Is Natural Sunscreen Safer than Regular?

Not all sunscreen is safe, apparently, and natural sunscreen is a new idea when it comes to health and protecting ourselves and our families in the long-run.

natural sunscreen

What about Natural Sunscreen?

Depending on your skin type, your body will produce between 1,000 and 10,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D when exposed to 30 minutes of the mid-day sun. This is important because vitamin D deficiency has been linked to weak bones, insomnia, mood disorders, hormonal imbalances and more. But too much of anything can be bad, and sun exposure is no exception.

The DV for vitamin D is currently set at 600 IU for adults and children age 4 and older, according to the National Institutes for Health.

sun on beach

Sun Exposure and Skin Cancer

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), skin cancer is the single most common type of cancer, with roughly one in five Americans developing it at some point during their life. A leading contributing factor of skin cancer is sun exposure. Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) rays that penetrate the skin and promote abnormal cell growth. Statistics show that up to 90 percent of all non-melanoma skin cancers involve prolonged exposure to the sun.

In the past 50 years, sunscreen use has increased dramatically. If sunscreen really did prevent skin cancer, we would have seen a rapid decline in rates. Instead, incidences of skin cancer have been rising.

Sunlight is actually a form of radiation. The Earth’s geomagnetic field filters some of this radiation but not all of it. As a result, some solar radiation penetrates through the atmosphere while exposing us and everything else on this planet to UV light. There are ways to protect your sun from solar radiation, however, including the use of natural sunscreen lotion.

When companies process zinc oxide for sunscreen, they often create a fine chalk-like powder particles that are so small that they absorb into your skin which can disturb cellular growth and function.

choosing natural sunscreen carefully

Choose Your Sunscreen Lotion Carefully

It may sound crazy, but some sunscreen lotions may actually increase your risk of skin cancer! Many store-bought sunscreen products, for instance, contain nano particles of zinc oxide. Zinc oxide itself isn’t necessarily bad; it’s actually an effective ingredient for blocking solar radiation.

When processed for sunscreen lotion, though, companies often create a fine chalk-like powder of zinc oxide consisting of 100nm or smaller particles. The zinc oxide particles are so small that they absorb into your skin.

The precise effects of nano-sized zinc oxide remains unknown, but some health experts believe it’s a contributing factor in skin cancer. Once absorbed by the body, they disturb cellular growth and function. This has prompted many health-conscious individuals to seek a safer alternative form of sun protection.

coconut oil for natural sunscreen

What Is Natural Sunscreen Lotion?

Natural sunscreen lotion is made using safe, natural ingredients without nano-sized zinc oxide particles (or “non-nano”). Coconut oil, for example, is a common ingredient found in natural sunscreen lotion. Extracted from mature coconuts, coconut oil contains a sun protection factor (SPF) of 5. It also contains antioxidants to strengthen the skin and protect against oxidative stress. Also, coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties, making it particularly beneficial for people suffering from chronic inflammatory skin conditions like eczema.

Shea butter is another common ingredient used in natural sunscreen lotion. Extracted from the nuts of the shea tree, it contains high concentrations of fatty acids, including oleic acid, stearic acid and palmitic acid. The high fat content of shea butter makes it an excellent moisturizing cream or lotion. Additionally, shea butter has natural sun-blocking properties, keeping your skin safe from UV rays.

Some natural sunscreen lotions also contain zinc oxide but in larger particles that can’t be absorbed by the skin. Zinc oxide is found in the Earth’s crust. Normally, it doesn’t pose any risk to our health. If it’s processed into nano-sized particles like in some store-bought sunscreens, some experts believe it increases the risk of skin cancer.

When choosing a natural sunscreen lotion, consider the types of UV light it blocks. All sunscreen lotion is designed to block the sun’s UV rays. With that said, there are two specific types of UV sunlight: UVA and UVB.

UVA rays are primarily responsible for sunburns whereas UVB rays are responsible for skin aging, wrinkles and fine lines. They are both associated with an increased risk of skin cancer.

Some sunscreen products only protect against UVB rays, leaving your skin susceptible to UVA. A broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion, however, is formulated to protect against both types of solar radiation.

protect yourself from sun and skin cancer

Other Tips to Protect Your Skin from Sun Damage

Wearing natural sunscreen lotion is just one way to protect your skin from sun damage. You should also cover your skin and limit the time you spend outdoors. By following some simple steps, you’ll promote healthier, more youthful skin and reduce your chance of developing skin cancer.

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