Sunscreen – End of Summer Thoughts

In February I presented a talk at the 7th Scientific Wholistic Aromatherapy Conference on botanical sunscreen and treatment of skin cancer. The paper is in the proceedings available through Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy

I found an abundance of support that plant extracts, primarily flavonoids, polypehenols and carotenoids, provide protection from UVR damage and have demonstrated anti-tumor activity, causing cancer cell apoptosis (cell death) without damage to healthy cells. This is both internal and topical.

I have only used botanical oils and isolated nutrients in skin care formulation as a sunscreen for almost ten years now. No sunburn, ever.

Currently, the favored method for so-called natural sunscreen is the use of the nano particles titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These nano particles have been questioned for their safety (as so many things are, especially synthetic ingredients used in cosmetics). I’m not interested in playing the natural vs. synthetic game. What I question is that with so much research showing that botanical oils provide beneficial and effective sunscreen, why aren’t they used in the marketplace? We already know they’re safe, it’s food.

Personally, my reason for not introducing a line is $$. The cost of “proving” to the FDA and labeling is prohibitive, even though there is adequate evidence that exists. There is a study for what appears to be a commercial internal supplement being tested in Stuttgart, Germany though. Possibly a start to these being introduced to the marketplace.

Or, you may want to get a start on next season and just start eating lots of tomato paste, as many studies have shown there is a time dependence attached to results, as demonstrated in this study using tomato paste (16mg per day of lycopene) and it’s prevention of sun induced erythema following a 10 week period of use. Really, how cool is that? Good nutrition, sun protection and you’ll still absorb the necessary vitamin D that the sun provides.

Many of the  ingredients I discuss for skin care in my book are also researched for sun protection. Whether it’s anti-aging, sensitive skin conditions or protection from UVR damage, it seems that the answer is high potency anti-oxidant botanicals and whole foods.