Natural Alternatives to Sunscreen
Summer is the perfect time to get outdoors and soak up the sun. But what about risks like sunburn, sunspots or cancer? Sure, slathering on high SPF sunblock can help protect against these issues, but is commercial sunscreen safe for the body? Big sunscreen companies sure want us to think so. Not only are there sensible alternatives; there are reasons we shouldn’t overdo it when it comes to sunblock.

Alternatives to Sunscreen

Get Your D

Vitamin D is crucial to bone health and the body’s internal communication system from the brain to each body part. And a vitamin D deficiency can lead to serious health conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, autoimmune disorders and more. The body creates this super-vitamin through exposure to UVB sun rays, so it’s good to get a limited amount of smart exposure. Learn more in a recent Be Well post, Here Comes the Sun.

Avoid Chemicals

When you’re loading up on commercial sunscreen, your body takes in chemicals that worry many health experts—and shockingly, some may even increase the risks of cancer. Oxybenzone, found in many sunblocks, is known to disrupt the human hormonal system and has been linked to cancer in some studies. Lab research has shown that retinyl palmitate, a type of vitamin A found in commercial sunscreens, may increase skin cancer risk when exposed to the sun. 

Natural Alternatives

There are many ways you can stay safe in the sun naturally this summer. Try a few to keep yourself and your skin healthy and sunburn-free all summer long.

Dress appropriately during long periods of exposure. While a small amount of exposure—15 to 20 minutes—is beneficial, too much can be dangerous. Avoid sun damage when exposed for long periods by covering your head with a hat and your body with regular or sun-protective clothing. The sun’s rays can still penetrate through non-UV treated clothing, but at a much lower rate.

Use Zinc Oxide. Lifeguards use this on their noses for a reason! Zinc oxide, in its natural form, is a safe and effective sunblock product. Widely available at pharmacies and health food stores, mix zinc oxide with your favorite organic body lotion for an alternative to commercial sunscreens.

Eat Your Greens. Green leafy vegetables are great additions to our diets for many reasons, including the fact that they’re chock full of carotenoids. This antioxidant prevents sunburn and stress that can lead to the development of melanomas.

Go Red! Lycopene, found in watermelon and tomatoes, is a natural sunburn protector. When tomato paste was mixed with olive oil for absorption, eating this combination reduced sunburn in participants by 41 percent in a German research study. 

Now that you’re sun smart, get out there and enjoy the summer sun moderately, naturally and safely this summer!