Top Natural Sunscreens | Summer 2016

Jessica Lewis
July 7, 2016

When we are talking about ultraviolet skin damage, we first think about how to prevent it. The sunscreen products were used in the beginning only to obtain a fast sun tan.

These days, because of the increasing risk of skin cancer and other sun-related skin issues, all people have to use sunscreen to protect themselves from the harmful ultraviolet radiation (UV).

After different studies, specialists discovered how different herbs could act as important radioprotective elements.

The UVB and UVA radiation is known to be stronger between 10 am and 4 pm. It is important to stay indoors or under an umbrella between these hours to avoid getting a sunburn, allergies, and other severe skin problems.

Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation

UVB irradiation can cause erythema, pigment darkening, and edema. Severe UVB effects are immunosuppression, photoaging, and photocarcinogenesis. Some of these effects appear only 4 hours after sun exposure.

You might see the symptoms getting worse in the next 8 to 24 hours. They do tend to disappear after a day. For blonde or fair-skinned people, the UVB effects can last for a couple of weeks. As for the UVA irradiation effects, specialists observed it has almost the same reactions, but it helps the healthy tanning process, while UVB is more efficient in inducing sun burns.

It is essential when you expose yourself to the sun to use sunscreen for UV protection to reduce the harmful effects of UV radiation. UV protection became over the years a major concern when creating new skin care cosmetic products.

Synthetic versus Natural Cosmetics

The word “cosmetics” it has its root in Greek (kosmeticos) and it means “to adorn.” The major role of the cosmetics is to treat or cure the appearance of the face and the skin.

People from all over the world are using cosmetics today. The difference lies in the type of the product they are using; some choose synthetic ones, while others go for herbal formula cosmetics.

The increasing interest in natural cosmetic products made the specific industries invest a significant amount of money in researching further the effects that different herbs have in improving skin conditions.

The existence of many cosmetic companies on the market determines a competitive behavior between manufacturers. They all claim that their products are the best, and they can offer benefits like moisturizing, wrinkles decreasing, oil control.

These days, manufacturers found a new way to improve their products by adding sun protection ingredients in lipsticks and foundations. In the USA, the FDA is responsible for the regulation of the sale of cosmetics which contain sun protection ingredients.

Best Sunscreen Products

You can find on the market a large number of sunscreen products (gels, sticks, creams, lotions, oils). All these sunscreen products claim to protect against UVA and UVB.

It is important to know that there are two types of sunscreens—chemical and physical. The chemical sunscreen is responsible for absorbing the UV rays, and the physical sunscreen has to reflect the UV rays away from the skin, creating a short protecting coat for the skin.

Physical Sunblocks

The physical sunscreens are those containing either zinc oxide, either titanium dioxide. Both of them are doing a great job protecting from UVA and UVB. They can be used on a daily basis by most people and children because they do not have side effects. Some people avoid using them because they all cause “whitening” when applied to the skin.

Which are the chemical sunblocks?

It seems like the chemicals in these sunblocks are protecting mostly from UVB rays and only a few chemicals are blocking the UVA rays. If you want to know which sunblock is the best, then you should go and buy a sunscreen that combines chemical and physical particular ingredients.

Make sure the sunblock you are choosing doesn’t contain avobenzone. The use of this ingredient in sunscreens is forbidden in the USA. Many doctors promote the use of products containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. They consider these products to be less toxic.

On the other hand, the use of microfine titanium dioxide as a sun protection ingredient it hasn’t been proved to be 100% safe for long-term use.

These days, many manufacturers start using natural components to protect the skin better against UV rays. The primary natural UV absorbers are nucleotides, squalane, and peptides.

Are herbal sun products efficient against UV rays?

Researchers have made a significant number of studies to see the effects of natural antioxidants when used in sunblocks. Because they proved that these natural compounds have enormous benefits for human health, manufacturers start using them.

These compounds are phenolic acids, tocopherols, nitrogen, flavonoids. All these botanical antioxidants contain amino acids, indoles, monoterpenes.

The ethnopharmacy around the world is a source of inspiration in creating new and natural sunblocks that can protect efficiently against UV rays.

Natural Sunscreens

The peptides are considered skin’s natural sun blockers. Lipids are also important, and olive oil can be used as a natural sunblock ingredient. The high level of squalane from olive oil is the one that protects the skin.

Another natural sun blocker is the allantoin. This one is a nucleotide that usually occurs naturally in the body. It is responsible for absorbing the UV radiation and stopping from damaging the cell’s fragile DNA.

This natural sun blocker can be found in the comfrey plant. It is very famous for its properties: heals and soothes the skin and acts as an anti-irritating element.

