Guest post by Jenna Street, Toronto-based holistic nutritionist and the creator of Karmalicious natural skin care.
Dealing with the hot summer sun is tricky business for those of us who are conscious about what goes on our skin. Do we risk getting burned to avoid the harsh chemicals of conventional sunscreen? Will natural sunscreen do the trick? There are many things to consider before baking in the sun all day. Here FIVE tips on how to stay safe this summer.
1. Avoid The Toxins
Conventional sunscreens are filled with harmful chemicals. Worldwide, the countries where chemical sunscreens have been adopted have experienced the greatest rise in skin cancer with simultaneous death rates.
Normal sunscreens are loaded with endocrine disrupters and packed with chemicals like petroleum-derived emollients, penetration enhancers and preservatives, including formaldehyde. Yuck.
If you don’t want harsh and potentially toxic chemicals absorbing into your body, avoid conventional sunscreens that contain:
- Vitamin A (listed as “retinyl palmitate”)
These are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. They do not belong anywhere near our bodies.
2. Think Beyond Your Own Skin and Beauty
In her book There’s Lead in Your Lipstick, author Gillian Deacon notes that every year, 4000-6000 tons of sunscreen wash off swimmers and into the oceans. The toxic ingredients in these sunscreens awaken dormant viruses in certain types of algae that infect reed-building coral species. National Geographic also reports that more than 10% of the world’s reefs are threatened because of exposure to chemicals in sunscreen.
3. Protect Yourself Naturally With What You Eat
Meghan hit the nail on the head when she talked about drinking your sunscreen. Antioxidants are essential for protecting your skin cells from free radical damage. By consuming powerful antioxidants every day, you can help prevent those damaging effects of UV radiation from the inside out.
The top six antioxidants for protecting the skin from sun damage are:
- Beta-Carotene – sweet potato, carrot, spinach, collard greens, cantaloupe, broccoli, red pepper
- Lycopene – tomato, pink grapefruit, watermelon, guava, red pepper
- Flavanols – kale, onions, broccoli, tomato, apples, grapes, leek, berries, green tea
- Selenium – brazil nuts, button mushrooms, eggs, barley, sunflower seeds
- Vitamin E – sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, swiss chard, blueberries
- Vitamin C – broccoli, bell pepper, citrus fruits, bell peppers, kale, chard, berries, cantaloupe, strawberries, cabbage, asparagus, watermelon
4. Buy Safe + Natural Sunscreen
When buying sunscreen, look for the active ingredient zinc oxide. This mineral acts as tiny little mirrors that reflect the sun’s rays. But be sure to avoid nano technology (even if it uses zinc oxide), because it causes products to absorb too quickly and deeply into the skin.
To help you identify good brands, the Environmental Working Group recently published a list of safe, natural sunscreens. My personal favourite is Aubrey Organic SPF 30 + Green Tea.
5. Make Your Own Sunscreen at Home
Rather make your own sunscreen? Oil up!
Natural oils have built-in sun protection power, and their fatty acids can restore pliability and elasticity to coarse, sun-drenched skin. Check out Meghan’s natural sunscreen recipe, and try using organic, non-GMO sunflower oil which is high in vitamins A, E and D.
Keep in mind that the SPF factor of natural oils is much lower than commercial sunscreens, so you should still avoid long periods in the sun. It only takes 20 minutes of direct sunlight to get more than enough of your daily dose of vitamin D.
You’re now armed with the know-how to protect yourself from (and enjoy!) the sun safely and naturally.
Feel good about absorbing the sun’s rays, and feel good about what you’re putting on your skin.
Question Of The Day: What are you doing to maintain your sweet natural glow without toxic creams and lotions?
Jenna Street is a holistic nutritionist based in Toronto. She started a natural skin care company called Karmalicious, with the intention of providing safe skin care products as an alternative to conventional cosmetics. She hosts natural skin care workshops and sells her products at farmers markets around the city. Jenna shares her time with a wellness company called The Daily Apple, who provides cooking classes, nutrition lectures and yoga sessions for corporations and private events.
Above Image Source