Will a Natural Sunscreen for Face Really Work?

Everyone knows to lather up with plenty of sunscreen before hitting the outdoors this summer, right? Right. Except, you may be overlooking a glaring problem with your sunscreen. Most popular sunscreens are actually chock-full of harsh chemicals that can really do some damage to your skin and maybe even to your overall health. The main culprit: a chemical called oxybenzone (more on this later). Okay, sure, less chemicals, great. But does a natural sunscreen for face actually work just as well as traditional sunscreens? Experts say yes!

Why a Daily Sunscreen is so Important for Your Face

Let’s back up for just a minute. We know you’re probably using sunscreen when you have things like pool parties, beach trips, and other sunny outdoor activities planned. But what about those overcast days when you’re just lounging outside with your favorite book? The truth is, if you’re only applying a safe sunscreen to your face half of the time, you’re only protecting your skin from UV rays half of the time as well. Believe it or not, clouds do not do a very good job at blocking UVA or UVB light. While they do manage to reduce these rays a little, they mostly just block visible light, not the harmful stuff that goes undetected by our eyes. In fact, many studies are finding that clouds may actually sometimes work to enhance UV rays, rather than prevent them from reaching our skin. Why? Well, researchers are still unsure of the exact reasons, but they have observed what they call “cloud enhancement of UV” occurs, on average, a whopping 50 percent of the time. (American Scientist) So what does this mean for you? Even if you can’t see the sun behind all those clouds, your skin could still be absorbing harmful UV light. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your skin is protected every day. Our P.R.E.P. Face + Body Lotion is a great example of a light, natural sunscreen that’s built into a daily moisturizer. Using a 2-in-1 product like this can help you to be sure that your face is both protected from the sun and moisturized every day. These are both important skin care habits to follow for healthy skin for life.

Natural Sunscreen vs. Chemical Sunscreen

Okay, so you’re convinced of the importance of a daily sunscreen. But here’s our next problem: what if the ingredients in the sunscreen that we’re slathering all over our bodies are actually harmful to our skin? Sounds like a double-edged sword, huh? Well, sort of. That’s where natural sunscreens come in. Although there are conflicting viewpoints surrounding the question of whether or not chemical sunscreens could pose potential health risks, more and more evidence of the negative side effects of chemicals like oxybenzone is piling up. The Environmental Working Group asserts that oxybenzone can be absorbed through the skin, which can lead to some not-so-sunny side effects. Research by the Environmental Working Group and other toxicology experts has linked oxybenzone to disruptions in hormone levels, and also suggests that it may cause damage to skin cells that could potentially lead to skin cancer. (CNN, The Environmental Working Group) So what can you do to reduce your exposure to potential toxins? Easy. Choose a sunscreen that substitutes natural, gentle ingredients for the likes of oxybenzone. What do we recommend? Look for zinc oxide as the main UV-blocking ingredient.

What is Zinc Oxide and Does It Really Work?

Zinc oxide is a mineral that’s most commonly used as a topical treatment for things like diaper rash, chapped skin, and (you guessed it) sunscreen. But the main difference between its UV-blocking properties and those of oxybenzone is in the way it works. Instead of absorbing UV rays like oxybenzone does, zinc oxide reflects and scatters them away from the body. And unlike oxybenzone, which has a moderate to high overall hazard rating by the Environmental Working Group, zinc oxide is gentle and has a low incidence of potential health hazards. (The Environmental Working Group) But does it really work as a natural sunscreen? Absolutely. Remember those old movies or TV shows where all the lifeguards had white sunscreen smeared on their noses? That was zinc oxide. Luckily for us, this natural sunscreen for your face is now available in creams that don’t leave any white streaks, even when you sweat. But the point is that zinc oxide has been around for quite some time, and it’s known for its strong UV-blocking properties. And even better still, zinc oxide won’t break down in the sun, so you can count on it for maximum sun protection. (The Environmental Working Group)

The Bottom Line

Keeping your skin safely protected from the sun doesn’t have to be a complicated process. While it is important to remember to apply a gentle sunscreen to your face daily, this can really be as simple as adding a great SPF30 or above moisturizer to your morning routine. (American Academy of Dermatology). The P.R.E.P. Face + Body Lotion that we mentioned earlier is an SPF30 moisturizing lotion that can be applied to both your face and the rest of your body. And because it’s so gentle, it won’t clog your pores or irritate your skin. No matter what sunscreen products you choose, don’t forget to read the list of ingredients to make sure you’re not putting anything on (or into!) your skin that could be harmful. We, along with many experts, suggest looking for zinc oxide as the main ingredient for your sun protection. And remember to apply it to your face daily so you don’t have to worry about harmful UV rays, rain or shine. Stay healthy,