Ultimate Guide to Natural, Chemical Free Sun Protection
What does natural sun protection look like?
Natural sunscreens provide a physical barrier instead of a chemical barrier to help protect the skin from harmful UV rays. Instead of using chemicals to absorb these UV rays, natural sunscreens use minerals, like zinc oxide and specific oils to provide a physical shield. Chemical free sun protection doesn’t just include skin care products however, it also requires the use of foods that you can include in your daily life to build your natural free radical defence from the inside.
UVA and UVB
- UVA rays deeply penetrate the skin, reaching far beyond the dermis—the skin’s thickest layer. This type of UV radiation can cause aging and wrinkles.
- UVB rays are shorter and burn the surface of your skin, only reaching the most superficial layers. These initially lead to sunburns and, over time, cause skin cancer.
It’s essential that you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides protection against both UVA radiation and UVB radiation to protect your skin from both photoaging and sun damage. As the amazing infographic below indicates, zinc oxide and titanium oxide are the only all-natural ingredients that have all these qualities.
Chemical vs Physical Sunscreen
While many sunscreen products block both UVA and UVB rays, they come in two types: chemical sunscreen and physical sunscreen (or mineral sunscreen). Zinc oxide sunscreens and titanium dioxide sunscreens fall into the latter category. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between these two kinds of sunscreen:
- Chemical sunscreen is pretty much as bad as it sounds. Various chemicals are combined to penetrate the skin to block UVA and UVB rays. These ingredients degrade or deactivate sunlight, creating a chemical reaction on your skin that transforms UV rays into heat, which then radiates from the skin. (The idea of chemicals penetrating my skin…...mmmm!)
- Physical sunscreen, on the other hand, is made of natural materials that sit on the surface of the skin. They absorb and deflect sunlight so that UV radiation doesn’t penetrate the epidermis. As dermatologist Dr. Doris Gray explains, “these ingredients act similarly to aluminium foil or a mirror, keeping sunlight from penetrating deeply”. Sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are included in this much better solution to sun protection.
Lots of dermatologists recommend physical sunscreens over chemical. Dr. Lawrence Desjarlais lists the various benefits of natural mineral sunscreen, such as sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
- Physical sunscreen “protects from the sun as soon as it’s applied;” chemical sunscreen takes approximately 20 minutes to begin to work.
- Physical sunscreen “lasts longer when in direct UV light;” chemical sunscreen stops working much more rapidly and must be applied more frequently.
- Physical sunscreen is gentle on the skin and less likely to clog pores, "making it better for sensitive skin;" chemical sunscreen is much harsher.
Bottom line? No matter your age, what your skin type is, or any particular skin condition you might be dealing with, physical sunscreen is almost always a better choice—and dermatologists would say the same.
BB Naturals Tinted Day Cream
So what natural sunscreen product should I use? I would strongly recommend my BB Naturals Tinted Day Cream which encompasses all the amazing benefits of natural sunscreen (which is the physical protection type) containing zinc oxide and essential oils to balance the dryness of this powerful mineral.
Oils and Butters in the BB Naturals Tinted Day Cream
Organic Shea Butter
Often referred to as "Women’s Gold” or “Tree of Life” which creates a barrier on the skin that protects it from harsh environmental elements and treats free radical damage. This butter is your skin’s super-food!
Organic Hemp Seed Oil
This oil is fantastic because it is highly nourishing with vitamins (antioxidant), minerals and essential fatty acids.
Organic Olive Oil
Organic olive oil is rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K. Also, it’s an antioxidant that protects the skin from damage caused by sun and free radicals, helping fight against ageing and pigmentation.
Carrot Seed Oil
Carrot seed oil is a winner when it comes to anti-aging effects. Combining skin-mending vitamin A, collagen-boosting vitamin C and moisturizing vitamin E, this essential oil helps to smooth wrinkle lines and repair sun damage, scars and any other skin trauma.
Frankincense oil is anti inflammatory and astringent qualities help it to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and skin imperfections such as discoloration/pigmentation and is known to soothe inflamed skin by reducing the sensations of redness, swelling, and itching.
A very important source of vitamin E, powerful antioxidant and free-radical scavenger.
Aloe vera is just incredible! It is soothing, hydrating and healing.
Zinc And Natural Mineral Oxides (Tint)
Zinc is the star of the show, it physically blocks and scatters the UV rays before penetrating the skin, giving this tinted cream amazing protection!
You can buy this wonderful all-round day cream at the BB Naturals online store.
Foods and Vitamins That Can Increase Your Skin’s Natural SPF
Sun protection is not just about skin care though and it is important to protect yourself from the inside out as well. This is done by eating lots of vitamins and minerals from animal products as well as your fruits and vegetables. Below I have listed the most important vitamins and their uses for sun protection.
Vitamin A helps to rejuvenate the skin, gives you good colour, and can protect against sunburn. Vitamin A is found in these animal products: eggs, cheese, butter, tuna fish and in vegetables like carrots, spinach, and broccoli.
Vitamin C not only supports the immune system, it is also important for boosting your skin’s own sun protection. This valuable vitamin, shown to have antioxidant effects, can be found in lemons, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, sea buckthorn, as well as peppers, potatoes, and fennel.
Vitamin E strengthens the immune system and is an antioxidant. It acts as a shield against the free radicals that are formed in the skin through UV light, which accelerate the ageing process and may lead to disease. Furthermore, when taken regularly, vitamin E can help fight the skin damage caused by frequent sunbathing. This vitamin is present in oils like sunflower and avocado, nuts like walnuts and almonds, and whole grain products.
Watermelon, Papayas and Tomatoes
The awesome foods contain lycopene which is a potential protector against the risk of certain types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, and they also contain important antioxidants, protecting your skin from the inside out.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids like omega 3 and 6 block the release of UV-induced enzymes in the skin.
So, if you regularly add these vitamins and foods to your diet (preferably before summer starts), your body is better able to trap the free radicals formed by the sun. This is a good way to fight sun damage to your skin. Plus, antioxidants can support or even accelerate your skin’s regeneration process.
Some Information (chemical vs physical sunscreen) and info-graphic on UVA/UVB sourced from ColoreScience