With the weather getting warmer by the day and the sun feeling so good to soak up, it’s time to think about the effects it can have on our skin. While many moms and dads, beachgoers, and just people in general instinctively reach out for sunscreens, this might be one time when it’s much better not to listen to your instincts. Sunscreens have come under fire of late because, too often, they are laced with chemicals that do more damage than good – to you and the environment.
Luckily, that doesn’t mean that we have to give up the sun and stay inside all summer. There are some very basic, common sense ways to protect ourselves from the sun without the chemicals, and there are some simple, natural solutions for those moments when sunscreen is a must. Not only are we going to be healthier for this, but we are going to get to enjoy the sunshine and avoid the price we sometimes have to pay.
It should come as no shock that diet can play a huge role in keeping our bodies healthy, including the largest organ: skin. There are certain foods we can be eating that will help protect the skin from within. Carrots and other foods rich in vitamins A and C, tomatoes and other foods rich in lycopene, and many, many other foods go into to providing the skin with all it needs to stay safe and cancer free. First and foremost, we need to provide a good diet.
Sensible clothing choices just make … well, sense. While bikinis (and mankinis) are wonderfully fun in the sun, they can be used at select times, and the rest of the time we can use protective clothing. Light, long-sleeved shirts, wide-brimmed hats, and sarongs all make for great skin protection when the time for flaunting and frolicking barely frocked isn’t ideal. Cover the skin up, and the sun won’t damage it.
Whether it is umbrellas on the beach, finding a patio roof somewhere, or stretching out beneath a tree, it seems fairly sensible to seek the shelter of some shade. Not only does it keep us from overheating in the sizzling summer sun, but it keeps our skin from roasting in it. Most beaches, parks, and picnic areas have plenty of shady spots available, so settle in those and take the sun in healthy increments.
Sunscreens can be pretty nasty for the environment, as well as our bodies. When we get all lathered up and dive into oceans, lakes, and rivers, much of it washes off and straight into the eco-system, where it then poisons plant and animal life. Sunscreens often have chemicals that are damaging to our bodies as well, so it is important to go with all-natural (vegan) products or to make our own DIY versions, a much cheaper option.
Of course, no method is infallible or completely unforgettable, so accidents do happen from time to time. In these moments, it’s important to help our skin get back up to snuff as quickly and painlessly as possible. Natural after-sun skin products are generally filled with vitamins and minerals and lovely things that enable the skin to heal itself, or there are easy-to-do DIY versions that are equally all-natural and effective, as well as affordable.
The sun is usually at its most wickedly brutal in the middle of the day, between about 10:00 and 3:00, so it is probably best to exercise more caution during these hours. This can turn out to be advantageous because beaches and parks tend to be a little less crowded outside these peak hours, so there will likely be more space to get out and enjoy the sunshine fully. Plus, it isn’t nearly as hot, and shade is usually much easier to find when the sun is at an angle rather than right overhead.
In the end, the right way to protect ourselves from the sun is to enjoy it — like with anything — sensibly. That means taking it in moderation, providing our bodies with the right nutrition for healthy skin, and protecting that skin from the excessive sun when necessary. Then, by all means, get outside and get some vitamin D.
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