Factors affecting the level of UV protection

The sun is shining again and winter seems to be over now. We should enjoy the sun as much as possible, but our winter-pale skin cannot stand the scorching sunrays yet. How should we protect ourself from burning sunlight? Have a look of my thoughts on natural UV protection.


Natural vitamin D

We all need sunlight. Especially after winter, the warm sunshine is a really welcome guest. After winter, our skin is not used to the sun and it burns very easily. The best way to enhance the skin’s ability to combat the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays is to ensure an adequate intake of vitamin D. In winter you should take vitamin D as a supplement, but in summertime the sun takes care of it. Move around outside in changing shade so you do not get too much sunrays at once, but still enough for the body’s own vitamin D production.

You don’t need to protect yourself from the sun at all if you don’t stay in direct sunlight for long periods of time. You do not need special protection for sunbathing for less than 10 minutes period. Excessive protection from the sun prevents the natural formation of vitamin D in our body. Natural vitamin D formed through the skin is different from vitamin D taken from a jar. After winter, we need to get vitamin D from direct sunlight in particular abundance.

Protect yourself and children from excessive sun with clothing

If your skin is very sensitive to the sun, you can protect yourself with light but covering clothing. Children burn easily under the sun. It is worth protecting their skin, because burnt skin exposes them to skin cancer when they are adults.

How to get natural UV protection for children

Children’s outdoor playground should be set up in a canopy of trees. If that is not possible, the playground can be protected with an umbrella or canopy.

Children’s clothing should be as protective as possible. Babies in particular should be dressed in light but covering clothes. Children’s skin burns most sensitively at the beaches, where the sun can freely shine on the skin. A bathing suit that protects against UV rays is an effective way to avoid burning the child’s skin. Time passes very quickly at the beach and the skin also burns without any warning. The adult’s task is to ensure that the child’s skin is adequately protected from harmful UV rays.

On the beaches, also protect your own skin from the sun with light clothes and shades. When the skin starts to turn red, it is usually already burned. Skin temperature tells a lot. When you feel the skin, it should be warm at most, but not hot under any circumstances.

Nutrition and sun, internal sun protection

Nutrition plays a big role in the skin’s sun tolerance. The effect of plant phytochemicals such as carotenoids and flavonoids on sun tolerance has been studied to some extent. In these studies, it has been noticed that, for example, the carotenoid contained in carrots consumed as food and the flavonoids in other plants help the skin to survive better in sunlight.

Carotenoids are a natural UV protection. Carotenoids are not only very good antioxidants, but also substances that protect against the harmful effects of the sun. Tomatoes contain a carotenoid called lycopene. The carotenoid in carrots is called beta-carotene. The old, familiar carrot is very good for the ‘sun worshipper’ both externally and internally. Carrot carotenoids can easily turn the skin yellow, especially if you drink a lot of carrot juice. However, this is not dangerous.

Vitamin C acts as a skin protective factor against the harmful effects of the sun. The effect of vitamin C on the skin has been studied both internally when consumed with food and externally when applied to the skin. Vitamin C is abundant in berries, fruits and many vegetables.

UV protection from vegetable oils


There are many articles about the UV protection of flavonoids contained in vegetable oils. In some, instructions are generally given to protect yourself from UV rays using only vegetable oils. Many websites even specify protection factors for vegetable oils. However, the UV protection of any natural oil has never been defined. The UV protection factor is only awarded to products that have been tested with appropriate tests of products that protect against UV rays. Such tests are very demanding and expensive. No natural oil has undergone any official UV testing.

Natural oils, such as coconut oil or raspberry seed oil, do not in any way prevent the sun’s UV rays from reaching the skin. They do not contain any substance that would actually protect the skin from UV rays. Therefore, natural oils cannot be considered sun protection products by any standard.

Many parents are looking for safe UV protection for the baby and end up using coconut oil based on social media discussions and online articles. This is very dangerous for the baby’s skin, because the sensitive skin burns quite immediately if the skin is not properly protected. The best and safest sun protection for a baby is covering clothing and keeping the baby in the shade.

