SUN PROTECTION FACTOR: What is that?
As a person of color, I grew up with the misconception that black people did not need to wear sunscreen, and that the color of our skin was all we needed to get protection from the sun. Needless to say my ignorance was bliss at its finest. Truth is we all need to protect our skin from the sun regardless of race or skin color.
So what exactly is all this sunscreen and SPF talk, you are probably asking? “Sunscreens are products combining several ingredients that help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin, read more. “ SPF on the other hand is the sun protection factor, which is a measure of the sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB damage to the skin.
Of all the rays present in sunlight, UV rays are the most detrimental to the skin. There are two kinds of UV rays that are of direct concern to us, UVA and UVB rays. They are responsible for sunburns, prematurely aging the skin and putting you at risk of skin cancer. UVB rays can also be referred to as the sunburn rays, and will vary in intensity depending on the time of day and year. UVA rays on the other hand remain relatively stable throughout the year and penetrate deeper into the layers of the skin contributing to damage ranging from sunburns, skin cancers and even photo aging. Another thing to note is that UVA can penetrate through glass. So if you stay pretty close to windows for a long period of time for example, you risk being exposed even though you are indoors. Read more here about the different UV rays.
Benefits of Sunscreen: Why I choose the natural route
There are many reasons why I am pro natural and prefer green alternatives to many things. Sunscreen is not an exemption to that belief. Although we speak about the dangers of sun damage to our skin and health in general, commercial brands of sunscreen also come with their own risks and dangers. I say this because a lot of them contain toxic ingredients that can also be referred to as endocrine disruptors which by the way are man made. Our endocrine (hormone) system being tampered with by these chemicals can actually promote skin cancer growth. A blog I follow wellness mama actually posts this article by the huffington post on a study that shows sunscreens could actually accelerate skin cancer. Another great resource to check and see if your favorite brand of sunscreen actually meets safety standards will be the EWG (Environmental Working Group) page on sunscreens read here. That page also a lot of good information as well.
Other ways to help prevent sun damage
Before I start, let me give this disclaimer. This is in no way a replacement for medical advise or attention. Please remember that avoiding the sun completely is not going to do you any good, as getting your vitamin D directly from the sun is still the best option. The point is getting exposed in the right amount of time and at the right time of day. Also note that just as with anything that pertains to green or natural living, what you put inside your body plays a big part. So an antioxidant rich diet helps as well as taking Astaxanthin supplements could help, especially in the warmer months. Read more about it here, as well the mind body green blog's article on anti inflammatory foods that can help promote preventing sun damage.
Wear protective clothing. Cover up as much as possible.
Wear a wide brimmed hat to give your face protection from burning. Note that rays can pass thru straw hats.
Protect your eyes with sunglasses that block out UVA/UVB rays.
Stay in the shade as much as possible.
Avoid going out when the sun is at its highest peak, usually between 10a.m and 4p.m.
My Sunscreen Recipe: If DIY is your thing
Here’s my quick disclaimer: This is my recipe and I don’t have any lab testing by any regulatory organizations for SPF. Due to this reason, I am not making any claims to the SPF amount or putting a figure to how much SPF is in this formula. I can only speak to the fact that it is free of toxic chemicals that are obviously not good for you. This recipe is not waterproof, so if you go swimming or do any activities to that nature, you will need to re-apply it afterwards. Also a lot of the ingredients although considered low, have some level of SPF in them.
Things to note:
This sunscreen is not waterproof. Re-apply after swimming or sweating
I use this non-nano zinc oxide that will not penetrate thru your skin. And use a face mask when handling the zinc oxide to avoid inhaling it.
Avoid using citrus essential oils, as they are photo sensitive.
If you already have a favorite lotion, you can add zinc oxide to that. Rule of thumb will be anywhere between 5-20% of total weight. 20% obviously for higher protection.
1.6 ounces Shea Butter
1.2 ounces Mango Butter
1.25 tbsp Unrefined Cold Pressed Coconut Oil
1.0 tsp or 5ml Pomegranate Seed Oil
1.0 tsp or 5ml Raspberry Seed Oil
1.25 tbsp Non Nano Zinc Oxide
3 tbsp Beeswax
0.5 tsp or 2.5ml Vitamin E Oil
Double Boiler (pot and a glass pyrex bowl or jar to sit on the pot)
Container for finished product.
Measure Shea Butter and Mango Butter separately on the scale.
Measure oils and remaining ingredients using measuring cups or measuring spoons.
Bring water to a boil, halfway filled in pot
Add Shea butter, mango butter and beeswax to pyrex bowl. Sit on top of pot and melt on low heat for 10-15minutes or until all oils and beeswax have melted.
Then add in coconut oil, pomegranate oil, vitamin E oil and raspberry seed oil.
Stir all those in until blended. Then add in Zinc oxide. I am using mine at 20% of total weight of ingredients.
Pour into jars and let it cool.
Apply as needed, and blend into your skin.
DISCLAIMER: All information in this post is strictly for informational purposes ONLY and should NOT be taken as medical advise. The statements made in this post have not been evaluated by the FDA ( U.S. Food and Drug Administration). The products listed or linked in this post and information therein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The information provided by this post and or this company (Mrs 82 Company), or Alaché a.k.a Ann Mark are not a substitute for consultation with your physician and should not in any way be construed as a substitute for medical advice. The entire contents are based on the opinions of Alaché a.k.a Ann Mark unless otherwise noted. By reading this blog, you agree to use it for personal use and not as a substitute for professional advice.