Natural Sun Protection for Everybody
When venturing out into the summer sun it is important to protect your skin from sunburn. Wearing breathable natural fibres or UV protective clothing during the sun’s most intense time (approx 10am-3pm) is a very effective form of natural sun protection. Although we must take care to avoid skin damage, natural sunlight is a very important component in human metabolism and health. Exposing bare skin to early morning and later afternoon/early evening sun is a great way to soak up essential Vitamin D while lessening the chance of skin damage due to sunburn.
Consuming an antioxidant-rich diet of berries and vegetables is a great way to protect the skin from the damaging effects of UV radiation. Tomatoes, carrots, peppers, and dark leafy greens rich in carotenoids (lycopene, zeathanin, astathanins, lutein and beta-carotene), broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, rich in sulpharophane, along with cherries, rich in melatonin are some of the better-known foods that provide protection. Green tea and cacao are also highly beneficial. Consider an antioxidant supplement if you want to boost your levels even further.
A sun care product that provides both UVA and UVB protection (broad-spectrum) is essential. While UVB rays produce the visible sunburn, UVA rays can create more long lasting invisible damage. UBA’s penetrate the skin’s epidermis layer, cause free radical oxidation which has been linked to the development of skin abnormalities later on in life, as well as accelerated signs of aging such as wrinkles. Therefore, it is essential to choose a product that protects against both types of UV rays.
Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreens
The safest and most effective natural products use inert minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide concentrated at 10% or more. These minerals act as a sun ‘block’ and physically shield the skin from the sun’s rays. These minerals remain stable and effective in the hot sun and are not absorbed into the skin. As they will block
Vitamin D production, apply sunscreens during the hottest part of the day only or continue to use a Vitamin D supplement.
Chemical/synthetic sunscreens such as dixoybenzone, oxybenzone and cetyl cinnamates are used in most commercial, as well as some ‘natural’ sun care products. Although they will protect you from a nasty sunburn, these chemicals have been found to perform poorly for UVA protection. Thus long term damage may be the price you pay if you rely on these.
How do I choose the sunscreen that is right for me?
All the sunscreen brands carried at the Kootenay Co-op use only mineral sunblocks and are reef- and lake-friendly. None are 100% waterproof, although some may be water/sweat resistant. However, since reapplication every 2 hours is recommended for most products in order to maintain optimum protection, this should not be a deterrent to using natural sunblocks.
Every sunscreen brand has slightly different formulations and consistencies, it is advisable to sample testers prior to purchase in order to find the one best suited to your skin.
The Kootenay Co-op currently carries the following sunscreen brands:
- All Good
- Green Beaver
For your own research please visit www.ewg.org/sunscreen for more information and to see how individual brands rate.