Try making your own natural sunscreen this summer from safe, herbal ingredients.
Summer is here – is your skin protected? If you’re a sun lover, it can sometimes be tricky to protect yourself safely, without resorting to potentially harmful chemicals.
In fact, while you might think you’re doing the right thing by using commercial sunscreens, some evidence has actually found a link between some of the chemicals in sunscreen and cancer. And as this article points out, even if an approved chemical “might be safe in its intact form, it can react to other chemicals or break down under sunlight, creating multiple untested chemical compounds.”
On top of this,
Many of the ingredients in sunscreens are endocrine disrupters. That means they alter hormone production and function. And altering hormones necessarily means altering growth and development.
And many of these commercial sunscreens don’t provide much protection from UVA rays, which are associated with skin aging as well as cancer.
Interestingly enough, most sunscreens mainly block UVB rays, which are associated with sunburn and cancer, but ALSO help your body produce vitamin D, which is extremely important in preventing cancer! (Throwing the baby out with the bathwater? Maybe…)
The more sunscreen we wear, the less vitamin D we produce, and the reduction is not insignificant. An SPF of only 8 can reduce vitamin D production by 92.5%. SPF 15 reduces its creation by more than 99%.
The reason this matters is because vitamin D plays a huge role in keeping us healthy, and affects the development and function of our bodies. One particularly relevant benefit is that it helps to prevent many forms of cancer, including skin cancers.
So how do we safely protect ourselves and prevent sun damage? Here are a few tips:
- Cover Up: Wear long sleeves and a wide-brimmed hat when you’re going to be out in the sun for extended periods.
- Avoid Peak Exposure: Stay indoors or in the shade from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
- Use a Natural, Nontoxic Sunscreen – See below:
Olive oil and coconut oil have an SPF rating of around 7 or 8, all by themselves, meaning you could stay out 7 or 8 times longer before starting to burn. Just rub it right on your skin. This may not sound impressive compared to the SPF 50 you’re likely to see in stores. But remember that we don’t necessarily want to block out all of the UV radiation. We want some for the production of vitamin D, and we still want to burn if we stay out too long. Why? Because these oils, like most commercial sunscreens, are better at blocking UVB rays than UVA, and we need our bodies to tell us if we’re getting too much sun.
Several essential oils, such as lavender, eucalyptus, and carrot seed, also have sun-protecting power and can be mixed with your olive or coconut oil. You could also infuse the oil with protective herbs, such as lavender, St. John’s wort, or even tea.
Super Simple DIY Natural Sunscreen Formula
If your coconut oil has solidified, heat it in a saucepan on warm. Pour the liquified coconut oil into a disposable (or compostable) container. Put on a mask and goggles to protect yourself from zinc oxide dust. Stir the zinc oxide into the coconut oil until fully combined. Then pour the mixture into the container of your choice. Remember to reapply your sunscreen frequently, especially after swimming or heavy sweating, and refrigerate it when not in use. It should last for around 6 months.
Looking for something a little fancier? Here are some fun additions. And remember that you can alter the proportions:
Place the herbs and the coconut oil in a pot on your stovetop. Heat them on low until the oil takes on the color of the herbs. Then strain out the herbs, allow the oil to cool a bit, and add your other ingredients.
Protect your health this summer by avoiding sunburn and harmful sunscreens. Instead, enjoy a sensible amount of sunlight, avoid peak UV hours, and make your own safe and natural sunscreen for when you do have to be out in the sun.