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Natural Sunscreen Without Toxins
Sunscreen is everywhere you look these days. From commercials to your grocery store to pamphlets at the doctor’s office, it seems that everything is conveying the message that sunscreen is your best protection against skin cancer.
But is this true?
For years, our ancestors exposed their skin to the sun without the use of sunscreen with rare instances of skin cancer. Yet skin cancer rates today are higher than they’ve ever been even with the prevalent use of sunscreen among the population. How can this be?
Let’s examine what the sun does for our bodies, the dangers of conventional sunscreen, and tap into an amazing recipe for natural sunscreen that’ll leave you just as protected as the store-bought stuff but without all the scary chemicals.
The Benefits of Sun Exposure Without Sunscreen
The idea that the sun is poisonous to our bodies is a rather new one. For centuries, people have recognized the power of the sun to nourish and heal our bodies, especially the ancient Greeks. They used the sun as a form of therapy, which today is called heliotherapy. Many natural doctors understand the importance of sun therapy for disorders today such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
The sun has the power to help with many different ailments and conditions in the body. Perhaps one of the most harmful things about sunscreen is that it blocks vitamin D absorption, which means your skin can’t manufacture vitamin D as it would when exposed to direct sunlight without sunscreen. Even a mere ten minutes of sun exposure a day without sunscreen can generate about 10,000 IU of healthy vitamin D in our bodies!
Vitamin D deficiency affects over 40% of the American population. This crucial vitamin deficiency has been linked to a variety of different ailments, including autoimmune disorders, chronic diseases, heart disease, and cancer.
Besides helping our bodies to get an adequate amount of vitamin D, healthy and responsible sun exposure has been linked to a strong immune system, low blood pressure and low cholesterol, and improved mood. Responsible sun exposure can even reduce cancer risk—too much sun exposure may contribute to skin cancer, but too little exposure without sunscreen can as well.
Does the Sun Cause Cancer?
The ultraviolet (UV) rays that reach the earth’s surface from the sun have been labeled as carcinogenic to humans by several different organizations, including the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Toxicology Program. Understanding these UV rays is important for your sun exposure.
Although we can’t see the wavelengths that carry the sun’s light to the earth, each of them is classified—there’s UVA, UVB, and UVC. You don’t hear about UVC rays much as they do not reach the earth’s surface, (which is a good thing, because they’re pretty dangerous). There are different effects that UVA and UVB rays have on the body:
- UVA—Think A for Aging. These rays account for about 95% of the UV radiation that reaches the earth. Although these rays are not as strong as UVB rays, they penetrate deeper into the skin. UVA rays account for the wrinkles and premature skin aging that comes with too much sun exposure.
- UVB—Think B for Burning. UVB rays are responsible for your painful sunburn. The intensity of these rays is different based on where you live and what season it is, but they are more intense than UVA rays.
But does this mean the sun actually causes cancer? The Skin Cancer Foundation claims that “excessive” UV radiation exposure can lead to skin cancer.
There is little evidence to support the idea that the sun actually causes skin cancer, despite UV rays being labeled as carcinogenic. With sunlight being beneficial for humans on one hand and harmful to humans on the other, many experts argue that the amount of sunlight received is of crucial importance to your health.
Spending enough time in the sun to peak your vitamin D levels is optimal, but spending too much time will result in overexposure and potential sunburn, both of which are damaging to your body. The right amount of exposure will vary from person to person based on your skin pigmentation. Fair-skinned people may need only 10-20 minutes’ exposure a day, while darker-skinned individuals will need longer.
Being able to control your exposure level is ideal, but what happens when you engage in outdoor activities such as running, swimming, boating, skiing, or other popular recreations that require exposure amounts much longer than these? This is where sunscreen comes in.
The Dangers of Conventional Sunscreens
It’s ironic that UV rays are labeled as carcinogenic by many government institutions that advocate for the use of sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, because many conventional sunscreens contain toxic chemicals that could actually increase your risk for skin cancer!
As demand for “lightweight” sunscreens increase, manufacturers are taking advantage of nanotechnology, which shrinks molecules in order to be less visible on the skin. The problem with this technology, which delivers on the consumer’s desire to feel less oily with sunscreen, is that the chemicals used in these sunscreens are now able to be easily absorbed by the skin.
This means that formerly protective agents such as zinc oxide (a mineral that’s very effective at protecting the skin against overexposure from sunlight) become toxic as they enter the bloodstream and can even cross the blood-brain barrier to affect fetuses.
