An awareness of the power of the sun’s rays on your skin is incredibly important no matter where you live, but for Australians the sun is particularly harsh. The UV rating sits at high levels throughout the year but peaks on the UV Index across all of Australia for the entirety of summer.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a type of energy produced by the sun that penetrates the skin causing sunburn, aging, eye damage and is the main cause of skin cancer. Sun protection measures are recommended when the UV Index is 3 and above, but during the Australian summer the UV Index rises above its extreme level of 11, up to 14 in most places and 16 in the red center. It is no surprise that skin cancer affects two to three times more people in Australia than in Canada, the US or the UK.
What Is Skin Cancer?
When skin cells are damaged by overexposure to the sun’s UV rays, their structure and function can be altered causing cells to multiply and divide abnormally. The three main forms of skin cancer are named after the cells in which they developed and are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma (the most deadly form of skin cancer). Basal and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common and least dangerous while melanomas are incredibly fast growing and aggressive. It is important to have any new or unusual looking moles and freckles checked out by a doctor as soon as you can to ensure efficient treatment in the instance of finding something dangerous.
Safe Sun Exposure
The sun or its UV rays are our best source of Vitamin D, an incredibly beneficial element in our daily function responsible for strong muscles, bones and even positively impacts our mood. Vitamin D forms in the skin after sun exposure and luckily we don’t need to spend extended periods in the sun to benefit from it as just a few minutes each day throughout the week is sufficient.
As the UV rating is incredibly high in Australia in the summer months, the best way to spend even short amounts of time in the sun is in sun-protective clothing including a hat and sunglasses to protect the eyes. Not only will adequate sun-safe clothing protect you from the three main forms of sun cancers, it will also protect your skin from premature aging, including dry wrinkly skin and spots.
Natural Products For Fun In The Sun
As the instances of skin cancer are so startlingly prominent in Australia and many people use sunscreen daily over much of their body, regulations on sunscreen are incredibly strict. The Therapeutic Goods Administration regulates primary sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 4 or more and secondary sunscreens such as moisturizers and beauty creams with an SPF greater than 15. While it is good to know mostly quality, effective sunscreens are approved by the TGA, many can still include harmful ingredients such as oxybenzone which has been found to act like an estrogen in the body and is linked to abnormal sperm function in animal studies and endometriosis in studies of women. Oxybenzone has also, sadly, been held responsible for coral bleaching and damaging the reef.
Another thing to note while considering sunscreen options is many quality and healthy Australian sunscreen options may not be able to achieve an Australian Certified Organic stamp due to sun protective ingredients being inorganic. Many fantastic products may be made up of mostly certified organic ingredients and will often be labeled as “natural.”
Keep an eye out for sun protective creams that can protect you from both UVA and UVB rays - UVA is responsible for deep penetration in the skin and UVB causes more impact on external layers of the skin.
With all the above to consider, looking for a safe and high quality sunscreen can seem tricky. To simplify things we have compiled a list below of quality natural skin care products that are highly rated among users:
Appropriate for all skin types this well loved product protects the face from sun damage with all natural ingredients including bioactive native extracts. Fantastically, this moisturiser is nanoparticle and chemical free with a 15+ SPF and zinc oxide at a ratio of 20% filtering both UVA and UVB rays.
A light daily face moisturiser with 15% non-nano zinc oxide and SPF 20, is a good choice for light and comfortable sun protection which works well on its own or under makeup.
The Life Basics SPF 30 protects from UVA and UVB rays and while designed for use on the face is suitable for the whole body. The product is vegan, made of natural ingredients and contains additional oils and elements to nourish the skin.
A fantastic higher protection product at SPF 30, also incorporating zinc oxide for broad-spectrum protection. The sunscreen is 3 hours water-resistant and incredibly nourishing for the skin and boasts a “reef safe” formula.
Another great broad spectrum protection option, this sunscreen is well loved for being lightweight with beneficial macadamia and green tea extracts. UV Natural is also Australian made and certified cruelty free.
One of the highest SPF natural quality sunscreens available, Moo Goo’s Natural Sunscreen contains 24.9% zinc oxide and has a powerful SPF 40. It took the company 4 years to formulate as the combination of zinc and its complementary ingredients are extremely difficult to match and combine. The product is suitable for all ages and skin types.