A Guide to Holistic Suncare
Sunlight is the most vital nutrient for plants to grow and thrive. We often overlook that human beings have a similar connection to the sun. Sun exposure boosts moods, lifts energy, and nourishes the skin. The sun is a great healing force of nature. Its rays can brighten our mood and warm our bodies, and its power provides an immense life force that allows for all life on earth. The sun's rays are also very strong, so it is important that we protect ourselves, especially during the summer months to avoid sunburns, and premature aging.
Many traditional sunscreens are loaded with toxic chemicals, such as oxybenzone (an endocrine disruptor), that are readily absorbed into the skin. Natural sun care options provide safer alternatives while protecting the skin from overexposure. Lifestyle shifts can also support a healing relationship with the sun.
Ideally, we should aim for about 15-20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure every day in the morning hours (before midday). In this amount of time our body is able to synthesize vitamin D safely and effectively. It’s helpful to start slowly (especially if you have fair skin) by building melanin in your skin. Start with a few minutes of sun exposure a day (full body exposure is best!) and build up to 20 mins unprotected early morning sun a day. Listen to your body’s signals and cues - you will know when you’ve had too much.
Getting more than 20 minutes of sun exposure is totally okay but longer exposure requires use of protection such as sunscreen, hats, shade, and sunglasses + proper hydration.
Holistic Sun Protection
After about 20 minutes it is a good idea to apply sunscreen; however, many of the conventional and widely available products are full of chemicals and questionable ingredients that are best to be avoided, especially in the rays of the sun. Not only do these products contain synthetic, harmful ingredients, they also block our ability to synthesize vitamin D.
Avoid ingredients such as oxybenzone, vitamin A (retinyl palmitate), and added insect repellent. Also avoid sprays, powders, and SPF above 50.
*advice from our friends at EWG
Look for ingredients such as zinc oxide, avobenzone, mexoryl SX. Also look for creams, broad-spectrum protection, water-resistant, mineral sunscreens, and SPF levels to suit your needs (15-50 depending on skin tone, length of exposure, strength of the sun).
Natural remedies to protect skin
Natural Sunscreen – many natural brands of sunscreen are available on the market today which can be found at your local natural health stores.
Try: finding a natural sunscreen that suits you in store or creating your own.
Natural Sun protection sources:
Red raspberry seed oil
Carrot seed oil
DIY Sunscreen (SPF 20-25)
The sun protection factor (spf) is achieved by adding zinc oxide & raspberry seed or carrot seed oil, which creates a barrier on the skin - experiment with using one or the other or a combination of both, to see what blend works best for you & your body. Integrating the zinc oxide will generally provide more sufficient protection.
Although this recipe will protect from the sun, it is advised to use caution and common sense while in the sun for prolonged periods of time. Re-apply often and always after swimming.
4 tbsp unrefined shea butter
4 tbsp organic unrefined coconut oil
2 tbsp organic jojoba oil
2 tsps raspberry seed oil or carrot seed oil
2 tbsp zinc oxide
*Note to achieve about 20 SPF, you need to mix 4 parts lotion + 1 part zinc oxide powder in weight
Gently melt the shea butter & coconut oil using a double boiler
Remove from heat and add in the jojoba oil, mixing well, until fully combined
Mix in the raspberry seed oil or carrot seed oil
Slowly stir in the zinc oxide powder, until fully combined. Mix everything really well for a few minutes to ensure even distribution of the ingredients
Let the lotion cool for 3-4 hours & then store in a glass jar for future use.
Tips for Healthy Sun Exposure
A well nourished body tends to respond best to sun exposure. Fill up on a variety of whole foods + plenty of water daily. Consume lots of fresh produce & herbs + lycopene-rich foods like tomatoes and other nature internal sun protective foods such as watermelon, green tea, turmeric, berries, and organic chocolate.
Increase Antioxidant-rich foods – antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, E, selenium, and zinc protect against free radical damage in the body. By consuming plenty of antioxidant rich foods, you can help protect yourself against sun damage.
Try: consuming antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables. Think anything brightly colored! Berries, cherries, peppers, broccoli, and leafy greens.
Increase Healthy fats – consuming healthy fats promotes healthy skin cells, which are more resistant to damage.
Try: adding more omegas acids into your diet such as salmon, hemp seeds, and walnuts and supplement with EPA and DHA.
Hydrate - drinking water while spending time in the sun and heat keeps the body hydrated and avoids sun or heat stroke.
Try: to prepare several bottles of water to keep on hand to insure you remain well hydrated.
Consume foods like watermelon, cucumber, coconut water to support hydration from the inside out.
Wear a hat and sunglasses – wear protective clothing, along with a hat and sunglasses, when you are in the sun for longer than 20 mins or at peak hours like midday.
Seek Shade - taking breaks from the sun by seeking shade is a great way to give your body a break and a chance to cool down.
Lip Balm - just like the rest of the body, your lips also need protection from the sun. Look for a natural lip balm with SPF and remember to re-apply throughout the day.
Protect and moisturize skin – nourish your skin all year long, not just in the summer. Taking care of our skin keeps it strong and supple, so that when the stronger sun arrives, it does not do as much damage.
Try: creating a daily moisturizing routine using your favorite natural skin care products.
In the unfortunate event that you get a sunburn, it’s helpful to use products that will help to cool and soothe the burn. Avoid thick lotions and creams, which can lock in heat and worsen the burn.
Hydrate! drinking plenty of water post-burn can help your body to recover faster. Often when we burn, we also end up in a dehydrated state. Adequate hydration is a necessary tool for healing.
Try: consuming water throughout your day, especially when in the sun and rehydrate after sun exposure.
Aloe Vera – is a soothing plant which helps to cool the burn and speed recovery.
Try: using the gel from an aloe vera plant or a store-bought pure aloe vera gel. Mix with a couple drops of sea buckthorn, lavender, and peppermint for speedy healing. Be aware that many store-bought aloe gels consist of unnatural ingredients that won’t necessarily help with the burns on your skin. Look for a gel that consists of only aloe vera, and if there are any other ingredients, make sure you know what they are.
Natural Bath Treatments - will soothe sunburn pain and other symptoms
Soak in an oatmeal bath to relieve itchiness and sunburned skin
Use lavender or chamomile essential oils in your bath to help with stinging and pain relief.
Avoid any added perfumes from soaps, bath bombs, salts etc. These will dry out your skin even more than it is and disrupt healing.
Essential Oils, Herbs, and Natural Remedies - will soothe sunburn, inflammation, redness and itching
Lavender or Helichrysum applied in small amounts to soothe.
Black tea - freshly brewed black tea after it has cooled - apply to sunburn with clean cloth. Black tea contains tannic acid which helps draw heat from the skin and restores the pH balance. Soak tea bags in cold water and apply to sunburned eyelids.
Witch hazel - reduces inflammation and relieves sunburn
Shea butter on sunburned lips or skin to promote healing & restore moisture.
Cucumber - natural antioxidant and analgesic (pain relief). Chill cucumbers and mash, apply to affected area.