This blog post is a special collaboration with iHerb to help celebrate the summer while keeping our skin safe.
Summer is officially here!
Bring on the backyard BBQs, beach days, and bikinis.
Of course, this means that our skin is about to get a heck of a lot more sun exposure.
While a moderate amount sun exposure is required for vitamin D synthesis, prolonged UV exposure causes free-radical activity in the skin cells. These free radicals triggers inflammation as well cellular DNA damage, which promote skin aging and can even lead to skin cancer.
But there’s no need to be scared sunless! You can most certainly have fun in the sun while protecting your skin — here’s how.
Summertime Skin Essentials
Protect skin with broad-spectrum mineral sunblock.
There are SO many different sunscreens available on the market — it can be confusing and difficult to decide which is best! But when it comes to choosing a safe sunscreen, there are just a few things you need to look for.
Opt for a formula that uses non-nano zinc oxide as the active ingredient. Zinc oxide is a mineral that provides broad spectrum protection from the sun rays (that is, it blocks both UVA and UVB rays) and is soothing to the skin (it’s also the active ingredient in many natural diaper creams!). As a physical sunscreen, it sits on top of the skin rather than being absorbed into the skin as with chemical sunscreens. And while the micronization of zinc oxide prevents it from appearing white on the skin, there is some concern that the nanoparticles can be absorbed into the skin and potentially cause harm.
And as always when it comes skincare products, choose a natural or non-toxic formula. Avoid parabens and synthetic fragrance as well as oxybenzone, an active ingredient found in many chemical sunscreens that has been linked to endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity, and/or developmental/reproductive toxicity and is toxic to coral reefs.
Protect your skin from within with antioxidant-rich foods and supplements.
Yes, this is certainly the most delicious way to protect your skin this summer!
Certain foods have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on the body, which help to negate the effects of UV radiation. These include green tea, cacao, tomatoes, watermelon, and salmon. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplements like vitamin C and astaxanthin provide similar protection. Never heard of this last one? Well it’s time you become acquainted! Astaxanthin is one of the most powerful, potent antioxidants and also helps reduce inflammation. (And fun fact: it’s what gives salmon and flamingos their pink hue!) It is 65 times more powerful than vitamin C, 54 times more powerful than beta-carotene, and 14 times more powerful than vitamin E. Thanks to this skin-high antioxidant content, a number of studies have found that it reduces the damaging effects of both UVA and UVB rays.
So why not take an iced green tea and watermelon with you to the beach or pool!? Or eat some dark chocolate and salmon before heading out of the house? Or take a vitamin C and astaxanthin supplement? These foods and supplements provide an additional layer of protection.
Seek shade or make your own with an umbrella or sunhat.
The UV index is at its highest between 10:00am and 3:00pm. During this time, it’s best to seek out shade.
If you’re heading to the beach or pool and so plan to spend this time outside, take cover under an umbrella or large sunhat. When purchasing an umbrella or hat, look for an option that has a Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 30 or higher — a UPF of 50 blocks 98% of UVB and UVA rays!
Soothe sun-kissed skin naturally.
That bright green goo like has the gall to call itself “aloe gel”? It actually contains very little aloe!
Instead, opt for the real deal or as close to it as you can find — many brands sell aloe gels that are 99+% aloe with just a few natural preservatives, which are necessary since aloe is mostly water.
Witch hazel is also very soothing, and oil provides moisture and prevents peeling. Certain herbs like calendula, chamomile, and lavender are also great for calming the skin.
As always, it’s so important to go natural when it comes to sun protection.
As you know, the skin is the body’s largest organ and what we put on it matters. So unhealthy chemicals like endocrine-disrupting parabens and artificial fragrance? No thank you! And guess what? These ingredients don’t in any way protect your skin from the sun, so they most certainly won’t be missed.
One of my new favorite online stores for natural products is iHerb. Not only do they have a huge selection of products (over 35,000!) they also have seriously amazing prices – most of the products are much cheaper than you find at your local grocery or health food store. Plus, the website’s layout makes it really simple to find what you need and learn more about the products.
iHerb’s also a Google Trusted store (which means you get free protection on your order), ships to 160 countries, and offers customer service in 10 different languages.
I picked up some awesome products to protect my skin naturally this summer, both from the inside and out.
Safe, Non-Toxic Sunscreen
- Thinkbaby SPF 50+ Sunscreen Lotion — Made with a non-toxic formula that provides broad spectrum protection thanks to non-nano zinc oxide, this sunscreen also smells amazing! Plus, it rubs in very well compared to other non-nano zinc formulas, which can lave you looking chalky-white.
- Thinksport Face & Body Sunscreen Stick For Kids, SPF 30 — Like the lotion, this sunscreen stick is made with non-toxic ingredients and provides broad-spectrum protection with non-nano zinc oxide. The small stick is perfect for throwing in my purse when out-and-about. You never know when you’re going to need a little extra protection!
Skin-Soothing Post-Sun Products
- Herb Pharm Calendula Oil — Calendula is so incredibly soothing to irritated, chapped skin. So this infused oil provides moisture while also helping to calm sun-kissed skin. Rub a small amount (a little goes a long way!) onto sun-kissed skin after a day in the sun.
- Mad Hippie Skin Care Vitamin C Serum — Since topical vitamin C helps neutralize free radical damage, I like to apply a vitamin C serum to my face and beck after sun exposure (after washing and before moisturizing). What makes this particular serum really special is that it also contains ferulic acid, which has been shown to double the UV protective effects of vitamin C. It also contains other beneficial ingredients like vitamin E and hyaluronic acid. And of course, it’s free from harmful chemicals like parabens and synthetic fragrance.
Supplements that Protect The Skin From UV Damage from Within
- Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Vitamin C — This whole food vitamin C supplement also contains other skin-loving goodies like live probiotics and enzymes as well as antioxidant bioflavonoids. It’s made with 23 organically grown fruits and veggies and doesn’t contain any binders or fillers. I take vitamin C before, during, and after sun exposure since it is only active in the body for a few hours.
- Now Foods Astaxanthin — A reasonable, quality supplement for this potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. I like to take astaxanthin before sun exposure with a meal containing healthy fat, since its antioxidants are fat-soluble.
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