The Truth About Sunscreen and Natural Alternatives

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Hey Calico Babes! It’s that time of year again where I want to walk around wearing a tee shirt that says “the sunscreen industry is a scam” in big red lettering. Seriously friends, we need to talk about the damaging lotion you are putting on your skin to protect yourself from the sun. Chances are, the kind you are using is doing more harm than good.

It's estimated that over 80% of the population is vitamin D deficient. Unless you live in a sunshine state and already know what I'm about to tell you about sunscreen, then you're most likely deficient too.

One of the biggest reasons (aside from winter) we are vitamin D deficient is because of sunscreen. We've been taught all our lives that the sun is dangerous and will give us cancer, but the truth is, with a good amount of healthy exposure, it's quite the opposite. Vitamin D from the sun can actually be powerful in cancer prevention and a healing aid to those who have cancer. Go figure right? What a typical FDA thing to convince us that something healthy and healing is actually dangerous and then sell us chemicals to "protect" ourselves from the THING THAT'S ACTUALLY HEALTHY. It's not the first time they've done this and it won't be the last. Which is why we need to be our own health advocates and question everything.

Vitamin D deficiency can cause many health issues and side effects such as depression, fatigue, bone loss, hair loss, hormone disruption, muscle pain, increased cancer risk, autoimmune disorders and MUCH more. Have you ever noticed how good you feel after a day of sunshine or when the sun comes out for the first time after a long period of gloomy days? That's because the sunshine that God created is doin' the thing it's supposed to do!

Protection from the inside out

Back in the day, food was pure, untouched, grown locally without chemicals in clean soil, whole, and healthy. People ate seasonally and were provided with what they needed physically from that food—the way it should be. Now food is heavily processed, full of chemicals, genetically modified, cancer-causing and sickening. Fueling your body with the right things makes all the difference. All healing begins with the inside out just like all illnesses begin with the inside out, as do sunburns. Eating a diet of heavily processed foods and animal products will not create the right environment for the body to soak up the benefits of the sun or naturally protect itself from burns.

Do you see what I mean when I say everything that God created on this beautiful universe is connected in someway and by treating and fueling our body the way we're supposed to will bring healing and power and protection in more ways than one? 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not denying that an excess of UVA rays can cause free-radical damage (cancer) but there are healthy ways to protect yourself and conventional sunscreen simply isn't one of them. Until recently, conventional sunscreens didn't even protect our skin from UVA rays at all. It only protected us from the UVB rays- which are the good rays that we create vitamin D from! So not only were we using these toxic chemicals on our skin while still being exposed to the harmful rays of the sun, our body was blocked from absorbing the good rays too. But of course the sunscreen industry would never tell you that. The sunscreen industry also puts vitamin A in their sunscreen because it is said to be anti-aging but studies are now showing that vitamin A in sunscreen actually speeds up the process of cancer and raises the risk. Yikes. So in reality, it's not the sun that's giving us cancer, it's the lotions we are using to avoid cancer from the sun. GO FIGURE.

It is possible to get non-burning sun exposure in a healthy healing way, even if you are someone who has always burned your entire life. It's so important to do everything we can to move away from toxic sunscreen that is keeping us from the benefits of the sun.

Not only is sunscreen harming our health, but it's damaging the environment as well. I'm sure you have read recent reports of sunscreen damaging the barrier reef. Oceans and lakes and the creatures that reside in them are also unfortunately suffering at the sake of our sunscreen use.

You can type in your sunscreen brand in the EWG database and see it's rating and toxicity here. 


How to naturally protect yourself from the sun

Pay attention to your body. Know when your body has had enough and it's time to cover up and move to the shade. Also be intuitive about what kind of skin you have. I have always had skin that tans well but never burns. Because of this, a very minimal protection process works for me and more often than not I don't have to use any at all. But if you are someone who is very prone to burning, try to get at least 20 minutes a day of unprotected sun exposure before moving to the shade or protecting yourself with an all natural sunscreen. Getting to the point of being able to experience non-burning sun exposure is the goal here. For those prone to burning quite easily, try changing your diet and protecting yourself from the inside out first.

Wellness Mama has a very thought provoking article about why she eats her sunscreen as well as another article talking about Astaxanthin supplements and why she takes one everyday to protect herself from the inside out. 

Changing your body so you are able to be exposed to the sun without burning is possible and the ultimate goal. Natural sunscreen is handy as a last resort, but we really should be trying to go as long as we can without burning and without any lotions.

All natural sunscreen options

  • Eat lots of organic tomatoes (Tomatoes are in season in the summer! See how eating seasonally gives our bodies the nutrients it needs during that specific time of the year?!)

  • Eat lots of organic plant-based omega-3's (hemp and flax are amazing sources)

  • Eat a whole foods, plant based, seasonal diet

  • Organic unrefined coconut oil (has a low natural SPF)

Last resort options (that are better than conventional sunscreen)

Homemade Sunscreen

What you need:

  • 1/2 of organic almond or olive oil

  • 1/4 cup of organic unrefined coconut oil

  • 1/4 cup of local organic beeswax from a treatment-free beekeeper

  • 2 tablespoons of non-nano zinc oxide

  • 2 tablespoons of organic unrefined shea butter

1. Place all ingredients except the zinc oxide into a glass jar and place into a pot with a few inches of water in the bottom (like a makeshift double-boiler)

2. Heat over medium until everything is melted, stirring occasionally.

3. Once everything is melted, mix in the zinc oxide (careful not to inhale any) and transfer to the jar you will be storing it in.

4. Stir occasionally while cooling so the zinc oxide stays thoroughly distributed. Store at room temperature!

5. This sunscreen is not waterproof so it has to be applied more often than conventional, but it's worth it to avoid harmful chemicals.


What I Personally Use For Sunscreen

Now that it's getting to be summer quite a few of you have sent me a message asking what I use for sunscreen. I actually use just pure organic coconut oil as a sunscreen if I'm going to be in the sun for a long time and try my best to be intuitive and listen to my body when it feels I've had enough sun. It sounds weird, using an oil as a sunscreen, but unlike something like a petroleum-based baby oil that attracts the sun, coconut oil actually has a naturally low level of SPF. But that is what works best for my skin and my body. Everyone is different which is why it's important to play around with different methods and see what works best for you :)

I have only just barely skimmed the topic of sunscreen dangers so I highly suggest checking out the further reading and resources I have linked down below to learn more regarding the truth about sunscreen and what the FDA won't tell you. Thanks for reading! Hope this was helpful to those looking for a more natural sun protection :)

With care,


Further Reading:

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Kaetlyn Kennedy