Natural Sunscreen: Does it Exist?

Natural Sunscreen: Does it Exist?

As consumers are becoming more aware of ingredients in their body and skin care products, they have been looking for more “natural” products. Here are Joan Morais Naturals all of our product formulations are derived from nature, using organic when possible, and contain no harmful ingredients. You will notice we do not have any formulations for a natural sunscreen, although we have been asked about it. Sunscreen is complicated. It is imperative to understand the requirements and regulations before one attempts to market a product as sunscreen. Read on to learn more about the basic ingredients for sunscreen, regulations for products labeled as sunscreen and if there is such thing as a purely “natural” sunscreen.

Sunscreen Ingredients

There are two types of sunscreen- chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s harmful UV rays, whereas physical sunscreens block the rays. Chemical sunscreens contain a combination of the following ingredients:  avobenzone, oxybenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. Physical sunscreens contain mineral ingredients of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Typically physical sunscreens will offer better protection as they tend to block more types of sun rays than chemical sunscreens. In terms of a more “natural” sunscreen, physical/mineral sunscreens appear to be best.

Toxic Ingredients

Recently you may have seen on the news that Hawaii have banned specific ingredients in some sunscreens. These ingredients are oxybenzone and octinoxate, both of which have been linked to causing damage to coral reefs and cause hormone disruption in people. Sunscreen is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Sunscreen ingredients were grandfathered in during the 1970s and therefore potential hazards have not been reviewed. With the new ban in Hawaii (set to take effect in 2021), there have been calls to the FDA to review the safety of these ingredients as well as safer and more effective ingredients.

Sunscreen Regulations

Sunscreen is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Sunscreen is an Over The Counter (OTC) drug. The FDA has specific rules in regards to sunscreen labeling as well as testing to ensure that products are properly protecting against the sun. For guidance on labeling and effectiveness testing, check out the FDA’s website here. 

Natural Sunscreen

You may have seen products being touted as “all-natural” sunscreen that do not utilize the main chemical or mineral ingredients. Often these products will have coconut oil or aloe vera, or other plant-based oils that have a natural SPF. However these are typically not enough to adequately protect your skin from the sun. They also have not been properly tested to verify their ability to protect against the sun.

Sunscreen Pills

Recently, sunscreen pills have hit the market claiming to protect your skin against the sun just by swallowing a pill. The FDA has put out a statement warning the consumer against these pills stating they are misleading and putting people at risk. Companies that are producing these products have been sent warning letters to correct violations of these claims as no ingestible product has been approved by the FDA.

Sun Protection Recommendations

While sunscreen can be an important protectant against skin cancer, there are many ways to protect yourself from the sun. The best way is to limit your exposure to the sun. This includs staying in the shade, wearing protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses.

For more information on sunscreen and finding one that meets your needs, check out the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) guide to sunscreen.

So, does “natural” sunscreen exist? Those with mineral ingredients of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are your best bet. Any products that do not include these minerals or the chemical ingredients listed above are likely not going to adequately protect against the sun. If you find any product that does claim this, you should request information on their testing showing these results prior to using.

Are you interested in making your own natural skin and body care products? Check out: Professional Natural Skin Care Product Making Course.