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Natural SPF: The top 10 ingredients to boost sun protection

July 1st 2015 / Pedro Catala

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With temperatures soaring and UV levels at an all time high, Pedro Catala of Twelve Beauty counts down the 10 natural ingredients with SPF benefits you need to stock up on

For those who have a greener approach to beauty it can be very daunting to choose the right suncare product. The choice is limited, with only two sunscreens considered to be 'natural'; titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These two minerals can provide the right protection, however they might leave an unpleasant white residue on our skin (though new formulations are improving).

Are there any other choices? Luckily, we can find in nature several plant extracts that are not classified as sunscreens but which can boost the protection of our favourite product and keep our skin even safer while exposed to the sun. Lab tests have shown an SPF range from 4 to 28 for these extracts. While they are no substitutes for natural or synthetic UV filters, they can certainly boost the SPF; in fact, some manufacturers use these boosters to reduce the quantity of the traditional UV filters, in order to achieve the desired SPF.

Don't forget, too, that SPF products, no matter how synthetic or natural are not very stable over time. This is why I advise to give all your sun care products to the people next to you on the beach when the holiday is over, as we shouldn't use them the following year.

Here are my top 10 natural sunscreens boosters to look out for in your skincare:

Propolis

This resinous mixture, which bees collect from plants and use to seal and protect the hive is rich in antioxidants that offer protection against UVB and UVA.

Raspberry

Packed with vitamins and minerals, it is a great natural remedy to keep our body hydrated during the summer months. There are several studies that confirm raspberry oil protects us from the sun, stimulating the production of melanin, so this is the ingredient to choose to achieve a natural long lasting tan.

MORE GLOSS: 8 everyday suncreams reviewed

Strawberry

Some European universities have created a device to test the resistance of a strawberry extract to the sun, comparing it with 90 minutes exposure to the sun during the hottest day on the French Riviera. Who said skincare research wasn't glamorous?

Shea butter

Not only provides elasticity and hydration to dry skin, but also improves efficacy of UVB filters.

Aloe Vera

Studies recommend applying the gel 24 hours before sun exposure as it can improve the skin’s immune system.

Alder buckthorn

Traditionally used as a natural laxative, it is now “hot property” in skincare due to its ability to reduce UV harm.

MORE GLOSS: The ultimate guide to sun creams for sensitive skin

Walnut

Protects the skin against UVB and helps the skin to produce more melanin, resulting in better protection. An ideal ingredient for those with fair skin.

Caffeine

Normally associated with bodycare or even haircare, it has a starring role in the suncare category mainly because it helps our skin to eliminate sun damaged cells.

Buriti oil

Direct from Brazil, it has made a big impact on the industry. Rich in pigments like carotene and other antioxidants, it can offer efficient sun protection.

Achiote (Bixa orellana)

Commonly called the “lipstick tree” due to its high content of red pigments, it has been used for centuries as a dye and sun protector by indigenous tribes in Central and South America.

See Pedro's expert profile here and follow us on Twitter @GetTheGloss

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