Living in the beautiful country of Australia has its benefits, but it also has its dangers (and we’re not talking about redback spiders). We’re actually talking about the sun. According to the Cancer Council, Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates across the globe. Furthermore, over 750,000 people are treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers in Australia each year. Most skin cancers in Australia are caused by exposure to UV radiation in sunlight, with 95% of melanomas – the deadliest form of skin cancer – being caused by sunburn.
There’s no doubt that us Aussies love the sun, so we’re not saying stay away from the sun at all costs, because sunlight actually has plenty of benefits too. When natural sunlight hits the skin it triggers the body’s production of vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D is crucial for your overall health as it protects against inflammation, lowers blood pressure, helps muscles and improves your overall brain function. However, you don’t need to be lazing about in the sun all day to get your daily dose of the sunshine vitamin. Most people achieve the right levels of vitamin D through regular and incidental exposure to the sun. When the UV Index is 3 or more (like it is in summer), most people can reach their daily dose of vitamin D by spending a few minutes outdoors each day of the week.
While limiting your exposure to the sun can greatly reduce your chances of developing skin cancer, what do you do when prolonged sun exposure is unavoidable? You slip, slop and slap. It’s a mantra that’s been ingrained in us from a young age. A hat, protective clothing and sunscreen are vital when you head outdoors, especially during the summer months. But did you know it’s also important to consider the type of sunscreen you’re putting on your skin? The skin is the body’s largest organ. It is also incredibly porous, meaning it soaks and absorbs whatever you put on it, such as sunscreen. These days, people are becoming increasingly aware of what they put on their skin, and natural products are becoming more and more popular. Choosing natural skin products is always important, but it’s especially important when it comes to sunscreen. Let’s take a look at why you should choose natural sunscreen.
Natural Sunscreen – Why is it Good for You?
We know sunscreen is important because it helps prevent skin cancer. However, most sunscreens on the market are laden with harmful and toxic chemicals that aren’t just bad for humans, but for the environment too. That’s why when it comes to buying sunscreen, it’s important to choose only organic and natural sunscreen. Here are a few of the great benefits of natural sunscreens:
- Natural sunscreens contain titanium and zinc, which act as a barrier to UV rays. On the other hand, chemical sunscreens absorb these rays and then neutralise them once in the skin.
- Natural sunscreens do not need to be reapplied because they sit on top of the skin and do not get absorbed. Chemical sunscreens not only absorb into your skin, but they likewise contain chemical ingredients that need to be constantly reapplied as the ingredients become inactive after a while.
- Natural sunscreens contain less allergens than chemical sunscreens, which contain harmful, skin-irritating toxins.
Why Choose Natural Sunscreen Over Chemical Sunscreen
The reality is many chemical sunscreens contain harmful ingredients, which put your body at risk and makes them more susceptible to damage. The UV neutralising agents in chemical sunscreen can become carcinogenic, meaning they can actually increase your risk of developing cancer. Not to mention they can alter the hormone levels in both men and women by disturbing your endocrine system.
Natural sunscreens, on the other hand, contain natural minerals, which preserve and protect the skin. Natural sunscreens contain titanium, which acts as a UV ray blocking shield and does not absorb into your skin. Natural sunscreens also contain zinc, which is anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory and is safe for all skin types.
Natural Sunscreen Ingredients
When shopping for natural sunscreens, there are a few ingredients you want to look out for. Different brands contain varying ingredients, as well as different benefits. Here are just a few:
- Sesame oil (high UV ray resistance)
- Vitamin E (prevents sun damage and fights off free radicals)
- Aloe Vera (soothes the skin and promotes cell growth)
- Tea tree oil (antiseptic and nourishes damaged skin)
- Green tea and grape seed oil (high in antioxidants and help protect the skin)
- Tocopheryl acetate (a natural substitute to harmful parabens)
Now you know what to look out for when choosing natural sunscreens, here are some of the toxic and harmful ingredients you should try and avoid when shopping for sunscreen:
- Octyl-dimethyl-para-amin-benzoic Acid
And Remember … Always Check the Ingredients List
Unfortunately, there are plenty of sunscreens out there that are labelled natural but don’t always contain natural ingredients. It’s important when shopping for natural sunscreens that you buy from a trusted source and always check the ingredients list to see what you’re rubbing onto your skin!
...and remember, qualified nutritionists at Healthy Being are available to offer further general advice to help guide you in selecting the right products. So please, feel free to contact us at any time!
Dr Peter Succar heads up the Product Research Team at Healthy Being and is an enthusiastic Health & Fitness Lifestyle Coach. He's passionate about helping others obtain optimum health, advocating realistic and achievable changes in diets and lifestyles that promote the body’s natural immunity, its ability to self-heal and achieve overall mental and physical well-being.