Natural Sunscreen: Why It’s Safer AND How to Make Your Own
There’s a plethora of different brands of sunscreen on the shelves these days, all claiming to protect you and your family from the ‘harmful rays of the sun’.
Ummm…there’s way more harmful stuff filled in those tubes of sunscreen than the sun is putting out! The long ingredient list with huge words on the sunscreen container that are hard pronounce, let along get through, are obviously made in a lab.
The plain and simple truth is that most sunscreens are filled with chemicals that are toxic to your body which cause a toxic hormonal sh*t storm in the body.
With the skin being your largest organ, I know you don’t want those nasty chemicals being directly absorbed into your body, or your child’s.
What to do, right? Sunburn isn’t a pleasant experience for anyone, and I know you want to take care of your children (and yourself!) as you revel in the summertime fun.
I’m happy to report there are other options! My aim here is to inform you on natural alternatives and why they’re safer, so you can make the healthiest choice in sun protection for you and your family.
In this post, I’m going to cover:
- The dangers of chemical sunscreens
- Why mineral or homemade sunscreen is a better option
- Why the sun is your friend
- Smart, proactive & preventative measures
- How to make your own natural sunscreen
The Dangers of Chemical Sunscreens
Well, the fact that the word ‘chemical’ is in the title should be a red flag that something is wrong. In order to block UVA and UVB rays, chemical sunscreens use chemicals to do this. Yuck. The intention is to supposedly prevent skin cancer, yet the ironic thing is that there have been several studies that show sunscreen actually raises skin cancer risk! It’s unclear as to whether sunscreen prevents skin cancer, and the fact that skin cancer rates have gone up over the past 30 years does make one raise an eyebrow.
How come, you wonder? It may be because many sunscreens contain a lot of questionable ingredients that are endocrine-disrupting chemicals, a big one being oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is a well-known hormone disruptor that has been banned in many places around the world because of its potential hormonal interference and relationship to unfavorable birth outcomes. It’s not recommended for use by anyone, particularly though children and pregnant/breastfeeding women.
Another problematic issue with chemical sunscreen involves being labeled with super high SPF ratings. This is often misleading and can cause unsafe sun exposure. If you read a sunscreen has an SPF of 70, that must be better than SPF 30, right? Wrong. People assume with a higher SPF then they can spend more time in the sun, which ends up causing sun damage. Even the FDA has discussed banning sunscreens claiming SPF over 50.
Why Mineral or Homemade Sunscreen is a Better Option
Luckily for us, there are other options. Mineral sunscreen utilizes physical blockers in the form of minerals like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are naturally broad spectrum.
Be wary though when shopping for a mineral sunscreen, because even some claiming to be natural may contain some harmful ingredients. Sneaky and tricky, I know! To be safe, check the ingredients. If any of the chemicals listed below are in it, look for something else.
- ethylhexyl salicylate
As well, if it has zinc oxide or titanium dioxide make sure it is non-nano and pure. This means that the particles are not nano-sized, which would be able to penetrate the body. Also consider that many mineral sunscreens are not as water-resistant as chemical brands, so it’s important to reapply and use sun protective clothing.
Because I like to know exactly what’s in mine, I make my own homemade, natural sunscreen. My recipe relies on a physical mineral barrier that remains on the surface of the skin rather than sinking in, as most chemical sunscreens do. Stay tuned and I share my recipe below!
Why the Sun is Your Friend
Hello my friend, Mr. Sun! We formulate vitamin D from the sun, and this is one of the most important components of a strong immune system. We become depleted of Vitamin D very quickly, so the more we can be exposed to the sun, the better (in a smart way of course). Many people are vitamin D deficient, and studies have shown that low vitamin D levels have been linked to cancer. So, let’s think about that here: if you are lathering up in sunscreen that blocks the sun (and the vitamin D it creates), may there be a consequential negative impact on the body? Absolutely so.
I personally don’t support the idea that even moderate sun exposure is harmful when our bodies need vitamin D and light exposure for so many components of health. Light shapes our life…more on that later!
