Today's blog is brought to you today by my eavesdropping. Sort of. I was present during a conversation between my biology instructor and a female student.

She had asked our instructor if he wore sunscreen because he is very tan. He said he did NOT because he found that when he wears it as part of his routine, if he forgets it for a day, he tends to get a very bad burn because his body is so "dependant" the sunscreen. I had never heard this claim before, and tend to think that its a little exaggerated.

Next, the conversation turned to recent rumors or warnings about sunscreens containing cancer causing chemicals. This was a new one for me, too, and I began to feel very out of the loop.

At this point I interjected myself into the conversation and suggested an organic sunscreen. However, according to the other student, the organic sunscreens contain the same carcinogens as the inorganic versions, namely titanium dioxide.

So, naturally, I needed to investigate it.

First off, all sunscreens work in pretty much the same way whether they are organic or not. They keep your skin hydrated so it is less susceptible to damage and they reflect or absorb UVA/UVB rays...which do the damage. The SPF rating is the degree to which the sunscreen does this. The lighter you are, the less ability you have to do this naturally, and the greater an SPF you need. You can read more about sunscreen, and the extremely complicated SPF ratings,

Next is organic vs. inorganic. You automatically think organic must be better, right? See how easily we are conditioned! For food, organic typically means little or no man made chemicals, but for sunscreens this is not the case. For sunscreens, organic means carbon compounds and inorganic means other chemical compounds such as titanium dioxide. Note that BOTH VERSIONS HAVE CHEMICALS. Also, organic version tend to absorb the rays, and inorganics tend to reflect them. Most popular OTC sunscreens are a mix or both of these.

So, what other option do you have? Well, you can always make your own. Its a little bit of a project, but certainly not an all day event. And, personally, I like knowing what is going in or on my body these days. So, if you're so inclined, the recipe is as follows...

Homemade Sunscreen
3 tablespoons of unrefined sesame oil
1 tablespoon of unrefined avocado oil
1 tablespoon of unrefined jojoba oil
1 tablespoon of almond oil
1 tablespoon of shea butter
2 tablespoons of cocoa butter
1 teaspoon of beeswax
1 teaspoon of soy-lecithin liquid
2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel
2 tablespoons of lavender water
½ teaspoon of borax powder
20 drops carrot seed essential oil
3-5 drops of coconut fragrance oil

The majority of these ingredients can be purchased at a health foods store or an organic skincare shop. You can also specially order them online with a simple google search.

1. Combine the first 7 ingredients by melting them over medium heat in a double boiler. Once melted, add the soy-lecithin. Mix these together and remove from the heat.

2. Warm the aloe vera and lavender water, stirring in the borax until it is dissolved.

3. When both of these mixtures are about the same temperature, mix the 2 concoctions forcefully (you can use a food processor). A cream should come out of this. Be sure to blend thoroughly.

4. Stir in the carrot-seed and coconut.

If you're not up for making your own, here are a few ready made, less chemically version to try:

Organic Hemp Seed Oil Sun Block

Organic Mineral Sunscreens, SPF 15, SPF 20, SPF 30 and SPF 40 Lavera Organic All Natural Makeup and Skin Care

Natures Trusted Source

Now, regardless of what sunscreen you choose...organic, homemade, or otherwise...it is important to realize that no sunscreen offers 100% protection from the sun. There are lots of other steps you can and should take.

1. Limit your exposure. It's just like sex...the only safe sex is no sex. Well, the same goes for the sun. The best protection is to stay away or cover up, especially during peak hours (10AM - 4PM). And, wear a hat and sunglasses...your skin isn't the only thing in danger!

2. Use sunscreen all the time, not just at the beach. Lots of lotions and cosmetics now come with a built in sunscreen so those are good options for everyday use, though obviously not sufficient for a day in the sun.

3. When you will be spending time outdoors, choose a sunscreen with a high SPF rating that is water proof. Apply it 30 minutes before sun exposure, like before you get in the car to drive to the beach, not when you get there...and reapply it every 2 hours.

Now you're ready for fun in the sun!

For even more info, check out the
Sun Safety Alliance.

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