I’m a summer baby, born during the dogs days on July 11th- my mother recalls sweating profusely for the last three weeks of her pregnancy; I maintain that I made up for it by only taking four hours to deliver. In any case, I love the hot season of the year; but most doctors, naturopaths and health practitioners alike, worry about their patients most during this season, as sun exposure wreaks havoc on our skin- our protective layer.
I am a sunscreen warrior, I wear it year round; but I know many who eschew the stuff for various reasons, ranging from it’s finish, chalky or greasy, the toxins found within drugstore brands, and, most frustratingly, because they simply forget. But you know what, skin cancer is on the rise among women under 40, due in large part to sun beds. A word on sun beds, DON’T, just don’t; it has been said that for those who indulge in sun bed activities, it’s not a matter of IF you will cancer but WHEN. And I know this seems positively ridiculous coming from someone with dark skin, but just as I have come to terms with being dark, you should come to terms with being light- it’s the way nature intended!
It’s true that many drugstore sunscreens are filled with horrible stuff, namely parabens, that interfere with our body’s hormonal response; causing all sorts of issues, but don’t despair, there’s a wonderful movement toward “clean” sun protection; and I have been swept up in the wave.
Summer Skin Protection Tips
There are two types of sunscreen:
Chemical Filters~ This type of sun protection uses chemical blocks to protect the skin from damage; and although they come in silky and smooth varieties, they are awash with harmful chemicals such as Mexoryl SX, Octocrylene and Avobenzone- yeah, I can’t pronounce them either.
Physical Filters~ The second type and my personal preference is the physical filter; which form a protective layer that sits on the skin and repels harmful rays. I will freely admit that these tend to go on chalky; and they generally leave my skin a little ashy- but there are always solutions to every problem! Coconut oil has a natural sun protection factor (SPF), so I mix it with my physical filter sunscreen and then slather it on my skin; this helps it spread evenly and minimize the chalky look- and begs the question, is there anything coconut oil cannot do?!
So what are my favorite “clean” sunscreen brands?
Jason Mineral Sunblock~ I love Jason products, they are my go to line of affordable clean beauty products; from toothpaste to shampoo, Jason has it all. This brand is widely available, and has been around since 1959.
Goddess Garden~ Yet another affordable brand. I met one of the reps at the CHFA West and she gave me a ton of samples; and I really liked the product.
Green Beaver~ This wouldn’t be a sun protection round up worth its salt without a mention of Green Beaver. This brand is all inclusive, meaning they have not only sun protection specially formulated for the face, the body and kids, but shampoo, toothpaste etc. I use a wide range of Green Beaver products, including SPF lip balm, SPF for my face and SPF for my body. Not necessarily the most affordable of brands, but well worth it, based on their selection.
There are also a whole host of foods that arm us against the sun;
Foods That Protect Against Sunburn
- Leafy Greens
Eating green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and chard helps to protect the skin from squamous cell cancer by up to 50 percent; with squamous cells being the 2nd leading type of skin cancer.
- Colored Fruits and Vegetables
Brightly colored fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids which are powerful antioxidants that protect the cells in the body from the damage of free radicals and also enhance the immune system. And beta carotene, found in these types of foods, helps prevent sunburn.
Research has found that lycopene and other antioxidants found in tomatoes can actually help prevent the skin from becoming sunburned; and with the season of this crimson colored fruit upon us, this is yet another reason to eat more of them.
- Foods High In Omega Fatty Acids
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids help to prevent the skin from the damages of sunburn as well as from skin cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids also help to reduce inflammation which can be caused by sunburn.
Now, these foods are meant to be a compliment to a sun protection regime, including covering up (when possible) and applying a clean sunscreen whenever you plan on being in the great outdoors.
With that said, what do you say we get outside?!