Years ago, my mom would tell me, “I don’t believe the sun gives us cancer, I believe sunscreen does”. Oh Mom, you and your crazy theories. A few years later, I stopped using sunscreen in the hopes of landing just a tiny glow on this totally Irish skin. Fast forward a few more years, and I’m so glad that vanity steered me away from cancer-causing sunscreen. Yup, you read that right. Cancer-causing sunscreen. But the whole point of sunscreen is to protect us from cancer! Right?
Well, let’s see. Sunscreen first became popular in the 1950’s, so let’s take a look at the chart below to see how well it kept us from skin cancer over the years:
Uh oh, looks like Coppertone has some explaining to do, and I owe my mom an apology.
So what’s in the sunscreen that makes it such a health hazard? Well, the main culprit is the parabens. Parabens are like doormen. You know how in movies there are fancy dressed doormen in New York City who open doors for you and carry your things to your room? Well, that’s what parabens do. They take everything thats in a product and carry it straight to your bloodstream, so it can easily travel to all of your vital organs. Isn’t that so nice? No need to inject your heart, liver, and brain with artificial colors, fragrances, and harmful chemicals such as retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, and homosalate which are all linked to reproductive, developmental, and organ toxicity, cancer, and cellular disruption; parabens do it all for you! Yay! Let’s slather it on our kids everyday for 3-5 months out of the year! Just a quick look at EWG.org will put your priorities in check real fast.
I know what you’re thinking, “Ok, but doesn’t the Sun do some damage on it’s own? Sunscreen can’t be completely to blame for all this.”
Yes, too much sun, like too much of anything, is a hazard to your health. Overexposure to the sun (sunburn) leads to skin damage such as premature aging, and yes, eventually skin cancer. So what we need to do is find a gorgeous middle ground and practice safe-sun exposure.
How can you protect your family from overexposure to the sun as well as harmful chems? With a homemade sunscreen, of course! Before I give you the recipe (come on, already!) I want to look at the ingredients; first, coconut oil. If you have taken a gander at many of my recipes, you’ll notice a coconut trend. Coconut oil is extremely nourishing for your body, full of antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial agents, and as an added bonus, it has an SPF of about 4. (Win!) Zinc Oxide is where the major SPF comes in; it’s made when you grind up zinc and expose it to air or water. Zinc Oxide does not penetrate the skin like most other sunscreens do, it stays on the surface of your skin acting as a type of long sleeve shirt. There is no toxicity known in it unless the powder is burned and inhaled (don’t smoke it).
HOMEMADE SUNSCREEN SPF 20
- 1 1/2 Cups Coconut oil
- 1/2 cup Zinc Oxide powder (use 1 cup for an SPF of 40)
- 1/2 cup water
Combine ingredients in a blender, and store in an airtight container. Freeze when not in use during colder months.
This produces a very white, thick sunscreen that will leave your skin a shade or two whiter when applied. This is because the zinc oxide stays on the surface and isn’t absorbed by the skin – a good thing! Just rub the sunscreen on evenly, and no one will be the wiser. If you’re looking for an even simpler approach, here are some awesome oils with higher SPFs:
Avocado oil – SPF 4 -1 5
Raspberry seed oil – SPF 28 – 50
Carrot seed oil – SPF 38 – 40
Wheat germ oil – SPF 20
I want to leave you with a few more tips on practicing safe-sun:
Listen to your body – When you first step into the sun, it feels amazing! The sun warms you to the core as your skin drinks in the vitamin D and naturally starts to detox. After a while, the good feeling will start to fade and you will begin to feel overheated and fatigued; this is your sign to head for the shade. Your body is smart, and it knows when it’s had enough.
Hydrate – As your body detoxifies and sweats out impurities, it’s important to stay hydrated, and not with just water. Make sure you replenish your electrolytes as well. A great way to do it is to make some iced tea with raw honey, a pinch of sea salt, and some trace minerals.
Protect your eyes – Eyes are especially sensitive to the sun, so when you’re gallivanting on the beach in your itsy-bitsy, grab a hat or some shades. You’ll look mysterious while protecting your precious peepers.
Rest – The sun can be draining, so don’t dive straight into a game of chicken after a competitive match of volleyball. Give your body time to recuperate from it’s work out, and remember to…
Eat – As the sun gets hotter, our appetites get smaller. That may work out for us as we strip off our layers, but we cannot neglect to give our bodies the seasonal health foods it so badly craves. Next time you head to the beach, pack some watermelon, berries, nuts, and salads to keep your strength up all summer long.
Here’s to practising safe-sun and the prevention of unwanted cancer!