I was once asked about what sunscreen I used for this person said “Well they don’t sell anything but commercial ones in the store”…and I explained why I avoid most commercial ones and that I make my own. You will find the recipe at the bottom of this post. Since that time studies from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Consumer Reports have put out several warnings, putting buyers against and not for using many kinds of today’s commercial and store bought sunscreens, these warning are placed especially for all children.
So are These Sunscreens Harmful?
Protective sunscreen usage has risen over time, with all the fda warnings concerning sun exposure dangers that are resulting in skin cancers and sunburns.The big problem with this is, not all sunscreens are made with products that are healthy for us. Some are toxic and you end up having more issues with getting ill from that more then you do with UV rays.
Here is why:
There’s 2 ways sunscreen protects your epidermis from sun damage: with either a mineral and or chemical barrier.
Mineral sunscreens usually have these following ingredients: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, which makes the barrier we all see when applying it to our skin. Next is….
Chemical ones use 1 or more of these chemicals:octinoxate, avobenzone, octocrylene octisalate,homosalate and oxybenzone.
If you have visited my blog before, you have probably noticed my opinion that if you cannot eat it, you should not be putting it on your skin. These chemicals listed above have raised several concerns due to the fact that many of them are able to cross over and into the skin, other tissue, etc.
As with any chemicals, its very important to ask these following questions like:
Can this cross my skin and get into other tissue inside my body?
Do these chemicals have potential to interupt hormones in me or my children?
Is there any long-term allergy possibilities to these chemicals.
New research has shown given by the EWG revealed that the chemical properties used in most sunscreens are what as known as endocrine disruptors, estrogenic and that they may also even interfere with both the thyroid and other hormone processes inside your body.
The most common of these chemicals was Oxybenzone. It was discovered in 96% of the sunscreens used today by a recent study held by the CDC and Prevention. This was for sure especially alarming since oxybenzone has been found to reduce sperm count, it also can contribute to endometriosis in females and it is also considered an endocrine disruptor.
The EWG has warned and given its opinion against using oxybenzone. Especially on pregnant/breastfeeding women, and on children.
Whats even more disturbing?
Of the 1,400+ sunscreens tested by the EWG, over 40% were listed as potentially contributing to skin cancer and that only 5% met the safety standards given.
Most of these sunscreens also contrained a Vitamin A derivative, retinyl palmitate which has been shown to speed up the growth of cancerous cells by up to 21%.
Many of these sunscreens also contained methylisothiazolinone, which was named allergen of the year by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.
The EWG’s most recent report listed Neutrogena as the #1 sunscreen brand to avoid, citing gives misleading claims about their SPF levels, and that it contains high concentrations of oxybenzone and other hormone disrupting chemicals.
Vitamin D Dilemma
For those of us with MS who has the well known vitamin deficiency of Vit. D this is gonna be a big one for you! Most sunscreens completely block the body’s ability to manufacture Vitamin D. Studies have shown that 75% of us are deficient in Vitamin D and Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to higher risk of cancer and heart disease which kills more people than skin cancer per year.
We may literally be cutting off our legs to spite the rest of the body when it comes to sun exposure. We are lathering up with chemical sunscreens that do have the potential to not just increase, but greatly increase skin cancer risk and to reduce our bodies ability to snag up the Vitamin D production by blocking it out in the name of avoiding skin cancer, and increase our risk of getting diseases related to this deficiency such as Multiple Sclerosis.
A Safer Option: Mineral Sunscreens
Mineral sunscreens are typically considered a safer option, but come with their own negative side effects and risks as well.
Some of these mineral sunscreens also contain some of the named and mentioned chemical ingredients above.
Additionally, if the small particles of titanium oxide or zinc oxide are used, they can enter in the body and produce risks as well. Since these offer physical barriers, its also difficult to pinpoint the SPF of some of these mineral sunscreens.
