Elixir Collective No. 16 ~ Sunbather Salve
The May 2019 Elixir Collective subscription box featured a very special photoprotectant balm ~ the Sunbather Salve ~ in a compostable 1.3 oz pushup tube. Excerpts from the accompanying card told the story of this balm are detailed below...
The Sun — an enigmatic celestial body so magnificent that gods were created just to explain its existence. Sunlight is crucial to our health, both for body and mind, as it activates cellular reactions on the surface of the skin that are essential for our survival. But just the right balance of sun exposure is key: too much (or too little) can be detrimental to our livelihood. Even without the knowledge of modern science, our ancient ancestors understood this fact and shielded themselves beneath the sun’s rays with gifts from the earth. All over the world, different cultures incorporated unique methods of sun protection: in Africa, varying combinations of red and white clays cover the skin; indigenous people of Latin America applied the oily red pigment from achiote seeds (also known as annatto or lipstick plant); and in Southeast Asia, a powdered root called thanaka is mixed with water and painted over the most sun-sensitive areas of the body.
Along the quest of creating a better sunscreen for the future (of ourselves and our planet), I’ve had to look back in time. These traditional methods of protection served as pieces to a formulation puzzle that avoids the conventional sunscreen active ingredients used today. Of the two main types of actives, neither are ideal: chemical sunblocks soak deep into the body and are harmful for ocean life (and now banned in Hawaii), while physical sunblocks like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are safer in their non-nano, opaque forms but are still mined minerals and create damaging free radicals when light hits the skin. While the aforementioned options seem very limiting, the botanical world offers an abundance of ‘photoprotectant’ compounds that naturally neutralize the harmful effects of the sun’s rays. These special compounds are actually what plants produce to help defend their own delicate inner workings from getting too overheated by ultraviolet light.
And so: I present to you the Sunbather Salve. An idea many years in the making, the latest iteration is a culmination of extensive research on UV-neutralizing plant constituents and indigenous sun protectants as well as several trial and error batches (tested on myself and family and friends willing to give it a whirl). Crafted with an arsenal of photoprotectant ingredients, Sunbather Salve was designed to help keep your skin healthy while having fun in the sun.