Tips for Protecting your skin from the inside out and the outside in
Numero uno… sunscreen! There is nothing more important for protecting against skin cancers and sun damage than a daily dose of SPF. However, the type of sunscreen you choose does matter. Many chemical sunscreens that reflect UV off the skin or absorb UV rays have come out on the market in the last several years. Although they do work in defending against harmful rays no studies on the impact of these chemicals heating up and being absorbed into our skin have been performed to determine their safety.
If you are concerned about overall health, stay with the tried and true…. good old fashioned zinc oxide. Zinc oxide works by creating a protective barrier due to its rather large molecular structure. An additional benefit is that zinc is healing and good for your skin. It’s frequently used in diaper rash to soothe irritation and in many acne fighting masques. Be sure to look for a formula with at least SPF 20 and one that is non-nano, non-micronized. Due to its heavy feel many manufacturers are using zinc oxide that has been chemically broken down so it feels nicer, but this also means it can more readily absorb into the bloodstream. And, if you have children, Non-nano zinc oxide is approved by the FDA for children less than 6 months.
There are two very important nutrients that help your body naturally resist UV damage, vitamin C and lycopene. Vitamin C has been shown in scientific studies to boost your bodies UV resistance by as much at 9 times. So, slather on your skin a healthy dose of vitamin C on a daily basis. For topical application in skincare products look for multiple forms of vitamin C so you are getting the benefits of both water and fat soluble versions of this important nutrient, for example ester C and citric acid. Also look for natural ingredients that are high in Vitamin C and its synergistic components such as blueberry, acai, camu, cranberry and rosehips. When combined together you can be more assured you are getting enough C on the skin to help defend against the sun.
Additionally, consuming these nutrients has also been shown to boost your body’s natural defenses against UV. Studies have shown that just 2 tablespoons per day of cooked tomato products, such as pasta sauce and salsa, provide a good dose of Lycopene that boosts your skins resistance to UV rays. Combined with your topical application of vitamin C every day -you are helping your body naturally.
And then of course, eating fruits and vegetables that are naturally high in vitamin C not only benefits your skins sun resistance but is good for your overall health. It’s no mystery that as you get closer to the equator you find foods that are rich in vitamin C and lycopene. They are nature’s natural sun defenders. Remember though this doesn’t mean skip the sunscreen altogether. Vitamin rich foods, topical skincare products and zinc oxide based SPF work together for the best defense against sun damage.
In the case where you have gotten a little too much sun there is nothing like aloe vera and arnica in combination to relieve the sting and inflammation. Aloe vera can be applied as a spray, using the juice, or by applying the gel directly to the skin. Arnica is available in many forms. Together they help the skin recover and are naturally soothing and healing.
I prepare what I call my sun defense kit that I take everywhere with me in the summer. My zinc oxide SPF, topical vitamin C products, a can of tomato juice, an Aloe based mist and a crème with Arnica and I’m set for the season.
Dawn Lorraine, L. Est. is a Licensed Esthetician, environmentalist and animal lover with more than two decades in the spa industry. She is the creator of Dawn Lorraine Conscious Skincare, a high performance organic skincare line, available exclusively in salons, spas and healing centers. Dawn is a member of Associated Skin Care Professionals, Aesthetics International Association, Professional Beauty Association and Green America.