At the end of the post, find my recipe for “all natural” sunblock, and if you have time and energy to do it, go for it – at least you will know all the ingredients.
Sunblock (Physical screen)
Imagine your sunblock like a shield ON A TOP of your skin – blocking and deflecting sun rays. Its main ingredients are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which physically block ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Other names for it are: mineral sunscreen, physical blocker and physical sunscreen. I know, a bit confusing that they call it sunscreen but it’s is a sunblock.
The goods: It protects against both UVA and UVB (more zinc oxide). It starts working instantly, as soon as you apply it.
The bads: It is harder to apply on skin, messy, visible and not easy to wash off. The amount of sun protection it provides, while potentially high, cannot be quantified in the same manner as sunscreen SPFs, so be careful and do not forget to re-apply.
Imagine your sunscreen as a big sponge IN your skin where it converts sun rays into less damaging form of radiation. Other names for sunscreen are: chemical sunscreen, or chemical absorber. To me, anything with “chemical” term in their name does not sound too attractive, but hey, it explains its mechanism of action.
The goods: It is smooth and easy to apply, colorless, and most newer versions cover for both UVA and UVB. Make sure you get the one with both coverage.
The bads: It takes about 20 minutes to start protecting you once you have applied it. Active ingredients can be many chemicals so reports of skin reactions, irritation can be higher. Here are the main bad guys: any screens with oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate, than all the sprays (you can inhale the toxins or miss the spot) , and any with SPF over 50)
SPF stands for sun protection factor. But, how the heck does it work, again? Well, SPF number tells you how many times longer you can stay on the sun before you burn ( before it stops screening or blocking the sun’s harmful rays). The tricky part is – you have to know how long it takes you to burn on the sun in a first place.
Lets say you use a sunscreen with an SPF 15. This means you can be in the sun 15 times longer than without sunscreen before burning. So SPF of 15 is NOT the same for you or me, since our skins will get affected in different times. The problem with higher SPF is – you often get too relaxed thinking you are protected for a longer time and forget to reapply it.
means it maintains its SPF level after 40 minutes of water exposure.
means it can maintain its SPF level after 80 minutes of exposure to water.
UVA and UVB
UVA can cause cancerous mutations, and can also break down the vitamin D formed in your skin. This way the nature makes sure you do not get too much vitamin D when too long on the sun. Since you notice skin redness much later than the redness from UVB light, UVA can damage the skin more.
UVB stimulates production of D vitamin. It penetrates less than UVA plus you burn from it faster ,and that gives you the opportunity to hide in the shade or reapply the sunblock if you already forgot it without getting as much damage as from UVA light. So to make it easy:
UVA – A for Aging, and Absolutely skin damaging
UVB – B for Burning, Better than UVA
Which Sun protection to use?
Get the one with less chemicals! Instead me boring you with very long names of chemicals you need to search for in the list of ingredients ( possibly using a big magnifying glass), simply click here and type in the search box name of your sunscreen and check its rating and ingredient list (in big letters).
What About Babies?
It is not recommended to use sunscreen or sunblock for any baby less than 6 months of age. With this being said, if you find sunblock with all natural ingredients, containing only zinc oxide as your UVA and UVB shield, you may use it. Still be careful and go on the sun only in early AM hours and late PM.
The best sun protection still is: shade, or UV protective clothing and hats with a big flap to cover ears and shoulders.
Homemade Natural Sunblock
½ cup almond or olive oil
¼ cup coconut oil (natural SPF 4)
¼ cup beeswax (for water resistance)
2 Tablespoons Zinc Oxide (non-nano version)
(wear a mask when pouring Zinc so you do not inhale it)
1/2 tsp vitamin E oil
1/2 tsp red raspberry seed oil (SPF 25)
1/2 1 tsp carrot seed oil (SPF 35)
2 Tbsp Shea butter (SPF 4-5)
Combine all ingredients, except zinc oxide, in a glass mason jar.Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and place over medium heat.Put a lid on the jar loosely and place in the pan with the water.
As the water heats, the ingredients in the jar will start to melt. Shake or stir occasionally to incorporate. When all ingredients are completely melted, add the zinc oxide, stir in well and pour into whatever jar container you will use for storage. It will not pump well in a lotion pump.
Stir a few times as it cools to make sure zinc oxide is incorporated. Use as you would regular sunscreen. Best if used within six months.
This sunscreen needs to be reapplied after sweating or swimming. It has SPF15. Add more Zinc Oxide to increase SPF. Add more beeswax to make it thicker, less to make it smoother. May add vanilla extract or lavender essential oils for fragrance. Do not use citrus essential oils, they may cause skin discoloration.