20 Natural Ingredients for Sun Protection
Although the sun is necessary for life, prolonged exposure can
lead to adverse health effects, including skin cancer. According to
the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 1 million
people in the United States alone are diagnosed with skin cancer each
year, making it the most common type of cancer in the nation. It is
estimated that 90 percent of non-melanona cancers and 65 percent of
melanoma cancers are linked to exposure to UVR.
Fortunately, the EPA states that these effects are largely
preventable through the implementation of a broad sun protection
program that includes the use of natural oils, wholesome food and
herbs, and appropriate clothing.
The Effect of UV radiation on your health
Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) causes harmful chemical reactions in
the body, though sunburns are only the most immediately visible
negative effect of prolonged exposure to the sun. At the molecular
level, UVR can destroy DNA, impairing the ability of cells to grow
and divide. A buildup in the number of impaired cells in the skin can
result in skin cancer.
Sunscreens are important chemical agents that help to prevent UVR
from reaching your skin. The two types of UVR, namely UVA and UVB
damage the skin and increase the risk of skin cancer. The early
sunscreens were developed to protect against UVB radiation, but it
was not until the 1990s when chemical compounds capable of absorbing
UVA became available.
Dermatologists state that UVB radiation is the primary cause for
sunburns. UVA radiation, on the other hand, penetrates deeper into
the skin, and is highly absorbed by the melanocytes involved in
melanin production or sun tanning, as well as in melanoma formation.
UVA radiation is associated with wrinkling, sagging, leathering, and
other effects of solar-aging. It also reduces the performance of the
human immune system, and aggravates the carcinogenic effects of UVB,
which is why many studies have pointed to UVA as the sole cause of
Protecting yourself from Harmful UV Radiation
According to the American and Canadian Cancer Society, numerous
studies on causes of cancer have revealed that sunlight reduces the
incidence of some of the most fatal cancers, including prostate,
colon, and breast cancer. Another clinical laboratory study revealed
that vitamin D resulted in a considerable decrease in cancer rates,
compared to other countermeasure lifestyle changes, like quitting
Studies show that the incidence of melanoma of the skin due to
exposure to UV radiation reduced among outdoor workers compared to
indoor workers. This means that vitamin D is protective against
cancer. But you only need about 20 minutes of sunshine to get the
required amount of vitamin D. To avoid health issues with further
exposure to UV radiation, sunscreen should be used.
While the American and Canadian Cancer Society recommends the use
of sunscreen to protect against skin cancer, some studies have linked
some of the chemicals used with high incidence of melanomas,
sterility, birth defects, and uterine conditions. The most dangerous
chemicals to watch out for are the organic ones, which are
carcinogenic, and break down into substances that damage the body.
Notable ones include conoxate, ethylxyl, salicyalates, benzos, PAB
and PABA esters, propylene glycol, and menthyl anthranilate, among
So, which sunscreens should you use?
Natural Physical chemicals, like zinc oxide and titanium oxide
that reflect, scatter, and absorb UVA and UVB rays are reliable,
since they do not typically cause allergic reactions. Alternatively,
you can use natural sunscreens that offer sufficient sunburn
protection, as indicated by a higher Sun Protection Factor (SPF)
label. They are the perfect solution for sensitive skin or if you're
looking for alternatives to synthetic sunscreen. 20 oils to consider
Raspberry Seed Oil
The author of “Oils of Nature”, Anthony J. O’Lenick states
that red raspberry seed oil contains clinically useful
anti-inflammatory properties, owing to the high levels of Omega 3 and
6 essential fatty acids, as well as natural vitamin E and
antioxidants. Raspberry seed oil has a natural SPF of 29 – 50.
Carrot Seed Oil
Carrot seed oil is in the form of diluted carrier oil for topical
skin application. The oil contains significant antioxidant,
antifungal, antiseptic, and fragrant properties, as well as high
levels of vitamin A. Carrot seed oil has natural SPF of 38 – 40,
providing natural sun protection from topical application.
Wheatgerm oil has a natural SPF of 20, and is an excellent source
of natural Vitamins E, K, and B, as well as choline. Topical skin
application helps to moisturize tissues and prevent free radical
damage, owing to its antioxidant properties.
Well fermented soybeans contain high levels of essential fatty
acids, iron, calcium, protein, and lecithin. The oil has a natural
SPF of 10, and is a cost-effective moisturizer used for topical skin
Hemp Seed OIl
The oil is claimed to closely resemble the body’s natural lipids
composition, in terms of the high carbon and hydrogen content that is
necessary for cell growth. The similarity also facilitates easy
absorption when topically applied on the skin, delivering essential
amino and fatty acids, as well as other nutrients for keratin
formation. The SPF of hamp seed oil is 6.
