There has been a great push for sunscreen use for a number of years now, but is the regular use of sunscreen safe or healthy? Are we sacrificing more than we should be in keeping the sun’s rays from visiting our skin? Are the ingredients in popular sunscreens safe? But since there is danger in overexposure to UV rays, what are we to do?
First of all, Vitamin D is very important in your body for a number of reasons. “Growing evidence suggests that maintaining an adequate Vitamin D level may be important to women for both breast cancer prevention and treatment” (Cancer Treatment Centers of America). Other preliminary results seem to point toward a Vitamin D connection and lowered risks of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. More testing needs to be conducted before definitive results can be stated. However, Vitamin D is clearly linked to bone health. The alarming fact, though, is that most people are Vitamin D deficient. In fact, breastfed babies are routinely being given Vitamin D drops as a supplement to make sure they are getting enough Vitamin D.
How do we get Vitamin D? We can get it in some foods, in supplemental form, or through sunlight. Fatty fish, like salmon, fortified cereals, and milk have smaller amounts of Vitamin D in them. However, it can be tough to get enough Vitamin D daily just through food. The other options are supplements – which can contain synthetics — or unprotected exposure to sunlight. Ten to 15 minutes in the sunlight can be all you need a day.
Generally, it is best to take this time before 10 a.m. in the morning or after 3 p.m. in the afternoon. However, cancer patients and anyone who has concerns should talk to their doctor first, since some people should avoid sunlight due to higher susceptibility to skin and other forms of cancer.
But Too Much Sun Exposure Can Be Harmful
While some sunlight may be good for you, burning is certainly not. While building up a gradual tan can help with this, sometimes longer sun exposure is necessary, like when we go to the beach, or work outside, or enjoy a family outing at the park. When outside for extended periods of time, you can try to stay in the shade and wear light, breathable, long sleeves and a large hat, or apply some form of sunscreen.
Unfortunately, when it comes to commercial sunscreens, the effectiveness and safety of popular brands has been called into question. Some sunscreens only protect against UVB radiation, while UVA is more harmful. Other concerns involve the fact that many sunscreens have potential carcinogens in them, like oxybenzone, benzophenone and retinyl pamitate. Gina DeBacker, the associate editor at Mother Earth Living, writes “Research shows some of these sunscreen ingredients may actually promote skin cancer growth and free radical cell production in the body—some experts caution that exposure to these toxic ingredients may completely erode the benefits of sunscreen.”
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How to Make Your Own All-Natural Sunscreen
To make your own sunscreen, you will need a few ingredients that can be found at a health food store or purchased online.
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ¼ cup Shea butter
- 1/8 cup almond oil
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of Zinc Oxide Powder
(Be sure you purchase the non-nano version of zinc oxide. It is important that you get the kind that cannot be absorbed into the skin. Often this kind is used for cosmetics. It forms a physical barrier on the skin without soaking into it. Also, be careful not to inhale the powder. You can purchase a mask to use when you are mixing your ingredients if you prefer.)
- 2 tablespoons beeswax granules (for waterproofing)
- 1 teaspoon of essential oil (like lavender or vanilla) – optional
Melt the oils (coconut oil, Shea butter, and almond oil) and beeswax together in a double boiler. Take a glass jar and place the oils and wax in it and then set it either in the top pan of your double boiler, or fill a pan partially with water and set your glass jar in it. The beeswax will probably take the longest to melt. Once everything is melted, whisk it to make sure everything is combined nicely and then whisk in the zinc oxide powder. Be sure that the powder is thoroughly spread throughout the mixture. Be careful not to inhale the powder and wear a mask if necessary.
Once everything is thoroughly mixed, let the mixture rest in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Then dump the contents into a mixing bowl and add the essential oils of your choice. Take your electric hand mixer and whip everything together until it takes on a fluffy texture. Put the cream into a glass jar and use it within six months. It is best to store it in a cool place; the refrigerator is a great option, but be sure the mixture doesn’t freeze.
This summer use wisdom as you enjoy bright days and the incredible gift of sunlight.
Do you use all-natural sunscreen and have any tips? Tell us in the comments section below.