Sunbathe Safely This Summer

April 16, 2018

Most of us realize the risks of sun exposure.  However, a healthy, active lifestyle often keeps us spending time outdoors for walking, running, hiking or enjoying other leisure activities.  Repeated sun exposure can age skin.  The sun’s rays penetrate your skin’s inner layers, damaging the collagen and elastic fibers, causing wrinkles.  Plus, just as your bathing suit dries quickly on a sunny day, your skin loses moisture, increasing risk of skin wrinkling.  It’s essential to understand how to best protect your skin from harmful rays. Natural sunscreens have many advantages for skin protection.


High-quality, natural sunscreen and after-sun products are found in abundance at natural foods stores.  From avocado oil to botanicals such as rosemary and comfrey, these ingredients soothe and protect your skin.  Many also are waterproof.

Some plant oils contain natural sunscreens.  Sesame oil resists 30 percent of UV rays, while coconut oil, peanut oil, olive oil, and cottonseed oil block out about 20 percent.  Mineral oil, derived from petroleum doesn’t resist any UV rays and dissolves the sebum secreted from oil glands that helps inhibit water evaporation from the skin.

Cocoa butter can moisturize and soften your skin.  As an ingredient in sunscreens, it offers protection from drying sun and wind.  Vitamin-E fights free radicals, helping to prevent skin damage from too much sun.

For additional protection, most suntan lotions contain PABA (Para-Amino-Benzoic Acid), a sunscreen that’s part of the B-vitamin complex.  A few people experience allergic reactions to PABA, so be sure to test new products on a small patch of your skin.  There are PABA-free lotions using benzophenone as an alternative sunscreen.

Aloe Vera is included in many natural sun-care products for its soothing, healing qualities.  Known as the burn plant, the gel from aloe is believed to stimulate skin and assist in new cell growth.  Use it to relieve sunburn, blisters or heat rash, or mix with PABA for a moisturizing sunscreen.

Australia’s tea tree oil, an ancient Aboriginal remedy, is an effective antiseptic, fungicide and germicide.  It’s a component of many sunscreen lotions and after-sun creams and may relieve sunburn by increasing blood flow in capillaries, bringing nutrients to damaged skin.

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