What Natural Ingredients Have UV Sunscreen Protection?

There’s a lot of confusion out there regarding sunscreen, when we should use it and what should be in it. Dermatologists and the American Cancer Society have told us that we shouldn’t go out in the sun without sunscreen. Cardiologists and general practitioners are telling us that we do need the sun because without it we can’t get enough vitamin D. What’s a health conscious person to do? The truth probably lies somewhere in between: we should be using healthy sunscreen but should also allow ourselves to get some natural sun exposure each day.

What is a non-toxic sunscreen I can use?
Mainstream sunscreens are filled with lots of harmful chemicals that you probably want to stay away from (and keep your family away from too). In fact the Environmental Working Group released a study claiming that as many as four out of five of the 1,000 sunscreens they tested may contain toxic chemicals and may not protect users. There is a long list of toxic ingredients that you wouldn’t want to see included in your sunscreen. Below is just a partial list: 

  • Octinoxate (Octyl Methoxycinnamate)- one of the most commonly used sunscreen ingredients. It has been shown to disrupt brain signaling and thyroid function and has even killed mouse cells with low level sun exposure.
  • Octisalate- may help other toxic ingredients more easily pass and absorb into skin.
  • Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3)- may cause cancer and hormone disruption.
  • Avobenzone (Parsol 1789)- issues with the sun causing it to break down into various unknown substances. Possible toxic effects.
  • Octisalate- may help other toxic ingredients more easily pass and absorb into skin.
  • Octocrylene- manufactures oxygen radicals when exposed to sunlight.
    Padimate O (Octyl Dimethyl PABA / PABA Ester)- can damage DNA, cause allergic reaction, mimics estrogen, releases free radicals.
  • Homosalate- releases free radicals and hormone disruptor.

UVA and UVB Radiation- What’s the difference?
It’s important to realize that there are two types of ultraviolet radiation given off by the sun, UVA and UVB, and there’s a big difference between them. UVB radiation is the type that stimulates our skin to produce Vitamin D, so many consider this a “good” type of radiation. UVA radiation is the type that can give you a sun burn and is considered the “bad” type of radiation. It penetrates into the deeper layers of your skin and causes free radical damage. So when we wear sunscreen we are trying to protect against the negative effects of UVA radiation. Note: there is actually another form of ultraviolet radiation called UVC but it can’t get through the Earth’s ozone layer, so it’s not really something to worry about.

Natural Sources of UV protection
There are a myriad of natural sources for UV protection and sunscreen. Plants in nature also have to deal with the damaging effects of the sun, so they have inherent sunscreen protection. And these plants and oils won’t interfere with your production of Vitamin D. By using these ingredients in your daily regimen, you can add a healthy form of daily sun protection:

SPF 28-50
Red raspberry seed oil

SPF 6
Macadamia oil
Hemp seed oil
Shea Butter

SPF 4
Sesame seed oil
Jojoba oil
Shea butter
Avocado oil
Carrot oil

SPF 2
Coconut oil

These oils block from 20%-30% of the sun’s harmful UV rays and help to neutralize free radicals because they are rich in antioxidants. In addition, these oils are good for the skin providing moisture and essential vitamins.

There are many other substances and oils that offer low levels of UV radiation protection, such as green tea. Green tea does this in a different way than the oils listed above. It doesn’t absorb or block the UV rays, but instead it works on the cellular level of the skin. Firstly, it helps the skin to produce melanin which is the body’s own protection against sunburn. Green tea also induces cell death in abnormal cells thereby preventing the development of melanoma or skin cancer.

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