The case for natural sunscreen

baby with lots of sunscreenThere’s been a lot of publicity recently in Australia about the potentially dangerous ingredients in our skincare products, particularly sunscreens.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has conducted a study on sunscreens sold in America and found that 60% of those currently on the market are not as safe or as effective as you might expect; many were found to contain chemicals that can, ironically, cause potentially irreparable damage to the skin. The EWG research identified oxybenzone, a potentially dangerous hormone-disrupting compound, was contained in about 60 percent of the 500 sunscreens analysed.

An excerpt from an article on harmful chemicals in sunscreens from the Environmental Working Group:

This year, new concerns have arisen about a form of vitamin A called retinyl palmitate, found in 41 percent of sunscreens. The FDA is investigating whether this compound may accelerate skin damage and elevate skin cancer risk when applied to skin exposed to sunlight. FDA data suggest that vitamin A may be photo carcinogenic, meaning that in the presence of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, the compound and skin undergo complex biochemical changes resulting in cancer. The evidence against vitamin A is far from conclusive, but as long as it is suspect, EWG recommends that consumers choose vitamin A-free sunscreens.

A companion study from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine found that the same chemical is linked to low birth weight in baby girls whose mothers are exposed during pregnancy. Oxybenzone, is widely used in sunscreens.

The EWG’s analysis of ingredient labels found that nearly 600 sunscreens sold in the U.S. contain oxybenzone…. although oxybenzone is most common in sunscreen, companies also use the toxic chemical in at least 567 other personal care products, including lip balm, lipstick, moisturisers and fragrance for women. Click here to read the full article from the Environmental Working Group.

SOME Synthetic chemicals to avoid when choosing A sunscreen:

  • 4-methy-benzyldencamphor (4-MBC)
  • oxybenzone benzophenone-3
  • octyl-methoyl-cinnamates (OMC)
  • octyl-dimethyl-para-amin-benzoic acid (OD-PABA)
  • homosalate (HMS)
  • titanium dioxide

How to protect yourself from sunburn

  • Use an all-natural sunscreen that does not contain any of the harmful chemicals listed above.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat.
  • Stay inside to avoid the damaging midday sun. If outside, always sit in the shade or under an umbrella, particularly in the hottest part of the day.
  • Don’t ‘sun bake’ during the hottest part of the day … ten minutes in the early morning or late afternoon sun (without sunscreen) is enough for the body to absorb enough Vitamin D and to get a natural, light tan slowly and without burning.
  • Make sure your children are covered up during the hottest part of the day. Children have delicate skin that burns more easily. Send them to school with sun hats and long sleeved tee-shirts or shirts on hot, sunny days.

Natural ways to treat sunburn

Aloe Vera gel takes the sting out of sunburn and helps to heal the skin without scarring. It is very cooling on burns.

Coconut oil soothes burns and helps heal the damage caused by sunburn.

Green tea helps to reduce the swelling and the sting of sunburn. Make a pot of green tea, cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Mix with an equal amount of cool water and soak a clean cloth in the tea and put it on the sunburned skin for five to ten minutes.  This natural treatment may be applied several times a day.

Rosehip Oil helps to relieve the dryness caused by sunburn and promotes new collagen growth.

Vitamin E because of its antioxidant activity, is vital in protecting skin cells from ultra violet light, pollution and other elements that produce cell damaging free radicals. The oil may be applied to the skin before applying suntan cream.

Raw, organic honey has natural anti-oxidant properties and protects the skin from premature ageing and may help with the damage caused by ultraviolet light. Try adding half a cup of honey to your bath water to moisturise and smooth skin after spending time in the sun.

Remember, sunburn is an injury and the body’s way of reacting to over-exposure to the intense heat of the hot sun.  A glowing tan may look good when you are younger, but the damage may only show up as you get older. These may include: premature wrinkling or ageing of the skin, dark, rough patches and skin cancers.

We’ve always been frustrated by the lack of a truly natural alternative to mass-market sunscreens. Only recently have natural sunscreen alternatives such as Wotnot Natural Protection 30+ SPF and Soléo Organics All Natural 30+ SPF Sunscreen become available  – both of these innovative natural products are now available on the Echolife webstore and at retailers nationwide.

One thought on “The case for natural sunscreen

  1. We urge those of you with children to read the labels of the skin products you buy, particularly sunscreens and avoid the list of chemicals listed above. It is important to note that everything we put on our skin (and our children’s skin) is absorbed into the bloodstream – that includes synthetic chemicals!

    There are more natural ways to ‘feed’ our skin and keep it healthy, for example: Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Rosehip Oil and Organic Jojoba Oil. Click on the links above to see our range of natural sunscreen alternatives.

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