Macadamia nuts oil is believed to have almost similar properties
to sebum (oil produced by the sebaceous glands to prevent dry skin).
Macadamia nuts are a great source of minerals, such as magnesium,
phosphorus, iron, and potassium, vitamin E, and antioxidant fatty
acids. It also contains cinnamic acid with an SPF rating of 6.
It has an SPF level of 6. It has been used for centuries for its
anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Topical application
causes it to stimulate the production of elastin and collagen, which
soften and hydrate the skin, delay the appearance of wrinkles, and
With an SPF rating of 5, almond oil is rich in vitamins A, D, and
E, as well as oleic and linoleic acids. It penetrates the skin
easily, providing multiple benefits including anti-inflammation,
moisturizing, sun protection, and delayed appearance of wrinkles.
Jojoba is an arid shrub used for the treatment of dry oil, eczema,
and psoriasis. It has similar properties to human sebum, and offers
natural skin moisturization and skin protection, with SPF rating of
4. It also contains myristic acid, a form of fatty acids with
anti-inflammatory and healing attributes.
Sesame Seed Oil
This oil comprises 50% lipids and 20% protein, which give the
gamma tocopherol content that provides stable anti-oxidative
mechanisms. This means that it cannot be broken down by UVR. Has an
SPF rating of 4.
Grapeseed oil contains high levels of oligometric
proanthrocyanidins (OPC), which eliminates the free radicals
responsible for aging. Research shows that OPC is 20 times stronger
than vitamin C as an antioxidant, promoting better cell self-repair.
It has an SPF of 4.
Avocado oil is highly nutritional, and contains fatty acids,
lecithin, and vitamins A, B, D, and E. It is quickly absorbed by the
skin, providing emollients that can nourish, hydrate, and regenerate
the epidermis. Its SPF is 4.
Oil obtained from the sea buckthorn fruits are rich in carotenes,
flavonoids, fatty acids, and vitamins A, E, B1, B2, and K, which
protect the skin from UV radiation and provide restorative action.
Sea buckthorn oil has an SPF of 2-4.
This oil contains gamma oryzanol, which has chemicals that
suppress the increasing melanin levels, helping to block UVR from
penetrating the skin. Topical application tends to lighten the skin.
Its SPF rating is between 2 and 4.
Coconut oil is well known for its antioxidant properties. It
blocks the damaging effects of UVR, heals the skin, and prevents
oxidative damage that leads to cancer. Different studies have shown
different SPF rating for coconut oil, between 4 and 10.
Various labs in South America, where the buriti palm grows,
suggest that the oil is rich in palmitic, arachidic, and linoleic
acids, as well as tocopherols, which deliver superior antioxidant,
anti-inflammatory, and photo-protective properties. With an SPF of 8,
it is highly effective in helping the skin cells to withstand harmful
It has a natural SPF rating of 15. It is rich in vitamin C,
essential fatty acids, and other nutrients that hydrate sensitive
skin and promote skin recovery by reducing inflammation, redness, and
Urucum (ANNATTO) Oil
Urucum oil is rich in natural carotenoids, bixin and norbixin,
which promote a topical skin calming action. Bixin is said to protect
the skin against UVR, and has antioxidant and liver protective
properties. Its SPF is 15.
Rosa mosqueta rose hip seed oil
Rosehip seed oil is a carrier oil that has been used since the
1980s to help prevent UV radiation damage, deep wrinkles, facial
scarring, and premature aging. The rosehip seed is rich in vitamins A
and E, as well as essential fatty acids, which helps to regenerate
the skin, prevent the advancement of wrinkles, help skin regain its
natural color, and reduce scars. It has an SPF of 25.
With so much reliance on sunscreens to avoid UVA and UVB related
health issues, it is hard to imagine how people in deserts cope with
the sun, or even how people avoided complications before the
discovery of sunscreens. The most effective and harmless way of
protecting yourself from harmful UV radiation is by covering up. Many
outdoor clothing have an SPF factor of 30 and above, and while people
in the past may not have known about SPF, they probably learned that
some fabrics provided better protection from the sun’s rays than
Another way that people can survive better in the sun is by
getting a tan. The brown melanin skin pigment is a natural defense
against UV radiation, absorbing it in small quantities and
dissipating the energy as harmless heat.