Out Smart The Sun
Sunscreens come in two different categories chemical, which work by absorbing the sun's rays and contain ingredients like Paba and Benzophenone and physical, which work by reflecting the sun's rays and contain the minerals, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
We have learned how easily the skin absorbs products we use on it. If we use chemical sunscreen there is concern that the chemicals in sunscreen will be absorbed and if you use sunscreen daily like you should that could be quite a bit of chemical absorbtion. That's something to think about.
Those looking for a safer, natural alternative to chemical sunscreens have been turning to zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These minerals sit on top of the skin and while effective I think many of us think of the products the lifeguards use on their noses which is white and heavy and think no way.
That has changed and new technology has created sunscreens with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide that go on clearer.
What to Look For in Natural Sunscreen
UVA has been found to be more harmful than initially thought. These rays penetrate deeper into the skin layers and are largely responsible for aging our skin among other problems.
Most sunscreens focus on UVB which is measured by the SPF of a product. These rays will cause sun burn along with potentially increasing our risk of skin cancer.
Most UVC rays are blocked by the ozone layer but some sunscreens provide protection for these rays too.
- Maintains a consistent level of protection.
- All other ingredients in the product are safe.
- Many beaches are now requesting their visitors use biodegradable products because the chemicals in many sunscreens washes off in the water and is harming the reefs, aquatic and wild life.
Finding the Best Natural Sunscreen
Perhaps the biggest question about any sunscreen is: Does it really work?
Until recently we had no real way of knowing and had to rely on the claims of the companies creating the products. The EWG is the best resource I know that not only tests the effectiveness of all different kinds of sunscreen but also rates them for safety.
What's so surprising is that in their study they found that several popular brands of chemical sunscreens which claimed to be so effective actually provided poor sun protection. It has been found that some ingredients used in the wrong combinations break down and leave your skin unprotected.
The EWG has found through their studies that the most effective natural sunscreens are those made from titanium dioxide or zinc. It's a simple solution that can be complicated by nano technology which takes these ingredients which basically sit on top of the skin and makes them into fine particles or nano particles. The concern is that these nano particles can be absorbed into the body. And is this safe?
The EWG has studied this and the research so far shows little to no evidence of absorption into healthy skin. There are some concerns of it's use on broken skin though. Their recommendations have been that mineral sunscreens are the safest and most effective even in nano size.
Still Worried About Nano Ingredients in Natural Sunscreen?
Not everyone agrees that these really fine particles of titanium dixide or zinc are safe as you can see by reading this article courtesy of the Organic Makeup Co. about the safety of titanium dioxide. So far zinc seems to be the safer choice. I have seen some companies that say until more is known they are not going to use nanotechnology.
As you are weighing which way to go also consider this, perhaps the most important thing is to find a sunscreen that provides the highest degree of protection and does it as safely as possible.
If a whiter look is preventing you from using your natural sunscreen regularly then you may want to consider nano zinc or titanium dioxide. It is more important to find an effective and safe product that you will be willing to use.
I have experimented with many brands of mineral based natural sunscreens. Every product I used did leave a slight to moderate white look to the skin. The ones that went on the clearest probably rely on nanotechnology (they do not always label themselves) and a claim of dries clear may be a clue.
How I Shop For Sunscreen
Protecting your skin throughout the year both from sun damage and skin cancer can be managed with three or four different types of products. You'll want one for daily use for your face, one for your body, one with higher spf or waterproof for outdoor activities and possibly even makeup that offers sun protection.
When I am in the market for a new sunscreen I start with the latest EWG Sunscreen Report and see what they recommend but I need to read product reviews before I decide. I then look for a site that provides plenty of reviews which for me means Amazon.
This page from Amazon for Natural Sunscreens contains many of the products mentioned in the sunscreen report.
Here are a few that rate consistently high:
Daily and Sport Sunscreen
This is a sunscreen product good for the whole family. They offer a sport sunscreen that is resistant to water and sweat. UV Naturals use nano particles of zinc oxide as their sunscreen ingredient and say they believe this to be the healthiest and most effective choice.
It is rated as very safe on the Skin Deep Database, has high ratings for effectivness and it too has many safe, good for your skin natural ingredients. They recommend UV Natural Adult SPF 30 as a good under makeup sunscreen.
As a regular sunscreen for my overall use I would use it but I did not care for the results as an under makeup product. With such high ratings I was hoping it would work out.