The extract of comfrey plant is used in many clarifying lotions and products for acne because it treats the outbreaks.

Which are the natural sources of antioxidants?

Antioxidants – These elements can save the cells and are critical ingredients found in skin care products. If we make sure to introduce antioxidants in our diet, we can treat, prevent and restore the health of our skin and body.

Antioxidants are nourishing the skin, but they also sustain the collagen production process and maintain the elastin in the skin. Cherries are fruits very rich in antioxidants, and they regenerate the cells.

Pomegranates are doing a good job in protecting the skin from UVA and UVB rays. The skin’s cells are repaired when they are nourished with vitamin E, C, and selenium. It is recommended to consume foods rich in these vitamins because they can keep you safe from sunburns.[1]

The main enemies for skin are the so-called free radicals. These are oxygenated molecules that are damaging the skin. Many fruits and plants have natural antioxidants which are great for protecting the skin.

The olives have these antioxidants, the blueberries and raspberries are rich as well in antioxidants.


This natural antioxidant is found in many food products. Studies show that cyanidin (contained by anthocyanins) helps the human organism four times more than vitamin E. To get this powerful antioxidant we recommend you to eat regularly eggplant. This one helps your body and skin to fight naturally against free radicals.


This antioxidant maintains the skin’s elastin and when combined with vitamin E and C protects the skin and replenishes it. When people used sun lotions with this ingredient, they observed that their skin was less damaged by the sun.

Grape seeds contain this natural antioxidant. In some studies, specialists managed to reverse skin tumors in mice using grape seed-based lotions.


Resveratrol is a compound that acts as an antioxidant and antimutagen. It is a polyphenolic, and it contains elements called stilbenes. Resveratrol it is proved to cure and treat cases of skin tumors due to prolonged sun exposure.

Here are the foods that contain resveratrol: grapes, wine, grape juice, wine, cranberries, grapes, cranberry juice, peanuts. Different other plants have resveratrol in their composition: the weed Polygonum cuspidatum, the leaves Veratrum grandiflorum and the roots of Veratrum formosanum. Chinese and Japanese people are using these plants in their traditional medicine for their laxative properties, to cure arteriosclerosis and sometimes cancer.


This natural antioxidant it is a flavonol, and it is found in onion. Quercetin also has an anti-inflammatory property, and it is known to give great results when used in treatments for mammary cancer, and colonic issues. Quercetin can be found in many fruits, vegetables, and natural beverages. It is an essential element that protects the skin against UVA and UVB rays.


Apigenin is a flavonol as well found in herbs, fruits, vegetables, and beverages. This natural antioxidant has anti-inflammatory properties and can be found in:

  • marigold (Calendula officinalis)
  • cumin
  • carrot
  • arnica plant (Arnica montana)
  • purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
  • agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria)
  • eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis)
  • Silymarin

Silymarin contains important phytochemicals: silidianin, silybin, and silicristin. This flavonoid you can found in the seeds of milk thistle (Silybum marianum). Silymarin is responsible for preventing the oxidative stress.


Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) is a compound of the turmeric. This compound has excellent anti-inflammatory, antitumoral and antioxidant properties. Curcumin can protect the skin against the UV irradiation.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E contains tocopherol and tocotrienol, compounds which are reducing skin roughness, facial lines, and wrinkles. Vitamin E is a vitamin that hydrates the skin and leaves it smooth and firm. You can get this vitamin from wheat germ, hazelnut oil, sunflower, sesame seeds oil and from pumpkin seeds.

Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)

Vitamin C is great for the immune system of the human body. This vitamin helps with the synthesis of collagen and decreases wrinkles. You can find vitamin C in Rosehip seeds extract or oil.

Which herbal extracts are great for UV protection?

The herbal extracts are offering excellent health benefits like melanin-inhibiting, anti-inflammatory, emollient, antiaging, antimutagenic, antioxidant properties.

Green and black tea

The tannic acid from the black tea helps with improving skin condition after a sunburn. Many of us we drink regularly green or black tea. The Chinese people applied from ancient times cooked black tea on the damaged skin to heal it. The polyphenols in the tea have antioxidant, anticarcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Aloe vera

The famous Aloe barbadensis heals all forms of burn: thermal, radiation, or solar. Aloe Vera is used for its calming and cooling effect. Even if people use 50% of the plant, it is recommended to use 100% for excellent results. This plant contains minerals, mono-and polysaccharides, amino acids, enzymes, lignin, anthraquinones, salicylic acid, vitamins, saponins, and sterols. Aloe Vera hydrates the skin and accelerates the collagen production process.


