We wanted the lowdown on natural sunscreen so we went to the certified Naturopath who first introduced high SPF chemical-free sunscreen to the US back in 2004 - Dr. Tony Kovacs. Originally from Australia, Kovacs is now involved with research & development at Soleo Organics in San Clemente, California.
1. How do natural and conventional sunscreens differ?
Natural (there is only one, ie. zinc) and conventional (chemical) differ in that zinc is a “physical” sunscreen as it reflects and/or scatters UV light, whereas the conventional chemical sunscreens, ie. containing titanium, oxybenzone, methoxycinnamate, homosalate, etc. absorb UV light. It is via this absorbing action that toxic and dangerous new compounds are formed.
So, they primarily differ in the manner they deal with the UV light and the resultant byproducts, if any that occur as a result of this action. Zinc is stable, non absorbing and safe. Chemical sunscreens are linked with DNA damage, oestrogen mimicking, endocrine disruption, free radical production, damage to the coral reefs and ecosystem disruption.
2. We hear that higher SPF's are good for some skin conditions but we also hear that anything over SPF 30 is simply about marketing. What's this all about?
It is a marketing hype of sorts. When SPF levels are portrayed on a graph, the graph tends to plateau around SPF 32-35. Any number above that is negligible with regard to protection. Ie an SPF 100 may give an extra 1% protection (at most) but the reality of being able to stay out in the sun longer is a complete hoax. For example, if an SPF 30+ will offer protection of up to 4 hours, then it stands to reason that an SPF 60 would offer 8 hours and therefore and SPF 100 would be 10 hours. This is definitely not the case as no sunscreen can offer protection for that period of time. You are fundamentally paying more money, for a greater concentration of toxic chemicals and receiving very little, if any extra benefit.
3. What is the benefit of biodegradable sunscreen and why should we consider trying it out?
Biodegradability touches on a number of issues. Awareness for the consumer to consider products that breakdown safely in the environment and hence do not interfere with the natural balance within the ecosystem. The use of ingredients that are largely non toxic in their main usage form as well as their breakdown form. Biodegradable sunscreen addresses the issue of harm to the environment primarily. If the sunscreen is not biodegradable then the toxic compounds (formed prior to and after photactivation) will have a direct effect on the environments they are introduced to. They will create issues either by interfering with the reproductive cycles of the flora and fauna (nearly all of them), affecting the nitrogen fixing bacteria in the soils (titanium dioxide) or at worst causing DNA damage and possible mutations within the animals they influence. Bleaching of the coral reefs is just one example.
Learn more about natural, biodegradable sunscreen at Lavish & Lime. Visit the Natural Skincare category at Lavish & Lime for a range of natural and non-toxic sunscreen, insect repellent, hand sanitizer and more.