I have been waiting ages for the day I could write a post on natural sun protection. You see, what in other parts in the world gets called ‘fall’ or ‘winter’, we call summer here in Holland.
Hey, at least we got some pretty good jokes out of it!
But alas, le Dutch summer has finally arrived (or so it seems. Now let’s see how long it lasts. I give it 5 days, max), so let’s talk about sunscreen, baby, let’s talk about you & me!
Skin cancer (melanoma) is not caused by exposure to sunlight. Skin cancer develops with overexposure to sunlight without protection. But the sun is not something we should fear or shun, and it’s everything but wise to reach for your bottle of chemical-laden sunblock every time you step out in the daylight. The sun is our major source of vital life energy (prana/chi) and, when incorporated sensibly into a healthy lifestyle, will actually prevent cancer. Did you know adequate sunshine dramatically decreases your risk for breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer and colon cancer?! Overall cancer rates are much higher in places without ample sunshine. Sunshine related cancers are higher in regions where bottled sunscreens are heavily promoted.
Would You Eat Your Sunscreen?
No? Then don’t slab it on your precious skin. Our skin absorbs a lot of the stuff we put on it day in day out. Especially when bakin’ & sweating in the sun and our pores are wide open. Most all bottles sunscreens and sunblocks are laced with chemicals and so called ‘nano particles’. Nano particles are chemicals so small that they enter the bloodstream. Sunscreen developers are a fan of nano particles because it makes that your sunscreen doesn’t leave a white film on your body and hey, who cares about nasty chemicals in the body anyway hm?
Take a good look at the ingredient list of your sunscreen product and tell me if that looks like something you’d want in and on your body. Do the ingredients sound healthful? Natural? Or like something you’d dig up in the remains of Chernobyl? Most sunscreens are loaded with parabens, chemical solvents, dioxides and other scary stuff. Some of these ingredients are proven to promote certain cancers. Wait whut?
The theory that these chemical cocktails (read: sunscreens) are actually what promote skin cancer, not the sun itself, is gaining popularity the last few years. Obviously I, for one, am 100% behind this theory and there has been some research published lately to back this up which looks very promising. UV light itself does not, I repeat, does not promote cancer. In order for UV light to contribute to skin cancer, the body has to be in a state of subpar health already, in which case the UV rays can do further damage. As with (natural!) sugars, a healthy body can perfectly handle large amounts of UV exposure. Bodies with nutritional deficiencies and lack of antioxidants are very susceptible to sunburn and, eventually, skin cancer.
Built In Sun Protection
It then stands to reason that we can, and should, protect the body from the inside out from UV rays. The ‘secret’? Anti-oxidants!
I can testify for the effectiveness of anti-oxidant compounds in protecting your skin from sunburn. I can lie for hours in the sun, whether that be in Holland or in Bali, and I don’t burn. This hasn’t always been the case, though. Raw foods, especially colorful fruits and vegetables, are chockfull of protective anti-oxidants (oh, and they taste good too!).
Now, I wouldn’t advice to do one day of eating fruits and veggies and have unlimited sun exposure. Our bodies need time to mend and heal, and built up reserves. But eating the rainbow every day (think; berries, carrots, tomatoes, leafy greens, oranges, broccoli, cacao, squashes, sweet potato, bell peppers, watermelon, grapefruit, parsley, basil, persimmon, asparagus, cherries, red cabbage etc) will start to built a natural, innate sun protection and dramatically decrease your risk for sunburns and sunshine-related cancers. The first few weeks of building this natural sunscreen, or when exposed to a lot of sun (like when on holiday) you can supplement with (natural) anti-oxidant supplements (like astaxanthin) and tomato paste (yup, from a can! Organic only, please).
Two other ways to built up a natural sunscreen are barefoot walking and sun exposure itself. Barefoot walking gives you access to free electrons from the Earth which act as anti-oxidants in the body. Gradual and moderated sun exposure builds up melanin in the skin, which is a protective skin pigment. Start with 10-20 minutes a day, 5-10 minutes front and back, depending on the fairness of your skin. Increase with a few minutes every day. After that duration, go play in the shade or protect your skin with clothing.
Eventually, you should be able to stay in the sun for a good few hours without any chemical, artificial sunscreen.
Extra, Natural Sun Protection
If at any point you feel your skin could do with a little extra protection, look for a product that uses only zinc oxide (non nano) as an SPF. This is an all natural, non harmful mineral that offers natural sun protection. You can also make your own sunscreen by mixing coconut oil (also offers natural sun protection), cacao butter (ditto), zinc oxide powder, vitamin E oil and vanilla bean (or essential oils). Yum!
Last but not least, you can check your sunscreen brand and/or the ingredients for safety in this awesome database.
All of this, and so much more, will also thoroughly be covered in my upcoming eBook ‘Natural Beauty – Ditch the Make-up to Reveal Your True Radiance’!