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Natural SPF


I wanted to take a break from minimalism and zero waste this week and talk about something that is very important, especially because we’re moving into warmer months: sunscreen. I have darker skin and have never had to wear sunscreen because I do not burn, but with that being said, I have a lot of sun damage on the inner layers of my skin that I have to constantly feed with nutrients to not have them appear on the outside. I used to absolutely cook myself in tanning beds in the early 2000’s (hey, we all did it), and despite everyone telling me that I was damaging my skin, I didn’t really see it until I was in my late twenties and my dermatologist showed me under a microscope what was happening. When I hit thirty, those sun marks began to show up on my face, and my doctor encouraged me to get them lasered off so they didn’t get worse. I refused all the chemical peels, acids, and poisons my dermatologist suggested, and instead decided to take the natural route to heal my skin. I had already been making my own products, but had no idea what to do for sun damage. “Wear sunscreen” is what the doctors kept telling me, but I still refused to wear it. Why? Because I know how freaking terrible sunscreen is for your body and skin, and that’s what this blog post will be about, along with natural solutions for SPF. 

Before we get back to my skin, how to lighten hyperpigmentation, and natural choices, let’s talk about what general sunscreen does. The main ingredient that is in sunscreens is what? Zinc oxide. Right, you all know it. Or titanium dioxide as well, but the more “natural” companies are using zinc oxide, which makes no sense considering neither one is natural. There also seems to be a general misunderstanding and consensus that just because something is natural, that it’s automatically good for you, but we know that’s false: tobacco causes cancer; fruit spikes blood sugar and can lead to diabetes; meat causes pretty much most diseases; dairy leads to osteoporosis; the list goes on. But what makes these natural products even worse for you, is when they begin adding in inorganic compounds like GMOs, antibiotics, pesticides, chemicals…and zinc oxide. 

FREE RADICALS

Both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are mineral filters, blocking UVB and UVA rays. However, both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are photocatalysts, so when they are exposed to sunlight, they create free radicals in the body, and free radicals damage your cells. 

Since both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are matte white when slathered on in their natural form, companies break down the active substances into microscopic particles so your sunscreen is more transparent. By doing this, you now have nanoparticles that can penetrate deeper into the skin and do more damage. Oh, and inhalation of nanoparticles – especially in titanium dioxide – is carcinogenic according to toxicologists. It’s also very hard to accurately pinpoint the correct SPF when broken down into nanoparticles, so your SPF 50 may not be anywhere near that amount. 

REPRODUCTIVE ISSUES

Tons of studies have been done regarding zinc oxide and reproductive health. Scientists exposed rats (I don’t condone animal testing in any regards, by the way) to zinc oxide nanoparticles two weeks prior to mating season. Those rats that had been exposed showed a reduced number of born/live babies, decreased body weight of babies, and increased fetal resorption (the babies had zinc oxide in their system). Zinc oxide was also injected into the mammary glands of mother rats, and the liver and kidneys of the babies. All concluded that exposure to zinc oxide during pregnancy and even prior to pregnancy creates a danger for not just the mother, but the babies as well. 

ZINC OXIDE & TITANIUM DIOXIDE USES

Zinc oxide is an inorganic compound of zinc and oxygen molecules that is not water soluble and used as an additive in materials such as:

  • Rubbers
  • Plastics
  • Ceramics
  • Glass
  • Cement
  • Lubricants
  • Paints
  • Ointments
  • Adhesives
  • Sealants
  • Pigments
  • Foods
  • Batteries
  • Ferrites
  • Fire Retardants
  • First-Aid Tape 

Titanium dioxide is produced by oxidizing titanium minerals at high temperatures. It is sold as a polish for metal working. 

I don’t know about you, but neither of these things sound like they should be going on my skin; the largest organ on my body. 

DANGERS OF COMMERCIAL SUNSCREEN

The most common sunscreen chemical, called Oxybenzone, was found in 96% of the population, according to the CDC. This chemical is an endocrine disruptor, reduces sperm count in men, and is a contributing factor to endometriosis in women. 

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested over 1,400 sunscreens, and only 5% of them met their safety standards. 40% of the tested sunscreens were listed as contributing to skin cancer. Retinyl Palmitate, a Vitamin A derivative often used in sunscreen, was shown to speed up the growth of cancerous cells by 21%. And methylisothiazolinone, another common chemical found in sunscreen, was named by the American Contact Dermatitis Society as the “allergen of the year.” 

