If you have been looking for a better way to get some sun protection, then you may need to look no further than your kitchen cupboard for some partial UV screening. There are of course a slew of sunscreens on the market, but the majority of what you find in the average department or drug store contain numerous chemicals, artificial scents and colors, chemical preservatives that morph into toxic formaldehyde, and pore-clogging ingredients meant to screen out the sun’s burning rays.
While these oils are not meant to screen out the majority of the sun’s rays, and probably should not be considered as an all-day, intense sunlight protection for prolonged periods in the sun, they certainly can provide a level of protection without all the other unwanted ingredients for reasonable periods of time in the sun. Further, they will allow some of the sun’s rays to reach your skin so that you may manufacture the all too important vitamin D. They have another bonus too, many of them will leave you with baby soft, healthy skin – and most also contain other skin-friendly vitamins, fatty acids and other nutrients and antioxidants.
Carrot seed oil
Carrot seed oil has a very distinct, nutty and earthy aroma that some may find a bit strong. However, it not only is chock full of vitamins, it also offers a pretty high level of natural sun protection. The estimate for this oil is that it may offer as high as a “30”, potentially as high as a “38” rating for sun protection, which rivals many of the chemical sunscreens you see on shelves. It can also impart a beautiful tanned look to the skin, thanks to its gradual filtering of the suns rays for a slow melanin build from UV exposure, and its natural light orange color.
Carrot seed oil is rich in carotene and vitamin A. It is often used to help treat eczema, and can also be helpful in addressing age related skin problems like liver (age) spots and wrinkles due to its intensive antioxidant and moisturizing qualities. It can feel a bit heavy on the skin, making it ideal for mature skin. This heaviness also probably explains why it is one of the more effective natural sunscreen oils.
Red raspberry oil
Red raspberry oil is another one that has a relatively high SPF, clocking in at an estimated SPF of 30-50. Not only does this oil have a high UV protective factor, it also is used for cosmetic and beauty purposes as a highly emollient addition to skin care products. It is high in vitamin E, which is very healing and repairing for the skin, and also is a highly stable oil, meaning it is resistant to spoilage.
Red raspberry oil is also rich in vitamin A, which can help address mature skin issues, and contains high levels of alpha linolenic acid which is anti-inflammatory in nature. As with carrot seed oil, part of the reason this oil is such an effective natural sun protectant is its thick consistency, so it may not be ideal when a lighter, more easily absorbed consistency is desired or for skin that is already very oil or breakout-prone. Red raspberry seed oil also happens to have a heavy scent, not akin to the fruit from which it comes unfortunately. The good thing is that it does dissipate after about an hour on the skin.
Wheat germ oil
Wheat germ oil is primarily known as an excellent source of vitamin E, which has multiple benefits for the skin. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, so it helps to prevent or even somewhat reverse UV damage. The high antioxidant value of the oil is one of the reasons it is also taken internally for a variety of health benefits.
Wheat germ oil is also commonly used externally for skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and stubborn dry patches. It also is commonly used to help speed the healing process for skin irritations, contusions and burns due to its high content of healing vitamin E.
Don’t forget about your “internal SPF”
With all this talk about externally applied oils for sun protection, it’s important to note that we also have control over how our skin reacts to the sometimes damaging effects of excessive UV exposure. Fortifying our diets with the right nutrients helps our skin to react completely differently to sun exposure.
One study showed that participants who were fed tomato paste daily showed a much higher tolerance to UV exposure than study participants that did not have this food. The reason for this has been identified as the nutrient lycopene, which is found most richly and commonly in tomatoes. Study participants showed a 33% improvement in the natural ability of their skin to respond to and properly process sun exposure without damage to the skin.
Adding more antioxidant-rich foods to your diet in general will also help you to increase your “internal SPF” because it helps your skin to naturally fight the free radical formation that accompanies excessive UV exposure. Daily consumption of fresh tomatoes, accompanied with a high level of unprocessed, raw antioxidant rich foods will improve your body’s ability to properly handle sun exposure over time.
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I have an easy recipe for a natural sunscreen that you can make at home:
Homemade Sunblock Lotion (20 SPF)
2 oz shea butter
2 oz coconut oil
1 oz zinc oxide
8 drops of tea tree oil
1. Melt the shea butter and coconut oil together. (I put all of the ingredients in a mason jar, and set it in boiling water until melted).
2. Remove from heat and stir in zinc oxide. Pour into container.
3. Let cool completely before use. Store at room temperature.
Enjoy Your Summer!