When it comes to protecting your skin from the sun, who you trust with that responsibility really matters. The harsh rays of the sun can have extremely damaging effects on our skin, and finding a good sunscreen is highly important. The results of too much exposure to the sun range from simple dry skin conditions, right through to the more serious skin cancers. Of course, the best protection from the sun is to cover up with lightweight long-sleeve and full length clothing, stay in the shade and wear a hat. If you’re the type of bold sort that just wants to be out in the sun soaking up the rays then you’ll want a decent sunblock/sun cream/sunscreen product to help you to avoid getting a nasty sunburn!
Health Concerns of Sunscreen
A lot of people will simply grab sunscreen off the shelf based off the SPF rating, but not everyone considers the ingredients in the sun block that they are slathering on to their skin. Whatever goes on to our skin can be absorbed by our bodies, and make its way into our bloodstream. There is some question about the health side effects of chemicals used in many traditional sun creams, sunblock and sunscreen products in the UK and around the world.
Environmental Impact of Sunscreen
In addition to concerns about human health, there are also environmental concerns with chemicals found in sunscreen. When we go swimming in the sea, rivers or lakes wearing our sunscreen, some of it is washed off and makes its way into the environment. 14,000 tonnes of sunscreen are thought to wash into the ocean each year. The beach at Koh Phi Phi in Thailand had to be closed to visitors indefinitely in 2018 after the presence of huge numbers of tourists caused alarming environmental damage to both the beach and the water in the bay. Sunscreen was one of the contributing factors to pollution of the water, and damage to coral in Koh Phi Phi. Studies have shown the ingredients in some sunblock products damage and even kill coral. Some chemicals cause permanent DNA damage to coral, interfering with their ability to reproduce.
Natural Sunscreen Alternatives
If you are seeking a natural sunscreen alternative that really delivers great sun protection then options are few and far between. It seems that to deliver truly fantastic sun protection some man-made elements are required. Our top choice is from a Bristol (UK) based company called “Yaoh”. Yaoh organic hemp seed oil sunblock uses only the bare minimum of the required chemicals to provide you with the best sun protection, balanced with wholesome organic natural ingredients. They found that by striking a balance between natural ingredients, and the least harmful, but most-required chemical components, they were able to make a vegan sunscreen that is as kind to our skin as it is good for the environment. Their formula is a safe and protective sun lotion that is free from harmful substances, free from parabens and free from any unnecessary chemical additives.
Yaoh SPF 15 Sunscreen Ingredients
Their SPF 15 sunblock has only ingredients derived from natural sources, or ingredients that have equivalents occurring in natural sources.
Ingredients SPF15: Aqua, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis Flower Oil, Xanthan Gum, Tocopherol, Mentha Piperita Oil, Glycerin, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool.
There are a lot of natural ingredients there, and the few that are synthesised also occur in nature. For example, Phenoxyethanol can be found in green tea. Cocamidopropyl Betaine is actually derived from coconut oil. So even some of those longer chemical sounding names are actually far more natural than their scientific terms make them sound. As sunblocks go, SPF 15 is not at the stronger end of the scale for sun protection, but re-apply it regularly and it should give you a good level of protection as long as you’re sensible about how much time you’re spending in the direct sun.
So, that’s the SPF 15 investigated, now let’s take a look at the SPF 30.
Yaoh SPF 30 Sunscreen Ingredients
To achieve a higher sun protection factor, Yaoh had to bring in some more heavy-duty chemicals. Now, before we get into the big scary scientific names it’s important to remember that these are chemicals that are commonly found in lots of body care products and are not very harmful to us in small amounts. Also remember that Yaoh have worked hard to include the absolute minimum amount of these chemicals, while also maintaining good levels of sun protection. There is trade-off between sun protection, and potential harm from ingredients that has been balanced so that the risk is mitigated. In other words, you’re gaining more benefit from the sun protection than you are losing from any risk factors associated with the ingredients.
Ingredients SPF30: Aqua, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Octocrylene, Octyl Methoxy Cinnamate Benzophenone-3, Dicaprylyl Maleate Zinc Oxide, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Ceteareth-20, Glycerin, Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil, Olea Europaea Seed Oil, Sorbitan Stearate, Cocos Nucifera oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Citrus Grandis Fruit Extract Citric acid, Dimethicone, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Cetearyl Glucoside, Iso-Propyl Myristate, Ascorbic Acid, Parfum.
Had a good read through that list? Good. Let’s take a look at some of the synthetic ingredients in more depth.
