What You Need To Know About Summer Sun & Horse Showing

Horse show season is in full swing, and you are probably either at a show, getting ready for a show, or recovering from a show. We love this life! Hanging out with friends, cheering them on, reliving the day’s classes over dinner and drinks. This time of year is the best!

But it’s also stressful. Not only do we deal with emotional anxiety, since we are “performing” and trying hard to do our best, but also physical stress. The days are long, we are generally outside, and no matter the weather, the show goes on. Heat, rain, cold, sun, humidity. They all take a toll on your skin – especially your face and hands.

You already know how important it is to protect your skin. And you’ve probably heard about the growing concern around sunscreen and sun protection. Many of the most common sunscreen products contain harmful chemicals or nanoparticles – minute ingredients that may cross the blood-brain barrier and also harm aquatic life.¹ And think about it – sunscreen is unique in how you use it. You slather it on thickly, several times a day, and don’t wash it off. This gives chemicals and nanoparticles time to soak into your skin and potentially enter your bloodstream.

So what’s a horse show girl to do?

Let’s dig into the 411.

There are two basic types of sunscreen: synthetic-based and mineral-based.

Synthetic sunscreens create a barrier for your skin using one or more synthetic chemicals including ingredients like: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. These chemicals work to protect the skin by absorbing the sun’s harmful uva and/or uvb rays.

Mineral sunscreens typically include ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which create a physical barrier to protect skin from the sun. These sunscreens work by deflecting the sun’s harmful uva and/or uvb rays, and in general are considered safer (in non-nano form) for your skin and for the environment.

Our motto is: if you can’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin. This goes for sunscreen as well as any skin care product!

Fortunately, the 2018 Report from Environmental Working Group (their 12th Annual Guide to Sunscreens) helps us sort through the mess of options we find in the store. This report claims nearly 67% of sunscreens sold in the U.S. don’t work. And an astounding number actually may cause health problems ranging from compromising your endocrine system to actual cancer!

According to EWG, some of the most toxic sunscreens include:

  • Panama Jack Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 85
  • Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen, SPF 60+
  • CVS Health Sun Lotion, SPF 60
  • Up & Up Sport Sunscreen Spray, SPF 15, 30 & 50
  • Panama Jack Sunscreen Continuous Spray, SPF 15, 30 & 70
  • NO-AD Sun Care Sport Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 50
  • Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunscreen Spray, SPF 50 & 85+
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen Spray, SPF 30
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, SPF 70, 85+ & 100+
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, SPF 70, 85+ & 100+

Ingredients you want to look out for include:

  • oxybenzone, a known endocrine disruptors
  • retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that may harm skin and possibly lead to skin tumors
  • methylisothiazolinone, a common sunscreen preservative and skin allergen
  • Vitamin A, sounds safe enough, but it can react with UV rays and increase the risk of skin tumors

In 2011, the FDA banned the use of misleading sunscreen bottle claims like “waterproof” and “sweatproof,” but other misleading marketing terms are still in use. These include terms like “sun shield” and “age shield.” So don’t believe all the marketing hype you read, do your research!

So is there anything good on the market? Yes, thankfully there is.

Some of your best sunscreen options are (note these are not your only options):

  • Babyganics Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50+
  • Bare Republic Clearscreen Sunscreen Gel, Sport, SPF 30
  • Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Baby, SPF 50
  • Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Baby, SPF 30
  • CeraVe Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 45
  • Desert Essence Age Reversal SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen
  • Goddess Garden Organics Facial Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Little Forest Sunscreen Lotion for Babies & Kids, SPF 30+
  • Loving Naturals Sunscreen, SPF 30+
  • thinkbaby and thinksport Sunscreen, SPF 30+

Look for many of these and other better options in co-ops or healthy food stores such as Whole Foods, or buy them online.

So now you know which sunscreens to avoid, and which will actually help. And you have access to the full EWG report which contains excellent additional information. But there are other things you can do to protect yourself at shows this summer.

  1. Wear apparel with sun shield protection built-in.
  2. Wear a hat or cap.
  3. Wear sunglasses that wrap around to more fully protect your eyes from UV rays.
  4. Remember the lips! Wear a lip balm that contains natural SPF ingredients.


And for those of you looking for a deeper dive into natural sun protection solutions, this information from Wellness Mama focuses on foods and healthy fats that support skin health, and may help to prevent burning and aging – from the inside out (keep in mind these are unproven scientifically). She has the following to say about supplements:

  • Vitamin D3 (about 5,000 IU/day) – Emerging evidence shows that optimizing blood levels of Vitamin D can have a protective effect against sunburn and skin cancer.
  • Vitamin C (about 2,000 mg/day) – Taken internally, this is a potent anti-inflammatory, and it is good for the immune system too.
  • Coconut oil melted in a cup of herbal tea per day – the Medium Chain Fatty Acids and saturated fat are easily utilized by the body for new skin formation and are protective against burning.
  • Fermented Cod Liver Oil/High Vitamin Butter Oil Blend (also great for remineralizing teeth) -Probably the most important supplement for sun protection.  It’s also great for digestive and oral health.
  • Astaxanthin – A highly potent antioxidant which research shows acts as an internal sunscreen. It’s also supposedly an anti-aging supplement. Wellness Mama doesn’t give this one to the kids though.


In addition, you might consider supplements from Murad that claim to help protect the skin from the sun, such as Murad Pomphenol Sunguard Dietary Supplement.

How Diamonds in the Dirt helps equestrians

At the end of a long day in the sun and weather, we love using our Wise Facial Toner as a facial mist. Misting on this rose hydrosol not only provides a refreshing, intoxicating scent, but our faces drink in the moisturizing essential oils and feel amazing. It’s a great pick-me-up before heading out for drinks and dinner. And if you keep it refrigerated it’s amazingly refreshing in the heat and humidity!

In the morning, before leaving for the showgrounds, be sure an use a moisturizer that protects, such as our Abundant Facial Serum. The base is organic jojoba oil with essential oils of geranium and frankincense; it absorbs quickly and keeps your face hydrated all day. Follow this with your facial sunscreen of choice to help protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun.

And finally, let’s talk about your lips. They take the brunt of the sun, wind and exposure. Our Nuzzle Hydrating Lip Balm uses organic coco butter, organic coconut oil, and organic beeswax, as well as naturally protective Red Raspberry Seed Essential Oil and Carrot Seed Essential Oil. Both of these essential oils have a natural SPF rating of 35+.

If you have any tips for coping with Mother Nature during show season, we’d love to hear them. Drop us a comment below. Happy showing!!

¹ From the The New York Times: On May 1, Hawaii became the first state to pass a bill banning the sale of sunscreen containing chemicals believed to harm coral reefs.

The legislation prohibits the distribution of sunscreen containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate that scientists have found contributes to coral bleaching when washed off in the ocean. The Hawaii sunscreen bill now awaits the signature of the governor. The new rules will go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.

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