Sun sense – the natural, non-toxic way

It’s holiday season! Time for some fun in the sun outdoors, and a good dose of healthy Vitamin D. Despite the health-giving properties of Vitamin D (it’s known to assist our bodies with absorbing calcium) we all know that overexposure to the sun can be damaging, and the risk of life-threatening illness caused by sun damage is a very real one.

Although sunscreen is an undeniably important tool in our fight against sun damage and skin cancer, more recently, researchers have raised concerns around the use of chemical sunscreens.

At best, experts are saying that sunscreen formulations may need to be reassessed to contain safer ingredients, and at worst, some sunscreens could already be damaging our health.

The good, the bad and the nasties

There are so many sunscreens on supermarket and pharmacy shelves, how do we know what ingredients we should be looking for and which we should be avoiding?


  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Homosalate
  • Octisalate
  • Octocrylene

The toxic trio oxybenzone, octinoxate, and homosalate are known oestrogen mimickers and endocrine disruptors. Often used in sunscreens, these are then absorbed into the skin and body, with potential to interfere with the body’s endocrine system and carry potential adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects, both in humans and wildlife.


  • Zinc oxide
  • Titanium dioxide

Environmental interference

The human based consequences of absorbing these potentially malicious ingredients are of enough concern, but the environmental significance is equally important. Chemicals from sunscreens are washed into rivers, lakes and oceans and leach into the soil – land-based animals as well as aquatic wildlife are at risk of similar side effects that humans face when confronted with these endocrine disruptors. A further effect is the demise of coral reefs – scientists have linked chemical-based sunscreens to the bleaching and death of these threatened environments.

Food for good

Eating natural anti-inflammatory organic whole foods is also important for sun protection, as these provide key phytonutrients and phytochemicals that protect you from free radical damage – one of the causes of skin damage from sun exposure and stress.

These little spheres of wellness are crammed full of antioxidants that fight free radicals

Nuts & seeds
The likes of walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds and flax all contain omega-3 essential fatty acids, essential building blocks to skin health. Omega’s are also excellent for inflammation – especially after spending too much time in the sun. Eggs and fish are other excellent sources of omega 3’s.

Carrots & leafy greens
Heavily laden with beta carotene which converts to vitamin A, a key ingredient in maintaining skin health. Kale and spinach particularly contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which protect against wrinkling, sun damage, and even skin cancer.

Green tea
This ancient elixir protects against the decrease of collagen, which gives skin its firmness. Green tea also helps reduce damage caused by UVA light.

Including cauliflower in your diet is a powerful way to ingest the antioxidants that help fight off the free radicals that cause stress on the body.

Break it down – what is endocrine disruption?

The endocrine system regulates the use of hormones in our bodies, growth and development of organs, mood, metabolism and reproductive functions. When endocrine disruptors in the form of chemicals are introduced to our bodies, the endocrine system is disrupted and the results can be cancerous tumours, birth defects and developmental disorders. Hormone disruptors can interfere with any of the intricate systems in the body of both humans and wildlife.

Substances contaning endocrine disruptors range from pharmaceuticals to dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, DDT andother pesticides, and plasticisers such as bisphenol A. Endocrine disruptors can be found in everyday items such as a plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides. Studies show that they may result in human health effects including lowered fertility, some pre-natal and early post-natal development issues, endometriosis and some cancers.

My favourite sunscreens

There are some excellent natural skin protection products on the market that are free of harmful chemicals and endocrine disruptors. These are two of the products I use for myself and my family on a daily basis and especially when we are outdoors. Remember to reapply sunscreen often, especially after swimming or exercise, when it comes to sunscreen – less certainly isn’t more!


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