Sunscreen started popping up around the 1940’s and became popular in the 1950’s when Coppertone started advertising with the Coppertone girl. While cocoa butter and coconut oil was originally used for sunscreen, chemicals and synthetics quickly began to take over the ingredient list. Conventional sunscreens are commonly filled with chemicals and synthetics and typically contain two to six of the following active (chemical) ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate.
Both the active and inactive ingredients have been linked to negative health issues. The Breast Cancer Fund states, “Research has found that many sunscreens contain chemicals that are estrogenic, disrupt the endocrine system and therefore can play a significant role in breast cancer development.” Hormone disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the body’s endocrine system. These chemicals will negatively affect reproductive, developmental, neurological, and immune effects in both wildlife and humans. An ingredient that is a vitamin A derivative, Retinyl Palmitate has even been found to speed the development of cancer.
Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3) is a hormone disruptor. It is also one of the culprits that play a part in destroying coral reefs. Octinoxate (Octyl-methoxycinnamate) is found in many sunscreens and is associated with thyroid hormone-disrupting effects. Some ingredients, like homosalate, have been found to actually be broken down by into harmful by-products.
Sunscreen helps to limit the negative effects of the UV rays that come from the sun. There are UVA rays and UVB rays. UVA rays are able to penetrate further into the skin and destroy the substances in the skin that give it its elasticity and firmness meaning they are the leading cause of wrinkles. Natural sunscreens offer some protection from the sun while skipping the negative side effects of the chemical laden conventional sunscreens. There are several natural options that have a SPF (sun protectant factor).
Green Gaia’s Organic Sunscreen contains coconut oil (2-8 SPF), raw shea butter (6-10 SPF), avocado oil (5-15 SPF), wheat germ oil (16-20 SPF), carrot seed oil (38-40 SPF), and red raspberry seed oil (30-50SPF).
Remember, while it’s advised to apply sunscreen, sunscreen does not mean you are completely shielded from the sun.
It is important to note that even when using sunscreen, it’s necessary to still practice smart sun care. There are several factors that can play a role in how your skin handles sun. Genetics is probably plays the biggest role. How often your skin gets to see the sun, or how much skin gets exposed to the sun – do you live at the beach or pool, or is most of your time inside? Do you wear pants and long sleeves most the time when you’re outside? Do you live in an area that has winter half the year? The closer you live to the equator, the more intense the sun is.
While too much sun can be harmful, as with all things – everything in moderation.
Sun is actually very necessary as it triggers the body’s production of vitamin D which is very important for the body. Vitamin D boosts immunity, reduces the risk of cancer, improves sleep as well as mood, lowers blood pressure, improves brain function, and heals skin disorders.
Avoid getting sunburn, as that means cellular damage was done, by doing a few simple things. Ease into spending time in the sun when it’s been a while since your skin has had exposure, limit the time in general you spend in the sun if you can help it – stay covered with lightweight clothes and wear a hat when you can. Keep your body hydrated inside and out – keep your water intake up and keep your skin moisturized in general. And when you do spend time in the sun, remember to apply sunscreen and continue to reapply the longer you stay in the sun.
It is always advised to see a dermatologist if you ever have any questions, issues, or concerns in regards to your skin, and sunburns should always be avoided.