Want to ditch the yukky chemicals? So how should you protect yourself from the sun? What about Vitamin D? The truth about the safest sunscreens, the best product resources plus a natural sunscreen DIY recipe.
I’m pretty serious about keeping the chemicals out of our home and off our baby in particular.
My stance is that if you cant eat it, it shouldn’t be going on your skin!
They are ALL absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream. These toxins (and others we are exposed to if we’re not being discerning) accumulate in our bodies and take their toll over time.
So if you’ve never done a google search on the ingredients of your commonly used sunscreen, get ready for a shock.
A Vested Interest
It seems that everything you buy these days, in this crazy world, is laden with chemicals, including sunscreens.
Skin cancer cases are increasing steadily every year. Mainstream science (and the sunscreen industry) blames exposure to the sun, but this is not accurate. If that were the case, numbers would be dropping, with increased sunscreen use, not rising.
It’s a billion dollar a year industry, with a media campaign invested in getting you to believe that the sun is dangerous!
Why is it that skin cancer rates are rising by 4.2% annually, despite the fact that we spend less time outdoors and wear more sunscreen?
So What’s in the Tube?
The most common sunscreen chemical, Oxybenzone, is considered an endocrine disruptor, can reduce sperm count in men and may contribute to endometriosis in women.
Other scary chemicals in most sunscreens are:
– Homosalate (actually helps the sunscreen penetrate your skin!) and paraben preservatives (such as PABA’s) – both are toxic and hormone-disrupting.
– Retinyl Palmitate – a synthetic form of Vitamin A which is associated with free radical damage and cancer
– Octocrylene – causes free radical damage and toxicity.
And there are MANY more, just as difficult to pronounce!
Spray sunscreens have become increasingly popular in recent years, but have additional dangers, especially if inhaled. Consumer Reports warn that spray sunscreens shouldn’t be used on children and that adults should exercise caution and not use on the face or inhale them.
The Vitamin D factor
Another important consideration is the vital nutrient Vitamin D. the benefits of Vitamin D are ENORMOUS, particularly to our immune system.
Most sunscreens completely block the body’s ability to manufacture Vitamin D. Statistically show that 75% of us are deficient in Vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to higher risk of cancer and heart disease (which actually kill more people than skin cancer per year).
Smart sun exposure increases your body’s production of vitamin D (via the interaction of UV light with cholesterol in your skin).
Just 30 minutes of early morning or late afternoon unprotected time with the sun on your hands and face may be enough for your body to produce this critical vitamin.
Sunscreen blocks the rays that are involved in vitamin D production.
So What do We Do?
To be clear, I’m NOT suggesting just to go out into the sun unprotected. Just don’t get burnt!
So wear a hat, avoid exposure at peak UV times, and consider the clean alternatives below.
Personally, I don’t use sunscreen very often, I mostly tend to avoid the sun within the peak UV period, and use coconut oil (just be mindful this only has an SPF of 4) and a hat if I need to.
Eating a clean, plant-based diet, lots of carrots & coconut oil can help to build up the skins natural protection too.
I’ve never tried this, but as an interesting side-note, there have been good studies suggesting that the supernutrient Astaxanthin can protect from sun damage by taking internally. It’s produced from marine algae in response to exposure to UV light.
Okay, What’s the lo-down?
Since having a baby who LOVES being outdoors I’ve researched & tried quite a few sunscreens.
Most of the ‘natural’ sunscreens available contain zinc oxide as the main active ingredient. There’s evidence that the nanoparticles in zinc oxide can be damaging.
Friends of the Earth’s Safe Sunscreen Guide states “Studies have shown that nanoparticles can produce free radicals and DNA damage, especially when exposed to UV light.
These studies suggest that, rather than offering us sun protection, if nano-sunscreens are absorbed into our skin, they could result in serious damage.”
There are now sunscreens which are using non-nano zinc which doesn’t carry the same risk, although they often don’t rub in clear, but leave a white sheen. Despite this, these are still my personal preference.
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Here in Australia our TGA have banned manufacturers from labeling their sunscreens as ‘non-nano’ so it can be tricky for consumers to know what brands contain it.
There are also some natural based sunscreens, marketed as natural that still contain synthetic preservatives which don’t comply with our Holistic Mumma ingredients policy.
Our TGA allows manufacturers to list only the main active ingredients, and get away with leaving some of the not-so-nice ones off!
So it’s wise to do your research! Here’s what I’ve found:
So what are the best sunscreens to use?
Here are the ones that meet our strict ingredient policy:
This is the one I use as it’s the only one available in Australia that is completely chemical-free and doesn’t contain nano zinc (that I have found). It’s a little greasy but I find this a small tradeoff.
*They are currently offering free shipping for summer!
- Update: Our latest couple of tubes ordered aren’t greasy! They’ve reformulated and it’s lighter and more easily absorbed. Great work Wotnot!
For our little ones, and those with very sensitive skins. If you warm it a little in your hands first, I find it goes on fairly easily.
(When I contacted Wotnot directly to clarify their usage of zinc oxide, here was their response: ‘We have done an independent analysis with the CSIRO using laser particle diffraction and the test did not detect any nanoparticles. We believe that every sunscreen using fine zinc will contain a very small amount of nanoparticles but there was not sufficient volume of these to be detected in our formula. The zinc oxide we use is specifically made for Wotnot.’)
The following are available in the US (which seems to have a better range of safe products).
This one is super-clean, contains the non-nano zinc and is great for convenience, especially for little one’s faces.
This one contains some great ingredients for nourishing and protecting the skin, including non-nano zinc as the active ingredient. For adults but gentle enough for kids too.
Baby & kid safe, non-nano zinc and goes clear when you rub it in due to the grape juice (although unfortunately this also means it’s slightly sticky). I love that it’s made entirely on a certified organic farm.
How about making your own?
If you want to save money, and be absolutely sure of what’s in it, making your own can be a great option.
I made this recipe years ago and it works great! I’ll be making it again when I have a bit more time on my hands!
It’s super easy, effective AND good for your skin
SUPER-CLEAN & NOURISHING DIY SUNSCREEN
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 20 drops carrot seed oil (a good quality one has an SPF of 20 +)
- 10 drops lavender
- 2 tbsp non-nano zinc oxide, which has an SPF of 20 + and will not be absorbed by the skin. (Take care to not breathe it in – wear a mask or cover your face with your shirt)
- 2 tbsp shea butter (optional) – if you want it to be water resistant, has a natural SP factor of 4
- Slowly warm the coconut oil & shea butter to melt, in a double boiler, then remove from heat.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, slowly while stirring
- Pour into your jars. Stir an extra time to ensure the Zinc distributes evenly. Mixture will thicken as it cools.
We only use therapeutic grade essential oils, so that I’m sure the quality is to my standards (especially for use on our bub!), and will actually work well!
Aussies can purchase the ingredients & jars from the Sydney Essential Oil Company.
You may like to consider our free 7-Day Toxin-Free Living e-course to support you to eliminate other toxins in your home & lifestyle.
Over to You
If you have found your own clean-living sunscreen or have tried the recipe, please feel free to share! 🙂