Natural sunscreen: safe & sensual?

Natural sunscreen: safe & sensual?

by marlies|dekkers

I truly believe that we are what we eat. But aren’t we also what we apply? On our skin, that is? After all, our skin is our largest organ, and it absorbs a large part – according to some studies as much as 64% – of what we put on it.

Think about it: the average woman uses 12 beauty products a day, containing about 168 ingredients. How many of them would you ingest? With that in mind, I decided a while ago to swap to beauty products that are good -and safe!- enough to eat. But when it came to protecting myself from the damaging effects of the sun, I was on the fence. Could a natural sunscreen be as safe as a traditional, chemical-based one?

I called Jonathan Berhani, one of the founders of The Ohm Collection. Since this young Dutch brand burst onto the scene with their divine natural powder deodorant, they have expanded into a whole range of beautiful products that benefit both people and the earth. And yes, that includes a natural sunscreen lotion. “The main difference between natural and chemical sun protection,” Jonathan tells me, “lies in the active ingredients that are used. Synthetic sunscreens use chemical blockers like oxybenzone and avobenzone which are absorbed by your skin. These filters ‘fill up’ on UV radiation and become saturated, at which point you have to apply more cream.” Besides these chemicals that have the potential to be harmful to both your body and the environment, this type of ‘traditional’ sun cream often contains other ingredients that can be less-than-kind to your skin, such as preservatives, perfume and alcohol. Mineral-based sunscreens, on the other hand, use physical blockers like zinc oxide and titanium. “These form an actual barrier on your skin and reflect the UV rays like a mirror,” says Jonathan. The only downside? The ghostly white cast these ingredients can leave on the skin.

“For our Sun Safe lotion, we spent a long time coming up with a formula that combines a maximum of protection with a minimum of ‘whiteness’, without resorting to breaking the zinc down into nanoparticles,” Jonathan continues. “Yes, these particles are much more easily absorbed by the skin, leaving less residue, but we cannot be a 100% sure yet that they don’t also increase the odds of skin cancer. And above all, we like to play it safe.” Safe, but also sensual, with a formula that contains ingredients that bring out your natural pigment and hydrate your skin like jojoba-oil and cocao butter. Hallelujah, I may have found a sunscreen lotion good enough to eat! Still, Jonathan concludes with a typically Dutch down-to-earthness: “Marlies, at the end of the day, any type of sunscreen is better than no sunscreen.”

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