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Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Sun Friend or Foe?

There is nothing like the warm lure of the sun to draw a person outside or out of a grumpy mood. However, as we enjoy 12 - 15 hour days of sunlight this time of year, we have to be careful of the amount of unprotected exposure we allow ourselves.

It may seem like a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation when it comes to sunscreens. As a society, we have been taught to avoid the sun out of the fear of skin cancer. But we are now being told that little is really known about the safety of what is in most commercial sunscreens. Yet to avoid the sun, we may become vitamin D deficient, which in itself can lead to a host of health issues.

To naturally absorb the required amount of daily vitamin D, we have to expose our skin to the sun's rays at least 15 minutes. For those of us who need a sunhat and the protection of sun screen, getting enough vitamin D seems impossible without supplements.
It has been found that vitamin D is so very important for bone health and a healthy heart that most people should be taking extra supplements in addition to getting enough outside time.

The best you can do is to use a common sense approach. Studies are showing that chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that are absorbed into your system and may possibly tamper with your endocrine system. Do your research about the ingredients in your sunscreen and don't let sunscreens give you a false sense of security and think if you wear sunscreen you can stay out all day. Remember, the SPF may keep you from burning, which is good,  but the UVA radiation still penetrates deep into the skin, which we know accelerates skin aging and an increased risk for skin cancer.  Take a look at another informative post about skin health and skin aging.

Though not waterproof and needs to be reapplied frequently homemade mineral sunblocks are much safer for you and your children.
Natural sunblock

The choice we have when choosing a sunscreen is between "chemical" sunscreens, which contain ingredients which may be absorbed and could disrupt the body's hormone systems, and "mineral" sunscreens, which contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.

Oxybenzone is the most common active ingredient in sunscreen and according to the EWG, there is concern about its use in children because it can penetrate the skin and attribute to allergic reactions and potential hormone disruption

Zinc oxide is safe; the micronized particles of this mineral form a physical blocker in sunblocks and deflects the suns rays like a mirror. Often paired with titanium dioxide, which reflects light, titanium dioxide is not included in this lotion because it has the potential to be irritating to the skin.

What you want in a sunblock is broad spectrum protection, which means protection against both UVA (sun's ultraviolet long-wave) and UVB (sun's ultraviolet short-wave) rays. UVA is what causes aging and wrinkles ( blocked by zinc oxide) and UVB (blocked by zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) is what causes burning. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply which is why our skin tans but also contributes to aging skin. UVB rays damage the skins epidermal layers resulting in sunburn and a risk in skin cancer.

It is better to have a lower SPF (sun protection factor) and have a UVA blocking ingredient than have a high SPF but only be blocking UVB. Zinc oxide blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
SPF refers only to the risk of burning (UVB) and should be at the minimum 15. The amount of zinc oxide used in this sun lotion is 12% which is sufficient but since it is not tested by the FDA I cannot make any claims as to the actual SPF.
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This sunblock lotion consists of skin loving nourishing oils which in themselves contain a low SPF factor.
Avocado Oil - SPF 6- 8
Avocado oil is a heavier oil full of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, and is great for repairing body tissue and maintenance of healthy skin.

Sesame Oil - SPF 4
Sesame oil is a stable oil and helps increase the shelf life of the lotion. Long used in skin care, it soothes, softens and helps reduce skin aging.

Shea Butter - SPF 4 - 6
Shea butter is another heavy butter that once it penetrates is very therapeutic for dry damaged skin. High in fatty acids needed to retain moisture and elasticity, a favorite for serious skin care.

Hazelnut oil - SPF 10
Hazelnut oil is a lighter oil which is slightly astringent, nourishing and quickly absorbed into the skin.

Wheatgerm oil - SPF 20
Wheatgerm oil is one of the best sources of natural vitamin E and when applied to the skin acts as an antioxidant to prevent free radical damage.

Coconut oil - SPF 4
Coconut oil is known for its ability to help skin retain moisture. This wonderful hydrator feels so cool on parched skin.

Aloe vera is used in many formulas for reparative skin preparations, soothing astringents and sun products. Its gel is extremely cooling and refreshing.

Carrot seed essential oil has significant antioxidant value, high levels of vitamin A and provides natural sun protection.

This sunblock comes in a 4 oz. plastic flip top bottle.

When not in use store in the refrigerator to extend the shelf life.
Since sunscreen bottles are often within a beach bag, car or pool gear, they are exposed to heat and sun, which may accelerate spoilage.
If you want a larger than 4 oz. size it would be best to purchase multiple bottles and use one at a time.

Shake the bottle to reblend the ingredients if necessary. Without synthetic emulsifers and stabilizers there is a chance the oil and water content will separate. Just give it shake before using.
Apply 30 minutes before sun exposure.
Reapply hourly and after getting wet.

Add the extra protection of a t-shirt or sun protective clothing.
Try to seek shade during the midday hours.
So get outside, just be safe!