I live in the south of Israel, very close to the desert and therefore applying sunscreen is almost a daily ritual. Since having researched into the rather toxic ingredients of most popular sunscreens, I am reluctant to continue using them and would love to know how I can make my own protection using natural ingredients. Do you have any suggestions?
Hi Shiri. Indeed, there are many sunscreens out there today that contain toxic ingredients. The chemicals in several commercial sunscreens soak through skin and can be detected in our blood, urine and even mothers’ breast milk. One of the most problematic ingredients are the endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which in many cases actually promote free radical production in the body. This is something we definitely want to avoid. Look out for the ingredient Oxybenzone, which is in the majority of sunscreens. It is a well -known hormone disruptor that is not recommended for use, especially on children.
An excellent resource where you can check a particular sunscreen brand or specific ingredients and understand if they are harmful is via the Working Environment Group’s (EWG) website. They launched ‘Skin Deep’ in 2004 to create online profiles for cosmetics and personal care products and their potential hazards and health concerns. Try to stay out of the sun in the peak hours, covering up with long-sleeve summer shirts and sun hats.
Another effective way to stay protected from the sun and avoid the nasty chemicals is to make your own sunscreen using natural ingredients. Not only will it protect your skin from getting burnt, but at the same time will nourish and hydrate your skin with essential vitamins and nutrients. After years of several tried-and-tested varieties, my most popular natural sunscreen combination includes two tablespoons of pomegranate oil. The reason I use pomegranate oil is because it naturally has a high SPF of around 20, making it one of the higher ranked oils for sun protection. As well as this, it is fantastic for acne-prone skin because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It also has punicic acid, which has high antioxidant and skin-protecting properties. I add this to half a cup of coconut oil, which I use as my carrier oil, which, too, has a natural SPF of 4 to 5 and contains antioxidants that help protect the skin from harmful radiation from the sun.
Obviously, such a low amount of SPF isn’t enough for a long day in the sun, so I add both carrot seed oil and /or red raspberry seed oil. Carrot seed oil also doubles as an antiseptic and contains a high SPF factor when diluted with a carrier oil. According to a study published in Pharmacognosy Magazine, products containing carrot seed oil have a natural SPF of between 38 and 40. Depending on its quality, the raspberry seed oil, too, has an SPF range of 28 to 50. The essential fatty acids and antioxidants in this oil are also great for healing a range of problematic skin eruptions, including eczema and psoriasis. Red Raspberry Seed Oil protects against UVA & UVB rays. Finally, to this delightfully aromatic concoction, I add two tablespoons of shea butter and place all the ingredients into a glass jar and mix. Shea butter contains cinnamic acid esters, which also have high absorbency of UV radiation, making it work in synergy with the other SPF containing ingredients in this mix creating an effective sunblock.
I place the jar in a saucepan approximately half filled with water and bring to boil until the ingredients have all melted. I then add the final ingredient, two tablespoons of zinc oxide powder (check that it’s non nano and uncoated). The more zinc oxide powder you use, the higher the SPF and therefore the more protection! Using 20% zinc oxide will ensure you SPF 20+. Make sure you stir frequently to ensure all the ingredients have mixed well, then leave to cool. If you sweat or get wet, reapply every 90 minutes. For those of you too lazy to make your own, you can try the Israeli company ‘Lavender’ and their 100% natural T-Sun Protection containing most of the above ingredients and a few extra delicacies, such as calendula and sesame oil. They have branches in Tel Aviv, Pardes Hanna and Kfar Saba; www.lavender-cosmetic.com.
No matter how much I protect my skin in the summer, I am very fair-skinned and it doesn’t take a lot for me to get sunburned! Do you have any recommendations for good natural sun burn remedies? I really appreciate your help!
Hi David. Perhaps the most common ways to naturally treat sunburn is to find your nearest and juiciest Aloe Vera plant, pluck one of its shoots and simply lather its gel directly onto your skin for immediate cooling relief.
If you aren’t into breaking open aloe vera plants, alternatively, you can also buy directly from any natural health food store across Israel. If you use a gel, look for a high-quality one without preservatives. I recommend trying the Aloe Vera House in Moshav Ein Yahav. They have a visitor’s center and factory store of the Just Aloe products that are produced there. All their products, as their name suggests, are based on Aloe Vera and the moshav has been dedicated for the past 25 years to the growing, research and development of Aloe Vera. For more info or ordering from them, check out www.justaloe.co.il/
For the fair-skinned among us, I recommend making your own spray mist with essential oils and keeping it at hand during the summer months. Using a half cup of water in a spray bottle, add six drops of lavender essential oil and four drops of peppermint oil. Shake and mist over affected area. For a more severe sunburn where there is blistering and peeling, mix 10 drops of pure tea tree essential oil with either olive oil or coconut oil, and spread the mixture onto burnt skin. Tea tree oil is not only cooling but both soothing and pain relieving.
Finally, you can try Apple Cider Vinegar, but make sure to dilute it in water! One combination that worked wonderfully at reducing the pain of sunburn for my patients was to mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the oil from three vitamin E tablets, seven drops of lavender oil and add one cup of water. Stir together and apply onto the skin either with a spray bottle or a damp cloth (can also be used in the bath). Most importantly, make sure to drink lots of water to replace fluid loss caused by the sunburn and this will also speed up the healing process.
Ask Natalie: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer, email Natalie with your question at:firstname.lastname@example.org. As well as working as a nurse, Natalie runs a clinic in Moshav Yanuv offering a wide range of natural treatment. Healing is achieved using homeopathy, reflexology, massage, flower remedies and nutritional wisdom. To make an appointment please email email@example.com.
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