My previous blog talked about the 7 Must Haves in Every Naija Chic's Bag and the number one on the list was a sunscreen. The 'talk' about sunscreen has been on my mind for a while now. I am gradually trying to minimize the amount of toxins/chemicals going into my body, I believe the environment has just enough for me without the need to add more. If our forefathers didn't need these chemicals, why do we? Many of the sunscreens in the market contain very toxic chemicals that in the long run are harmful to us.
The Environmental Working Group says 56% of active sunscreens contain the chemical oxybenzone, it is known to penetrate into the skin and acts as a photo-sensitize. Experts believe that oxybenzone is linked to hormone disruption and potentially to cell damage that may lead to skin cancer. The Environmental Working Group has compiled a list of 700 name-brand sunscreens along with the toxic chemicals they contain. Check their website for more details www.ewg.org/sunscreen/. Oxybenzone is not the only ingredient to be on the lookout for, as Retinyl Palmitate is another one to check. When exposed to UV light, its' compounds break down and produce toxic free radicals that can damage DNA and cause gene mutations, which is a precursor to cancer. A recent study also found that retinyl palmitate applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, may accelerate the development of skin tumors and lesions.
To be honest, I still occasionally use creams and make-ups that contain oxybenzone but I have also been testing out other natural alternatives. I did a bit of research that I have started incorporating alternatives and wanted to sure a bit of it on this blog. As we all know, we are what we eat and our appearance, in most cases, is a by-product of what we have ingested. I am going to started with the internal factors that help prevent sun damage then move on to the external factors. Please note these factors do not work independently as we are more complex than that.
Antioxidant Rich DietBy definition, Antioxidants such as glutathione, vitamin C, vitamin A, catechins, alpha lipoic acid and vitamin E are substances that can help prevent the effects of free radical damage in the body. Antioxidants neutralize the process of oxidation and cellular damage; hence sun damage, aging and disease. The consistent need to replenish antioxidants in the body is very important because the amount of antioxidants in your blood decreases when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Anti-oxidant rich foods include dark green leafy vegetables, green and black tea, organic dark cocoa (chocolate), tomatoes, water melons, pawpaw (papaya), carrots, small red beans, garlic, apples and oranges are among the countless. Sounds like a broken record but a diet rich in antioxidants is the body's best shield and armor.
Healthy Fatty Foods
If all fats were bad then fats wouldn't still exist. Omega-3 Fatty Acid, an essential fatty acid that good for your heart. It is not only good for your heart; it is helpful at fighting off free radicals, which can occur as a result of overexposure to UV rays. Fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel and trout are full of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil or Omega 3 supplements are great options when you cant easily access these rich fishes. Other foods with healthy fats that are great for your skin are avocado, flaxseeds, nuts (almond, peanut, cashew, walnuts and pistachios), extra virgin olive oil and extra virgin coconut oil.
The sun rays dry out your skin, leaving it deprived of vital nutrients needed for cell repair. Giving your skin back what the sun took keeps it fully functional. Water is an essential ingredient for cell repair and it allows the body to better fix damages associated with sun exposure.
Covering up the skin with light clothing when out in the sun is a great way to minimize sun damage. Sun hats, sunglasses, parasols, light scarves/shawls are among the options available.
Ingredients Consciousness / Natural Sunscreens
I recommended Aubrey Organics Natural Sunscreen in my previous posts because I kind of trust the Brand's products. They provide all-natural, safe and effective personal care and lifestyle products with no paraben preservatives, no petrochemicals, no artificial colors or fragrances of any kind. Zinc oxide has been stated to be very safe sunscreen ingredient. However, a few people have reported allergic reactions to it. What I have to say about this is that not every good thing is for everyone. For example, some people are allergic to nuts but yet nuts are healthy foods. So do your research, check the www.ewg.org website for harmful ingredients in whatever sunscreen you intend to purchase. Just be ingredients-conscious.
Natural & Organic Oils/Butters
So many oils and butters such as Shea butter, coconut oil, palm oil and olive oil contain sun blocking properties. Although, a few users have reported that it made them darker. Whether true or not, I cannot confirm that but I am going to do a post about this later. Shea butter provides natural ultraviolet sun protection up to about SPF 6 and yes that might appear a bit low but it is not bad when coupled with right clothings' and diet. Coconut oil is another oil, especially for those that find butters too heavy. It is a moisturizer and sealant. Any oil/butter you decide to go for make sure it is unrefined, organic and extra virgin.