I love, love, love the sun. Now that spring has arrived in my neck of the woods, I try to spend as much time as I can outdoors. I either have my hands up to my elbows in dirt planting flowers or I am out hiking and biking in the warm weather. I even set a desk outside to work when I am writing.
Although I love the sun, I am not a big fan of sunscreen. In fact, I try to avoid it as much as possible. However, I am well aware of the dangers of too much sun exposure. I also know that many conventional sunscreens contain questionable ingredients. And, since your skin is your body’s largest organ with a surface area of 20 feet, it make sense to pay attention to what you put on it.
Before I even knew the dangers of conventional sunscreen, I didn’t like the way it felt on my skin. It clogs my pores and seems to keep me from sweating, leading to overheating.
So, what is the big danger with most sunscreens?
Besides not liking how it feels on my skin, there are some other very good reasons to avoid conventional sunscreen. In a study published by SkinBiology.com, it was noted that many popular sunscreens contain numerous chemicals that may actually contribute to the development of melanoma and basal cell cancer, in addition to causing other significant health issues.
Common chemicals found in most popular sunscreens include PABA and PABA esters (ethyl dihydroxy propyl PAB, glyceryl PABA, p-aminobenzoic acid, padimate-O or octyl dimethyl PABA), benzophenones (dioxybenzone, oxybenzone), cinnamates (cinoxate, ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate, octocrylene, octyl methoxycinnamate), salicyltes (ethylhexyl salicylate, homosalate, octyl salicylate), digalloyl trioleate, menthyl anthranilate and avobenzone (butyl-methyoxydibenzoylmethane, parsol 1789). The criticism is that these chemicals powerfully promote free radicals in the body. They are synthetic chemicals which accumulate in fat cells and have estrogenic characteristics that affect health in significant ways.
Free radicals have been found to be a strong contributing factor to the development of many forms of cancer, including skin cancer. For example, the chemical benzophenone interacts with ultraviolet sunrays to produce two of the strongest free radical reactions in the body. Combined with other molecules in the body, they bind with fats, proteins and DNA, which results in damage to skin cells and the development of cancer.
Estrogenic chemicals contribute to difficulties with normal sexual development and other health conditions. Estrogenic chemicals contribute to numerous health problems in women, including migraines, endometriosis, erratic periods, fibrocystic breast disease, uterine cysts, severe PMS symptoms, and increased rates of uterine and breast cancer. In men, these chemicals contribute to decreased sperm counts, decreased penis size, increased rates of testicular cancer, undescended testes, reduced fetal imprinting of male behavior patterns and sexual identity changes, perhaps due to feminization of secondary sexual characteristics.
I use coconut oil
I was amazed to find out that skin cancer is virtually unheard of in the Philippines, where people are exposed to the sun’s hot rays all year long. Interestingly enough, coconut oil is the main dietary oil and the key ingredient in all of their skin care products.
While coconut oil may not have the high SPF of some sunscreen, it does provide some protection and has an SPF of about 10. Its healing antioxidant powers protect the skin from free radical damage. In addition, using coconut oil on the skin helps our bodies absorb other nutrients more effectively, such as vitamin E, which is another skin protecting antioxidant.
Now, don’t think that you can be crazy and lay in the sun all day, even with coconut oil on your skin. You still have to be smart about the sun. Stay clear of the sun during the hottest time of the day between noon and 3 p.m., if possible. Vitamin D production is important, but it only takes a little while per day in the sun to get what you need.
Instead of using sunscreen, there are other methods to protect yourself from the damaging rays of the sun. For example, there are many clothing products that are specifically designed to protect from the sun, including hats, shirts, pants and cover-ups. Wearing these items of clothing when you go outside will provide you with more protection from the sun than going outside without any protective clothing at all
Another option is to use organic sunscreen, which are made from natural mineral and plant-based ingredients. Organic sunscreen products do not contain harmful chemical preservatives and often also includes ingredients that are soothing to the skin, such as lavender, aloe vera, jojoba oil, shea butter, coconut oil and green tea extract. Additionally, organic sun protection lotions and creams are safe for use on infants as well as children and adults.
Eating a diet that is rich in antioxidants can also help with skin care and help fight against the damage resulting from sun exposure. Diets high in antioxidants not only contribute to healthy skin, but can also boost metabolism and your immune system. Eat brightly colored foods and dark green leafy vegetables, such as blueberries, raspberries, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, carrots and sweet potatoes. Other healthy antioxidant foods include tomatoes, spinach, grapes and garlic.
If you want to maintain healthy skin and lessen your chances of unwanted skin diseases and ailments, use natural organic skin protection products, wear protective clothing and eat a diet rich in healthy antioxidant foods. Above all else, limit the amount time you spend in the sun unprotected.