Although zinc oxide isn’t a dangerous chemical in its unaltered form, conventional sunscreens use other chemicals far more dangerous and toxic even before their alteration by nanotechnology.
According to this guide by the Environmental Working Group and others, some of these chemicals include:
- Oxybenzone. A hormone disruptor that has an estrogen-like effect on the body and also causes allergic reactions in the skin.
- Octinoxate. A chemical that can cause reproductive, thyroid, and behavioral issues.
- Homosalate. Another hormone disruptor that’s toxic to the body, affecting both estrogen and androgen.
- Retinyl Palminate. A form of vitamin A intended to reduce aging, but has a counter effect when introduced to the sun. This means upon sun exposure, it can cause DNA-damaging free radicals and could increase your risk of skin cancer.
- Parabens. Although the jury is out on whether or not parabens are actually toxic, studies still show that these preservatives could not only increase your chances of developing melanoma, but also affect fertility, hormones, and even induce allergic reactions.
Understanding the SPF Content of Conventional Sunscreens
The higher the SPF in your store-bought sunscreen, the more chemicals are used in it. Why? Manufacturers need more chemicals to make these sunscreens effective at blocking the sun. This means even more dangerous chemicals that are entering your bloodstream, bypassing your liver, and causing toxicity to your body.
Another ironic thing about these sunscreens is that they often don’t contain the SPF that’s promised on the label. This is because the FDA currently has few regulations in place for what sunscreen manufacturers can claim on their labels. It’s important to remember that no sunscreen is 100% effective at blocking the sun’s rays.
What this means is that a SPF 30 sunscreen could be just as effective as a sunscreen with a higher SPF if used properly. Why choose a higher SPF that doesn’t deliver what it promises? With totally natural ingredients, you can create a sunscreen with a naturally high SPF that doesn’t contain toxic chemicals!
Amazing Natural Toxin-Free Sunscreen Recipe
By using ingredients that have high SPFs and some zinc oxide, you can create an extremely effective sunscreen that doesn’t use harmful chemical nanoparticles that are absorbed into your skin. This sunscreen will be effective at helping you manage your sun exposure for enjoyment of the outdoors and healthy sun exposure.
You will need:
- ¼ cup of 100% shea butter – SPF: between 6-10
- ¼ cup of unrefined coconut oil – SPF: 8-10
- 1/8 cup of avocado oil or hazelnut oil – SPF: 7-15
- 2 tbsp. of beeswax granules (you can use carnauba wax or candelilla wax if vegan)
- 1 tsp. of carrot seed oil – SPF: 35
- 1 tsp. of red raspberry seed oil – SPF: 30-50
- 2 tablespoons of zinc oxide powder (be sure to choose a non-nano version such as this one).
- Optional: 1 tsp. of vitamin E oil
- Optional: Essential oils to scent. Lavender, vanilla, and sweet orange are all great!
- Combine shea butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, and beeswax in a saucepan. Stir occasionally until the mixture is melted; the beeswax will be the last ingredient to melt.
- Pull off burner and allow to cool to room temperature. Place mixture in the fridge for up to 45 minutes—you want the mixture to be firm, but you don’t want it to be too firm!
- Remove from the fridge and then add the rest of the oils and stir. Add the zinc oxide last and be sure not to inhale this.
- Whip your sunscreen mixture with all the ingredients in there. You should have a fluffy yet applicable sunscreen! Transfer to a clean glass jar for storage. You’re done!
If you don’t have all these ingredients on hand, here are some other ingredients and you may choose to use in your recipe:
- Wheat germ oil (SPF: 20)
- Non-GMO soybean oil (SPF: 10)
- Sesame oil (SPF: 4-10)
- Titanium dioxide powder in place of zinc oxide
Healthy Sun Exposure with Natural Sunscreen
While no sunscreen is totally effective, applying ones that are laced with toxic chemicals can do more harm to the body than good. Not only is your skin absorbing these chemicals, but your body is also not able to get the vitamin D it needs to protect itself from chronic disease and other disorders.
You can get healthy sun exposure without sunscreen for a few minutes every day. After this, use natural toxin-free sunscreen to protect your skin from aging and burning. Although conventional sunscreens might protect you from getting burned if used properly, they also provide your body with a dose of toxic chemicals that could increase your risk for skin cancer.
Always read the label if you choose to purchase sunscreen, or choose to make your own sunscreen to use without those harmful chemicals that can increase your risk of skin cancer. You’ll love natural sunscreen and enjoy the benefits of vitamin D—choose healthy sun exposure this summer and use natural sunscreen to supplement your protection!