Save Your Summertime Skin

It's the time of year we take vacations to enjoy the outdoors, relax and soak in the sun. Although tempting to bathe in the warmth of our giant star, there are a few precautions to take.

The skin is the largest organ of the body. It reflects our health and age. Today, there’s much concern about sun bathing leading to an increase in skin damage and skin cancer. 
Research suggests that skin cancer is cumulative over a lifetime. It begins with overexposure and serious sunburns during childhood.

Excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays can increase the production of free radicals that can adversely affect the integrity of collagen in the skin. Over time, our skin becomes wrinkled, cracked, aged, and brittle. For smokers, the effects are multiplied.

We can’t live without the sun. Our bodies require sunlight in order to manufacture Vitamin D needed for calcium absorption, among other things. So, we shouldn’t hide from our shining star. Here are a few helpful tips and precautions to take when you’re soaking in the summertime sun:

Use sunscreen - Choose a sunscreen with a high SPF number that protects against UVA and UVB rays, for greater protection. Apply it onto your skin fifteen minutes before you go outside. Don’t forget your nose, ears, and neck. 
Refer to the Environmental Working Group’s ranking of sunscreens to see where yours stands. 

If you’re averse to chemical sunscreens or prefer a natural alternative for babies and young children, coconut oil and shea butter, though low in SPF number, provide natural sun protection.  Here is a home-made recipe for natural sunscreen by Wellness Mama.

Timing is key - Avoid sun exposure when the sun is at its highest peak in the sky, typically from about 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Gear up - Wear a hat with a wide brim, t-shirt or long-sleeve shirt as a cover, and sunglasses that filter ultraviolet rays.  I like the following brands of sun protection gear: 
Sunday Afternoons, Solumbra, and outdoor lifestyle brands like REI. This prevention would be even more imperative if you decide to forego the chemical sunscreens and decide to use natural sunscreens.

Drink it up - By keeping your body hydrated, you can avoid dehydration and provide moisture for the skin to prevent dryness, cracking, and aging.  To enjoy hydrating, drink water infused with the bountiful fruits and vegetables available during the summer, like cucumber, lemon or lime, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, or oranges.  Unsweetened, natural coconut water and aloe water are also excellent alternative.

Pop a pill - Vitamins such as A, E, and some antioxidants help prevent skin damage. Cod liver oil and flax seed oil have also been used to support skin health.

Brush it off - Before you take a shower, use a dry skin brush. This can open pores and slough off dead skin, allowing your skin to breathe easily and work more efficiently.

Keep healthy - Taking some medications may cause adverse reactions and side effects when we’re exposed to sunlight. Acupuncture may be able to provide an alternative to these medications, keeping you healthy, safely and naturally.  Acupuncture and shonishin can also help to keep you and your child's mind and body "cool" after overexposure to the sun, as these two methods help to release inflammation and pent up heat in the skin.  There are also natural herbal remedies in the instance that you do burn your skin, so contact me!

If you want to have fun now, and not worry later, practice good sun sense. You and your skin deserve it.