With modern concerns about the ozone layer, suncare is an important consideration for many people. Find out why natural suncare is becoming more popular.
There are two main types of sunscreen – chemical and natural. Chemical sunscreens use chemicals to absorb UV rays and turn from heat into energy. The chemicals used include benzophenones, oxybenzone, cinnamates, and salicylates. There are safety concerns with chemical sunscreens as the chemicals that neutralise the UV rays can actually be carcinogenic themselves. Many chemicals in sunscreens are known as endocrine disruptors, that is, they disrupt the body’s hormone system. These chemicals can disturb the levels of estrogen in the body. Chemical sunscreens have actually been linked to higher levels of skin cancer as the process of converting the UV rays from light to heat energy actually causes free radicals to form, which are very damaging to cells. This damage actually contributes to aging of the skin and the development of cancer.
Natural sunscreens use physical barriers to block the UV rays. They actually form a reflective layer, whereby the UV rays are bounced back into the atmosphere. The most common barriers used are zinc oxide and titanium oxide. Zinc oxide protects against UVA and UVB rays while titanium oxide only protects against UVB rays. Natural sunscreens are generally less irritating and less allergenic than chemical sunscreens.
Natural suncare has many benefits over chemical suncare. Chemical based sunscreens need to be reapplied every few hours as the ingredients become inactive. Natural sunscreens stay on the skin for a lot longer and do not lose their potency. However, you may need to reapply if it is getting washed or sweated off. Zinc oxide and titanium oxide both have skin benefits. They soothe, nourish, and protect the skin. For example, zinc is anti viral, anti bacterial, and anti inflammatory as well as having healing benefits. There is also less likelihood that natural sunscreens will be absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. Up to 35 percent of the chemicals in standard chemical sunscreens can enter the bloodstream.
It seems that standard sunscreens are having an impact on the marine environment. The chemicals that are in standard sunscreens can damage coral reefs. Up to ten percent of the world’s coral reefs are subject to bleaching due to the sunscreen chemicals. This in turn has an impact on the fish and marine life that rely upon the coral to live and thrive. Not to mention, the chemicals in the sunscreen that enter the water can also directly affect fish and the like. The solution to this may be to use sunscreens that rely on more natural ingredients and physical blockers rather than chemical blockers in order to preserve the marine environment.