Summer is almost here, Green Monsters! With the official season of outdoor everything just days away, there might be many things you’re doing to prep yourself for the eternally sunny months (in most places, anyway). But at the top of that list should be thinking about how you’re going to protect that skin of yours. It’s one of the most important organs your body offers — and it’s extremely important to protect that natural protective barrier you’ve been provided with! Plus, keeping your skin safe from sun damage will help keep your skin from developing issues later — from excessive wrinkles to skin cancers. You want to keep your skin protected!

Yet, you needn’t slather yourself with chemical-laden conventional sunscreens and call it a day. There are many other ways to help protect your skin from sun damage, and, when used in combination with one another, will help you to stay burn-free all summer long!

1. Eat the Right Foods

Consider loading your plate up with some of these plant-based foods that will help protect and nourish your skin. Green Monster Nicole Lana Lee writes: “the most comprehensive way to protect our skin is from the inside out. This means ingesting antioxidants that can help protect against harmful sun rays. Antioxidants work to counteract free radicals and oxidative damage from the sun, reversing the damage already done to our skin. And the best foods to obtain these phytonutrients from are our dear friends, plants. Phytonutrients provide plants protection from UV lights. By ingesting these plants, these compounds end up in our tissues, providing us with a lot of the sun protection benefits we need.” Now that’s awesome!

2. Wear Hats

Hats are adorable all year round, but even more so in the scalding summer months when they can also double as a protective device from the sun! Whether you opt for a baseball cap or a wide-brimmed fashion-forward hat, style yourself with hats all summer long to protect your scalp (which is often overlooked but very often burned in the summer!) and, if the brim is long enough, your entire face, which is often most susceptible to burning!

3. Drink Green Tea

Brew yourself some iced green tea all summer long. While this won’t prevent the onset of sun damage, loading up on green tea can have some awesome effects on the skin that can help prevent problems. Mark’s Daily Apple writes: “Tea, especially green tea, offers a complex arsenal of antioxidant compounds. How it works and what’s doing it isn’t fully understood, but it’s generally accepted that drinking green tea is a smart move and a mainstay of many healthy traditional cultures. Unsurprisingly, there’s also evidence that dietary green tea, specifically its polyphenols, inhibit the development of skin tumors by controlling inflammation and preventing DNA damage. Topical green tea extracts applied directly to the skin also offer photoprotection.” Plus, a big pitcher of iced green tea on a sunny day is totally refreshing! Double win!

4. Tote an Umbrella

Umbrellas are one of the best ways to keep you safe from the sun. Whether you’re taking a long stroll or sitting by the beach, keeping an umbrella on hand to throw open over you can be a lifesaver. Plus, you’ll be all set should a quick summer shower or storm pass through too! But seriously, abandon those days of soaking yourself in the sun purposefully — tans are not healthy, kids! Sorry! — and graduate to the idea that protection is the best way to combat issues later on. An umbrella is like your seatbelt in this quest — always have one on hand in the summer to help protect you.

5. Slather on the Sunscreen (But Do it the Green Way)

Sunscreens are tricky. They do help protect the skin from sun damage, but they can also be hazardous to your health. As the Environmental Working Group explains: “Active ingredients in sunscreens come in two forms, mineral and chemical filters. Each uses a different mechanism for protecting skin and maintaining stability in sunlight. Each may pose hazards to human health.” If you’re going to opt for using sunscreens, choose a safer brand. Here’s EWG’s list of the best options out there. Or, you could opt to go all-natural and load up on oils and ingredients you can mix to make your own sunscreen. According to Wellness Mama, the following oils have SPF properties:

  • Almond Oil- SPF around 5
  • Coconut Oil- SPF 4-6
  • Red Raspberry Seed Oil SPF 25-50
  • Carrot Seed Oil –  SPF 35-40
  • Shea Butter – SPF 4-6

And here’s some great info from Living Pretty Naturally about the SPF of various oils too. It’s amazing to think that you could use natural oils to protect your skin. While you will need to experiment to find the right mix and SPF for your skin, it’s definitely possible to mix a concoction that will provide protection in a totally green way!

Image source: US EPA/Wikimedia Commons