Growing up the daughter of a dermatologist, sun protection was always a must. Banana Boat, Coppertone, Nivea and Neutrogena have had a long time presence in my family. I also have the fairest skin in the fam so I’ve definitely been the victim of some nasty painful burns in my day when not slathered in sunscreen.
In my teens and 20’s I became a sun-loving rebel who always felt better having some pigment on my skin and definitely went through years of basking in the sun with only coconut oil or carrot oil with spf 4 and even hit up some cancerous tanning beds here and there. Yikes!!
Now in my 30’s, I still love the sun but I also recognize the importance of good sun protection. I never walk outside of the house without at least SPF 30 on my face and neck. I’ve also refined the quality of substances I use, both internally as well as externally and with that my sun care regiment has changed. Most sunscreens contain toxic ingredients or endocrine disrupting chemicals that, in many cases may actually promote skin cancer and free radical production in the body. There are many healthier alternatives to your drugstore sunscreens for sun protection. We’re entering into the height of summer so we wanted to give you some natural, clean, good-for-your-body-from-the-inside-out remedies for sun care and protection.
The food you eat matters! What you put in your body is just as important, if not more, than what you put on your body. Certain foods can be a great ally in the battle against sunburns, sun damage and sun cancer. Below is a list of foods and supplements that naturally boost your skin’s ability to protect and heal itself from too much sun exposure. With all food listed, when possible, organic is always the best way to go!
- Almonds: One of the best sources of vitamin E, which helps protect and heal skin from sun exposure. Almonds also contain quercetin, which studies show protects against UV damage and the breaking down of collagen.
- Carrots: The best source of beta-carotene. In addition to being excellent for eye health, beta-carotene also helps protect skin against free radical damage caused by too much sun.
- Citrus Fruit: Vitamin C found in citrus fruits (grapefruits, oranges, tangerines, lemons, etc.) paired with vitamin E has been found to reduce the risk of sunburn. Citrus fruits also contain limonene, which has been associated with lowering the risk of skin cancer tremendously.
- Strawberries: Like citrus fruits, strawberries contain a powerful combination of both vitamin C and antioxidants. Antioxidants are your armor against free-radical damage. Free radicals, which come from pollutants in the body such as processed sugar, as well as too much sun exposure can lead to skin cancer. Strawberries are also great to help heal sunburns. They contain tannins, which help calm the burning from too much sun. For natural sunburn relief, mash up some cold strawberries and slather it on the affected area. Rinse off after a few minutes.
- Green Tea: Health fanatics have long praised the powerful benefits of green tea. Green tea not only protects your cells on the inside, it also protects your skin on the outside. It contains the antioxidant catechin, which helps prevent against UV radiation damage. Green tea, like strawberries contains tannic acid, which help eliminate the inflammation from sunburns. A 2003 study found that those who drank two or more cups of green tea a day had a 65 percent lower risk of skin cancer.
- Coenzyme Q10: CoQ10 is a power-house antioxidant that counteracts damaging free radical activity caused by too much sun exposure and the natural aging process. When applied topically, CoQ10 has been proven to protect the skin from UV radiation. When taken orally it’s benefits are said to be even greater. It protects against photo-ageing-premature aging due to too much sun exposure. It stimulates collagen production-collagen is a protein that keeps our skin supple and youthful and decreases as we age. And it boosts skin cell activity, which is needed to help repair damaged skin.
- Vitamin E: Good for both the superficial and the substantial; it is great for your skin, hair and nails as well as boosting your immune system and protecting against certain types of cancer. Vitamin E is another combatant to free radicals and thus the aging process. It also contains antioxidants that protect the skin from cell mutation from sun exposure.
- Flax Seeds: A super food! Flax seed oil can protect your skin against UV ray and keep your skin well moisturized according to some studies. The omega 3 fatty acids in flax seeds are known for their high anti-inflammatory levels. Skinburn, skin irritation and inflammation can be significantly reduced by consuming flaxseeds regularly. They’re also a delicious addition to any smoothie, salad or stir-fry!
- Tomatoes: Per serving, tomatoes provide almost 20 percent of the daily vitamin intake required for optimal health. Lycopene and zeaxanthin, some of it’s cartenoid antioxidants neutralize free radical production and minimize inflammation from too much sun. Lycopene is also said to act as a natural sunscreen, providing the skin protection from UV rays.Apparently this effect is magnified when eating processed tomatoes which makes the lycopene more bio-available for our bodies to derive it’s nutrients from. According to Prevention Magazine, people who consumed five tablespoons of tomato paste daily for three consecutive months were naturally protected against sunburn.
- Watermelon: Not only does this delicious summer fruit keep you super hydrated on hot summer days, as it is 92% water, watermelon is also rich in vitamin A, C and contains twice as much lycopene than tomatoes! Loaded with antioxidants, watermelon has anti-cancerous as well as anti-inflammatory properties. For natural sunburn remedy, mix equal proportions of watermelon and cucumber pulp. Apply to your face or affected area. Leave on for 20 minutes!
As always, use common sense! Cover yourself with clothing and always wear sunglasses and a hat. This is not meant to replace your regiment, just add to it. When choosing sunscreen, choose natural and organic options that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Avoid products that contain oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor and retilyl plamitate, a form of vitamin A that is harmful to skin.
Hope this helps you to naturally up your sun-protection game!
About Danielle Karuna
As a former certified fitness trainer, Danielle has always been interested in movement and the human body’s capabilities. Danielle is an 800+ hour certified Jivamukti Yoga Teacher & a Lululemon Ambassador with a goal to share the gift of yoga and wellness with as many people as possible. Provita is the embodiment of this belief in the transformational and healing power of yoga, fitness and wellness.