Battle of the Bronze: Natural vs. Chemical Sun Protection

//Battle of the Bronze: Natural vs. Chemical Sun Protection

beach girlAs someone with pigmented spots, I try to be very careful about sun exposure.  It just unfortunately that I find the sun just so damn addictive.  I don’t think there is anything lovelier than being swathed in the comforting warmth of the sun’s rays as its uplifting brightness halos my body.  You can see why I have pigmentation.  Now, while I try to show a little restraint, I will admit that when I lived in Australia I got some pretty bad burns (burns that I know would make my mother shudder) – but a lot of it had to do with a misconception of sun protection.

Yes this is me... and yes, I'm cringing in retrospect.

Yes this is me… and yes, I’m cringing in retrospect.

SPF 101

In order for you to appreciate this, I will begin by giving you a little SPF 101.  SPF is the sun protection factor which measures the duration of time it takes to burn.  Its not the filtration of UV rays, its not the concentration of ingredients; it is simply how much of a delay it will offer before you get nice and crispy.  So, if you burn in 5 minutes, with an SPF 10 you will burn in 50 minutes, with an SPF 20, you will burn in 100 minutes.  This is why it makes no sense to me why derms often tell their patients that they need an SPF 100 for everyday use.  Most of are in the direct sun only to and from work for about 20 minutes.

Chemical concerns

What concerns me the most about chemical-based sunprotection, is that many sun screens are formulated with UV absorbers that are both carcinogenic and/ or mimic estrogen hormone in our bodies.  Furthermore, the higher the SPF, the more of these chemical sun screening agents there are in the product.  This is why listing the claims of an SPF over 30 has be banned in some countries (like Australia) to deter the encouragement of high sun protection factors.  Here is list of popular sun screening agents to avoid as they are estrogen mimicking endocrine disruptors:

  • octyl-methoxycinnamate
  • octyl-dimethyl-PABA (OD-PABA)
  • benzophenone-3
  • homosalate (HMS)
  • 4-Methyl-benzylidene camphor (4-MBC)

But perhaps we should take the rough with the smooth and simply opt for avoid skin cancer at the risk of other types of cancer with a side of possible endocrine disruption?  Well, what is even more perplexing, is the fact that most chemical sun screen agents become inactive in an hour or two anyway – so if you apply your sun protection in the morning (or even more efficient, have a moisturizer with SPF in it), by the time you mosey your way on home, your aren’t protected anymore anyway.

Mineral Blocks

I recommend using a mineral Sunblock.  This is a sunblock made from natural minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  These, unlike chemical UV absorbers/ neutralizers are physical blocks – meaning that they act as a shield to the skin.  You may remember zinc from old 70’s beach movies in which surfers laden with white noses from the stuff did the monkey.

The ingredients cannot deactivate, so you get all day protection.  This, of course does not mean you put on a mineral block and can frolic all day in the sun.  You still need to take breaks from the heat and let your skin cool down before the time according to the SPF you have chosen runs out.  This is very important.  You don’t want to me like me and fall asleep in the sun while assuming that as long as I had sun block on, I was a-okay.  But at least once you bring down the heat of your skin, you do not not need to worry about reapplication (unless sweating or swimming).  Natural blocks also do their work as soon as you apply it unless chemical sun screens which require you wait 20 minutes before going out into the sun so it can cause a reaction with your skin to take effect.

More about minerals & how to use them

The downside to natural sunblocks?  Well, they sometimes have a whitish, chalky appearance and feel.  But if you opt for a product using micronized minerals, you will find that this shouldn’t be the case.  Another thing that is important is to make sure you don’t use too much.  Often people slather on handfuls of mineral block and dont understand why it leaves white.  This is because it is a physical block and sits on the skin as a protector – if you put too much on, it leaves a residue as it doesn’t absorb.  Also, minerals are dry because they’re…well…minerals.  So a personal trick is to apply my sunblock over a face oil – this gives them easy glide and prevents chalkiness.  I find that the oiliness combats chalky texture because often we look flaky when the minerals adhere to dehydrated dead skin cells.

If you don’t like this, you can chose a mineral make up foundation which will evenly out your skin tone while containing a built-in natural sun block.  This is my favorite way to keep my skin sheltered because its multi-tasking!  I know not everyone wears make up so I’ll put it to you this way, while chemical sun products can have a nice feeling finish, I don’t really think the potential side effects are worth it.  I believe beauty stems from health and we need to cherish our own wellness in all of our grooming habits.

2014-05-31T13:51:40-04:00 By |Natural Beautycare|9 Comments

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9 Comments

  1. Allison April 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    I use Pure+Simple’s All Natural Sunscreen spf 30 for oily skin and I find that my skin looks chalky after I apply it. I’m Black so you can imagine how that looks. I look like a zombie. I have found though that it generally gets absorbed into my skin after about 10 minutes so I usually apply it after washing my face. I also try not to use too much. I’d like to try a mineral sunblock but I’m concerned that it won’t match my skin tone and I’m going to end up looking like I’m wearing mask. Thanks for the tip about applying it over facial oil. I’ll give that a try.

    • kristen April 28, 2010 at 7:20 am - Reply

      Yes, the oil helps me a lot. Also, we have mineral powders with sun protection in a variety of skin tones.

  2. Diane May 9, 2011 at 9:52 am - Reply

    Hi Kristen,

    I was wondering about your sunblocks. I personally have the pure and simple oily impure sunblock protection 30 and the jurlique 30+. I have combination skin that gets very congested. I do go for a facial one a month and it has improved dramtically. However, I get freckles easily and i’m trying to avoid getting them and I am using the sunblocks. For the pure and simple brand i apply it and use the mineral foundation and i just got the jurlique and it doesn’t have that chalky feel that i don’ t like. I work 9-5 so I apply it in the morning . Is it safe to have either sunscreen bottle in my purse..would the heat effect it in any way. Also I was wondering if i’m doing something wrong? How often do I have to reapply. And is using the mineral foundation enough protection? And out of the two sunblocks just mentioned which is better to manage for an everyday use?

    Thank you for your time and sorry for the long request.

    • kristen May 10, 2011 at 7:57 am - Reply

      The Pure + Simple is more pure and its SPF will not be affected by the heat – though it may start to separate. The Jurlique is a combo of chems and minerals and just remember that with chemical blocks you need to reapply every hour or two. Now its a blend of both, but I would do this anyway. Also, keep in mind pigmentation is not only from sun – its all inflammation. So you need to use soothing skincare as well as mitigate internal heat. A good liver cleanse is always a good idea.

  3. Diane May 10, 2011 at 8:39 am - Reply

    Thanks for your help. I will consider and looki into the liver cleanse.

  4. barbara May 31, 2013 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    I will stay away from Jurlique SPF 30?
    Active ingredients

    Octinoxate 7.5%
    Octisalate 2.0%
    Oxybenzone 5.0%
    Titanium dioxide 2.1%

    You forgot to add Oxybenzone in Agents to avoid!

    Thank you,

    • kristen June 4, 2013 at 10:13 am - Reply

      Thanks Barbara! Yea, I’m personally not down with the Jurlique SPF but many clients demand it despite the chems because they love the texture. Thanks for the reminder on the oxybenzone.

  5. Lica June 15, 2014 at 9:25 pm - Reply

    what sunscreen would you recommend then if you are not down with Jurlique?

    • kristen June 17, 2014 at 5:47 am - Reply

      Its not that I’m not down with Jurlique, its just that people need to know that it has some chemicals. Some of our clients still use it knowing this because of the texture – its all about empowering knowledge! For purer options I like Coola, Green Beaver and of course Pure + Simple.

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This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

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This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.