It’s that time of year again…the sun shines a little brighter, a little longer, every day. We’ll be spending more time out at the beach, in the backyard, on the river, and outdoors in general. So I thought we’d take a few minutes to talk about the largest organ of our bodies…our skin.
Skin is amazing! It has multiple layers, filters out all kinds of harmful external elements, and protects our bodies. So it’s important that we protect our skin. The sun is most intense between 10am-4pm. If you plan to be out during that time, take extra precautions. Wear a lightweight long sleeve shirt, a wide brimmed hat, or put up a beach umbrella and hang out in the shade. If you want to catch some rays or are swimming or playing sports, be sure to lather up with sunscreen.
A few words about sunscreen: they are not all created equally, and all of them MUST be reapplied during the day. Whether you’re using SPF 15 or 50, failure to reapply after swimming or sweating will lead to a lack of protection and sunburn. In general, it’s thought that there isn’t much difference in protection after SPF 30. Still, I like to use SPF 45 because it provides good protection, but still allows me to get a nice tan. There are differing schools of thought regarding negative effects from toxic ingredients in many sunscreens versus the positive effects of not getting burned. My opinion is that using sunscreen is better than not using sunscreen. If you’re interested in healthier (safer) options, you can check out safe sunscreens on the Environmental Working Group website here: EWG Best Sunscreens
After sun care of your skin is also important. If you do get burned, aloe is soothing and healing. Your best option is to split open an aloe leaf and use the gel inside. Aloe is an easy plant to grow, and does well both indoors and out! If you don’t have an aloe plant, not to worry, aloe is widely available. Look for aloe vera gel that doesn’t have any added color, fragrance, alcohol, etc. Aloe vera gel should be clear, not green. If your sunburn is hot and you’re looking for extra relief, a cool bath with a cup of vinegar added to the water can take away the heat. And for a little extra healing, I like to add a couple drops of therapeutic grade lavender essential oil to my aloe gel before rubbing it on.
I love coconut oil as a moisturizer during the summer! I find it’s not enough for my dry skin in the winter, but perfect in the summer. It has it’s own SPF of about 6-8, but should not be considered sunscreen. I make a coconut oil-cocoa butter body balm for summer… smells delicious, soaks in nicely, and makes my skin feel super soft. Extra sweating and feeling hot and sticky can leave people not wanting to moisturize in the summer. I find lotion too heavy, which is why I prefer to use oil. It may seem counterintuitive, but oil has a way of soaking nicely into your skin. Whether you choose lotion or oil is up to you…just be sure to hydrate. Your skin will thank you!
And last, but certainly not least, the food you eat has been shown to make a difference in the health of your skin and the development of skin cancer. Let’s start with the most obvious and most easily overlooked – water. It is important to drink plenty of good quality water, no matter what time of year it is. Even more so when it’s hot…if you’re sweating, you’re losing fluid. Make sure to replace it!
I’m sure you’ve heard about antioxidants and how they are essential in fighting free radicals in your body. Your skin is no different…it needs them too. And there are so many yummy options! Take a look at some common foods high in antioxidants here: WebMD.com
Healthy fats are also imperative to keeping your skin well hydrated from within. Skin cells need fat to form protective cell walls, and it helps your skin look more youthful. The most important fat to consume is Omega 3; found in salmon and other cold water fish, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, flax seed and purslane (often considered a weed, this is a wonderfully nutritious plant). Olive oil also provides good fat, as do avocados.
Vitamins C, D, and B3 have all been found to be important in protecting our skin, just as Vitamin E helps keep it looking young and nourished. So eat your fruits and veggies! They are loaded with vitamins AND they are hydrating. Some of the best are those high in beta-carotene like carrots, squash, mangoes, sweet potatoes, kale, and spinach; and those high in lycopene like tomatoes, apricots, guava, and watermelon.
Bottom line – healthy skin starts with a healthy diet. So eat well, and get outside and enjoy the sunshine! Responsibly, of course 😉