Summer is a great time to be outside, but sunburns aren't fun at all. Luckily, they can be easily prevented for the most part. Sunscreens are a very effective preventative measure, but it’s important to use a natural product for sun protection.
Conventional sunscreens contain oxybenzone, a chemical that has been linked to allergies, hormone disruption, and cell damage. The Center for Disease Control has reported that 97% of participants tested had levels of oxybenzone in their bodies, something you don’t want!
Thankfully, there are many wonderful, natural sunscreens on the market from companies like Alba Botanicals and Kiss My Face that are safe for the whole family. Make sure to look for sunscreens that protect from both UVA and UVB radiation. Another sunscreen tip is to be sure to check your sunscreen’s expiration date, since the SPF is only guaranteed through that time (I am a walking cautionary tale about this- I got horribly sunburned last month after working all day in my garden while using expired sunscreen).
Sunscreens also need to be reapplied throughout the day to remain effective, so it’s good to keep a tube in your bag for outings. Sometimes people think that having a high SPF means that they don't need to reapply, but sunscreens are usually only effective for a few hours, less if you've been in the water (even water resistant varieties only are effective for 40-80 minutes in the water) so be sure to reapply often. Wearing protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat can also protect against sun damage.
Additionally, it's important to be sure you're applying enough sunscreen. According to skincancer.org, most people do not apply enough sunscreen, which reduces the effectiveness and SPF, so even if you're applying a quality sunscreen that says SPF 30 on the label, if you do not apply enough, you can be reducing the effectiveness to a fraction of the SPF number on the label.
Most people think of sunburns as an inevitable part of summer, but sun damage is no laughing matter. Each sunburn a person has increases their risk of developing skin cancer. Many people like to think of tanned skin as a sign of health, but in fact, tanning is the body’s injury response to excessive UV radiation. Sunburns and tanning also cause premature aging and an increase in wrinkles. Sunless tanners are a healthy alternative to give skin a “healthy glow” without the damage.
Another product that can help with sun protection is the supplement astaxanthin. Astaxanthin, pronounced asta-zan-thin, is a very potent antioxidant which protects cells against damage. It is most commonly used for eye health, but studies have also found that astaxanthin is able to help prevent sunburn when taken daily at a dose of at least 2mg per day.
If you do happen to get sunburned, however, pure aloe vera gel is wonderful for healing the skin. Aloe vera helps to soothe and moisturize along with reducing inflammation and promoting healing. Applying aloe frequently can also reduce the amount of time it takes a sunburn to heal.
Finally, when outside, don’t forget your sunglasses! Sunglasses help prevent eye damage from the sun’s UV rays, which can cause cataracts and macular degeneration. People with lightly colored eyes are especially susceptible to eye damage from the sun, so it's especially important that they wear sunglasses when outdoors.