My recipe for homemade sunscreen and lotion bars and both use non-nano zinc oxide for both a safe and natural sun protection. There also are some natural mineral sunscreens available that the EWG lists as being very safe. I’ve shared the list but I have not tried any of these for again I make my own. Its cheaper that way.
- Alba Botanical Mineral Sunscreen
- Badger Mineral Sunscreen
- Babyganics Sunscreen or spray sunscreen
- All Terrain KidSport SPF30 Oxybenzone-Free Natural Sunscreen
- Bull Frog Sunscreen
- Burt’s Bees Sunscreen Stick
- JASON Mineral Sunscree
- The Honest Company Sunscreen
The Safest Option of all:
Cover up! Wear a shirt when for example during swimming. Swimming seems and tends to be when most people burn and use sunscreens. But you can cover up when doing any type of activities outdoors. To hot to cover up? Trying using a shade umbrella or seeking out the shadiest spot available.
INTERNAL SUN PROTECTION
I think another important step to protecting your skin from risk of sun damage is by supporting your self internally.
In short, it is important to avoid foods that increase inflammation, such as:
- processed vegetable oils
- excess sugar
- processed grains
And to keep your eyes focused on foods/ healthy fats that support skin health, including:
1/4 cup coconut oil melted in a cup of herbal tea per day- the Medium Chain Fatty Acids and saturated fat are easily utilized by the body for new skin formation and are protective against burning
Fermented Cod Liver Oil/High Vitamin Butter Oil Blend (also great for remineralizing teeth)-Probably the most important supplement for sun protection. I take double doses during the summer and the kids take it too. Since adding this and the coconut oil daily, none of us have burned. It’s also great for digestive and oral health. (Amazon finally has the capsules back in stock)
Last but not least, Vit C, at least 2,000 mg a day.
It is important to be responsible with sun exposure, but many sunscreens offer a false security of sun protection and may do more harm than good. But now since you have all this valuable info you now know how to both make your own and what to buy if you wish not to.
What sunscreen do you use? What is your biggest concern with sun exposure? Oh and before I forget, heres my recipe for natural sunscreen below!
- ½ cup almond or olive oil (can infuse with herbs first if desired)
- ¼ cup coconut oil (natural SPF 4)
- ¼ cup beeswax
- 2 Tablespoons Zinc Oxide (This is a non-nano version that won’t be absorbed into the skin. Be careful not to inhale the powder).
- Optional: up to 1 teaspoon Red Raspberry Seed Oil
- Optional: up to 1 teaspoon Carrot Seed Oil
- Optional: up to 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
- Optional: 2 tablespoons Shea Butter (natural SPF 4-5)
- Optional: Essential Oils, Vanilla Extract or other natural extracts to suit your preference
- Combine ingredients except zinc oxide in a pint sized or larger glass jar. I have a mason jar that I keep just for making lotions and lotion bars, or you can even reuse a glass jar from pickles, olives, or other foods.
- Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and place over medium heat.
- Put a lid on the jar loosely and place in the pan with the water.
- As the water heats, the ingredients in the jar will start to melt. Shake or stir occasionally to incorporate. When all ingredients are completely melted, add the zinc oxide, stir in well and pour into whatever jar or tin you will use for storage. Small mason jars (pint size) are great for this. It will not pump well in a lotion pump!
- Stir a few times as it cools to make sure zinc oxide is incorporated.
- Use as you would regular sunscreen. Best if used within six months.
- This sunscreen is somewhat, but not completely, waterproof and will need to be reapplied after sweating or swimming
- Make sure not to inhale the Zinc Oxide- use a mask if necessary!
- This recipe has an SPF of about 15, though adding more Zinc Oxide will increase the SPF
- Add more beeswax to make thicker sunscreen, less to make smooth sunscreen
- I recommend coconut or vanilla extract or lavender essential oils for fragrance
- Store in a cool, dry place or in the fridge
- I prefer to store in a small canning jar and apply like a body butter. It will be thicker, especially if you use coconut oil in the recipe.