With warm sunny days fast approaching (hopefully right?) pale folks like me start planning the annual easy-bake avoidance strategy.
Before I started learning about natural health and the dangers of chemicals, it was an easy fix. Slop a couple handfuls of SPF-one-billion on and hit the shore! Well, studying for my license I learned about topical medications, which tend to have an absorption rate of … wait for it … 60%. So, imagine you could apply that little factoid to every topically applied lotion or cream, including sunscreen.
Some of the ingredients that commonly get included in sunscreens are avobenzone and benzophenone. These nifty little chemicals absorb Ultra Violet Radiation and are the main ingredients in many broad-spectrum sunscreens. Avobenzone, ironically enough, degrades quickly in sunlight and many sunscreen brands add stabilizing chemicals to make the sunscreen effective for longer periods of time. I’m not going to get into the compounds and ingredients, but suffice it to say that for someone trying to lead a more chemical-free life, it was enough to get me thinking of alternatives.
Natural Coconut Oil
After a recommendation from Heather Callaghan, I started looking into natural coconut oil as an alternative sunscreen. It was really interesting to read some of the experiences people had using it. Topical applications and even eating it! Of course, I know of many benefits and uses, but I have to say, I never thought of sunscreen. It seems like using oil on your skin would kind of be counter productive when introduced to sunlight. Well, score another one for natural health. Most of the ‘reviews’ I read made it clear that while coconut oil will NOT keep you from getting pink, it IS an amazing defender against sunburn and sun-damage. In a study by researchers in India, coconut oil was actually proven to have a very low SPF rating, much lower than other tested oils like neem seed, sunflower and even sesame seed oil.
(On a side note, SPF ratings are a little misleading, with only a small jump in protection between 30-50. Even with 100 SPF, you aren’t blocking 100% of the UV rays, keep that in mind if you shop for sunscreens.)
What’s cool about coconut oil is the way it reacts with your body’s cells to prevent the sunlight from damaging your skin. You will pink up, for sure. But the nasty side effects of overexposure to sunlight can be avoided with coconut oil protecting your (read: my) delicate skin.
However, my freckles warned me in advance that bringing my skin to a bronze, if even possible, probably wasn’t the best idea, even with coconut oil protection. So from here I decided to look one step further.
Before I get into the potential ingredients for your homemade sunscreen, it’s good to keep in mind that many additional benefits can be gleaned from watching your diet in the summer. Here’s a short list of foods that help protect your skin from too much sun.