Home » Skin Care »

Selecting a Sunscreen – Go With Natural Or Organic Ingredients


As summer approaches with nicer weather and extended hours of sunlight most people will be spending more time out of doors. Whether at the beach, the lake or in your own backyard, as you head for more outdoor activities protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Sunscreen is the most popular form of skin protection. When selecting a sunscreen there are a few basic facts you need to know.


Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun are divided into 3 categories -UVA, UVB and UVC.

– UVC rays are deadly to humans and do not reach us, as they are absorbed by gases in the earth’s atmosphere. When speaking of harmful rays of the sun reference is actually being made to both UVA and UVB rays.

– The impact of UVA rays is not immediately visible but they deeply penetrate the skin breaking down collagen and elastin causing premature aging, wrinkles and potentially skin cancer.

– UVB rays cause the skin’s pigment to react by darkening as protection from additional damage. These rays cause freckles, age spots, tans, sunburns and skin cancer. UVB rays are strongest during the summer months when the sun is closer to the earth.

According to the US American Cancer Society “…more than 1 million of annually diagnosed non-melanoma cases of skin cancer are sun related”.

Sunscreen – How It Works and How to Select

Sunscreen’s active ingredients reflect, scatter or absorb UV light and prevent it from reaching your skin. Sunscreens are rated with an SPF (sun protection factor) which refers to protecting against UVB rays. The higher the SPF the better the protection, the lower the SPF the fewer the sun blocking agents. Currently there is no rating for UVA rays. Sunscreen with both UVA & UVB protection is known as a ‘broad spectrum sunscreen’ and includes additional ingredients for UVA protection -zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, mexoryl, oxybenzone and avobenzone.

Most dermatologists recommend at least SPF15 which absorbs about 93% of USB rays. A common choice for people spending more than 4 hours a day in the sun is an SPF30 with about a 97% absorption rate. SPF50 is the maximum protection absorbing about 98%. With the highest quantity of sun blocking ingredients SPF50 is the best options for fair-skinned people, children and for thin-skin body regions such as the nose and ears. The percentage of USB rays absorbed alters with several factors such as time of year, the time of day, where you live, proximity to water or sand and amount of perspiration.

Ah! Those Ingredients

Read the label on most sunscreen products and you will find they are formulated with fragrance chemicals, parabens, harsh alcohols, toxic chemical solvents and petroleum oils. Most sunscreen products are made with over a dozen potentially cancer causing fragrance chemicals that are absorbed through the skin. Once a common sunscreen ingredient, Para-aminobenzoic Acid (PABA) was found to cause allergic and photosensitivity reactions. More companies have excluded this from their sunscreens. Look for sunscreens that are fragrance and PABA free and avoid those containing an insect repellent. Chemical ingredient families to avoid include;

  • Methyl…
  • Propyl…
  • Butyl…
  • Ethyl…
  • Trieth…
  • Dieth…

With the chemical makeup of sunscreens possibly causing more harm than help, people are looking toward organic or natural products for skin protection. Actually the only ingredients the FDA allows to be sold as natural in sunscreens is zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. For the best protection use sunscreens that contain a minimum of 7% of each of these. Other ingredients that may be found in natural or organic sunscreen include aloe leaf juice, sunflower seed oil, olive fruit oil, castor seed oil and jojoba seed oil all of which condition the skin and resist between 20-30% of UV rays and oils such as lavender and chamomile which add natural fragrance. Paraben-free and other synthetic chemical-free sunscreens are not only better for our own health but are also better for the environment. Yearly, tons of chemical laden sunscreen is washed off in our lakes and oceans. These chemical ingredients form an oil film on the water and cause environmental damage to water life. Being Eco-friendly, sunscreens containing natural and organic ingredients are easily biodegradable.

Applying Sunscreen

Apply sunscreen whenever you are outside for an extended period of time. Use even on cloudy days and especially when on reflective surfaces such as sand, snow or ice. Apply liberally to all exposed body areas in a layer thick enough to provide the intended protection. Pay particular attention to the nose, ears and if barefoot or wearing sandals, the tops of the feet. Sunscreen is most effective if applied 20 -30 minutes before sun exposure so skin can absorb it. Reapply every 2 hours, after swimming or every 90 minutes if heavily perspiring. When re-applying sunscreen try to cool and dry your skin first.

Other Recommendations

It is suggested by skin care experts that children older than 6 months use sunscreen. Infants less than 6 months, whose skin might too easily absorb the chemicals used in sunscreen, should be physically shaded from the sun or would do well with a natural or organic sunscreen made for infants. Other recommended methods for shielding the skin from UV light include use of shade-umbrellas and clothing like wide-brimmed hats, full-length pants or loose-fitting long-sleeve shirts.

Contrary to expressed concerns for sun exposure, a properly acquired tan is actually healthy as it is an indication that your skin is synthesizing enough vitamin D. Limit your daily time in the sun and use a natural or organic sunscreen to build up a healthy tan. According to nutritionists consuming large quantities of super foods that contain lots of nutrients and antioxidants helps with protecting your skin from the ill effects of the sun.

Enjoy the lovely weather months ahead and remember to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Use of protective clothing, a nutritious diet and a natural or organic sunscreen will keep your skin healthy for an enjoyable summer.



You can be the first one to leave a comment.


Leave a Comment