It’s summer – finally! And that means SUNSHINE. You’re likely well aware of the importance of UV protection; it’s been drilled into us by everyone from our dads to our dermatologists. But with the health risks posed by the chemicals in some sunscreens and the health benefits of limited sun exposure, what’s the best way to practice sun safety?
RISKS & BENEFITS OF UV EXPOSURE
Long-term UV exposure can lead to sunburn, skin aging and even skin cancer. But we shouldn’t completely avoid the sun, either. Like plants, people need some sunlight to thrive. Limited sun exposure has a number of health benefits including providing us with Vitamin D, which plays a vital role in many physiological processes, and has been linked to reducing the risk of certain types of cancer. Sunlight also boosts our immune system, improves the quality of our sleep, and naturally increases serotonin levels to help reduce stress. But you don’t need to tan or burn to receive these benefits.
HOW TO SUN YOURSELF RESPONSIBLY
To get the Vitamin D your body needs, all it takes is 10-15 minutes of sun during the morning when the UV rays are weakest. Avoid direct sunlight during peak hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. whenever possible to minimize risk. If you can’t stay out of the sun during those hours, consider protecting exposed skin with proper clothing or sunscreen.
IS SUNSCREEN SAFE?
Yes and no - it depends on the active ingredient used. According to the FDA, there is insufficient data regarding the safety and efficacy of certain chemicals commonly used in sunscreen, like oxybenzone. A chemical UV filter, oxybenzone is a known endocrine disruptor with numerous health risks and yet is still being used in many popular sunscreen brands. Recently an update to regulatory requirements for sunscreen was proposed, aimed at helping consumers better understand the safety and effectiveness of the active ingredients, dosage forms, and sun protection factor (SPF) in the products they’re buying.
The only 2 active ingredients that are generally recognized as safe and effective for UV protection by the FDA are titanium dioxide and non-nano zinc oxide. These natural minerals remain on top of the skin, rather than being absorbed into the body.
Other natural ingredients, like carrot oil and raspberry seed oil, also have an intrinsic SPF so a DIY sunscreen like this one is a great nontoxic option. If you’re looking for a certified and tested SPF number, check out the EWG’s Guide to Sunscreen to find one that’s right for you.
- 1/4 c. coconut oil
- 1/4 c. shea butter
- 1/8 c. sesame or jojoba oil
- 2 tbsp. beeswax granules
- 1-2 tbsp. non-nano zinc oxide powder
- 1 tsp. red raspberry seed oil 20-30 drops
- Carrot seed oil
- Essential oil of your choice for scent
- Using a double boiler, melt the coconut oil, sesame or jojoba oil, beeswax, and shea butter together.
- Once the beeswax has melted, remove the mixture from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Whisk in the zinc oxide, being careful to avoid creating dust. Some lumps are ok!
- Let sit in the fridge for 15-30 minutes. It should be set, but still soft enough to whip.
- Whip the mixture using a stand mixer or hand mixer and drizzle in the raspberry seed oil, carrot seed oil, and any other essential oils. Continue whipping until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Store in the fridge in a glass container, and apply as you would any other sunscreen. Re-apply as needed based on your activity level and exposure to water.
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