I love the sun. I feel better when it’s warm and the sun is beating down on me – I’m like my father who says he’s “solar powered”.  I’ve been bad over the years about putting on sunscreen. I have sun damage on my face, hyper pigmentation and I get annual scoldings from my dermatologist. Even though I have started to be better about applying, I still feel as though I want the direct rays for the Vitamin D and also the chemicals listed on the bottles are horrifying. I spend most of my time in the office, so when we get down to Florida its a sun-fest. I can’t get enough. However, because I’m noticing the damage the sun has done and how fast it’s aging me (the horror), I decided to do some research on the best natural and homemade sunscreen. Here’s what I found.

Sunscreen is meant to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. From our youth, we are taught that the sun is not benevolent. To combat and avoid sunburn and even more frightening- skin cancer- we spread the thick white stuff nose to toes. Winter, summer, 365 days a year. Even if we don’t see the sun, it’s still lurking out there waiting to get us. (Except in New Jersey in the 1980’s where we used baby oil and tin foil).

There are those who disagree with this theory. Some even believe that store bought sunscreens can cause cancer or don’t protect us at all. The theorists contend that the sun provides humans with the Vitamin D necessary for growth formation. They argue that some conventional sunscreen ingredients are endocrine disrupters that inhibit correct hormone formation.

To add to this dilemma, when sunscreen washes off swimmers into the ocean, it pollutes ocean species such as coral. The host algae (zooxanthellae) is what provides food and color to coral. Compounds in the sunscreen cause dormant viruses in the algae to replicate, causing the death of the host algae. This is not kind to our sea life nor our planet.  Sunscreen is one of the biggest most permanent contributors to pollution in our oceans with an estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen in the world’s coral reefs today.

Some reef friendly sunscreens are:

Thinksport SPF 50 Sunscreen

All Good SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen lotion

Babo Botanical SPF 30 Clear Zinc Lotion

According to www.wellnessmama.com, our choice to shun the sun loses the vital vitamin D our bodies naturally produces. The author of this article “personally takes astaxanthin daily to help protect skin from the inside out.”

I did some research on astaxanthin and found that it is an antioxidant made by algae, considered to improve muscle function and neutralize free radicals. Some doctors have weighed in favorably on the benefits of it as a dietary supplement. Fun fact: flamingos are pink because of the astaxanthin in their diet. Salmon too.

This is good information for your interior health, but what to do about your external body parts? General exposure to the sun should be a daily part of life. Just fifteen minutes a day is highly recommended for most people. If your work takes you outside for extended periods however, you may want to consider some options besides regular sunscreen. Wear a hat and a long sleeve shirt to stop excess sun exposure.

Homemade sunscreen doesn’t have the SPF (sun protection factor) verification that you see on lab tested packaged ones, but the argument can be made that certain ingredients you can use to create your own homemade sunscreen are considered low SPF.

For example:

Almond oil -SPF 5
Coconut oil -SPF 4-6
Zinc Oxode- 2-20 depending on how much is used.
Carrot Seed Oil-SPF 35-40
Shea Butter-SPF 4-6

Is homemade sunscreen dangerous? Some say so. But some say store bought ones are worse. Do your own research and decide. In my opinion, being careful outside is the best option to be safe from the sun’s rays. Consider the hottest times of the day as Rudyard Kipling did when he warned that “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.”

If you would like to make your own, here’s a recipe from www.wellnessmama.com for a homemade sunscreen they have tested and recommend.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup almond or olive oil
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup beeswax
2 tbls zinc oxide (don’t inhale!)
1 tsp red raspberry seed oil (optional)
1 tsp carrot seed oil (optional)
2 tbs Shea butter (optional)
Essential oils (optional). Do not use citrus oils as they increase sun sensitivity.

Instructions:
Combine ingredients except zinc oxide in pint sized or larger glass jar.
Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place over medium heat.
Put a lid on the jar loosely and place in the pan with the water.
As the water heats, ingredients in the jar will start to melt. Shake or stir occasionally to incorporate. When all ingredients are completely melted, add the zinc oxide, stir in well and pour into whatever tin or jar you will use for storage.
Stir a few times to make sure zinc oxide is incorporated.
Store at room temperature.

www.dontwastethecrumbs.com has one with three ingredients.

4 oz of your favorite non-toxic lotion (Aveeno, Bend Soap Company)
.8 oz zinc oxide
12 drops carrot seed oil
Measure lotion in a small bowl. Add the zinc oxide, oil, and mix well. Store in a glass jar or squeezable tube.

One final option:
If this all seems too messy, try these store bought recommendations instead.

Badger
Kabana
Raw Elements
Releve

(All available at Amazon)

Whatever you choose, I recommend seeing your dermatologist and getting your skin checked once a year —  especially if you are a sun lover like this Jersey girl. :)