Last weekend a I took a trip down to Cornwall for a surfing break with some friends and shamefully, but much to the amusement of my friends, I got some splendid wetsuit burn lines. A burnt face ending in an abrupt, perfect line around my neck and burnt hands that looked as though I was wearing bright red gloves!
Clearly the quick, cheap bottle of sun cream I’d picked up was not up to the task…
Have you ever checked the ingredients list on the back of a sunscreen or sunblock bottle? I did after this, there are so many ingredients, loads of them very obscure and unheard of. I like to keep things as natural as possible, be it food, hair care or skin care, so this realisation was some what of a shock!
With this new discovery on the back of my mind, when I noticed a surfer applying some home made sunblock to their nose over the weekend, I plucked up the courage to ask for the recipe. They happily shared it with me, so here it is:
2.5 oz of Sudocrem
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp cocoa butter
1 tbsp of aloe vera gel
1 tbsp of sesame oil
Up to 10 drops of coconut extract for scent or another essential oil depending on what you like.
2 tbsp Green tea
Optional: 1 tsp of beeswax (this gives the water proof quality to the sunblock, so for those of us who are vegans or have vegans in the family, this can omitted but the sun cream will need to be reapplied after heavy perspiration going in the sea or pool)
Simply mix all of the ingredients together into a cream and you’ll have around 130g of sunblock with an SPF 30.
How do sun creams work?
In brief, sunblocks aim to protect us against two types of sun rays: UVA and UVB.
UV-A has a long wavelength that goes beyond our epidermis, the first layer of skin. This is the one that causes us to get that much desired tan, however, too much exposure can lead to skin cancer. On the other hand, UV-B doesn’t penetrate so far and when combined with cholesterol in our skin it forms much needed vitamin D, but unfortunately, too much exposure will cause us to burn.
How does this sun cream work?
Shop brought sunblock have two qualities, physical blockers which reflect the damaging UV rays and chemical blockers which absorb the UV rays and disperse them as heat before they damage your skin cells. This natural home-made sunblock works on the physical barrier alone.
This is the active ingredient to blocking the sun. Zinc Oxide is found in sudocrem or other nappy balms such as Bentley Organic Baby Nappy Balm. Titanium dioxide is also recommended and can be found in other nappy rash creams like Metanium. Zinc oxide reflects and scatters the light and therefore protects our skin from harm.
Coconut oil on it’s own is not a good sunblock – it is oil after all! But its antioxidant properties help prevent any oxidative damage that too much sun exposure will cause to our skin. The same goes for the sesame oil which is rich in vitamin E – one of the most powerful antioxidants.
Like coconut oil, Aloe Vera does not protect our skin from the sun – but it does help to keep it hydrated. We all know the wonderful relief that comes with applying aloe Vera on burnt skin!
Roughly 25% of a green leaf is made up of catechins, a member of the flavenoid family, which helps quench the number of free radicals and reduces inflammation caused by UV rays hitting the skin. Green tea is a great way to enhance any zinc oxide sunblock as it will not react and cause further damage. In fact, I found that both black and green tea are fantastic for drawing out the heat after being burnt.
I literally soak my face in a bucket of cold water with 4-5 teabags for about 20 minutes and then leave it over night. Its one of the most soothing sensations when your face is tight and itchy from a nasty sunburn!
I loved this sunblock, certainly my saving grace last weekend!
It did leave a slightly white tint to my skin, that I noticed but others might not have. This isn’t surprising really being that it contains sudocrem. I also found it took a bit of effort to rub in, this was probably due to the beeswax which, unlike coconut oil, didn’t ‘melt’ in so easily.
As for my sensitive fair skin, I didn’t burn with this! This surprised me considering it has a much lower SPF than I would normally use when in the sea and there is oil in the ingredients.
But personally, and only because I’m vain, I’ll keep my tub of natural home-made sunblock for when I next go surfing – a white nose isn’t so easily noticed out there!