By Ghanim al-Sulaiti
As humans, we’re generally very trusting. While there are many areas of life where we apply extra scrutiny in questioning ‘Is this the right thing to do?’ — there are decisions we make all the time that never second-guess things we assume are in the best interests of our health…but second-guessing is exactly what we should be doing with SPF sunscreen.
Over the recent years, serious issues have been identified with SPF that people continue to trust without any concern thinking these products can protect us. Seven sunscreen chemicals enter bloodstream after one use.
Everything from Vitamin D malabsorption, negative environmental effects, and allergic reactions to the ingredient formulas in so-called ‘natural’ SPF creams. To break it down, applying sunscreen prevents the body from absorbing Vitamin D, which has a primary role is helping the body absorb calcium and phosphorous, as well as to boost immune system. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to increased autoimmune issues and a higher risk of developing infections. Sunlight helps build, and strengthen up your immune system, mainly because your white blood cells increase with sun exposure. These are the cells that play a major role in defending the body against infection.
Skin cancer patients who avoid the sun are three times more likely to be Vitamin-D deficient than healthy people, according to a new study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
In a study in the US, an estimated 40% of American adults are Vitamin D deficient, however when we break it down into demographics, for African-Americans, that number may be nearly double at 76% according to a new study by The Cooper Institute of US. Darker skin tends to take longer to absorb Vitamin D, hence the higher rate of deficiency.
We need a measured exposure to the sun, but people who are spending an increasing amount of time indoors, and then only emerging into the sunlight using chemical sunscreen just adds to their vitamin D deficiency. Fact: our bodies must not be reliant on SPF, but the way in which society has failed to question the effectiveness of SPF means for many – their bodies have become reliant on SPF.
Many studies have found that people are misled by the claims on high-SPF sunscreen bottles. They are more likely to use high-SPF products improperly and as a result may expose themselves to more harmful ultraviolet radiation than do people who rely on products with lower SPF values, or those who take the time to absorb Vitamin D in the sun light at a sensible hour of the day (perhaps very early morning), with a mix of sunlight and shade – in order to slowly build up a safe tolerance level.
If you want a safe and effective sunscreen alternative, then there are several options available. Aloe Vera is usually associated with after-sun treatment as it’s amazingly effective at reducing sunburn. It can also be used as a preventative sunscreen when applied before going out. Aloe Vera protects the skin by blocking around 20% of sunlight. Carrot seed oil is rich in beta carotene, Vitamin E, and Vitamin A. These have antioxidant properties that counteract the effects of free radicals. Carrot seed oil delivers a high SPF of between 38 and 40 making it one of the most effective on this list. It also provides moisturisation and can help to heal burns and wounds.
Furthermore, consuming foods rich in antioxidants (like fruits and vegetables) will help your body to protect itself on the inside. Seed oils, plant extracts, and physical barriers can also be used for external sun protection. They are also natural sunscreen alternatives so don’t contain harsh chemicals that can damage our health and environment.
* The author is an expert in vegan wellbeing and health. Instagram handle: @Ghanim92
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