Women sitting on the beach at the edge of the ocean

Five Natural Ways to Protect Your Skin From the Sun

Here’s how you can get the many benefits of sun exposure, avoid skin damage, and enjoy yourself…

With hot summer days just about here, it’s time to talk about keeping your skin safe.

Are you confused about the sun?

A lot of people are.

On one hand, you hear dire warnings about the sun causing skin cancer and premature aging.

On the other hand, you hear that Vitamin D is the “sunshine vitamin” that keeps your bones strong and protects you from cancer, depression, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease—and to get enough of it, you need some sun exposure everyday.

So which is it? Should you be scared sunless or let the sunshine in?

Turns out, like a lot of things, the answer is moderation. The sun is here for us, and we need to learn to use it wisely.

A little daily exposure to the sun is part of a healthy lifestyle. So say, for example, you’re going out for a 10- or 20-minute walk. In that case, it’s time to just head out the door and happily let the sun touch you with its healing, life-sustaining rays.

But most of us have times when we’re going to be in the sun a lot longer than that. And that’s when sun protection comes in.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just picking up a sunscreen at the drugstore and hitting the beach.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) researched sunscreens and found that 80% of those sold in the US offered inadequate protection against UVA rays and/or contained potentially harmful chemical ingredients.

(As a side note, The FDA has called SPF values greater than 50+ “inherently misleading” because they offer no additional sun protection. The sale of sunscreens labeled as having ultra-high SPF values has been banned in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Australia. There is proposed legislation to do the same in the US, but some very powerful industry lobbying has kept this effort stalled for years.)

So what do you do if you’re going to be hiking in the sun all day long or sitting at the beach for hours?

Then it’s definitely time for some extra help in the form of sunscreen. But you need to make sure what you get is non-toxic and really going to work. So before buying one, check out the EWG’s list of best beach and sport sunscreens.

Equally important is to realize that there are other things you can do to give your skin the best chance of staying youthful and healthy.

Here are my five top natural ways to protect your skin:

1.     Eat foods that provide UV protection, including:

·       Fish that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acid, such as wild salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines. Studies have shown that these can help protect cells from free radical damage and may protect against some types of skin cancer.

·       Dark leafy greens and cruciferous veggies. These are loaded with skin-protecting antioxidants and have been shown to be cancer-protective in general.

·       Red and orange fruits and veggies. Oranges, red peppers, tomatoes, and carrots…eat a variety of these for skin protecting lycopene and beta-carotene.

2.     Drink green tea. Green tea has been shown to help prevent non-melanoma skin cancer, and it’s   full of polyphenols, which help inhibit cancer development.

3.     Eat the right oils. Consuming healthy oils, including coconut, olive, sesame, borage, evening primrose, and avocado helps keep your skin healthy and more resistant to sun damage. (Incidentally, putting oils such as coconut and olive on your skin blocks about 20% of UV rays.)

4.     Apply Vitamin E. Applying a natural form of vitamin e to your skin, such as alpha-tocopherol or tocotrienol, has been shown to protect skin from the sun and—an added bonus—to reduce the length and depth of wrinkles.

5.     Soothe with Aloe Vera. Aloe vera gel is soothing and healing to the skin. It’s the perfect thing to apply if you’ve spent a bit too much time in the sun. Some people also use aloe vera on their skin regularly because it calms and relieves any irritation or redness.

I hope this summer you won’t be afraid of the sun. Just be smart about it—and go out and have a good time!

Keep Thinking Big & Living Bold!