Natural Sunscreen - Frequently Asked Questions
Posted on 29 December 2016 by Marie Hunter
Love summer, but hate getting sunburned? Natural sunscreens made for Australian conditions can help to protect your skin, are much safer to use than their chemical laden counterparts and are suitable for sensitive skin. In this article we answer some of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to natural sunscreens.
How Does a Sunscreen Work?
A sunscreen acts to prevent the skin from burning by either reflecting harmful rays or absorbing them. Most natural sunscreens will use a physical barrier (zinc oxide) to reflect rays, other sunscreens may use a chemical screening agent (titanium dioxide) to absorb harmful rays.
What Makes a Natural Sunscreen Different To Regular Sunscreen?
Natural sunscreens will often use more natural screening agents to protect your skin from sun damage. They also use natural plant based ingredients to form the base of the product; many of these ingredients can help to moisturise and nourish the skin. Natural sunscreens are often fragrance free or use only pure essential oils to create a more natural scent. This combination of more natural ingredients and far fewer chemical ingredients makes natural sunscreens more suitable for sensitive skin and children.
What is SPF?
The Sun Protective Factor (SPF) of a sunscreen indicates the level of protection and duration of effect that a sunscreen will provide from the sun. An SPF15 will provide approximately 93% protection from UVB, while SPF30 will provide approximately 97% protection from UVB. A sunscreen with SPF30 when applied to the skin as per directions will protect for approximately 4 hours, while SPF15 will protect for approximately two hours. It is good to remember that to improve the effectiveness of any sunscreen it will need to be re-applied according to these guidelines and after sweating or swimming.
What Does Broad Spectrum Mean?
A broad spectrum natural sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB. All sunscreens protect against UVB - which causes sunburn, but only broad spectrum sunscreens protect the skin against UVA, which is said to contribute to premature ageing of the skin.
What About Nano-Particles?
Literally meaning really small particles, nano-particles are of a concern because their size means that they are easily absorbed through the skin. The physical screening barrier zinc oxide is considered to be harmful to the body when in nano-particle size, but when included in natural sunscreens* in larger particle sizes is not absorbed, but remains on the surface to block sun rays from damaging the skin.
Why are Some Natural Sunscreens So Thick and Difficult To Apply?
With many natural sunscreens using a physical barrier like zinc oxide, the natural consistency of the cream will be quite thick. We advise, that for all natural body sunscreens it's best to 'massage' the tube before use, this will distribute the oils and ingredients through the formula for an easier application and improved consistency. These days there are more natural sunscreens made especially for the face, with ingredients that make application easy but still with the sun protective factor. The additional dollars that you pay for a natural sunscreen** made for use on your face is well worth the investment when it comes to consistency and ease of application.
Why Apply Before Going Out Into The Sun?
To harness maximum protection from your natural sunscreen, it is advised to apply 20-30 minutes before going out into the sun. This method allows for the sunscreen to reach deeper skin layers, for maximum skin protection. For maximum effectiveness, natural sunscreens should be applied evenly and liberally to avoid sunburn.
As always, use common sense when going out into the sun: avoid exposure at the hottest time of the day, wear a hat and drink plenty of water.
* all of our natural sunscreens at Sundala Health Centre are nano-particle free.
About the Author
Marie is a busy mum with teenage boys and has a penchant for all things natural and feminine. Often quietly buried under a pile of virtual paperwork, Marie's talent for organisation and quick thinking make her an invaluable member of the Sundala family. When she is not answering emails or wrestling with accounting work, Marie can be found at home with her family, preparing delicious healthy and nutritious food. Oh, and she just loves researching new products and trying them out.