Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sun Sense: Tanning Potions and After-Sun Relief - Part 1

Summer Blessings To All! My husband and I accompanied some friends on their motor boat yesterday - out in the Penobscot Bay, near Castine, ME. What a glorious day and the BEST way to escape the heat that has penetrated into our northern parts. Was I slathered in natural sunscreen? You bet! But with all that reflective light bouncing up from the water, I still got pink! Not a good thing. So, all this week, I'll be rejuvenating my skin from the shoulders-down by massaging my body with one of my favorite after-sun treatment oils: sea buckthorn. Derived from the orange-red berries of the sea buckthorn bush. It's prized for use on damaged skin, scar tissue, wrinkles, eczema, burns, etc. It's rich in essential fatty acids, carotenes, tocopherols and phytosterols. My favorite brand to use is: Weleda. Their Sea Buckthorn Body Oil is made from a nice blend of oils and sinks right into the skin.

If you decide to make your own sea buckthorn body oil by blending 20% sea buckthorn with 80% almond or jojoba or organic soybean oil, I'll caution you right now that it can be expensive . . . about $24.00 per 2oz. of pure sea buckthorn, and it is VERY ORANGE and WILL stain your skin, towels and clothing orange, too. If you fall in love with sea buckthorn oil, it will be worth your money to buy the pure oil, but try the Weleda brand first and see what you think.

Today, I'm going to start a new series about natural sun care and share several recipes with you to help condition and preserve the health of your skin that you can make at home. Enjoy!

Sun Sense: Tanning Potions and After-Sun Relief

In the last two blogs, "Give Yourself Some Exposure: A Little Sun Is a Good Thing - Parts 1 & 2", I addressed the health benefits of sun exposure and the importance of appropriate sun protection to prevent potential skin damage, but it's important to reiterate that if you want to preserve the beauty and integrity of your skin for years to come and help prevent skin cancer, do not spend excessive unprotected time in the sun. Practice holistic sun care: Avoid chemical sunscreens, but do find a natural one that works and offers full-spectrum protection; use common sun sense by staying out of the sun during the high-intensive hours between 10 and 2 or wearing appropriate cover-up clothing; and always slather on a good quality, moisturizing lotion or cream, from head to toe to prevent epidermal dehydration.

The natural sun protection recipes that will appear in the next several blogs have a low SPF of 10-15 or less and are formulated to nourish and condition your skin before, during, and after exposure to the sun and associated elements such as heat, drying wind, salt water, and chlorine from pools. I will also toss in a few suggestions for natural remedial action when an unfortunate sunburn does occur . . . such as the sea buckthorn oil tip at the beginning of today's blog. Good advice to remember: As with all things in life, the sun should always be taken in moderation.

Until next time . . . be active, be happy, be healthy, and be thankful for all your blessings!

NOTE: This article was written by Stephanie Tourles and adapted from her book, "Organic Body Care Recipes", Storey Publishing, 2007. The information is true and complete to the best of her knowledge. All recommendation 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.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Give Yourself Some Exposure: A Little Sun Is A Good Thing - Part 2

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.