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Fun in the Sun: Carrier Oils for Sun Protection

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

We all want to enjoy the beauty and warmth of the sun during the brightest days of summer. In recent years, it has come to "light" that we need Vitamin D from the sun and that the sun's rays can be very damaging to our skin. The good news is that natural carrier oils make highly effective sun protection and are good for the skin in other ways. Learn all the ways that natural carrier oils and essential oils can become part of your summer fun and skin safety.

The skin is protected from sunburn in a variety of ways; remember these points to prevent sunburn:

  • KEEP HYDRATED: Suggestion: Drink 3 to 5 quarts of water a day.

  • MOISTURIZE THE SKIN: All body butter and carrier oils will help the skin retain water and help the body create vitamin D from the sun's damaging UVB rays.

  • ANTIOXIDANTS: add tocopherols like vitamin E that repair free-radical damage in the skin, thus preventing skin cancers in the long term. All unrefined oils contain vitamin E, and those particularly high in vitamin E are traditionally considered sun protection.

  • BLOCK UVA AND UVB RAYS: Clothing, sun hats, and shade are best to limit your sun exposure from 10 am to 3 pm when the UV rays are the strongest; this will vary by the season, location, and time of day. Sunburned skin doesn’t just feel awful; it can cause permanent damage over time.

The sunlight that reaches us comprises two types of harmful rays: long wave ultraviolet A (UVA) and short wave ultraviolet B (UVB). Basically, UVA rays can age us, and UVB rays can burn us. Overexposure to either can damage the skin.

  • USE A NATURAL SUNSCREEN: Nature has provided us with a whole host of natural ingredients that give sun protection factors (SPF). Plants are exposed to the sun every day of every year and have evolved to produce pigments, phytochemicals, and nutrients that protect them from sun damage. Many liquid carriers or base oils used in aromatherapy oils are extracted from fruit and vegetable seeds. Their penetrating properties and nutrients and their natural content of tocopherols, carotenoids, and essential fatty acids make them highly valuable. Several natural-based sunscreen lotions include the carrier oils of almond, avocado, coconut, olive, and sesame, which have been reported to have UV filters. See below for our natural sunscreen recipe.

Why use carrier oils as a natural sunscreen? Because typical commercial sunscreens may contain one or more of these potentially dangerous chemicals:

  • Para amino benzoic acid

  • Octyl salicylate

  • Avobenzone

  • Oxybenzone

  • Cinoxate

  • Padimate O

  • Dioxybenzone

  • Phenylbenzimidazole

  • Homosalate

  • Sulisobenzone

  • Trolamine salicyclate

  • Menthyl anthranilate

  • Octocrylene

Dioxybenzone and oxybenzone are some of the most powerful free radical generators known to man. Other chemicals on this list have been connected to conditions like cancer and hormonal imbalance.

Zinc oxide is another popular natural ingredient in sunscreens. Still, researchers at Missouri State University recently found that when exposed to sunlight, zinc oxide may create free radicals, destroy cells, and increase the risk of skin cancer. And, your skin cannot make vitamin D when you use zinc oxide sunscreen.