Summers are fun but it’s important to take care of our skin. Nobody likes to have a sunburn. They are painful and uncomfortable, and dangerous. Sunlight improves our mood and boosts our vitamin D levels, but we need only about 15-20 minutes of sun everyday – and without sunscreen. If you are on vacation or want to get a nice tan, it’s best to increase sun exposure gradually, while having a healthy diet and staying hydrated.
I don’t know if you’re like me but I don’t use chemical sunscreens. Not only I’m highly allergic to one common ingredient found in sunscreens, but many of them contain toxic or hormone-disrupting ingredients. Sunscreens may protect against sunburn but they don’t necessarily protect against skin cancer. Plus, they block vitamin D production. Some of them even generate free radicals that can lead to cancer.
If I go in the sun for prolonged hours I will use a natural, organic sunscreen. It’s usually made with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. They are better for our health and protect our skin against UV damage. Otherwise, I avoid sun during the hottest time of the day, I don’t go out for too long, I don’t put oil on my skin to tan, I wear a hat, sunglasses and/or light close that cover up the skin a little bit.
If you want to use alternative methods to protect your skin from burning, aging, and decrease your risk of skin cancer, here are a few simple things you can do:
- Consume antioxidants and healthy fats
You need to have a diet that contains plenty of antioxidants, omega-3s, and saturated fats (yes, saturated fats – they are very protective). You also want to consume more vitamin D. Antioxidants are found in fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and other foods such as green tea.
- Avoid processed foods
Avoid vegetable oils such as canola, corn, and soy oil found in most processed foods. These vegetable oils are very much prone to oxidation, they contain a lot of omega-6s, and they create inflammation in the body. Focus on real, wholesome foods.
- Consume or take astaxanthin
Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that acts as an internal sunscreen. It also provides many other health benefits. This antioxidant is found in algae and organisms that eat it such as krill, shrimp, and salmon. Astaxanthin is the most powerful lipid-soluble source of antioxidants we know of.
- Avoid sun during peak hours
Stay out of the midday sun, which is the strongest sunlight, and avoid prolonged contact with the sun. If you have to be outside during that time of the day, stay in the shade, cover with light clothes, wear a hat and sunglasses, and if needed, wear a natural sunscreen.
- Use natural sunscreens when absolutely necessary
Look for natural sunscreens that contain zinc and titanium minerals as opposed to toxic ingredients such as PABA, parabens, retinyl palmitate, and oxybenzone. If you like to make your own products at home, you can even make your own sunscreen using different oils and minerals. Coconut oil is also great for the skin. It’s very hydrating and has been shown to provide an SPF of about 8, which can be helpful to protect the skin, although its protection is not very high. Carrot seed oil is excellent for the skin as well, and has a natural SPF of about 35-40.
If you have a sunburn, don’t panic: you can do something about it. You can apply pure aloe vera right away or you can make your own natural, DIY remedy. With this preparation, you should feel much better by the next day.
Also, it’s very important you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. A sunburn dehydrates the inside of the body so it’s important to stay hydrated to avoid headaches and fatigue.
To make this remedy, you will need:
- A washcloth
- Unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
- Coconut oil, preferably organic
- Lavender essential oil, optional
- With cold water, wet the washcloth
- Splash a little apple cider vinegar on it
- Apply the washcloth onto your sunburn as a compress, soaking the skin
- Leave on for a few minutes, then relieve
- When your skin is dry, apply coconut oil on your sunburn. (If you have lavender and/or peppermint essential oil, add 2 drops – it will help to heal the burn)