Coconut oil, on the other hand, is a very good after sun product to soothe the skin. Coconut is a cooling oil with rich skin-soothing, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. In case you have burnt your skin because of excessive sunbathing, there are special products available to relief the pain. In this case it is highly recommended to consult your local pharmacy.

However, many vegetable oils have quite good properties worth of utilizing when protecting yourself from the sun. Vegetable oils contain plenty of plant chemicals that protect the skin at the cellular level from the harmful effects of the sun. However, this does not mean that they act as actual sunscreens. I will later write a separate article on the use of vegetable oils protecting the skin from the harmful effects of the sun.

Physiological sunscreens

Physiological sunscreens mean products containing minerals such as zinc and titanium dioxide. Both minerals can be used in natural cosmetics, but not in nano size.

Physiological sunscreens leave a white layer on the skin. They are also difficult to clean from the skin, because their emulsion base is insoluble in water. To remove the physiological sunscreen, use an oil-based cleanser or a product specially designed for this purpose.

Nanoparticles in sunscreens

Nano-sized zinc and titanium dioxide are used in many non-natural cosmetic grade sunscreen products. It is very difficult to effectively filter the sun’s UV rays. In addition, there is a growing demand for more powerful, easy-to-use, and durable sun screen products. Therefore, the nano-sized particles have arrived as well.

Nano-sized minerals can pass through the skin and can end up anywhere in the body. There is no definite scientific evidence for this, but why to use them when there are other, safer options. You should be careful with nano-sized materials and use only natural cosmetics-quality, physiological sunscreens, which are widely available nowadays.

Minerals are the world’s oldest UV protection

All minerals block the sun’s UV rays. They are indeed the world’s oldest natural UV protection. In ancient times, man covered himself with mud, dust, and clay to avoid the scorching sun. Minerals form a physiological protection for the skin. You can try, for example, gentle kaolin clay on your skin. Home cosmetics use a lot of magnesium carbonate powder and mica powders, which act as natural sunscreens.

Can you make your own sunscreen?

Yes and no. Homemade “sunscreen” can be made, for example, using zinc oxide in cream. However, it is by no means an actual, real sunscreen.

Making a tested sunscreen is not easy. It is very challenging even for mammoth companies like Loreal. They spend millions to develop a functional and reliable sunscreen, but they don’t always succeed so well. It’s really naive to imagine that we could do it at home just by mixing zinc with cream.

UV protection must pass accurate and reliable tests before the product receives an SPF (sun protection factor). If the product does not have an SP Factor, it cannot be considered a reliable sun product.

Natural UV protection is also easy to make at home, but you can’t get an effective and tested one. You can easily find recipes for homemade sunscreens that use zinc. However, zinc does not spread very evenly on the skin and therefore does not provide protection. Zinc is a mineral and does not dissolve in the cream. The effectiveness of the cream may not even depend on the amount or quality of zinc or other minerals. There is no way you can get zinc to spread evenly in the cream at home.

However, you can make zinc creams. They are not harmful to the skin. They may even protect your skin somehow, but never rely on them. Always get a reliable tested natural cosmetic quality sunscreen product if you are going to the beach or the sea where UV radiation cannot be avoided.

Tips for sun worshippers!

  • When you apply yellow carrot oil on the skin, you attract the sun’s tanning rays to you. This is how you get a beautiful tan. Carrot beta-carotene acts as a sun-collecting pigment on the skin. Tomatoes also contain a carotene called lycopene. It may be that the red colour of the tomato works in the same way. I have not yet heard that tomato lycopene can be used for tanning. Next summer, however, I’m going to try tomato oil on my skin.
  • Exercise while in the sun. The tan is then more even and you don’t burn as easily.
  • Drink a lot of water and take care of the salt balance, especially if the weather is very hot. Dry skin dries out faster than moist skin. Moisturizing the skin with water is also highly recommended.
  • Take short breaks between sunbathing and let the skin cool down properly. Do not stay too long under the sun.
  • Do not use products containing essential oils or ethanol in the sun. They make the skin burn very quickly. Some of the essential oils are phototoxic,  they make the skin irritated in the sun.

Sunny summer days for everyone!

What is your favourite sunscreen?

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