Octyl Methoxy Cinnamate Benzophenone-3 is a common UV-B filtering agent, it helps to keep the harmful rays of the sun from damaging our skin. It has been linked to some less than pleasing environmental issues when introduced to marine environments, and could be linked to potential hormonal disruption in humans. It is considered a moderate risk by food and drug administration bodies, but is approved and widely used in many beauty, body care and sunscreen products.
Octocrylene is a synthetic UV blocker and SPF booster, used in many sun creams. Our research shows that in some cases it may cause allergic reactions but studies have shown that it is absolutely safe for humans, especially in concentrations of under 10%.
Dicaprylyl Maleate Zinc is another man-made component commonly found in skincare products. It is considered safe for human health, but in extremely rare occasions may provoke an allergic reaction.
As you can see the SPF 30 sunscreen has more man-made components than the SPF 15. As previously mentioned, Yaoh have included only the chemicals that are absolutely necessary to reach those SPF levels. Without the synthetic agents, the product would simply not be able to protect you from the sun as well as it does.
OK, so now that we’ve looked at the less than desirable components, let’s take a look at some of the more positive properties of the natural components to balance things out.
Hemp Seed Oil (SPF 15 and 30)
Hemp seed oil is our favourite ingredient, and it’s the main reason that you will find Yaoh sunblock for sale here at The Hemp Shop. On its own, hemp seed oil has a SPF of around 6, thanks to the natural ability of the plant to protect itself from the sun. It helps to deflect UV rays, without getting in the way of Vitamin D absorption.
Hemp seed oil contains high levels of Essential Fatty Acids (Omega oils) and Gamma-Linoleic Acid. Two key factors in maintaining healthy skin. The oil is easily absorbed by the skin, making it a fantastic moisturising and protective ingredient. It’s widely used as a treatment for dry skin conditions, and has anti-inflammatory properties to soothe dry or irritated skin. It’s also antibacterial.
Hemp seed oil also makes a great aftersun care ingredient on its own. Try something like the Hempiness Hemp Body Oil to rejuvenate and revitalise skin after it has been exposed to the sun.
Rosmarinus Officinalis Flower Oil (SPF 15)
Otherwise known as rosemary essential oil. This natural oil is known to hydrate the skin, and helps to control oil production keeping acne at bay. This is another ingredient with antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
Lavandula Angustifolia Oil (SPF 15)
Otherwise known as lavender essential oil. A popular and versatile natural oil with a wide range of benefits. Lavender oil soothes eczema and dry skin conditions. It’s full of antioxidants which help to combat fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also an anti-inflammatory, and promotes the healing of skin tissue.
Mentha Piperita Oil (SPF 15)
Otherwise known as peppermint oil, it has natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties as well as having a cooling effect when applied to the skin.
Panax Ginseng Root Extract (SPF 15)
Known for increasing circulation and bolstering the body’s immune system, this traditional herbal medicine ingredient has been used for thousands of years. It has antioxidant properties, helping to prevent fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also got anti-inflammatory properties, making it great for any dry skin conditions.
Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract (SPF 15)
The Ginko Biloba tree is native to China and has been used for thousands of years. Like other ingredients in this list, it has antioxidant properties, it’s an anti-inflammatory, and it is known to improve circulation and heart health. It also reduces symptoms of psychiatric disorders and dementia, while improving brain function and reducing anxiety.
Olea Europaea Seed Oil (SPF 30)
The fancy name for olive oil. Widely used in cooking and in beauty products, this oil has some interesting benefits that you might not have heard of. It’s rich in vitamins A, D, E and K which all bring their own unique benefits when it comes to skin care. It’s an antioxidant, antibacterial and has great moisturising properties.
Cocos Nucifera oil (SPF 30)
Otherwise known as Coconut oil. While not being particularly helpful for blocking UV rays from your skin, coconut oil does have a lot of complementary effects that benefit skin which has been exposed to the sun. It moisturises dry skin, prevents inflammation as well as having antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that help to protect against harmful microorganisms. Studies have shown that coconut oil is an effective treatment for burns when combined with an antibiotic.
That’s just a brief look at some of the ingredients present in the Yaoh sunscreens, but there are plenty more for you to explore! We are big fans of Yaoh sunscreen, and the fact that it has so many natural ingredients means that it wins the day over many other sunscreens that you will find on the high street. Striking that balance between effectiveness of the product and care for the planet (and for human health) is not easy when it comes to sunscreen, but Yaoh have pulled it off here.
Everything from the Yaoh brand is 100% vegan and cruelty-free, all of their ingredients are ethically sourced and free from genetically modified organisms. The brand also has a wide range of other hemp seed oil body care products from moisturisers to shampoos, lip balms, conditioners, body butter and bubble bath. We absolutely love them for their ethical and environmental standards, and of course the fact they use hemp in every single product!