Spring and summer are coming sooner than you think. This means that many people will start spending more time outdoors and this means more sun exposure. It’s not just those of us who head to the beaches, lakes, rivers, hiking trails, biking trails, and other outdoor recreational activities who will increase our exposure to UV rays; it’s pretty much everybody. As soon as the weather is nicer, people tend to leave their homes more, shop more, drive around more, eat on restaurant patios more, and so on.
As a result, most people like to find ways to protect their skin from the sun. We’re looking to avoid, whenever possible, sunburns, prematurely aging skin, and increased risk of melanoma.
Perhaps the easiest option is a brush-on mineral sunscreen (and we’ll talk about natural sunscreens a little later on in this article). With simple application and great coverage, you can’t go wrong with this when you need something foolproof. If you’re up for a little DIY, however, these are the best oils and plants to use to protect your skin from the sun and soothe redness when you need it the most.
Raspberry Seed Oil
While you may not think much of the tiny seeds in raspberries, they pack a powerful amount of health benefits in a small area. Oil made from raspberry seeds has an SPF value of 6-7.5 against UVA rays and 28-50 against UVB rays. Raspberry seeds are also anti-inflammatory and help reduce redness and swelling in the skin. They have compounds that help your skin cells not only heal but also regenerate when needed. The oil also feels lighter than other varieties, so it is less likely to clog pores and cause other skin issues.
Carrot Seed Oil
One of the best natural oils to protect your skin from the sun is carrot seed oil. With an SPF of around 40, it has the most SPF benefits of any oil. The great news is that most people can rub this on for good coverage. It does need to be reapplied throughout the day if you plan to be outdoors for a long time. Carrot seed oil has anti-cancer benefits and can help reduce the risk of skin cancer caused by sun exposure when used regularly. It also has antioxidants that help your body neutralize free radicals and can help keep your skin and hair healthier.
Aloe Vera Plants
You might think of aloe vera for use after a sunburn, but you can also use it in combination with other oils and plants to protect your skin from the effects of the sun. While it doesn’t have any SPF value of its own, it does help moisturize and heal damage. It can be used on your face and body before you add sunscreen to provide greater moisture and keep your skin looking and feeling great.
Do you remember the smell of coconuts and the beach? While there are many fragranced options out there, using simple straight Coconut oil will provide you with an SPF of around 8 all on its own. If you don’t need something too strong to keep your skin from getting burned, coconut oil is a great option. Since it has a low melting point, if you’re using it at the beach, you can expect it to be liquid at outdoor temperatures. Coconut oil is known for its fat-burning benefits when ingested, but it also has healthy fats that help your skin look and feel more vibrant and supple.
Helichrysum Essential Oil
When you want something to improve your skin, helichrysum is an excellent choice. It comes from the helichrysum plant and can be used for all sorts of skin conditions. When it comes to sun protection, it gives an added boost to sunscreens because of its healing and anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s also great to use on infections because it helps with wound healing. This means that you can also use it on sunburns and on acne to help reduce redness and swelling.
Did you know that green tea can be used to help protect the skin from sunburns? When you ingest tea regularly or use it topically in a cream, lotion, or spray, it has antioxidant compounds that protect your skin from the aging effects of the sun. It has no SPF value but instead works to reverse the damage that you got from the sun’s rays.
Applying witch hazel before you go into the sun or when you come inside is a smart way to reduce sun damage. It also contains antioxidants that work similarly to green tea to protect and prevent damage. Even though it doesn’t block the sun, it can help your skin recover from sun exposure.
Natural Sunscreen Brands
But sometimes plants and plant oils just aren’t enough. Maybe you want to go tubing down the river, kayaking, or swimming on a July afternoon and you want that extra bit of insurance. Luckily your local natural food store (along with online retailers) should provide natural sunscreens, complete with SPF ratings and all.
If you spend much time in the skin care aisle of your local health food store (hint: it’s probably near the essential oils), you’ve probably heard of brands such as Badger, Alba, Supergoop!, Absolute JOI, Coola Organic, and Colorescience. Each of these companies makes a natural sunscreen product — whether it’s broad-spectrum, probiotic, or rated at a relatively high SPF.
Don’t Forget Food & Lifestyle Choices
But remember that food is medicine. Time and time again, we’ve learned that eating a healthy diet is critical for skin health. Patients with skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis often find that modifying their diets can cause amazing results. Some life-long vegans look amazing as they age into their 70s and 80s.
Additionally, having a solid exercise routine can do wonders for your skin. It is said that exercise increases blood flow, which nourishes our skin cells.
In addition to protecting your skin from excessive sun exposure, keep an active, healthy lifestyle and diet, and your skin will thank you for it.