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Natural Sunscreens: is it time to make the switch?

A recently study conducted by the University of California found that the way in which sunscreens absorb UV rays may lead to the release of harmful substances, which may in turn result in premature aging and skin cancer. Most traditional do not block out all UV rays. Sunscreens that are sold in the U.S. block out mostly UVB rays, which are the ones that cause sunburn, but they do not protect against the dangerous UVA rays, which are the ones that lead to skin cancer. So, chemical sunscreens prevent sunburn on your skin, but do not protect you from the deeper harmful effects of UVA penetration.

Natural Sunscreens

Natural sunscreens work a little differently. They create a physical barrier between the UV rays and your skin, which protects you more fully from the whole spectrum of UV rays. The heightened awareness of the potential risks of chemical sunscreens has meant that an increasing amount of people are turning to natural sunscreens, which basically reflect UV rays off the skin, much like a mirror. These natural sunscreen products claim that they can prevent sunburn just as well as the chemical sunscreens, but without the negative side effects. So, is it time for you to switch to a natural brand? First, you need to consider the following facts.

Natural sunscreens make claims like “all ingredients derived from natural substances”. However, no regulation exists that would discern which sunscreens should be called natural. In actuality, the process of extracting ingredients from a natural source could be conducted through artificial procedures, while using artificial substances, which could make an originally natural product unnatural. Furthermore, just because it is natural, an ingredient should not be considered automatically safe. Both artificial and natural compounds can lead to adverse skin reactions.

In addition, just because it is called “natural”, does not mean that it doesn’t have any side effects. “Natural sunscreens” generally contain either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Although these are natural ingredients, they still have a negative side to them. For instance, zinc oxide can whiten the skin for a certain time period. Another thing to consider is that natural sunscreens require more time in preparation for UV exposure. Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide need to bind with your skin in order to work, so you must apply natural products a while before going out in the sun. You also have to spend more time rubbing natural sunscreen into your skin, and you must reapply it more often.

Natural sunscreens are becoming more popular, but they still only comprise a small percentage of all the sunscreens on the market. They can generally be found only in small stores, which specialize in natural and organic products, or on the internet. Natural sunscreens are more expensive than traditional chemical sunscreens, which is a downside for consumers with a limited budget. Either way, regardless of which sunscreen you use this summer, just remember to apply it often and liberally. Sunscreen is still the best way to protect your skin from UV radiation. Just be knowledgeable about what is in your sunscreen, because then you can really get the most out of it.

For more information, go to: wikipedia.org

The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.

One Response to “Natural Sunscreens: is it time to make the switch?”

  1. 1
    John Says:
    It seems to me that the best solution is just to stay out of the sun. Chemical sunscreens are bad. Natural sunscreens are not that much better. The sun is not good for you. So, chill in the shade, and you'll be OK.