Walnuts are known for helping the skin in obtaining a beautiful, healthy tan. They also offer protection against UVA and UVB range.

Plant oils

Studies show that many oils assist the skin in obtaining a healthy tan. Sesame oil is an excellent natural sunscreen, along with peanut, olive, and coconut oil.

Borage oil

Borage oil can regenerate dehydrated, dry and mature skin. Because of the gamma-linoleic acid, it can improve and heal different skin conditions such as inflammation, allergies, dermatitis, and irritation.

Evening primrose oil

Evening primrose oil repairs the skin and prevents premature aging of the skin. This oil is yellow in color and can deal and soothe skin issues such as inflammation, eczema, psoriasis, or any dermatitis.

Avocado oil

Avocado oil, comfrey, and rosemary are containing excellent compounds to protect and calm the skin. In avocado oil, you can find a large number of natural ingredients that act as natural barriers against the UV rays: vitamin D, protein, lecithin, vitamin E, beta-carotene and fatty acids.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree nourishes the skin and it is known as an ancient remedy. Tea tree oil has fungicide and germicide properties, and it is an excellent antiseptic.


Porphyra is a red alga found in Asia. Thanks to the free amino acids contained by this algae, the body is protected from harmful UV rays.


This herb eliminates pain and heals inflamed skin. Use yarrow tea after you cool it, or you can add it to a cold bath.

Tamanu oil

Tamanu oil is made from the nut of a tropical tree, and it helps alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. If you apply it on your skin before bedtime, you will feel better in the morning.


This is an excellent source of silica. Horsetail helps the production of collagen and improves skin conditions by speeding healing. You can apply horsetail extract directly on the wound for great results.


Cucumber naturally soothes the skin after a sunburn. This one contains caffeic acid and vitamin C. These two compounds will reduce and heal any skin swelling and sunburn. Keep the cucumber in the fridge for a while, then slice it into pieces and apply it to the affected skin.


This herb is great in restoring the damaged collagen, which keeps the skin firm and healthy. Sun radiation can damage the collagen, so if you are dealing with some sunburns, put some echinacea tea on the skin to reduce the inflammation.


Plantain is known for its concentration of allantoin, which restores the health of skin cells. It is a natural anti-inflammatory, cools down the irritated skin and eliminates the itchiness. You can make a mixture out of the leaves and then apply it on the damaged skin, or you can combine it with green tea and aloe vera juice. Use the obtained mixture directly on the affected area. If you want to speed up the healing process, you can add honey and baking soda.[2][3]

People are getting more aware of the dangers of the sun exposure without proper protection. The cosmetic industry is in constant search of new improved formulas that protect the skin and prevent sun damages.

Especially in summer time, we are always exposed to the UV rays. That is why people start asking for products that allow them to be outside in the sun without damaging their skin. The products available on the market include high SPF sunblocks, tanning lotions, and sunless tanners.

In the last years, the manufacturers focused on creating products for children and athletes. The competition is high because many cosmetic companies produced new moisturizers, sunscreens, and antioxidants. Some of the companies combined the three of them in one product.

If you want to know how to choose the best sun product, you have to learn what things are important to follow when you are out in the sun. It is important to keep your body cool. The cooling process takes place when alcohol or water evaporates while leaving a soothing effect on the skin.

You can also use a water-based lotion with sunscreen ingredients and cooling elements (menthol and aloe vera). Many people choose to protect their skin against the harmful rays of the sun using a spray gel containing both cooling and emollient components.

To treat your damaged skin you can use conventional or herbal cosmetics. Herbal ones are used more and more lately. They replace the sunscreen lotions with UV filters. The second ones are likely to give side effects when used a long term. You can find herbal sunscreens on the market in different forms: gel, cream, lotion, all labeled SPF.

Exposing your skin to UV radiation without protection it is not a good idea. You need protection from these harmful rays at all times, not only between 12 PM and 16 PM.

When they buy a sunscreen product, most people want to find products with reasonable prices. Besides that, they also want the best products on the market, those products with all in one: with moisturizing and calming effect, anti-wrinkle and anti-aging effect, containing natural ingredients which are not causing allergies. Lately, people started avoiding the products with chemicals because of the high risk of dealing with side effects.

Researchers are still conducting studies to understand better how different plants can protect the skin against sun damages. Phenolic plants are preferred because of their ability to protect themselves naturally from UV rays.

It is recommended to stay informed and to make sure you choose the right products for your needs. When you are dealing with severe sunburns is necessary to see the doctor. Avoid taking any medication or products before consulting your health provider.[4]