Sunscreens and their protection

Sunscreens and their protection Share

Are sun creams really that good or can they do more damage to your health?

That is my question today. I want to bring awareness to what is out there for us to use on our skin in these summer months. There are so many products to choose from and they all say they are there to protect our skin. We are told to put on lots of sun cream whenever we go into the sun. But what about the vital vitamin D that we get from sunshine? And what about the long list of ingredients on the back of the sun cream tube?

Often one of the problems with sunscreens is the fact that it allow us to stay in the sun for much longer than we would normally do and that is not healthy for our skin. By that, I mean that then we are not very sensible and often overdo it. We get sunburnt for a reason – it’s our bodies telling us to move away from the sun. Sunscreens block the rays that burn us without completely blocking the rays that can cause skin damage, we might be harming our skin without realizing it.

The key is to build the tolerance to sun gradually, bit by bit, and then shade or cover up with a hat or shirt or put good quality, natural sun cream on. Once you get tanned, which is our body’s natural protection, you can stay longer. It is about being sensible and listening your body.

So what is in our sunscreens?

  • Most commercial sunscreens have lots of unwanted chemicals such as fragrances, parabens, alcohols, chemical solvent and petroleum oils that break down when exposed to sunlight. And where does it all go? All is absorbed into our skin and our blood stream, toxins that our body has to deal with. Lots of these chemicals are endocrine-disrupting compounds – they create hormonal imbalance. And there are many reports and research that these chemicals actually raise skin cancer risk. It’s interesting to notice that in the years since sunscreen use began, skin cancer rates have actually risen. (i)

What is in most commercial sun creams?

EWG (2019) lists the biggest offenders: (ii)

  • Oxybenzone – UV filter. It is a known hormone disruptor that is not recommended for children and it has been banned in many locations world-wide. It was detected in the urine, plasma and breast milk of human volunteers after full body sunscreen applications.
  • PBSA – another UV filter – has been shown to induce DNA damage in human skin cells after exposure to UV rays.
  • avobenzone
  • octisalate
  • octocrylene
  • homosalate
  • octinoxate
  • ethylhexyl salicylate
  • Aluminum – might contribute to oxidative damage in the skin, increasing the risk of cancer.
  • Inorganic filters – usually nanoparticles of either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide – also have damaging effect to human cells.

Thankfully, nowadays there are many companies trying to make safe, natural sunscreens for our sun protection. Although some do still contain small amounts of inorganic filters like zinc oxide, using a natural, mineral based sunscreen is still a better choice than the chemical sunscreens that are commonly available.

It is also important to look out for a broad spectrum protection – both UVA and UVB.

The EWG lists some natural, mineral sunscreens:

  • Badger Mineral Sunscreen
  • Babyganics Sunscreenor spray sunscreen (Fragrance free and tear free, also claims to be water-resistant and UVA and UVB protective)
  • Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen
  • Thinksport Sunscreen
  • Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen
  • Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen(however this leaves your skin very white)
  • California Baby Hypoallergenic Sunscreen(claims to be water-resistant and sun protective for 80 minutes)
  • JASON Mineral Sunscreen
  • Sunology Natural Sunscreen
  • Raw Elements Sunscreen

I personally use sunscreen from

  • Green People

There is also a recipe for homemade sun cream by wellness mama which can be found at this website.                        

There are many other ways how to protect our skin from within.

First of all, try to avoid all the processed vegetable oils, refined sugars, processed grains that cause inflammation.

Healthy foods and nutrients:

Antioxidants and carotenoids found in summer fruits and vegetables and other foods.

  • Lycopene – found in tomatoes, apricots, watermelon, rosehip and papaya. Remember, cooked tomatoes and tomato products (paste and sauce) have more bioavailable lycopene than raw tomatoes.
  • Astaxanthin – potent antioxidant, found in algae and the organisms that eat algae like salmon and shrimp.
  • Omega-3s – great anti-inflammatory fatty acids, found in oily fish, walnuts, flaxseeds. (iv)
  • Saturated fat – coconut oil, real grass-fed butter and sustainable sourced, unrefined palm oil. It improves the UV-resistance. (v)
  • Green tea – contains polyphenols, which inhibit the development of skin tumours by controlling inflammation and preventing DNA damage. Topical green tea extracts applied directly to the skin also offer photo protection.
  • Vitamin D3 – yes, the one vitamin that you get from the sun. It is important to overall health as well as increasing sun tolerance and protection against sun damage. (vi)
  • Proanthocyanidins – found in red grapes, berries, nuts, certain grains. Significantly lowers the risk of skin cancer.(vii)
  • Resveratrol – again found in red grapes and berries, it can protect skin cells from UV damage.
  • Vitamin C – found in citrus fruits, red peppers, broccoli, parsley, cauliflower, berries, kiwis, green leafy veg and lots more also protect us from the sun rays due to its anti-inflammatory benefits and its antioxidants. 

Have a lovely summer