NATURAL SPF

Surprisingly, fruit, nut, and seed oils are very high in natural SPF. Take a look at the image below. 

RED RASPBERRY SEED OIL

My favorite is Red Raspberry Seed Oil. I’ve used it for years when I go out into the sun, and I notice that even though I get some color, I don’t get any dark spots or freckles afterwards. It has a natural SPF of 30-50 and is perfect for use on your face. It’s also a very good moisturizer to use instead of a regular moisturizer, or you can mix it in with your regular moisturizer to add some SPF to it. Just make sure to get Red Raspberry Seed Oil cold pressed. My favorite one to use is by Botanical Beauty which is natural, virgin, undiluted, and cold pressed. You can get it on Amazon for $13 for 1 oz. However, red raspberry seed oil will only prevent sunburn and new sunspots, it won’t affect the ones you already have. 

CARROT SEED OIL

In comes Carrot Seed Oil, which is a natural 38-40 SPF. The problem with carrot seed oil is that if you use too much of it, your skin will turn orange from the beta carotene. I only recently started using carrot seed oil because it’s considered one of the best oils to remove hyperpigmentation from skin. I made a serum with is and have been adding it to my moisturizer once a day. The results are unbelievable! After one week, the dark freckles and sun spots on my face have faded dramatically. I seriously suggest this oil for any of you who have dark spots, sun spots, freckles, or scars that you want to lessen. If you look at the photos below, the top one shows freckles and sun spots around my right eye and cheekbone area. One week later after applying carrot seed oil to the area once a day, and the spots have lightened a lot.

The carrot seed oil I purchased is by Leven Rose and it is pure, unrefined, and cold pressed. 2 oz. of it was $20 on Amazon. Make sure you get carrot seed oil and not carrot seed essential oil. 

WHEAT GERM OIL

Personally, I haven’t tried Wheat Germ Oil, which is the next highest SPF of 20, but I also have not had any use for this oil beyond sunscreen, so I haven’t purchased it. Also, if you stay away from gluten, you should probably stay away from wheat germ oil. 

ALL OTHER OILS

I’m not going to deny that the other oils on the list actually have SPF in them, but some of them I feel like you need to be wary of because they will promote tanning above their SPF value. Coconut oil, for example, is a very greasy oil with a low boiling point, so if you’re out in the sun, this oil will not only liquify more on your skin, but also act as a tanning oil. The same goes for olive oil. 

Avocado oil does work as a light SPF; I’ve used it as a moisturizer enhancer when I lived in Las Vegas and realized that my face didn’t get any color when I was outside that day. It’s a light SPF, but if you don’t need a strong one and have dry skin, this would be a good oil for you. 

Jojoba oil is an incredibly drying oil (it’s actually a liquid wax), so if you have dry skin, I wouldn’t suggest it as your choice for SPF. If you have oilier skin or are acne prone, however, jojoba would be a nice addition to another oil on this list to balance out the oiliness. Because jojoba is a wax, it will create a natural barrier on your skin for UVB and UVA rays to not be able to penetrate, but remember that it’s only an SPF 4, so definitely mix it with a higher SPF oil. 

PHOTOSENSITIVY

Lastly, I just want to make you aware that there are certain oils that are photosensitive, and therefore increase the likelihood of you burning if you wear them in the sun. Photosensitive oils contain furocoumarins, which are a natural defense system the plant has to ward off animals from eating it in nature. Some examples of what photosensitive oils can do to your skin are burning, itching, blistering, inflammation, redness, and skin discoloration. It is advised to stay out of the sun for twelve hours after using photosensitive oils. These oils are:

  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Orange
  • Bergamot
  • Cumin
  • Mandarin
  • Tangerine
  • Blood Orange
  • Neroli
  • Petitgrain
  • Angelica Root 

The easiest way to remember these is this: if it’s citrus, don’t wear it in the sun! How funny is it that we consider citrus smells to be synonymous with summer and sunny weather, yet they damage our skin if worn during that time? Just use them at night, and you’ll be fine. 

Thanks so much for stopping by! 

Until next time… 

All my best, 

Alexx