Herbs have been used in medicines and cosmetics from centuries. Their potential to treat different skin diseases, to adorn and improve the skin appearance is well-known. As ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause sunburns, wrinkles, lower immunity against infections, premature ageing, and cancer, there is permanent need for protection from UV radiation and prevention from their side effects. Herbs and herbal preparations have a high potential due to their antioxidant activity, primarily. Antioxidants such as vitamins (vitamin C, vitamin E), flavonoids, and phenolic acids play the main role in fighting against free radical species that are the main cause of numerous negative skin changes. Although isolated plant compounds have a high potential in protection of the skin, whole herbs extracts showed better potential due to their complex composition.
Spectrophotometer testing indicates that as a concentrated extract of Krameria triandra it absorbs 25 to 30% of the amount of UV radiation typically absorbed by octyl methoxycinnamate. Sesame oil resists 30% of UV rays, while coconut, peanut, olive, and cottonseed oils block out about 20%. A “sclerojuglonic” compound which is forming from naphthoquinone and keratin is the reaction product that provides UV protection.
Types of Sun Protection
There are two general types of sunscreens—chemical and physical. A chemical sunscreen absorbs the UV rays, while the physical sunscreen reflects the harmful rays away from the skin like a temporary coat of armour.
There are two types of physical sunblocks that are mostly used: Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Both provide broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. They are gentle enough for everyday use, especially for individuals with sensitive skin and for children, because they rarely cause skin irritation. But, because of scattering effect, they often cause so called “whitening” phenomenon when they are applied on the skin, which seriously affects the aesthetics and the efficacy of sunscreen products.
Most chemicals only block narrow region of the UV spectrum. Therefore, are only active in controlling the UVB rays. A few block the UVA rays. The best sunblock is the sunblock that combine both chemical and physical active ingredients.
Many of the organic chemicals commonly used in sunscreen products have not been established safe for long-term human use. For example, titanium dioxide- and zinc oxide-based sunscreens are being promoted on the basis that they may be less harmful than organic sunscreen absorbers. But, the use of microfine titanium dioxide as a sunscreen product also has no long-term safety data.
Natural sun blockers
The skin's natural sun blockers are proteins (the peptide bonds), absorbing lipids, and nucleotides. The high concentration of plant peptides protects the peptide bonds of the skin proteins. The high level of squalane (from avocado and olive oil) in some products protects the skin's sensitive lipids. Squalene is the skin's most important protective lipid.
Natural sources of antioxidants
The main destroying factors for skin are oxygenated molecules which are often call “free radicals.” To stimulate the skin to repair and build itself naturally, we need an arsenal of potent ingredients. Plants like olive trees have their own built-in protection against the oxidative damage of the sun, and these built-in protectors function as cell protectors in our own body. The very pigments that make blueberries blue and raspberries red protect those berries from oxidative damage.
NOW ON TO THE MAIN TOPIC OF DEBATE...
Can plant oils be used as sunscreens?
Researchers have found that some plant oils contain natural sunscreens. For example, sesame oil resists 30% of UV rays, whereas coconut, peanut, olive, and cottonseed oils block out about 20%. Although mineral oil does not resist any UV rays, it helps to protect skin by dissolving the sebum secreted from oil glands, thus assisting evaporation from the skin.
Avocado (Persea americana) oil is rich in vitamin E, β–carotene, vitamin D, protein, lecithin, and fatty acids and offers considerable benefits when added to preparations, in terms of Sun Protection.
The Ilana Nourishing Sun Shield is a blend of antioxidant rich natural seed and essential oil blend with a high SPF rating, which helps stimulate the skin to repair and build itself naturally by neutralising free radicals.
Because the SPF is coming from the natural oils, the SPF value is hard to be determined and often keeps fluctuating within the formula.
We do not suggest using the ILANA SUN SHEILD as your only sun protection for a full day in the sun due to its limited UVA coverage. We always recommend pairing it with a physical sunscreen for longer hours of exposure and suggest to reapply it every 2 hours that you're in the sun.