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Everything You Need to Know About Sunscreen

Posted by Smarter Nutrition on

"There are so many conflicting reports on sunscreen, especially when it comes to how it affects our health."

There are many conflicting reports on sunscreen these days. On today’s show, Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD, holistic nutritionist, cuts through all the noise and gives you what you need to know about sunscreenwhich ingredients are helpful, which are harmful, and how to best use sunscreen to keep your face and body protected.

Dr. Nancy will show you how to recognize and avoid harmful chemicals and hidden toxins contained in so many of the sunscreens on the market today. Then she’ll show you which sunscreen ingredients you should look for that are both safe and effective.

Plus, you’ll even learn how to make your own sunscreen at home!

Video Highlights

  • 04:45: The active ingredient in sunscreens come in two forms: mineral filters or chemical filters
  • 05:08: Mineral filters are natural and do not cause adverse health issues
  • 05:44: Most sunscreens on the market contain chemical filters
  • 06:19: Ingredients to look for and avoid
  • 07:04: Health risks of each of these ingredients
  • 11:11: There are a number of mineral filter ingredients that are safe and effective
  • 11:27: Two most commonly used mineral filter ingredients
  • 12:55: Natural ingredients that provide a natural SPF
  • 14:50: Homemade, natural, safe sunscreen recipe
  • 22:20: Summing it up
  • 24:09: Don't forget Vitamin D3!

So what's really the deal with sunscreen?

One day we read it helps us, and the next day we're told it's harmful! How do we know? We're told the sun damages our skin and increases our risk for cancer. But wait! Aren't we also told we need to soak up the sun to get our vitamin D? There are so many conflicting reports on sunscreen, especially when it comes to how it affects our health!

Well, it's Springtime right now and Summer is just around the corner. So we need to talk about this! People have a lot of questions about sunscreen, especially when it comes to your face.

You've heard all these things before, right? Make sure you apply sunscreen before you step foot out the door! Don't forget your ears, your face, and above the knees! Oh and make sure you spray... not slather, a heavy coat on your kids before they go outside. They have been swimming? Quick get more sunscreen on them as soon as they come out of the water! 

For years, dermatologists have been stressing the importance of using sunscreen as a way to protect from damage done by the sun, including: skin cancer, sun spots, wrinkles, and other signs of premature aging. There is no question that the sun's rays can be extremely dangerous to our health!

But what we're now learning, is that the same sunscreen being used to protect us from harm could have ingredients that can be absorbed into our skin and into our bloodstreams, and can also contribute to a whole host of health issues, including hormone disruption and inflammation.

But don't panic!

The good news is, not all sunscreens contain harmful chemicals or cause health issues. The active ingredient in sunscreens come in two forms: mineral filters, or chemical filters.

Mineral filters are natural, and almost 100% free of substances that can create adverse health issues. We call them heroes! More about our sunscreen heroes shortly.

But whenever you have a hero, you also have a villain. The villain in our sunscreen story is... you guessed it: chemical filters. Unfortunately, most sunscreens on the market contain chemical filters, usually in various combinations. Specifically look for the following ingredients and avoid any sunscreen that has one or more of these on the label: 

  • Oxybenzone
  • Avobenzone
  • Octisalate
  • Octocrylene
  • Homosalate
  • Octinoxate

All of these chemicals are easily absorbed into the body, and they are all known to cause health issues. And yes, they are all potentially dangerous.

Oxybenzone is an estrogen/testosterone thyroid disruptor. It's also been linked to significant skin irritation.

Octinoxate is also a hormone disruptor which has been linked to issues with the reproductive system and thyroid. It has also been known to cause skin irritation.

Homosalate disrupts the production of estrogen and progesterone, potentially causing hormone and metabolic issues including weight gain, increased risk of heart disease, and even kidney issues.

Octisalate and Octocrylene are also linked to skin irritations and inflammation, including rashes, hives, itchy skin, swelling, and even blisters. 

