Do you remember those hot summer days at the beach when your parents slathered white sunscreen all over your body? While you squirmed to get out of their hands to run across the scorching sand and dive into the ocean, you wondered, “what’s all this white stuff?”.

Sunscreen is used to protect the skin against the sun’s harmful UV rays that penetrate deep into the skin and cause long-term issues like premature skin aging and cancer. Not only that, but sunscreen also helps to prevent dark spots, uneven pigmentation, blotchiness, and red facial veins — which alone is reason enough to start using the best sunscreen you can find!

It’s important to know that not all sunscreens are created equally. There are some things you should know before you slather on natural sunscreen and pop out into the sizzling summer sun.

There are two main types of natural sunscreens – oils and zinc oxide. Just like the sunscreens found in stores, not all oils are strong enough for everyone. Those with fair skin will burn more quickly than those with darker skin tones. This means fair beauties need a higher SPF value to protect their delicate skin from long-term damage.

So, what’s all the hype about natural sunscreens? The vast majority of drugstore sunscreens contain toxic ingredients and hormone disrupters. These, in fact, may actually increase your risk for skin cancer. The best alternative to these, are to use oils and zinc oxide.

Here are some oils to put into your shopping cart:

Red Raspberry Seed Oil
This beautiful oil is a rich gold to red color with a fruity aroma and may be just as strong as titanium dioxide. It can have an SPF range of 28-50 depending on the quality of the oil. It protects against the sun’s UVA (tanning) and UVB (burning) rays. It’s high in vitamin E and C, is an anti-infammatory and contains strong antioxidants making it healing and nourishing. Don’t be intimidated by its robust red color.

Carrot Seed Oil
This soothing essential oil is gentle on the skin, yet tough on the sun. It is amber-colored with a woody and earthy sweet aroma. This oil has an SPF factor of 38-40. Its strong antioxidants make it the forerunner of essential oils in protection of the skin from sun damage. Other oils contain SPF factors, but they are not strong enough to be used alone as they have SPF factors of less than 10. These include macadamia and hemp seed oils (SPF 6), avocado, sesame seed, hemp and jojoba oils (SPF 4), olive and coconut oils (SPF 2-8), and almond oil (SPF 5). While these oils may be enough for bronze skin-toned beauties, those with fair skin will need more SPF for adequate protection.

Zinc Oxide
Ah, that white stuff! Zinc oxide is one of the most natural and safe sunscreens. This physical sunscreen scatters the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, so they don’t penetrate the skin in the frst place. Thanks to science and research, nowadays zinc rarely leaves a white film on the skin and instead, blends right in giving you an SPF value of 25 to 30.

By Dr. Nirali Patel