Crash course on natural sunscreen

One of my goals for living healthier is to slowly replace my conventional beauty products with cleaner, greener, more natural products. When my jar of moisturizer ran out, I saw another opportunity to go green. I have been using the oil cleanse method for about 5 years now, so I decided why not go with the easiest and most natural option: pure oil. I use almond oil as a base for my cleansing oil, so I just started with that. After more than a month of dabbing on the oil in the morning, I could safely conclude that this was NOT working out for me. My face was definitely breaking out more than usual and I had more clogged pores in the form of white bumps, but kept forgetting that I needed moisturizer so I just made do with what I had.

One day as I was grocery shopping I remembered that I needed a moisturizer so I stopped in the skincare aisle in Whole Foods. I didn’t realize that I was walking in unprepared. They have a much bigger selection of facial moisturizers with SPF than I would’ve guessed. I love that they have testers of just about everything, so I went about swatching away on my arms. Unfortunately all of my options were really heavy and sticky. Plus, they all cost about $20-$30. With a basket full of groceries on my arm and a grumbling stomach, I wasn’t prepared for the pressure of choosing one on the spot AND paying more than I’ve ever paid. Besides; I didn’t even really “like” any of the ones that I swatched. It was more like, “These are the 5 that I hate the least…” I wasn’t about to spend $30 on something that I simply “hated least”.

Empty handed, I returned home and did some more reading. Clean beauty products is totally new to me and my knowledge is very limited and kinda arbitrary. What I found out was that the nature of natural sunscreens is going to make all of them heavier than conventional products. Conventional products use chemicals to get SPF – oxybenzone is the most common. Mixed into the lotion, the chemicals absorb or react with sun rays to prevent the sun from damaging your cells. Critics say that chemicals from sunscreens can be absorbed through the skin and leads to hormone disruption. According to No More Dirty Looks, it helps other ingredients jump into your body too. And if it’s not in your body, it’s being washed into the ocean.

coppertone spray

I think I also read somewhere that the spray-on sunscreen is even worse because the particles have to be made even smaller and are therefore even more easily absorbed by the body and inhaled. Oops! I was using the spray kind on my body for beach days & running.

guy with zinc on his nose

Anyone remember this guy from Salute Your Shorts??

Green products, however, use a “physical” sun barrier. Instead of chemicals, the lotion contains titanium dioxide or zinc, putting a layer of minerals over your skin that physically blocks out or reflect the sun. It can also leave a white cast on the skin. Does anyone remember movies and pictures from the 70’s and 80’s where people would have white stuff on their noses? That was zinc oxide. So that is why natural SPF products will inherently be “heavier” than conventional products. Since they are not absorbed by the skin, physical sunscreens are widely regarded as safer. There are some newer and more expensive products that take physical sun block components and break them down into nano-particles, but that kind of defeats the purpose of a non-chemical sunblock. Here is an great source that summarizes physical vs chemical sun screens.

After I have studied up on sun block, I resolved that a) I would have put in some work to find the most tolerable lotion in terms of texture. and b) I would have to shell out some more dough for it. I guess I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact quality and purity is going to cost more (just like with food). I’m almost 30 so I guess I’m supposed to spend more than $8 on moisturizer anyway. As luck would have it, I came across a great moisturizer at a beach bar of all places. Review coming up next.


4 thoughts on “Crash course on natural sunscreen

  1. I remember that guy from Salute Your Shorts. Last year at Comikaze some of the cast members did a panel – but the line was so long to get in to the event space, causing me to miss it. sadface.

  2. Pingback: Natural sunscreens: Alba Botanicals and Naked Bee Company | everyday asian

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