Summer Blessings To All! I'm finally basking in the warmth of a Maine summer and so is my garden. My lavender crop was absolutely fabulous and fragrant this year! Sure does take a while for the "season of green" to arrive here in the extreme northeast, but that's okay. Better to have a long cool, dampish spring than to literally burn up and scorch like the rest of the country!
Anyway, today I will be discussing Part 2 about sun exposure - the positives and negatives. I do indeed enjoy soaking up the sun's rays and don't like to wear sunscreen (but will wear a chemical-free brand when I have to). I do wear protective clothing when appropriate or at least avoid the sun between 10am and 4pm.
Sun exposure is a subject of much debate, however, and if your health professional or dermatologist has advised that you avoid the sun at all costs due to various health concerns, then your body will require other sources of vitamin D. This essential nutrient can be found in organic egg yolks; minimally- and low-temperature-processed fish liver oil; vitamin D-supplemented organic cow, soy, rice, or almond milk; organic, grass-fed organ meats; wild salmon, sardines, and herring. If you drink cow's milk, try to purchase it raw, if possible. Other plant sources include raw, fresh sunflower seeds and alfalfa grass. Bee pollen is a "superfood" ingredient that you might want to include in your diet as it contains a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes - including vitamin D. I do recommend that you add vitamin D in supplement form if you are vegan and live in the northern half of the United States.
While brief, unprotected sun exposure may be beneficial, when you intend to spend a longer period of time in the sun, it's important to apply a non-chemical sunscreen prior to exposure, wear protective clothing, and use "common sun sense": Don't stay in the sun for hours on end with no protection of any kind or without reapplying your sunscreen regularly, and avoid exposure during the middle of the day, when the sun's rays are at their strongest. These strategies will help prevent premature aging, uneven skin tone and blotching, and exposure that may cause skin cancer.
Though it's important to wear sunscreen, the chemicals in most commercial products can be very irritating to many wearers, especially those who exercise outdoors. Sunscreens can sting if they drip into your eyes or nose and can cause the development of skin rashes when their chemical base mixes with sweat. Natural sunscreens, such as those containing micronized titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, provide a physical, sun-reflective barrier; offer a relatively high SPF; and greatly reduce or eliminate irritation. Natural oil blends containing jojoba or sesame oil are beneficial skin emollients and conditioners that also provide a low to moderate SPF range of 4 to 15. Plain, undiluted, chemical-free, organic jojoba oil has a natural SPF of 15.
Outdoor exercise and sports can be fun, and at times, even exhilarating, but remember: It doesn't have to come at the expense of your skin's health. So if you're an avid outdoorswoman or outdoorsman, keep Mother Nature's sun, heat, salt, drying wind, cold, or arid climate at bay by always drinking plenty of water and wearing your "shield" of moisturizers, natural sunscreens, protective clothing, and sunglasses!
As for tanning, if you must have a deep, golden tan, then try a self-tanning lotion or cream available in drug and department stores. Follow the directions, do a patch test, exfoliate your entire body, and take the time to apply an even layer. The results are quite realistic if the product is applied correctly. Spray tans, available in tanning salons, are wonderful alternatives, as well.
Observing "common sun sense" beginning in your teen years or early twenties can virtually stop the visible aging clock. But, at any age, it's never too late to begin to care for your skin and health in the sun.
My favorite natural sunscreen manufacturers are: MyChelle Dermaceuticals, Aubrey Organics, Lavera, Burt's Bees, and Alba Botanica.
In the next couple of blogs, I'll share with you a few natural before- and after-sun recipes that you can make at home to care for your skin.
NOTE: This blog was adapted from the book, Organic Body Care Recipes, by Stephanie Tourles, Storey Publishing, 2007. The information is true and complete to the best of her knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of the author. She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only.