Staying safe in the sun – Protection from UVA/B

10996762_10153001499530959_4913050493436616880_nOver the last few months I’ve been doing a lot of studying, reading and researching – listening to the views of those much more experienced and knowledgeable than myself and forming my own opinion…  So this blog is exactly that – my opinion.  You can agree or disagree.. do your own research, it’s very empowering!

 I’m the kind of person who loves to find out more and then read about it some more – just to put my mind at rest that I know as much about something as I can. I also like to look at the research evidence, where it’s available. However I’m also aware that many complementary and alternative therapies do not have an evidence base because it costs so much to do clinical trials and often they can’t be tested in the same way that, for example, a pharmaceutical company might test a drug with placebo and control groups. It is difficult to examine the placebo effect of aromatherapy as essential oils tend not to be odourless!  

Last week I did a blog post about phototoxicity in plants and essential oils and so this post follows on with my personal research about staying safe in the sun.  I’ve been reading a lot about concerns with home-made sunscreen and the sharing of information across the internet about using natural oils for sun protection.  Not everything you read on the internet is factual – but sometimes if like me you want to use safe products, you could easily believe something which sounds compelling and believable.  A couple of weeks ago, I attended a 2 day seminar at the University of Westminster with 137 other delegates listening to Robert Tisserand talking about current research in Essential Oil Chemistry and Pharmacology.  He clearly stated that there is no research evidence for any essential oil being effective as an agent to protect the skin from sun damage and I have seen examples of some very nasty burns in a professional skincare formulation group, showing what happens when these home-made concoctions have been used. The discussion touched on the use of other vegetable/nut (fixed) oils too and I recall him saying that the only effective, safe agent for preventing UV damage is a mineral sunblock such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. There was also much discussion about how effective the skin is in blocking entry into the bloodstream of any product applied to the skin – so the chances of a large molecule which is designed to “sit” on the skin and block UV – entering the bloodstream are slim if not impossible: Current research shows that only max 5-10% of essential oils can enter the bloodstream through dermal application and these are very small molecules.  Nano technology is increasingly being used in skincare products to improve absorbtion and there is very little known about the effects this will have on the body as these ingredients are possibly more likely to be transdermally absorbed due to reduced molecular size.  A couple of years ago the Soil Association increased the size of so-called nano particles so companies using “clear” zinc oxide as a physical barrier were forced to reformulate if they wanted to get organic certification.  Neal’s Yard Remedies did reformulate and the sun cream was very effective, but for some the whitening effect of titanium dioxide was not appreciated.  They have now re-formulated again and the new sunscreen is available to purchase from my webshop.  I’ve got very fair skin which burns easily and also have solar urticaria which means that I am allergic to sunlight!  So unless I build up my exposure very gradually (which is very difficult in a country where one day it’s 25 degrees and the next it’s 10 degrees and raining!) I come out in hives which blister and only go away by keeping my skin covered for weeks and taking anti-histamine.  So if I know I’m going to be exposed for longer than 10-15 minutes, I need a really good sunscreen to stop the initial histamine reaction. In the middle of writing this blog, this popped up on my Facebook feed:  Hives – natural alternatives to soothe and calm your skin.  So I’ll be trying some of those as I really don’t like taking anti-histamines!

Many fixed oils such as raspberry seed oil and rosehip have anti-oxidant properties and these are great to help the skin to heal if you have suffered from sun damage, but they will not prevent that damage from occurring in the first place.  

I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of my new sunscreen – let me know if you’d like a sample so you and your family can stay safe in the sun.  Remember that products you purchase in the UK are subject to European Compliance Laws and they have to do what they state they will do.  The reason I am a consultant for NYR is that I trust their products will do the job without harming myself or my family – I am a picky procrastinating perfectionist and proud of it! 

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3 thoughts on “Staying safe in the sun – Protection from UVA/B

  1. Hi Sue, I think it is worth remembering that the Vitamin D, when created by small amounts of daily sun exposure to bare skin, is protective against many skin complaints. It is difficult to create Vitamin D if you wear sunscreen.

    • That’s a very good point Clare – I agree that is an area that I didn’t mention. My main concern was the issue of using sun screen that doesn’t protect in the belief that it will be ok… I don’t wear sunscreen when in the sun for short periods for that very reason as I know that if I build up resistance gradually, I am less likely to get a reaction.

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