People usually apply sunscreen for special outdoor occasions, such as going to the beach or a picnic. Sunscreen is not only great for protecting the skin against sunburns and skin cancer, but it also has one huge benefit—it helps reduce the signs of skin aging. There are so many different kinds of sunscreens available on the market ranging from chemical sunscreens and natural sunscreens. Organic sunscreens like Butterbean Organic Sunscreen are quite popular nowadays, but what are they? This article will explore organic sunscreens and their benefits to our skin.
ORGANIC SUNSCREENS: WHAT ARE THEY?
The word ‘organic’ has been widely abused lately that the word has become incredibly confusing for most people. This is especially true when referring to skincare and make up products like sunscreen. Technically speaking, “organic” sunscreens are those that use carbon-based chemicals such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octinoxate, to decrease the effect of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This is what ‘organic chemistry’ refers to—the study of molecules with carbon backbones and carbon-hydrogen bonds.
Barrier chemicals such as titanium and zinc, are considered ‘inorganic’ because they do not have carbon. Zinc oxide contains the chemical formula ZnO—a zinc and oxygen molecule. In chemistry, this means it is an inorganic compound.
When regular people refer to organic sunscreens, they are usually talking about a barrier cream (titanium or zinc) with fewer and healthier ingredients compared to regular sunscreens available in the drugstore. Organic sunscreens can be called by its less confusing term ‘non-toxic sunscreen’, implying that we are comparing it with traditional sunscreen products.
WHY CHOOSE ORGANIC SUNSCREENS OVER TRADITIONAL ONES?
Most sunscreens on the market nowadays do not only contain sun protection chemicals, but fragrance, parabens, phthalates, and numerous ethoxylated ingredients, apart from being packaged in an aerosolized can: this alone is a huge reason to choose non-toxic sunscreens over traditional ones.
Sunscreen ingredients, specifically oxybenzone and octinoxate, are estrogeic and allergenic. Furthermore, it would be wise to be wary of a ‘non-active’ ingredient methylisothiazolinone—a preservative commonly found in sunscreens and baby wipes. This ingredient is highly allergenic to a lot of people. Lastly, most chemical sunscreens are highly toxic to the marine environment. Would you feel good about using something that you know will significantly impact the ocean? This is why we recommend the use of Butterbean Organic Sunscreen instead.
PHYSICAL SUNBLOCK: WHAT IS IT?
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are two ingredients used in physical sunblocks used in the natural sunscreen industry. They are often called ‘barrier sunblocks’. Zinc blocks both UVA and UVB rays, making them really very appealing ingredients for sunscreen compared to titanium dioxid which is mostly for blocking UVB rays. Instead of filtering the rays of the sun and decreasing the harmful effects of UV light, a physical sunblock simply sits on top of the skin and reflects sunlight back. Think of it as the difference between a filter and a mirror—the filter breaks up sunlight and renders it inactive. The mirror, on the other hand, reflects it.
What makes this matter more complicated is the existence of nanoparticles. These do not get absorbed by the skin cells, and more research must be done to determine whether it has detrimental effects. According to some researchers, nanoparticles get taken into skin cells where they heat up and increase sun damage. However, there is no conclusive evidence yet.
IS IT BETTER TO USE A BARRIER SUNBLOCKE INSTEAD OF A CHEMICAL SUNSCREEN?
There is a lot of disagreement on this since there is not enough scientific evidence to support any extreme position. Apparently, there is growing evidence that oxybenzone, a common chemical sunscreen, can act like estrogen in the body, increasing the chances of it disrupting one’s innate hormone cycles. Retinyl palmitate is another controversial chemical It is known to help slow skin aging, but it may also accelerate the development of certain skin cancers when it in contact with UV light. PABA may not be widely used as it once was, but there’s a huge number of people that are allergic to it now.
In summary, there are some really good arguments for using a non-nano physical sunscreen made with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide such as:
- They are not absorbed by the skin
- They are not broken down by exposure to sunlight
- There’s fewer and less toxic ingredients that make up the ‘inactive’ ingredients in them.
- Avobenzone protects against UVA rays and has a lower toxicity profile
HOW TO MAKE SUNCREEN LOOK LESS CHALKY?
People tend to shy away from natural sunscreens because they’re usually too thick, chalky or zinc-y. However, there are ways to make your organic sunscreen like Butterbean Organic Sunscreen less chalky by adding a few drops of organic oils such as argan, safflower, prickly pear, or pumpkin seed, work together to create a softening blend and silky texture that will smoothen your sunscreen application. Rosehip seed oil also works to lessen the appearance of chronic sun damage.
WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR IN A SUNSCREEN?
Now that we know and understand what natural and organic sunscreens are and what makes them better compared to chemical sunscreens, it’s time for us to start buying one. But what should we look for when we buy a sunscreen?
Look for sunscreens with fewer ingredients overall, like Butterbean Organic Sunscreen. Choose those with non-nano zinc and titanium particles until more research has been done on the effects of nanoparticles. It would be wise to look for a product that’s fragrance-free and has no parabens. Remember, even essential oils can oxidize under the sun, increasing the chances of your skin reacting negatively to them. Sunscreens with an SPF of 30 is probably enough, but you should still use hats or wear long sleeves if you plan on being out in the sun for long periods of time.
Last but not the least, remember than at least 15 minutes of sun on bare skin, a few times a week, can keep your vitamin D levels healthy—so don’t worry if you walk to lunch now and then without a sunscreen on.