It appears that we skipped spring all together and jumped right into summer! As a fair-skinned redhead growing up on the beaches of the Okanagan, the sun has not always been my friend. I was the kid that looked even more pasty after being in the sun because of the thick, goopy sunscreen that had an SPF beyond what was thought possible. Now that I am older, I am thankful for taking care of my skin as a child. By protecting it from harmful UVA and UVB rays, I have not only reduced my risk of skin cancer, but also the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

I want to continue to take care of my skin and keep it looking as healthy and youthful as possible, but I worry about the chemicals found in popular sunscreens. Compounds in sunscreens, such as retinyl palmitate, are linked to birth defects in humans and accelerated cancer growth in animals. Some sunscreens also contain insect repellent, which lowers the effective sun-shielding power. Even titanium oxide, a main ingredient in many natural sunscreens has some free radical activity that can damage our DNA.

Zinc oxide is the most important ingredient in sunscreens as it reflects UVA and UVB rays from the skin. Unlike many sunscreen ingredients, zinc oxide remains stable when exposed to light and is not absorbed by the skin. Although zinc oxide creates a white film on the skin, it is non-irritating, non-allergenic and non-comedogenic.

With this knowledge, here are two of my favourite natural sunscreens:

Badger SPF 30 is a very popular natural sunscreen. Although it is thick at first, it easily spreads to provide maximal sun protection. Some people find the smell offsetting, while others enjoy it.

Green Beaver SPF 30 is a certified organic sunscreen made in Canada that leaves minimal white residue and is non-greasy. This zinc oxide formula nourishes the skin while protecting it from sun damage.

Further tips to reduce sun exposure and skin damage:

  • Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun & reapply often!
  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection
  • Wear a wide brim hat (they are very fashionable these days…Think J.Lo)
  • Avoid the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m (I know, its prime beach time 🙁 )
  • Buy new sunscreen yearly, don’t put expired or old products on your skin.
  • Keep your lips luscious using an SPF 15 lip balm.

It may seem like a lot of effort to apply and re-apply, but in the long run it pays off. And if you’re not thinking about skin cancer and your health, at least think about sun-induced wrinkles and premature aging. Happy Beach/Backyard/Patio Season!

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