Its summer! And no matter if you are blessed with olive skin that enjoys the kiss of summer or are snow white and must hide from the sun’s rays, it’s important to both protect and nourish the skin when exposed to some of the more damaging aspects of sunshine.Growing up, many of us were cautioned to avoid going out during the hottest parts of the day, to stay in the shade during the most intense times, and enjoy the sun in the morning and evening.
We were also coached on the differences between UVA and UVB rays. (UVB rays are the Vitamin D-producing rays, and the UVA rays are the ones guilty of causing damage to the skin.)
While avoiding hot sunshine may help you avoid burns, it may not have been the best advice available! What you probably weren’t told is that damaging UVA rays are prevalent all day long, while beneficial UVB sunlight is best obtained in the midday. UVB light is extremely low in the morning and evening, exactly the times we were encouraged to be outside!
So while I was diligent to do my gardening early in the day to avoid the “intense” sun, I was unwittingly exposing myself to the damaging UVA rays while almost completely missing the beneficial UVB rays.
Thankfully, I’ve gained more complete knowledge since then. Here’s what I’ve learned about sun exposure.
How to Avoid Sunburn
First, there are things we can do to dramatically increase our skin’s health and lower our potential for burns and damage.
1. Build your tolerance by small, increasing increments of barrier-free sun exposure, specifically during the middle of the day. Start with 5-10 minutes (less if you are especially fair) and work your way up daily, adding a few minutes at a time.
2. Use clothing or hats to cover yourself to allow for a barrier; remember that protection is important even on cloudy days, early in the morning, and late in the afternoon.
3. Give your skin a rest with frequent breaks in the shade or indoors.
4. Drink green tea for a plethora of antioxidants that help to protect the skin and body.
5. Take Cod Liver Oil or Omega 3’s. Having a healthy amount of Vitamin D and Omega fats in the body provides natural protection against the sun’s damaging rays.
6. Use a non-toxic sunscreen like Bee Shade!
But I got sunburned anyway!
There are times when even though we’re the most cautious, we do get a tad pink (or even blazing red!). Our bodies fairly scream at us for relief when this happens. There are some great ways to calm the sting, help restore your skin, and reduce the effects of the sun’s rays.
7. Apply Aloe Vera Gel directly from the plant to the sunburn. This provides both soothing relief and healing support to the skin.
8. Gently massage burned areas with a nourishing oil.
Nourishing After-Sun Skin Oil
Mix together equal parts Vitamin E Oil, Aloe Vera juice and Coconut Oil. Apply to skin.
9. Make a soothing paste of Bentonite Clay or French Green Clay and apply to the sunburn. A drop of Lavender or Tea Tree Essential Oil can also be added to the mix.
10. Arrowroot Powder can also be made into a paste and applied to the area. You can add a drop of Frankincense or Lavender Essential Oil as well.
11. Slather on some homemade raw yogurt (use the plain unflavored variety, of course!).
12. Fresh plantain leaves can be bruised and then layered on the burn.
13. Lavender Essential Oil can be added to a carrier oil or witch hazel and spritzed on the burned areas.
14. Spray the sunburn with Hair Shine to help soothe the irritation. (It’s great for hair AND skin!)
15. Make a paste of raw shredded potatoes. Apply to the skin and cover to retain the moisture.
16. Keep well hydrated with water, flavored fruit waters, herbal teas and bone broths. All of these provide hydration, along with the nutrients needed to regenerate fresh skin after a burn.
17. Take an oatmeal bath. Place uncooked rolled oats in a tube sock in the bathtub. The oatmeal provides soothing relief. And while you’re in there, skip the soap! It can contribute to dryness, causing further discomfort to already-tight skin.
18. Make your own burn relief spray.
Cooling Aloe Spray
6-8 Tbsp Aloe Vera water (available at health food stores)
10 Drops of Lavender Essential Oil
10 Drops of Peppermint Essential Oil
Combine in a clean, empty spray bottle and spritz on skin sunburned as needed. NOTE: Cooling Aloe Spray is not considered safe to use while pregnant or nursing. Consider omitting Peppermint and just using Lavender while pregnant or nursing. The Cooling Aloe Spray should NOT be used on children under 10 years old. Consider substituting Spearmint or just using Lavender for children from ages 2-10.
19. Sport some cucumbers! Slice a cucumber into rounds or strips to apply to the burn. Its antioxidant and analgesic properties provide great relief to the burned area.
20. Rest is healing! Try incorporating some topical strategies while lying in a dark room with cool air.
What are your favorite ways to protect your skin from the sun, or to heal from over-exposure? Can you add to our list? We’d love to know! Share your thoughts in the comments below.