Living under the beautiful African sun inspires a wonderful lifestyle filled with a plethora of outdoor activities and adventures. It also means we need to take extra precautions to protect our delicate skin from the harsh side of the sun. When it comes to sunscreen choices you can’t be blamed for being overwhelmed by all the choices. But here’s where ethical and organic lifestyle choices come into their beautiful own. By choosing natural over chemical you’re already eliminating half the sun screen contenders out there.
Why you should first consider natural sunscreen over the conventional options
We’ve spoken about this in detail before and it would be good to remind yourself of the nasty toxic ingredients in chemical sunscreens. But for a quick overview, consider these points in the natural vs chemical conversation:
- No toxic cosmetic ingredients in organic sunscreen
- Natural and organic preservatives are not dangerous
- Organic sunscreen does not contain mineral oils
- Organic sunscreen does not contain colourants
- No added fragrance is added to organic sunscreen
- Water resistance created by synthetic sunscreens can be detrimental
- Anti-oxidant activities of organic plant extracts are good for you
- No fillers are required in organic sunscreen
- Organic sunscreen helps to reverse sun damage
Top 4 reasons why organic sunscreens are actually really great for you
There are a host of reasons why the ingredients in natural and organic sunscreens are better for your skin and the environment. These are our top 4 reasons:
1. They deflect the sun’s damage
Organic sunblocks use minerals to reflect the sun’s rays away from your skin whereas conventional sunscreens are absorbed into your skin and so also allow the sun’s rays to be absorbed, not really a good thing as this creates cancer-causing free radicals right where you don’t want them.
2. Your skin can still breathe
Natural sun protection uses plant based oils that have a similarity to your own sebum and help regulate your skin’s own oil production while letting it breathe, but petroleum-based products can clog up your pores.
3. You’re safe from developing harsh allergies
Harsh chemicals can cause allergies or irritation in sensitive skins, which is the last thing you want when you’re being a beach babe in the summer. They’re also gentle and safe for your little one’s sensitive skin.
4. You’re protecting the oceans you swim in
You wear sunblock when you swim – so it figures that it washes off in the water – would you want all those toxic chemicals washing off into our beloved oceans, affecting all her creatures?
Read all the other reasons to choose organic over conventional here.
Understanding sunscreens, sunblocks and mineral sunblocks
To better understand why organic sunscreens are a better choice for sun protection it helps to know more about the composition of sunscreens, how they work and how your skin responds in turn.
How do sunscreens work?
Officially sunscreens use chemical “absorbers” to absorb the UV rays of the sun. That’s why the instructions on the sunscreen bottles say to put it on 20 minutes before being exposed to the sun as it needs that time to sink in to your skin before its full SPF is realised.
How do sunblocks work?
Sunblocks use physical blockers to protect the skin from UV radiation and sunburns. Sunblocks use minerals that sit on the surface of the skin (usually zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) rather than chemicals that sink into the skin to protect one from the sun.
There is also a lot of confusion and sometimes concern about the safety of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide used in natural sun blocks.
- Smaller sized pieces of the minerals protect one better from the UV rays of the sun and rub in more effectively
- Many sunblocks therefore use “nano particles” of both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
- But the smaller the particle, the more likely it is that it is absorbed into the skin’s cells, where it could cause unknown problems, which could be cancer.
- Nano particles may also be more hazardous to the environment and even if swallowed inadvertently while swimming.
Where do natural sunscreens fall?
Mineral sunblocks begin working right away on both UVA and UVB rays, so there’s no need to apply 20 minutes before sun exposure. Natural sunscreens are always “sunblocks”.
- You want to avoid “nano” particles of zinc or titanium dioxide in your sun block
- It is ok if they are micronised – in fact they need to be in order to protect your skin at all. This means the minerals have been ground up.
- Micronised minerals are not small enough to get through the cell walls and are nothing to worry about.
- Titanium dioxide has been flagged as a newly labeled carcinogen but the results from the study in question only came about after inhaling titanium dioxide dust, which you’re not going to be exposed to when you’re just wearing sunscreen.
- Zinc oxide is an essential mineral even found in vitamins, while titanium dioxide is a heavy metal and likely toxic.
- Zinc oxide is also the only active sunscreen ingredient approved by the FDA for infants under six months, which is another strong fact in its favour.
Read more about other factors to consider as well as zinc versus titanium dioxide before choosing the wrong sunscreen.
Now that you are armed with all this knowledge on the ingredients found in your sunscreen, you will be empowered to embrace summer to the max while giving yourself and your family the best, healthiest sun protection available.