Au Naturel Essence

All natural treats for body and soul

Are You Using Enough Sunscreen?


Like it or not, sunscreen is an important part of your skin care routine.  In all seasons, the sun’s rays can be quite damaging to unprotected skin.

Side Effects of Too Much Sun

It’s common knowledge that too much sun exposure has been linked to cancer. Unfortunately, excessive sun exposure isn’t limited to cancers.  It has also been linked to eye damage, including cataracts, and problems with the immune system.

Too much sun also leads to wrinkles in your skin. Wrinkles occur when the collagen structure breaks down.  Once the collagen is damaged, it cannot repair itself.

We often view a suntan as a sign of good health.  Unfortunately, a sun tan is evidence of sun damage.  It’s your body’s way of trying to protect you from further sun damage.  Unfortunately, a sun tan doesn’t provide a great deal of protection.

But, I Love the Sun!

If you’re like me, you love the feeling of the sun on your skin.  I can understand avoiding being in the sun for long periods of time, but I couldn’t forego that pleasure altogether!

I have dark skin and for the most part, I don’t get sunburns.  However, a few years ago, I was visiting Mendoza, Argentina with my husband and two friends.    We were there in December, one of the hottest months of the year.  We spent a day horseback riding in the mountains.  Not only was I totally uncomfortable riding a horse (more on that another day), but the back of my neck and shoulders got sunburned.  I couldn’t believe it!  By the time I put sunscreen on, it was way too late and I was moving pretty gingerly for the next few days.

Protect Your Skin from the Sun

There are lots of sunscreen products on the market.  Most of them require application every few hours and they range in price.  Many of those products also contain parabens or other ingredients that have been linked to cancer and other disease.

I prefer to make my own or build the sunscreen agent into my skin care products.

The two most common natural sun screen agents are titanium oxide and zinc oxide.  I grew up hearing about zinc oxide, so that’s the one that I tend to use.

I’ve tried using zinc oxide in my lip colours and lip balms, lotions, and creams.  After much experimentation, I’ve learned one thing.  The ratio of zinc oxide to the other ingredients is really important.

Zinc tends to leave a chalky white residue on your skin.  So, it’s important to mix it with agents that will help it be spread across your skin without leaving you looking like a ghost!

Is zinc enough to protect you from the sun?  Well, it’s a good start.  However, physical barriers, like clothing, or staying out of the sun completely are probably the best remedies.  While I try to limit my time in the hot sun, I also like to wear something with zinc oxide in it to make sure that I’m getting a little bit more protection.

One More Word of Caution

When looking for a sunscreen agent or making your own, avoid ones with citrus essential oils.  In general, they are known to be photosensitizing. In other words, they aren’t good to have on your skin when you’re out in the sun.

9 thoughts on “Are You Using Enough Sunscreen?

  1. I love making my own skincare products, too! I haven’t tried a sunscreen yet, but now I’m eager to try it. So nice to have stumbled upon your blog!

  2. Nice post Alia. It’s so important to protect our skin from the sun and not only in summer 🙂 I’d like to just say that it hasn’t been proved that parabens are linked to cancer. Media made a big fuss abuot it. Some parabens are found naturally in plant sources. For example, methylparaben is found in blueberries, where it acts as an antimicrobial agent. The sudies show that there is no direct link between parabens and cancer. The American Cancer Society also concluded that there was insufficient scientific evidence to support a claim that use of cosmetics such as antiperspirants increase an individual’s risk of developing breast cancer, but went on to state that “larger studies are needed to find out what effect, if any, parabens might have on breast cancer risk 🙂

    • Thanks for your comments, Kristina! As with anything, it’s never fully accurate to apply a broad brush approach. I think the same applies to parabens. I’ve seen studies that point to both ends of the spectrum. Some say that there is a link between parabens and cancer. Others say the opposite. So, where does that leave us? Well, I guess I would fall back on my rule of using things in moderation, including ingredients such as parabens!
      And you’re right about protecting our skin from the sun in other seasons! There’s one other time that I got a sunburn and it was in the winter! I was skiing and it was a bright sunny day. I guess the combination of the bright sun and the reflection from the snow was too much for my skin! 🙂

      • Definitely 🙂 I’ve read so many articles on parabens and so many different comments 🙂 if it’s not parabens, it’s something else, and we are always exposed to some sort of chemicals 🙂 But yes, I agree, everything needs to be done and used in moderation: D
        We should never underestimate the power of sun, you are the live evidence! 😀

      • I guess the best we can do is to know about and be comfortable with the ingredients that we choose to use. 🙂

  3. Hi. I have just sat down to read your blog after you started following mine and I love it!! I must say I am very keen to hear your recipe for sunscreen with the zinc oxide! I have pigmented skin and must wear zinc oxide everyday. Currently it is the only toxic product I am unable to shake…. I’d love to know how to make my own! xxxx

    • Sadly, I haven’t perfected the science behind a perfect sunscreen. I know that zinc oxide is a great ingredient to use to help block the sun’s rays from damaging your skin. However, I know it can also get very pasty in skin care products 😦

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