Today I have a guest post to share from the writers at Sustainable Jungle, a brilliant publication which is, in their words ‘here to encourage and galvanise positive change. We share sustainability related ideas, tips, tricks, hacks, products, brands and stories of people & organisations doing meaningful work to future-proof our planet.’
It’s so nice to collaborate with like-minded people, and I highly recommend a browse through the link above to pick up a few ideas on things you can do in your everyday life to approach things in a new way, with SO many articles on every possible sustainaility-related subject you could want. Tips galore!
Below is the guest post – and although it’s currently deep into autumn here in the UK, I am personally still wearing my Sun Drops daily, as well as using it now and then as a spot treatment (topical zinc is one of the most widely-studied acne-care ingredients, and works a charm!) – plus it’s always summer somewhere in the world, yes? 🙂
How to Sustainably Soothe your Sun-Kissed Summer Skin
Summer is hard on the skin.
Dehydration, UV ray exposure, the elements…. No wonder it usually looks a little worse for wear by the time the leaves start turning colors.
Most of us spend a lot of time outside and despite (some) of our best efforts, we don’t always remember to slather the sunscreen on.
Fortunately, there are many natural skin care ingredients that not only minimize oxidation, but help repair the damage wrought after a long summer of fun in the sun.
WTF is SPF?
Before we start talking about sustainable summer skincare, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page.
Understanding SPF is crucial to know which ingredients can protect your skin from the sun.
SPF i.e. “sun protective factor” and its corresponding numerical value rates how long a product or formula will provide sun protection before needing reapplication.
But SPF is not a “one size fits all” thing. It comes down to how the product interacts with YOUR skin and how resistant it naturally is to UV rays.
For example, you might be able to stay in the sun for 10 minutes before your skin starts to burn (sans sun protection). An SPF 20 sunscreen will extend that natural protection to allow you to stay in the sun 20 times longer than you could normally. For you, that means 200 minutes before you’ll need to reapply.
The higher the SPF, the more time in the sun you have.
Nature’s Most Sustainable Sun Protection
Most of us know exposure to sun causes sunburn, skin cancer, and photoaging (which, in contrast to fine lines of natural aging, leads to deep furrows, pigmentation issues, and dryness).
What most don’t know is that sun actually degrades the overall integrity of the skin.
Studies show that elongated exposure to sun (merely several months) has detrimental effects on intercellular strength, turnover, and cohesion. Cumulatively, this leads to decreased collagen and elastin production and even DNA damage.
The best way to keep your skin safe from the sun is to stay out of it (or keep it covered)—but there’s no fun in that!
On the flipside, the sun has benefits, boosting both mood and immunity (think vitamin d). How can we retain those rewards but mitigate the risks it poses to our skin?
For serious SPF protection without all the reef bleaching chemicals and phthalates, non-nano zinc oxide is a key ingredient. A few zero waste sunscreens, like Leafology’s Sun Drops contain this ingredient because of its highly reflective properties.
In addition to that, this zinc-based body oil contains numerous other nourishing plant oils to create a gentle barrier against the sun and wind—including raspberry seed oil, AKA one of the best sun protective natural ingredients.
Against UVA rays (AKA those you can’t always feel but lead to free radicals and skin cancer), it has an SPF of 8 and against sunburn-causing UVB rays, anywhere from 28-50.
Plus, being high in ellagic and alpha linolenic acids, it stimulates melanin production, reduces collagen destruction, reduces inflammation, and is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to neutralize free radicals and improve skin elasticity.
Pomegranate seed oil boasts similar benefits. Aside from an SPF of 15, studies have shown it increases collagen and elastin and boosts the effectiveness of sunscreen by up to 20%.
Other plant-based ingredients with natural SPF to look for include:
- Avocado oil (SPF 15): High in mono-saturated fats, it provides a protective layer over the skin and promotes collagen production
- Wheatgerm oil (SPF 20): Also great as preventing free radical damage (UVA damage)
- Walnut oil (SPF <10): UBV protective and helps skin produce more melanin
- Olive oil (SPF 8)
- Coconut oil (SPF 8)
- Shea butter (SPF 6):Improves the efficacy of UVB filters
- Castor oil (SPF 6)
- Jojoba oil (SPF <10)
- Sunflower oil (SPF <10)
- Almond oil (SPF 5)
- Sesame seed oil (SPF 2)
- Olive oil (SPF <10)
- Eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, holy basil, sweet orange, and tea tree essential oils (SPF 2-7)
One example of a product bearing several of these ingredients is Leafology’s Good Face Day Serum. Rich in raspberry seed oil, jojoba oil, organic argan oil (full of vitamin E to promote skin elasticity), and hemp seed oil.
Stay Hydrated During
UV rays themselves are not the only thing that damages skin. Dryness can also lead to premature aging and wrinkles.
Did you know one of the best things you can do for your skin is to drink water?
So make sure you chug those 8 glasses!
That’s just a rule of thumb, of course. To calculate how much water you actually need, multiply your body weight by 67%. That’s the rough number of ounces to aim for.
And throw in a cup of coffee! Though caffeine is overall dehydrating, caffeine helps the skin eliminate damaged cells. Just make sure you drink a little extra water for every cup o’ joe.
With all that sweat and humidity, it might not feel like your skin needs any more hydration, but trust us, it does.
Summer dries out the skin in innumerable ways: the sun (obviously), heat, loss of moisture through sweat, swimming pool chlorine, and even air conditioning! If you think you’re safe because you spent most of the summer in a climate-controlled space, think again.
Air conditioning units act as mini dehumidifiers. Research finds extended time under the AC can change skin texture by accelerating fine lines and wrinkles.
Remember how coconut oil and shea butter have natural SPF properties?
They’re also some of the best natural moisturizers to put on your skin after a long day in the sun (more about coconut oil hydration properties). Compared to skin-drying water-based moisturizers, such oil-based ones will coat and lock in your skin’s natural moisture.
Aloe vera isn’t oil-based but it’s a remarkably effective moisturizer. It’s also cooling for sunburned skin and great at fighting to age. Experts also recommend applying aloe vera before going into the sun to improve the skin’s immune system.
No wonder the Sun Drops also has aloe vera in it!
It also has carrot seed oil, which is known for being particularly effective at stimulating skin cell repair.
For more UV damage repair, look for moisturizers or facial oils with sesame seed oil, argan oil, sea buckthorn oil, raspberry seed oil, moringa oil, pomegranate seed oil, and avocado seed oil, as these are particularly effective as repairing damaged dermis.
Before applying, however, make sure your skin is clean with a natural face wash. Exfoliating away the dead skin cells also promotes the generation of new, healthy ones.
Final Thoughts on Sustainable Summer Skin Care
Next time you’re shopping for zero waste skin care or vegan sunscreen, keep these naturally sun protective ingredients and healers in mind so you can enjoy your next day at the beach, without all the worries.
Staying protected from the sun doesn’t have to mean totally avoiding it—though a wide-brimmed fair trade hat to lessen exposure on your moneymaker isn’t a terrible idea either!
Feature photo (tree-filled architecture) credit: by Victor Garcia on Unsplash