Equally alarming is the fact that the Environmental Working Group tested over 1,400 sunscreens and found that only 5% of them met their safety standards, while over 40% were listed as potentially contributing the very skin cancer we are trying to protect ourselves from! This is because so many sunscreens include these cheap chemicals in their products.

So why are these harmful chemicals allowed to be used in these products? And where is the FDA in all of this? Just like we discussed regarding face creams and lotions, sunscreen is not considered a drug or medication, so companies are not required to go through rigorous research and data trials to prove they are safe. In fact, back in the 1970s, the FDA grandfathered in 19 common sunscreen chemicals that they labeled safe for more than 40 years. Despite an overwhelming amount of research and evidence since then, showing how these chemicals disrupt hormones, cause breathing problems, cause lung irritations, and contribute to skin allergies, the FDA still allows them to be called safe! 

The bottom line in all of this, is that chemical filter sunscreen ingredients are bad for your health.

Fortunately for us, mineral filter sunscreen ingredients are safe and effective. There are a number of great mineral filter ingredients that are natural and safe to apply to your skin and face, and they really work.

The two most commonly used mineral filter ingredients are Zync Oxide, and Titanium Dioxide. Both of these ingredients are considered to be safe, are not hormone disruptors, and do not cause skin irritations. Make sure that your sunscreens you buy from now on contain one of these ingredients!

If you are a DIY person, you also have the option of making your own sunscreen at home, using your own ingredients that have been proven to provide a natural SPF (sun protection factor). These natural ingredients include:

  • Almond oil (SPF 5)
  • Coconut oil (SPF 4 - 6)
  • Zinc Oxide (SPF 2 - 20)
  • Shea butter (SPF 4 - 6)

Or, if you're looking for even more powerful natural protection, there are also a couple more wonderful ingredients with amazingly high SPF levels: 

  • Red raspberry seed oil (SPF 25 - 50)
  • Carrot seed oil (SPF 35 - 40)

These aren't always the easiest ingredients to find, but they're very beneficial!

Before you make your sunscreen at home, remember that we all have different skin tones, and different complexions. Some of us burn more easily than others, and need more protection. So you can tweak the following recipe to meet your skin's needs. Experiment until you find the perfect mix that works for you.

Homemade, Natural Sunscreen Formula

This recipe contains only 6 ingredients! 

  • 1/2 cup almond oil (or sub olive oil if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup beeswax
  • 2 tbsp zinc oxide
  • 2 tbsp shea butter
  • 1 tsp red raspberry seed oil or carrot seed oil

You can also add essential oils for a pleasant aroma. Try lavender, sandalwood, vanilla, or nearly any scent you like. Note: we don't suggest using citrus oils like lemon, grapefruit, or orange, as these can actually cause you to burn in the sun.

Mix all these ingredients together in a glass jar, then put the jar in a pan with a little bit of water, and heat it on low to medium heat, stirring all the ingredients together until they are melted. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool. Voila! You have sunscreen. 

You won't believe how easy this is to make! It only takes a few minutes to make safe, wonderful smelling, protective sunscreen to keep your skin healthy in the sun. Store it in a glass container in a dark, cool place, and it can keep for up to a year. 

Let's Recap!

Sunscreen comes in two forms: chemical filter-based, and mineral filter-based. Several of the ingredients found in chemical filter sunscreen are toxic. They are easily absorbed into the skin, and they cause a number of health issues, including inflammation of the skin and the body, and hormone disruption, and have been linked to several metabolic issues. On the other hand, mineral filtering sunscreen ingredients are safe, effective, and pose no health risks, so look for these ingredients.

You can also be super safe by making your own all natural sunscreen at home, and providing the SPF protection you need for your skin. 

Keep in mind, though that sunscreen does block Vitamin D production you get from the sun! This is another great reason to make sure you're taking a healthy plant-based Vitamin D3 supplement with the needed vitamin K2 included. This is a must for your immune system and bone health. 


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