Au Naturel Essence

All natural treats for body and soul


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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.