Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. According to Cancer Council Australia, two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70, and approximately 99% of skin cancers are a direct result of sun exposure. Thankfully, the majority of Aussies have received the message loud and clear and we now understand that it’s vital to slip, slop and slap on the sunscreen before we spend time in the sun.
And while it’s fantastic that the sun safety message has finally sunk in, many Australians are unaware that the vast majority of mainstream sunscreens available in supermarkets and pharmacies contain a slew of potentially dangerous and toxic chemicals, which can be absorbed into their bodies after being slathered all over their skin. Read on to learn more and discover why natural sunscreen is the best sunscreen for you and your family.
Chemical sunscreens, which include the majority of those you’ll find in your local Woolies or Priceline, contain chemical compounds that work by either absorbing or scattering UV rays.
While chemical sunscreens have been shown to be effective at protecting the skin from the sun’s dangerous rays, the chemical compounds used in them (such as oxybenzone and octinoxate) are potentially toxic, with effects ranging from skin irritation to endocrine disruption.
In addition to this, when these chemical compounds are exposed to UV rays, their structure can begin to break down or change, which can render them less effective and potentially more dangerous.
Physical sunscreen on the other tends to contain natural minerals – usally zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or both – that work by creating a physical barrier to UV rays. This means that when these rays hit the skin, they bounce or deflect off the skin.
While both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are natural ingredients, the sunscreens we stock here at Beautiful Because use zinc oxide as the primary active ingredient, and we recommend zinc oxide based sunscreen for a number of reasons. Firstly, zinc oxide has been shown to be gentler on skin and less likely to cause skin irritation than titanium dioxide.
Secondly, zinc oxide provides broad-spectrum protection, meaning that it protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Titanium dioxide on the other hand has been shown to be less effective at protecting your skin from UVA rays, which actually penetrate deeper into the skin than UVB rays, and are known to play a key role in the development of skin cancer.
You may have recently heard a lot of buzz about nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are incredibly tiny particles of a substance that are between 1 and 100 nanometers in size (a nanometer is one-billionth of a metre, to give you an idea of just how tiny we’re talking!).
Concern has been raised as to whether nanoparticles in cosmetics can penetrate the skin and be absorbed into the body. With regards to sunscreen, it has been suggested that minerals found in physical sunscreen (like zinc oxide) could - in some cases - be in nanoparticle form/size.
Luckily you can breathe a sigh of relief, because even if there are nanoparticles in your sunscreen, recent studies have found that they are unlikely to pose a threat to your health. According to CHOICE, studies found that nanoparticles do not penetrate the deeper layers of skin, with penetration limited to the external layer only.
This means that it’s very unlikely that nanoparticles can make their way into your system to adversely affect you. In addition, CHOICE also found that not using sunscreen posed a much bigger threat to peoples’ health than using sunscreen – nanoparticles or no nanoparticles.
While we offer a variety of wonderful natural sunscreen options here at Beautiful Because, we must admit that we do have a few firm favourites. Discover five of our top sunscreen picks below, or alternatively click here to browse our entire range of sunscreens, after-sun lotions and self-tanning products.
By Lauren Dunne