Smart, Proactive & Preventative Measures
What’s on the Inside Supports (or Hurts) Your Skin
In general, the healthier we are on the inside, the less we will worry about something on the outside causing disease such as cancer. Our skin is our largest detoxification organ, but it needs to be supported. When all the organs, especially the liver, is working optimally, then the skin can release those toxins easily. Sadly, many lifestyle factors such as over-the-counter medications, alcohol, refined sugar, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, chemicals in our food, cosmetics and makeup, chemical-laden household products, etc. that are in a person’s life makes this task even harder. When a person’s internal environment is toxic, then the skin cannot do its job appropriately and we become vulnerable to external forces such as the sun.
So, let’s not put all the blame on Mr. Sun here, ok?
Become conscious and aware of what you ingest so you’re supporting your skin and its relationship to the sun!
Sunscreen isn’t the only form of sun protection. Focusing on health so the body can protect itself in mild exposure to the sun is key. Here are some important nutrients that support skin health in general:
- Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties that can aid in sun protection.
- Vitamin D3 is vital for overall well-being and new evidence suggests it may also help avoid sunburns.
- Unrefined coconut oil contributes to new skin formation and protects against burning.
- Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory fatty acids supportive in combatting sunburns.
- Stay away from foods that increase inflammation and may heighten the chance of sunburn like sugar, processed grains and vegetable oils.
Cover Up & Stay in the Shade
The most effective approach at preventing excess sun exposure is covering up. You and your children can enjoy being outdoors longer by wearing a hat or sun shirt. There are many clothing brands that make long-sleeve shirts for the water so your kiddos can play at the beach or in the lake for hours with their skin shielded.
Shade can be a welcome relief after many hours in the sunshine once you and your family have gotten enough vitamin D for the day. Try to be outside in non-peak sun hours, which will vary depending on where you live. The amount of sun exposure we can each handle depends on individual skin tones and type, so it’s essential to pay attention to prevent sun damage.
Use Natural Sunscreen When Needed
There is a time and place for using sunscreen if you’re going to be out in the strong sun for a long time and there’s no way to cover up. My hope is that this post will encourage you to choose a mineral sunscreen instead of a chemical one or make your own.
Now as promised, my homemade, natural sunscreen recipe!
How to Make Your Own Natural Sunscreen
- ½ cup almond or olive oil
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ¼ cup beeswax
- 2 TBSP non-nano zinc oxide
- 1 tsp therapeutic grade carrot seed oil
- 2 TBSP shea butter
- 20 drops lavender essential oil (I use doTERRA oils)
- Add all the ingredients except zinc oxide in a pint-sized or larger glass jar (I like mason jars).
- Fill a saucepan with a few inches of water and place on stove over medium heat.
- Put a lid loosely on the jar and put it in the pan with the water.
- Lightly shake or stir the jar occasionally to mix the ingredients as they melt.
- When all the ingredients are completely melted, stir in the zinc oxide, and pour into a jar you wish to use for storage.
- Stir a few times while it cools to be sure zinc oxide is integrated.
- Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator to maximize shelf life.
- Be mindful not to inhale the zinc oxide when preparing.
- You can adjust the beeswax to make a thicker sunscreen, or less to make a smoother one.
- This sunscreen is not waterproof and will need to be reapplied after sweating or swimming.
- Many of the ingredients in this recipe have a natural SPF; however, since this is a natural recipe and has not been tested by a regulatory organization for exact SPF, I’m not making any claims of the combined SPF.
- Please note: Homemade versions may not protect as fully against UVA and UVB rays. I’m not recommending entirely avoiding sunscreen or getting too much sun that could lead to sunburn.
The Take-Away on Sunscreen
Chemical sunscreen isn’t the only form of sun protection technique out there. My recommendation is to either switch to a mineral sunscreen (but be sure to check ingredients!) or use my natural recipe to make your own. Also, consider other measures like being mindful of what you ingest and products you use, getting proper nutrients like plenty of vitamin C, wearing sun protective clothing, and staying in the shade. Think more about what’s going on inside in addition to what you lather up on the outside. All and all, these natural alternatives and lifestyle choices are safer sun care options for the health of you and your family.
Do you have a favorite brand of a store-bought mineral sunscreen that is safe and effective? Please share!
This post may have got you thinking about other ways you can take charge of your family’s health and steer away from things that may be harming you. Click here for my FREE guide on 12 Steps to Biohack Your Family’s Health that will be sure to support you on your journey to well-being!
Wishing you well,
Hi! I'm Dr. Jessica
I’m Dr. Jessica Payne, Medical Intuitive, Doctor of Natural Medicine, and your go-to guide for living your life naturally…More
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