There are many different sorts of sunscreen on the market today. They all provide varying levels of sun protection and cater to a variety of needs: babies, sport, for kids, clear, sensitive, anti-aging, tinted, moisturising, and water resistant. Whatever your preference, there is a sunscreen out there for you.
Finding the One
Finding the right sunscreen is important if you are going to keep using it regularly. Ask anyone, and most people will have a complaint of one sort or another about sunscreen: too white, smells weird, too oily or too thick. What about too many chemicals? There is a growing movement to steer clear of the many excess chemicals we expose ourselves every day. If you are looking for a sunscreen that has very few ingredients and is ‘natural’ there is a sunscreen for you too!
Why are people concerned?
The growing movement of people concerned about harmful chemicals in personal care product has driven companies to provide alternatives. Individuals and groups are concerned about nanoparticles, carcinogens and other substances that can build up in the body. Some of this is founded on good evidence and some of it is just speculation. A small proportion of individuals who have irritating skin conditions may have a cause for concern, and these ‘natural’ sunscreens can provide an alternative to regular sunscreen.
This has resulted in both a wider variety of choice and also a marketing bonanza on the terms ‘natural’ and ‘chemical free’. These two terms are unregulated and do not mean much: everything around us is chemical and something very refined could still be ‘naturally derived’. Consumers should read the product ingredient list and find out more about the company’s manufacturing process.
Ingredients that some consumers are concerned about when it comes to sunscreen are:
- Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
- Octyl-dimethyl PABA
- Octyl-methoxycinnamate (OMC)
- 4-methyl-benzylidene camphor (4-MBC)
- Retinyl palmitate
- Preservatives containing parabens
- Fragrances containing phthalates
What are the alternatives?
Zinc oxide works as a physical sunscreen. Physical sunscreens reflect UV rays, unlike chemical sunscreens such as oxybenzone which absorb the heat energy of the rays. Physical sunscreens are appropriate for people with sensitive and sensitized skin.
Most ‘natural’ sunscreens contain between 20 and 25% zinc oxide. Often people think of the streaks that zinc cream leaves, but many modern natural sunscreens will not leave you looking like a ghost. Try a few and find out which texture you like and colours suit your skin best.
Is coconut oil a good sunscreen?
There are some oils that have a natural level of sun protection factor [SPF]. Coconut oil has been touted on the internet as the magic bullet solution for everything, including sunscreen. In a lab report, coconut oil tested at a very low 0.67 SPF and the oil magnified the effect of the sun on the skin; however, other sources claim its SPF to be slightly higher. Other oils such as red raspberry oil have also been promoted as having an SPF as high as 50:
- Red raspberry seed oil: SPF 25-50
- Carrot seed oil: SPF 35
- Almond oil: SPF 5
- Shea butter: SPF 5
Replacing a scientifically tested, physical sunscreen with oil from the supermarket shelves poses a risk to long term skin health. Though these oils may have a small amount of SPF, they do not provide the same protection or reliability as a Therapeutic Goods Administration approved product.
To book an appointment to see a Dermatologist and for more information about sun smart skin health, call us on 1300 123 368.