If your sun protection regimen makes you look (and feel) like you’re bundling up for an Icelandic winter while wearing spackle on your face instead of a day of beach volleyball, you’re not alone. There’s no shame is warding off fine lines, wrinkles, age spots and the C word. But summer is meant to be FUN if nothing else – light, easy, and most definitely sunny. Covering up every inch of skin sure takes the pleasure out of long, lazy beach days. Add to that the expense of sun protection (on-trend hats and sunglasses aren’t cheap, and neither is great sunscreen), and you can forget the short shorts and those summer vacay plans. But what if you could have that sun-kissed summer glow while staying protected? Can you tan while using sun protection?
The short answer is: Yes.
While sunscreen, especially the natural kind that reflects the sun’s rays instead of absorbing them, is designed to minimize the damage to your skin, you can still rock a pretty decent tan while being protected from burning, which is where the real damage occurs – not just increasing the aging process, but also the cancer risk.
One of the best benefits of sunscreen is that it allows you to spend more time in the sun than you could without it, which means you’ll tan without the burn-peel-then-tan method of the 1970s and ‘80s. Look for a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects you from both the “burning” rays (UVB) and UVA rays (although there’s no standardized protection rating for those yet). This will help you stay in the sun longer while reducing the burning. Stack your skincare layers with an SPF moisturizer as well, and pay special attention to delicate skin around the eyes (especially those eyelids).
Skin exfoliation is also helpful in achieving your tanning goals. By removing the dead skin cells, your “fresh” skin will not only tan more quickly and evenly, but it will last longer, too. Exfoliating can be done with products like scrubs or cleansing grains, or with fruit acid-based products, which are generally used on the face.
But even though wearing sunscreen allows for more time in the sun, don’t overdo it. Gradual exposure to the sun reduces the risk of sunburn and helps the body boost its own melanin production to help prevent burning in the future (meaning you can stay in the sun longer each time you go out). And no matter how long you’re going out for, be sure to protect your skin every single time.
The sun is of course the key element to spring, summer, and early fall weather. It gets you outside and keeps you there with mostly amazing benefits—you’re more active, maybe your garden is on fleek, and you’ve got a gorgeous sun-kissed glow. But, of course, it’s easy to overdo it. You need protection beyond a shady spot under a tree or a big hat and glasses. But when making the switch from conventional to natural sunscreen, there are a few things worth knowing.
What is a ‘Natural’ Sunscreen, Anyway?
It’s important to know that the word “natural” isn’t regulated by the FDA. That means that just because a brand says it’s natural, doesn’t mean it is. Generally, the term is found on sunscreen products that rely on minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which work like tiny mirrors to reflect the sun’s rays away (conventional sunscreens often just absorb those rays instead via synthetic chemicals).
But a sunscreen is so much more than the active UV protection. Most are lotion or crème based and that means oils and butters used for ease of application—so that the product smooths onto the skin. For a “natural” product, you want to avoid any of those coming from petroleum (like mineral oil), and instead opt for natural oils like almond, jojoba, shea butter, etc.
A truly natural sunscreen product won’t contain artificial colors or fragrances or other fillers. A good rule of thumb is to look for easy to read ingredients lists. The only difficult-to-pronounce words should be the SUV ingredient (titanium dioxide) and the Latin words for botanicals, as is the common practice (but don’t worry, they usually come with an English translation as well).
Is Natural Sunscreen Worth It?
Only you can decide what’s right for you and your family. But according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit dedicated to health and environmental safety, chemicals, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, found in conventional sunscreens, may be hormone disruptors and cause skin allergies. Some ingredients, like retinyl palmitate, have been linked to an increased risk of developing cancer.
Do Natural Sunscreens Work?
According to Consumer Reports, the answer is a resounding maybe. Among the “natural” sunscreens it tested, none received higher marks than “Good” (there are “Very Good” and “Excellent” options as well).
The caveat, according to Consumer Reports, is that the natural products don’t often apply evenly enough to provide full coverage and protection. That’s due to the particle nature of the zinc or titanium dioxide. The easy workaround? Multiple applications (which you should be doing every few hours, anyway), and many natural brands are now offering sprays, which can be easier to apply than sunscreen lotions.
You can also increase the SPF—Consumer Reports recommends a 40 or higher for a natural product, but at least an SPF 30.
We also recommend layering your sun protection. For example, Zatik offers several sun protective moisturizers that work great for keeping your skin healthy and gorgeous and offer SPF protection as well. So if you’re already wearing a sunscreen to begin with—at least on your face—you’re giving yourself additional protection right from the start.
Check out our Argan & Yarrow Sunscreen Mineral Moisturizer.
Native to Europe, Asia, and North America, yarrow is not only a beautiful flowering plant that may spruce up a lackluster garden, but its’ also a highly useful herb in natural skin care.
Yarrow is particularly beneficial in reducing inflammation; it’s effective in speeding healing, reducing the appearance of wrinkles, improving skin softness, and keeping the skin free from bacteria that can lead to breakouts.
At Zatik, we love the many functions of yarrow, the herb Achilles was rumored to have discovered. Its Latin name, Achillea Millefolium, means “thousand leaves,” which reflects its appearance—those tiny, yet beautiful clustered flowers.
Yarrow has been prized in traditional medicine for ages, valued not just for its topical benefits, but also for internal uses such as treating respiratory ailments, digestive issues, and in relieving anxiety or insomnia. The antioxidant compounds in yarrow, specifically phenolic acid, have shown the ability to ward off the flu, the common cold, diabetes, and even cancer. But always be sure to consult with your primary care physician before consuming yarrow or any herbal medicines.
According to Garik Mkrtumyan, Zatik co-founder and product formulator, yarrow has clinically shown the ability to improve the appearance of crow’s feet in just two months of use. The treatment studied contained a 2 percent yarrow extract, which, compared with placebo, showed a reduced appearance of fine lines and pore size, as well as produced a softer skin. Who wouldn’t want that?!
Yarrow is regarded as safe, with no known side effects when used topically. It’s also reportedly quite safe taken internally in measured doses, except during pregnancy and in those with bleeding disorders. Again, consulting with your primary care physician is always recommended.
But when it comes to your skin, especially if you’re beginning to notice laugh lines and crow’s feet, yarrow may be your new favorite skincare ingredient.
We combine yarrow with the smoothing benefits of argan oil in our Argan & Yarrow Sunscreen Mineral Moisturizer. So, not only are you protecting your skin from the damaging rays of the sun, but you’re working to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and get softer skin at the same time for a truly youthful, natural glow.