This summer is the first summer I vetoed conventional sunscreen in our family. After researching the subject a little I felt I just couldn't use those chemicals with a good conscience on my kids. In my view conventional sunscreen is especially insidious since we lather it on ourselves and our kids in the name of good health and protection from the sun, I can identify I too did it with the best intentions.
After a few months of testing this sunscreen on me and our kids, I feel confident in sharing it.
But first a few disclaimers and wise sun practices.
I have fair skin and light color eyes, but my kids have a darker Mediterranean completion and brown eyes, so they don't burn as easily as I do. That being said
We all wear long sleeves, or half sleeves, swim shirts and hats at the pool and beach.
We do our best not to spend whole days in the sun and if we do we spend the hours when the sun is strongest in the shade.
We apply our natural sunscreen every two hours and reapply after we get wet.
When we choose to use a natural remedy it is not as effective if used in isolation. Natural solutions are more effective as a component of a more holistic approach. So our holistic approach to sun protection is to be careful of the sun by wearing hats, long sleeves, staying in the shade and timing our outings, in addition to using our natural chemical-free sunscreen.
What does SPF, UVA, UVB and broad spectrum mean?
Ultraviolet rays are the rays of the sun that are out of our range of sight. It is not part of the light spectrum that humans can see.
SPF is not an absolute measure but a comparative one, and it only measures the filtration of ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays, it shows nothing about protection from ultraviolet-A (UVA) rays. Both of them are cancer-causing rays, and only UVB rays cause sunburns.
SPF 15 will protect the user from UVB rays for 15 times longer than no protection at all. So if my skin burns in 10 minutes at 12:00 in August, a sunscreen with a 15 SPF will protect me for 10*15=150 minutes. That being said, sunscreen with higher than 30 SPF doesn't have a substantial benefit over the 15-30 SPF. That is because SPF 15 filters about 93% of UVB rays, 30 SPF filters about 97% of UVB rays and 50 SPF filters about 98% UVB rays. That means that 50 SPF is giving us 1% more filtering, negligible.
To protect ourselves from both UVA and UVB rays it is important to use a ‘broad-spectrum’ sun protection products. One of the most effective broad-spectrum ingredients is zinc oxide.
What is protecting us in this formula?
Coconut oil has an SPF of 4-6an and blocks 20% of UV rays.
Sesame oil has a SPF of 10 and blocks 30% of UV rays.
Shea butter has an SPF of 4-6.
Zinc oxide is a broad-spectrum sunblock that filters both UVA and UVB sun rays.
Chemical Free Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
90 grams of coconut oil
27.5 grams shea butter
65 grams of sesame oil
28.5 grams beeswax
40 grams of zinc oxide
½ tsp vitamin E
Melt beeswax and shea butter on a double boiler. Once melted add coconut oil and sesame oil. Once all melted remove from heat and mix in zinc oxide and vitamin E. Quickly pour into jars before it hardens.
Where we live it gets REALLY hot in the summer doing like this recipe since it doesn't melt in our pool/ beach bag. If this balm is a little hard for you you can reduce some beeswax or add some sesame oil.
How do you stay safe in the sun? What do you think about natural sunscreens? Please share in the comments.