Summer is here, the sun is shining bright and it’s hot outside. Time to go to the beach and get our skin kissed by the sun. It’s also time to put on some sunscreen to protect our skin from sunburns and other more serious damage.
The sun is our friend and helps us activate the production of vitamin D in our body. This happens when we go out, with 50% to 75% of skin exposed if possible, during the time of day when the UVB rays are the strongest. This is between 10am and 2-3PM. We’ve always learned that we should stay out the sun during that time of day, but a little sun during that time of day on our skin is exactly what we need to keep our bones healthy, have our body absorb calcium properly, decrease cardiovascular risks and strengthen our immune system.
The length we can stay in the sun with our exposed skin depends on our skin type and also on the strength of the UV rays. The latter can differ by day.
A good help is the following chart:
This means during summer when the UV rays are strong we can only stay in the sun for a very short time. If we stay in the sun longer we need to protect ourselves. Too much exposure can have a negative effect of which the first one we really notice early is sunburn.
To protect ourselves we typically reach for thick high SPF sunscreen. However most of these sunscreens contain many toxic ingredients and endocrine disruptors which can also be very damaging to the body. These chemicals can actually promote free radical production in the body and skin cancer growth.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) advises to use sunscreen as your last resort and not only rely on sunscreen to protect you. Check out their 8 little unknown facts about sunscreen and their yearly sunscreen guide of the least toxic sunscreens that meet their criteria.
The commercial sunscreens also have been proven to be damaging to the environment. Many coral reefs and sea life suffer from the toxins we put on our skin before taking a dip into the ocean.
Natural ways to protect our skin
There are different ways we can naturally protect ourselves from the sun. Here are our tips:
Eat your sunscreen
No we don’t mean that you should eat the sunscreen from the bottle. That would be very dangerous. We mean that if you eat the right foods, the nutrients can actually protect the skin from within.
Sun protective foods are:
- Leafy greens
Another good reason to eat your greens is that they help protect the skin from the sun. Leafy greens are rich in chlorophyll. An Australian study found that eating regularly at least 3 servings of dark leafy greens reduces the risk of skin cancer by 55%.
Tomatoes are full of lycopene. Lycopene helps boost the skin’s natural protection against damaging UV rays. They are also a great source of Vitamin C which is another skin protective and restorative vitamin you can also find in many citrus fruits and green vegetables.
- Cruciferous vegetables
Like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel spouts
These veggies are full of sulforaphane which protects us from skin cancer. There has even been research done where they apply the sulforaphane from broccoli directly to the skin.
- Healthy fats
Omega 3 fatty acids improve our overall skin health and therefore the body’s natural UV protection. Flax seeds , hemp seeds and olive oil are great alkaline sources of Omega 3.
- Vitamin E rich foods
Vitamin E is another one of those great skin health vitamins. You find vitamin E in spinach, avocado, almonds, broccoli and sunflower seeds.
This is such a refreshing fruit packed with anti-oxidants. It contains high levels of ellagic acid which helps the body produce glutathione. Glutathione has been found to increase skin’s UV resistance by 20%. So sip away on that pink pomegranate juice.
Oils with natural SPF
We’ve already mentioned in one of our blog posts that we try to not put anything on our skin we can’t eat. For perfect moisturising of the skin we use natural oils like avocado oil, coconut oil or argan oil.
Some oils contain a natural SPF like coconut oil, avocado oil, red raspberry seed oil and carrot seed oil. The last two have very high SPFs depending on the quality of the oil. You actually might have some in your kitchen pantry. Try to add them to your beauty routine.
It is not advised to go baking in the sun the whole day with these oils. They protect to a certain extend as long as you don’t overdo your sun exposure. And this brings us to our next tip.
Not because you’re in the shade you won’t tan. You actually will still be able to get a tan, it might take a bit longer. But you will keep your skin protected and healthy in the meantime.
After your dose of vitamin D covering up with long sleeves and hats will shield your skin from damaging UV radiation.
Have a great summer and enjoy the sun responsibly!