Herbal Sunscreen Lotion

A good sunscreen has two purposes: To begin with, it helps the skin maintain its natural oils and moisture, which cam be lost through exposure to the sun s radiation. Secondly, sunscreen also protects the skin against UVA and UVB rays, whose damaging effects have increased markedly with the reduction in the atmosphere’s ozone layer.

Sunlight causes skin pigment cells, called melanocytes, to synthesize increased amounts of melanin, giving the skin a protective pigment or tan. But, while increased melanin can act as a natural filter to keep harmful UV radiation from penetrating further into the skin, using sunscreen with a high SPF is still important, especially if you are fair-skinned or have a family history of cancer.

As well as containing moisturizing properties, avocado oil, sesame oil and shea butter contain a low SPF sunscreen. However, they have only a limited VA/UVB-filtering ability, thus you should not use them as your only skin protection. For a natural sunscreen with a higher SPF, use a commercial sunscreen with titanium dioxide.

Perishability and storage

To keep homemade sunscreen from spoiling, use only clean utensils for preparation and storage. Store lotions in the refrigerator, where they will keep for about 3-4 weeks.

Proper application

To achieve maximum protection from the sun, apply sunscreen to dry skin 30 minutes before exposure. Limit your sun exposure time to less than one hour; actual amount of time depends on your skin type.

Skin types

There are four basic skin types, each with a different level of tolerance to sun exposure. People with light skin and blond or reddish hair are Type I, and their natural protection time (amount of time skin can be exposed to the sun without burning) is 5-10 minutes.

The natural protection time of people with skin Type II, who have a somewhat darker complexion, is up to 20 minutes. People with skin Types III and IV, those with much darker skin tones, can stay in the sun for 30-40 minutes. To determine how long a sunscreen will protect you, multiply your natural protection time by the SPF Of course, if you have a family history of skin cancer, you should always use a sunscreen with a high SPF.

Natural-Protection Cream

* 3 tbsp. unrefined sesame oil
* 1 tbsp. unrefined avocado oil
* 1 tbsp. unrefined jojoba oil
* 1 tbsp. walnut or almond oil
* 1 tbsp. shea butter
* 2 tbsp. cocoa butter
* 1 tsp. beeswax
* 1 tsp. soy-lecithin liquid
* 2 tbsp. aloe vera gel
* 2 tbsp. rose or lavender water
* 1/2 tsp. borax powder
* 20 drops carrot-seed essential oil
* 3-5 drops coconut fragrance oil (optional)

Melt the first 4 oils, butters and beeswax in a double boiler over medium heat until just melted. Add the soy-lecithin, and stir to blend. Remove from heat. In a small saucepan, gently warm the aloe vera gel and rose or lavender water, and stir in borax powder until dissolved. Remove from heat. When the oil and water mixtures are still warm to the touch and about the same temperature, set the small saucepan into a bowl of ice.

Drizzle in the oil mixture while mixing rapidly with a small whisk; a cream will quickly form. Add carrot-seed essential oil and coconut fragrance oil, if desired; blend thoroughly. Take care! If you use perfume oils, avoid citrus oils - such as bergamont, orange, lemon or lime. They may cause unpleasant skin reactions when exposed to the sun. They also reduce a sunscreen’s effectiveness.

For After-Sun Relief

To help reduce inflammation and cool and moisturize sunburned skin, apply a thin coat of yogurt or aloe vera gel to reddened areas. Spray pure lavender water or hydrosol freely on sun-damaged skin to keep skin hydrated, help prevent peeling and promote the regeneration of cells. Add 2-3 drops of lavender oil to 1 tsp. of a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil, and massage into affected area. Or apply diluted St. John’s wort oil.

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