect the skin of your body and your family we may inadvertently find ourselves causing more harm than good.
So what are the alternatives? Well there are many natural ingredients with SPF (sun protective factor) values that can be used for skin protection:
- Shea butter→ SPF 3-6. Also soothes and smoothes the skin
- Red Raspberry seed oil → SPF 8-20. Full of vitamin E and A which are antioxidant and protective to the skin
- Coconut oil/olive oil→ SPF 5-6. These oil are full of healing fatty acids that heal wounds and moisturize
- Almond oil → SPF 5. Full of vitamin A that can help reduce acne and soothe skin conditions like eczema/psoriasis.
These natural based ingredients can be used in conjunction with traditional sunscreen or found in natural sunscreens that use the less absorbed active ingredients zinc and titanium oxide. Any natural health store or convenience store should have natural options for your sunscreen needs.
Post sun exposure if you happen to have irritated skin or have burns, try applying some natural ingredients. Aloe vera gel has a cooling and healing effect that will soothe the burned skin. Other plants that can be soothing include calendula flowers and oats. Be sure to read all ingredients when choosing your summer skin protectant and avoid any products that you’re sensitive to. Skin protection is important for warding off skin conditions, so choose something that will be good to you and your skin. Be well, be healthy, and stay safe out there 🙂
- Ewg. “EWG’s 2020 Guide to Safer Sunscreens.” EWG, http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/#:~:text=The most common sunscreens contain,oxide and/or titanium dioxide.
- Maipas, Sotirios, and Polyxeni Nicolopoulou-Stamati. “Sun Lotion Chemicals as Endocrine Disruptors.” Hormones, vol. 14, no. 1, 2015, pp. 32–46., doi:10.1007/bf03401379.
- Montenegro, Lucia, and Ludovica Santagati. “Use of Vegetable Oils to Improve the Sun Protection Factor of Sunscreen Formulations.” Cosmetics, vol. 6, no. 2, Aug. 2019, p. 25., doi:10.3390/cosmetics6020025.
- Renzy-Martin, Katrine Tefre De, et al. “Current Exposure of 200 Pregnant Danish Women to Phthalates, Parabens and Phenols.” Reproduction, vol. 147, no. 4, 2014, pp. 443–453., doi:10.1530/rep-13-0461.