I applied this using a small amount and while it dried the clearest of any brand I used I found it to be too greasy even after 15 minutes or so.
After checking the company website, they said if it is greasy you are using too much. Even with the smallest amounts which now had me wondering if so little would provide enough protection, I still found it to be a little greasy and was not happy how my mineral makeup went on over it. It also had a slight scent, that some in my family did not care for very much but it went away quickly.
I am not quite as concerned about the whiteness of products I use on my body but am very particular about those I use on my face. I prefer something that goes on as clear as possible.
My family uses this natural sunscreen. It is particularly safe for babies and children but anyone can use it. It provides good protection against UVA and UVB rays.
Some of their products can be worn under makeup. Most are water resistant and they have some that are fragrance free.
Natural, non whitening, boidegradeable and environmentally friendly. This natural sunscreen provides good protection for UVA and UVB rays.
Badger SPF 30 sunscreens received very good ratings for effectiveness and ingredients used but mixed reactions by users over the lavender fragrance (they now offer a fragrance free formula) and the application. This product is environmentally safe, biodegradeable and water resistant. Good for use on children.
My Favorites For Using Under Makeup
This has been my favorite natural sunscreen so far. I have found it challenging to find a mineral based under makeup moisturizer that does not feel heavy or greasy. I had read good reviews about Devita's sun protecting moisturizer. This product uses micronized zinc oxide as their active ingredient. Skin Deep Database rates it as very safe but they also rate it highly for effectiveness.
I bought a sample size which was generous enough that I could try it out a few times and was so happy with the results that I bought the full size bottle. (You can buy sample size products at Natural Solutions.) This product has a nice creamy feel that was light and easy to apply, dried practically clear and absorbed well. This did not feel heavy or tacky and just left my skin feeling moisturized. I liked the way it worked under mineral makeup but have also tried it with a cream makeup with good results. This one's a winner.
SanRe Skinfood Supple Sunshine is a moisturizer that provides an SPF of 30. This feels like a rich moisturizer when applied. It dries quite clear and with little tackiness. It contains many organic ingredients, vitamins and zinc oxide. It does have a slight scent that may bother sensitive individuals. It is a very safe product that provides a good degree of sun protection according to the EWG Sunscreen Report.
Natural Sunscreen Tips
1. Mineral sunscreens as a whole take some getting used to since they typically feel tacky and often leave a whitish cast to the skin some products more than others. This may even be more of an issue under makeup. Some women myself included don't like the heavier feel on their faces and in this case micronized zinc like Devita's product mentioned above may be the answer but a little tackiness can actually be a plus for mineral makeup wearers because it grabs and holds mineral makeup in place.
2. Work in smaller sections and don't rub too much when applying just smooth on enough lotion and only rub until it has absorbed. Some products dry whiter and rubbing more may only cause product to flake off.
3. Take care when using natural sunscreen. They do tend to wipe off onto everything. The steering wheel and door handle of my car carried the results of applying sunscreen and not wiping my hands off before getting in.
Makeup With Sunscreen
There are many brands of makeup that offer sun protection. The big thing here is coverage. For the best sun protection I usually use moisturizer with sunscreen and especially in the summer months use makeup with sunscreen. The key here too is finding one that actually does it's job and once again the database has the info.
Most mineral makeup provides some protection from the sun but only some brands have actually gone through the process of formulating and testing their makeup for sun protection. You will know them when they make a claim of a particular SPF like SPF 15. Not supposed to say that unless it's been proven.
My Favorite Mineral Makeup With SPF
One of the issues I have always had with sunscreen is how to reapply it over the top of my makeup. If I used it in the morning under my makeup and spent all day out and about I should be applying sunscreen again at some point. The only way that made sense was to remove most of my makeup and reapply everything. Not going to happen but this pressed powder mineral makeup is a solution.
It comes in a pretty refillable compact with a sponge applicator that can be reapplied easily throughout the day. It feels light but covers just like mineral makeup and provides sun protection. It is rated very well. The company carries a sample kit that was well worth the money and will give you a chance to try it yourself.
These are just a few suggestions for natural sunscreen. With a little looking I'm sure you will find one that fits your needs. One thing all the experts agree on is that we are not using enough. Make sure to follow the recommendations on the bottle and reapply accordingly.
Natural sunscreen is just one way to keep your skin healthy and help to prevent sun related aging. Light colored clothing helps too but consider buying sun protective clothing that provides actual SPF protection factors along with hats and sunglasses. All part of good sun protection.
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