11 Natural Sunscreen Alternatives

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That sun can be hard on our skin if we’re not careful to protect it, but commercial sunscreen isn’t all that healthy either. Give natural sunscreen a try.

beach_sand_walk_legs_feet_ground_water_summer_fun_picWe’ve been slathering sunscreen on ourselves since we were kids, trying to stay healthy and avoid getting cancer. Turns out many of the ingredients in sunscreen can actually encourage cancer growth, and all that blocking out the sun isn’t completely healthy either. The sun is still the best source of vitamin D we have. It creates all of this vital vitamin we need with just about twenty minutes of exposure a day. So a little dose of sun is a good thing, especially if you’re also getting the healthy fats the body needs to create that vitamin D.

But we still need to worry about burns and over-exposure. The skin turns bright red when you overdo it and it hurts for a reason. That’s your body letting you know you’ve done something you shouldn’t have. Take in the benefits of sunlight, but don’t get too much. Here are a few natural ways to help.

1. Wear Clothing

Clothes are the best sunblock. They absorb or reflect sunlight and keep your skin safe. After the initial twenty minutes or so of sun exposure, you should put some clothes on. Choose white clothing to reflect more light and keep you cooler in the summer heat.

2. Eat Well

Eating foods rich in healthy fats and antioxidants helps protect your skin from damage, including UV damage. That means you should reach for dark, colorful fruits and vegetables that contain carotenoids and other powerful antioxidants. Also eat nuts, seeds, coconut oil, avocados, sea vegetables, and microalgae for the best omega fatty acids and even some healthy saturated fats. Carotenoids give your skin a healthy bronze glow even without sunlight while making sure you burn less often.

(NOTE: One way to get your healthy fats and antioxidants is by adding smoothies into your diet. Use Sunwarrior's smoothie eBook to help! Download it here.)

3. Astaxanthin

woman_young_backpacking_train_tracks_map_hat_wait_country_green_travel_picThis antioxidant is also a carotenoid and gives salmon their reddish pink coloring. They get it from microalgae that produce astaxanthin to protect themselves from UV rays. Astaxanthin is more powerful than vitamin C, vitamin E, or CoQ10. It protects our skin from solar injuries and even helps prevent DNA from being damaged by ultra violet rays. It is literally a bit of sunscreen in a pill, but it also protects the heart, brain, joints, and eyes.

4. Red Raspberry Seed Oil

This is one of the best seed-oil sunscreens. It averages between 28-50 SPF and blocks the troublesome UVB rays.

5. Carrot Seed Oil

Carrot seed oil may be a little harder to find, but it boasts 38-40 SPF and has some good carotenoid antioxidant action going on too.

6. Wheat Germ Oil

Wheat germ oils is naturally moisturizing while touting an SPF of 20.

7. Sesame Oil

Sesame oil blocks 30% of sunlight, letting you stay in the sun longer without burning. Apply it every hour or two if you plan to be out longer.

8. Coconut Oil

woman_bike_city_bicycle_ride_sun_healthy_picCoconut oil blocks about 20% of the sun’s rays. That means you can enjoy the sun 20% longer than normally without getting burned. That’s not really much longer, so don’t think you’re covered for hours. You are more likely to tan and keep your tan with coconut oil in shorter, half hour or so bursts. It also moisturizes skin, lessens inflammation, and smooths out blemishes while it limits solar damage. Coconut oil works even more if you take it internally too. It fights inflammation from the inside and contributes to the healthy production of vitamin D.

9. Aloe Vera

Aloe is often used after a sunburn to sooth that hot, angry skin. It works beforehand too by blocking out about 20% of sunlight, like coconut oil. Still not a ton of extra time, so stay safe out there.

10. Other Seed and Nut Oils

There are many out there that offer some resistance to the sun while still allowing natural vitamin D production. They may not work as well as those listed above, maybe SPF 2-8, but they will work in a pinch for very short amounts of time. Try peanut oil, hemp seed oil, alfalfa oil, jojoba oil, shea butter, olive oil, avocado oil, sea buckthorn oil, and macadamia oil.

11. Natural Sunscreens

Check the labels. Many companies are offering some healthier options when it comes to sun protection. You can also make your own if you feel up to buying adventurous ingredients, like beeswax and zinc oxide powder, and mixing them up in your kitchen.

And, if you still manage to get burned, check out our 10 Natural Sunburn Remedies.

Claims on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA. Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Sunwarrior’s awesome expert writers do not replace doctors and don’t always cite studies, so do your research, as is wise. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.

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COMMENTS / REPLIES 6

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  • Hello, I've been trying to find more info on the UV protection of oils, where do you get your SPF factors from (red raspberry seed/carrot seed/wheat germ)? I would like to know if they apply for UVB radiation also...

    Thankyou!

    Sophie

    • Moderator

      Red raspberry came from Anthony J. O'Lenick, author of "Oils of Nature." Carrot and wheatgerm came from a study published in "Pharmacognosy Magazine" in 2009. The rest come from a mix of articles across the web. Carrot and raspberry both seem to work on UVA and UVB, but the others probably don't tackle both. Good luck, Sophie.

  • I am not so sure this would really help against strong tropical sun, when you are going there for vacation!

    • Moderator

      In reply to Regina W.'s comment

      Very true, Regina. Most of these are for daily use, when you don't need as much protection. Hours at the beach for days on end are a different story entirely.

  • I like the vegan options , such as using aloe & coconut oil. I mix essential oils with aloe actually . Diet , also a good suggestion , keeping it cruelty free ! Good suggestion on the oils : red raspberry , carrot seed , wheat germ and of course coconut ! !

    ~ Jan