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Should I go natural with my choice of sunscreen?

Summer is officially here, and after a difficult few months trapped indoors in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, we couldn’t be happier to receive brighter weather. Despite the nation’s fight against Covid-19 not being over, easing lockdown measures now give the green light for unlimited outdoor exercise, so there’s no better time to get out there and reconnect with the natural world.

The new season brings a new challenge however as we spend more and more time outside. If you haven’t already, adding a good quality sunscreen to your beauty regime is vital.

Here at Web of Goodness, we’re all for making more natural choices when it comes to what we apply to our skin and what we put in our bodies. Yet going completely natural with your choice of sunscreen may not be all it’s cracked up to be!

We reveal the pros and cons of going natural versus making educated choices about sunscreens that do contain some chemicals so you can face the season’s weather and enjoy all that summer has to offer confidently, healthily and happily.

Why a good level of sun protection is important

Summer sunshine no doubt puts a spring in our steps when it finally makes an appearance during the warmer months. We now know that it also plays a vital role in our fight against Covid-19. In addition to this, it’s an excellent source of vitamin D (also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’), as exposure to sunlight is needed to naturally boost stores of this essential vitamin.

Prolonged sun exposure however does have its downsides, particularly if your skin is unprotected and becomes sunburnt. Sunburn doesn’t after all just happen on holiday! You can burn right here in the UK, even if the weather is overcast and cloudy.

As the largest organ in the body, the skin needs to be protected from the ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) and ultraviolet A radiation (UVA) that the sun emits. Without the right level of protection, these harmful rays will increase the risk of skin cancer, cause abnormal discolouration and encourage premature ageing. Mature skin is even more vulnerable to sun damage as Era Living explains:

“As we age, our skin becomes more thin and fragile. Years of cumulative sun exposure add to these natural aging effects, leading to skin that is more susceptible to the sun’s rays, and less able to repair damage that occurs. In addition, aging skin produces less sweat, which makes it harder to cool the body. As a result, you have a higher risk for overheating and sunstroke. It doesn’t take much sun to cause skin damage.”

With this in mind, there’s a need for balance between maximising the power of the sun for vitamin D absorption and preventing harmful sun damage. Sunscreen is the best way to protect the skin and reduce the risks associated with UVA and UVB exposure.

Going au naturel with sun protection

Natural sunscreens have become big news in recent years, particularly as we reduce our toxic load in other areas of our lives with eating more organic, using natural cleaning fluids etc.

With more natural formulations, your skin doesn’t automatically sport the usual white or blue tint that has gone hand-in-hand with natural sunscreen application in the past. Formulations are becoming easier to apply, rub in and absorb in comparison to some chemical laden sun protection products.

Natural ingredients are thought to mean less of a toxic load on our skin, one of the assumptions being that skin can breathe more easily and comfortably as a result. This however is not always the case. Natural sunscreens can be just as thick and pore blocking for selected skin types as chemical sun protection.

In some cases, natural sunscreens can make it difficult for your body to sweat naturally due to their thick consistencies. This can make them more challenging to remove properly, even when showered off. They are after all designed to provide a hardy barrier that protects skin and keeps rays out without being easily compromised by sweating.

Those looking to unlock the advantages of going au naturel with their choice of sunscreen will want to check out Green People, Biosolis, Jason, Madara, Nuori and MooGoo for effective, natural sun protection.

Some chemical content makes sense

Chemical sun protection has been the go-to for as long as we can remember. But as we shift to all-natural solutions, it’s important to recognise that some chemical content has a role to play when safeguarding skin from the sun.

A number of the chemicals found in many sunscreens ensure a protective barrier against the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. Titanium oxide is one of the ingredients found in chemically and naturally formulated sunscreens, and is used to completely block out the sun for example. Unbeknown to most, it is found more in natural sunscreens than chemical based products. But as we’ve discovered from these formulations, a thick layer of titanium oxide is just one option.

For many, chemical content provides certainty when keeping the skin safe from UVA and UVB damage, burning and ageing and effectively guarantees ultimate peace of mind.

For these reasons, some chemical content makes perfect sense, and there are several great brands who have created quality sunscreen products through striking a balance. Aveeno, La Roche-Posay and Clinique provide high protection, mineral enriched sunscreens that are comfortable and effective, even for individuals with sensitive skin.

Why aim for the best of both worlds…

Choosing between a natural sunscreen and a chemical formulation is a conundrum. People want to reduce toxic load but some natural ingredients just aren’t as effective.

In my experience meeting half way by using a product that does have natural ingredients and some chemicals to protect the skin offers better balance for protecting the skin from burning and lowering the risks of skin cancer.

My quest for complete naturalness throughout my beauty regime inspired me to try making my own natural sunscreens with the help of Wellness Mama. But the journey wasn’t a smooth one or particularly successful as I attempted to find the magical formulation of reduced chemicals, completely natural ingredients, and total protection from burning, skin damage and premature ageing was hard to achieve.

After many years of trial and error, and an equally as trying time using other natural sun care brands as recommended by dermatologists, I’ve finally found the best of both worlds for me. I regularly use Bioderma Photoderm, Ultrasun and Heliocare Advanced.

The balance between chemical and natural; nourished, protected skin and damaged, burned skin however is a balance for us all to weigh up.

Discover more great advice for preparing your skin for the sun right here.