It’s summer, time for beach weekends, swimming, and just being outdoors- under the hot summer sun. It is a good idea to wear sunscreen every time you go out. In addition to preventing sunburn, a good sunscreen reduces your risk of skin cancer and keeps your skin young looking.
So let’s go to the drugstore and get some Coppertone or Hawaiian Tropic, problem solved…. Or is it? Did you ever stop and think what was in commercial sunscreens? The vast majority contain two or more of the following active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, p-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and octinoxate. Now there is a multiple mouthful!
Are they safe? That depends on who you ask. Oxybenzone readily finds its way into the bloodstream. PABA has been banned in Europe. The FDA is no help. They quit regulating sunscreens in 1978. Putting on commercial sunscreen is like tap dancing through a mine field.
Well how about essential oils? Believe it or not, serious research has been done on the ability of our favorite oils to screen out harmful radiation from the sun. Olive oil is the best with a calculated SPF of 7.55. Coconut oil is not far behind at 7.12. Castor oil and almond oil come in at 5.69 and 5.66.
Here is the reference: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3140123/
A word about SPF before we go on- SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The SPF of a sunscreen is the number of hours you would need to be in the sun for your skin to get the same amount of radiation as being in the sun for one hour with unprotected skin. So wearing SPF 15 means you can be in the sun for 15 hours and your skin will have absorbed only one hour’s worth of UV radiation, under ideal conditions. In fact, most sunscreens only protect about half their label rating because they are not applied uniformly and heavily and often enough to afford maximum protection.
Most commercial sunscreens are water based. They have a small amount of active ingredient in some sort of lotion. Coconut oil is simply coconut oil- and it protects almost as well as an SPF 15 sunscreen.
Now let’s add some oils that are really good for the skin- Vitamin E, jojoba, calendula, and sunflower oil- and we have something that will nourish and revitalize the skin in addition to protecting it from the sun. We have an oil blend that is great for your skin whether you are out working in the garden or sitting inside typing on the computer.
You see, a really good sun screen should not have side effects. There should be no cause for worry if some component shows up in your urine. It should not feel like something that should be showered off when you are done outside. Anything you put on your skin should be good for your skin, and healthy for your body.
A natural sun screen has its limits. Some people do need the higher level of protection afforded by some commercial sun screens. Some people need a good amount of oxybenzone or avobenzone in their sun screen. For the causal sun bum, a good sun screen based on coconut oil works just fine.