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Soaking Up The Sun...and What Else?

Updated: Mar 13, 2022

Sunny beach

Contrary to popular opinion, I don't wear sunscreen daily. In fact, it's a rare occurrence for me to wear sunscreen. Most of the commercially available sunscreens out there are filled with scary ingredients like oxybenzone, a known endocrine disruptor. In my opinion, most of the chemical sunscreens widely available to us today are misleading, provide a false sense of protection and could arguably do more harm than good.

I am not telling to ignore the advice of your doctor or to never wear sunscreen at all, but I do believe the best option is to cover up with clothing, hats, etc first. If I'm going to the beach or another activity where I'll be in the sun for an extended period of time, that's when I use sunscreen- but only mineral sunscreens. Also, moderate amounts of unprotected sun exposure help your body maintain it's Vitamin D levels. 

Read on to learn a little more about what's in your sunscreen bottle, a few product recommendations & my new homemade sunscreen recipe! 

What's In My Sunscreen?

There's two types of sunscreens- chemical sunscreen and physical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens are just that- sunscreens that contain chemicals like oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octinoxate. Physical sunscreens (also called mineral sunscreens) create a physical barrier from the sun so the UV rays do not actually penetrate your skin.

Mineral Sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens will either contain Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide. These form an actual barrier on your skin and reflect UVA and UVB rays. One drawback of mineral sunscreens is that they aren't as cosmetically pleasing as chemical sunscreens- a high concentration of these minerals is very white, so, many times these sunscreens will leave a white residue on your skin. 

Also, beware of misleading labels- sometimes companies will advertise their product as a "natural sunscreen" because it does, in fact, contain the above mentioned minerals, but it also has chemicals in it! (Companies misleading us through advertising? Big surprise, right?!) I still, as always, encourage you to flip the bottle over and take a look at what you're really putting on your skin.

Chemical Sunscreens

There's a lot of press out there about chemical sunscreens, and for good reason- studies are suggesting that these chemicals are harmful to the human body. EWG just released their 2018 Guide To Sunscreen, and I invite you to take a look at whatever sunscreen you have in your cabinet and read about their findings on the ingredients. Oxybenzone is one of the most common chemical filters found in chemical sunscreens. The EWG and other toxicology experts are concerned about this chemical because it's been linked to hormone disruption, causes many allergic reactions and has been found in mothers' breast milk. 

Counterarguments suggest that Oxybenzone is not harmful because 1) we aren't consuming it orally, just putting it on our skin and 2) we are using it in such small amounts that it doesn't have any real harmful effect on us.

I invite you to research both opinions and decide what is best for you and your family. But I will say this-don't you think it's ironic that our use of chemical sunscreen has risen dramatically over the last 15-20 years, and so have the cases of skin cancer (specifically melanoma)?

My philosophy for my personal care products is simple- if I wouldn't eat it, I'm not putting it on my skin. Therefore, I refuse to use any products containing oxybenzone (or any other chemical sunscreen) and I won't use them on my future children, either. 


So now you're probably wondering.... what should I be doing to prevent overexposure and skin damage from the sun?

Tips for Sun Protection

  • Cover up with hats, clothing, towels, or sit in the shade whenever possible. That's the easiest way to control your sun exposure!

  • Avoid chemical sunscreens. This includes anything with the ingredients oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, and homosalate.

  • Avoid spray sunscreens- only use the rub-on products. Many times we end up inhaling some of the sunscreen when we spray it on (children especially). Also, spray sunscreens can contaminate the sand if you're at the beach. 

And the easiest way to control what ingredients you are putting on your skin- make your own sunscreen!

Holistic in Houston Homemade Sunscreen

I'm super excited to share this- I made it for myself and I really like it! It's easy to make, easy to store and it smells good!

What you'll need:

  • 1/2 cup organic, unrefined, extra virgin coconut oil

  • 1 T organic red raspberry seed oil (I used this one)

  • 2 T non-nano zinc oxide (I used this one)

  • Optional- a few drops of lavender essential oil for scent. Any essential oil will work, just DON'T use a citrus oil!

  • Small glass jar or container for storing


Make sure the coconut oil is liquid- I usually just put it on my porch for an hour or two and let the Texas heat do it's thing. :) Mix the coconut oil, red raspberry seed oil, and optional essential oil in a large glass bowl until blended. Add in the zinc oxide and stir well. I was concerned about the ingredients separating (since I'm not using any artificial thickeners) so I put it in the fridge until the coconut oil was still soft but not liquidy, then stirred it again before putting it in the glass jar. Use like you would a regular sunscreen! Store in a tightly sealed glass jar or bottle. Keep in mind this is coconut oil based with no artificial thickeners-it may be solid or liquid depending on what temperature you are in. If the ingredients separate, simply stir well before applying! 


Product Recommendations

And lastly, maybe you want a cleaner sunscreen but don't have time to make one- here's a few brands that make great mineral sunscreens. I don't have any affiliation with these, I just like their products!


Suntegrity-I really like their tinted moisturizer. I use it when going to the beach! They have a full line of clean beauty products and they are all really high-quality.

Clear Zinc Sunscreen

Babo Botanicals- They have a full range of personal care products and were rated highly by EWG. I really like their lip tints and their post-sun products. 

What’s your favorite nontoxic sunscreen brand?

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