Our Love/Hate Relationship: Sun Protection
Sunburns are seen as desirable because after the redness, they leave a pretty little tan. However, this glow comes at a price. Most of us fail to realize the long lasting potentially very harmful damage this can cause to the skin. The ultra-violet rays (UVA/UVB) are the cause of these health risks including:
-1st-3rd degree burns
- Sun poisoning
- Eye damage
- Skin aging
- Skin cancer
Why is our skin health so important?
The skin is the largest organ in our body, therefore, it is essential that we treat it kindly. This organ is rich with blood vessels, sweat and oil glands that contribute to our overall health. It is especially important that we protect it from skin cancer, the most common type of cancer YET the most preventable.
Best prevention for sunburns?
- Try your best to plan around the sun. Especially between the hours of 10am to 4pm when the UV light is the highest (I know, it sucks because what about the beach, right?)
- Do not get burned! If you have areas that are more prone than other (nose, shoulders, cheeks) make sure those are tended to a bit more.
- Wear clothes for as much and long as possible. If at the beach, once you're done with the water, throw on a sundress, linen pants or something to cover you up from exposure.
- Stay shaded or find as much as you can.
- Wear sunglasses - so put those cute sunnies to work!
- WEAR SUNSCREEN. No need to explain here.
"Most non-mineral sunscreens score poorly in EWG’s sunscreen guide because they include potentially toxic additives, including oxybenzone, an endocrine-disrupting chemical, or retinyl palmitate, an antioxidant additive that might damage sun-exposed skin. For more information about oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate."
- Environmental Working Group
Here is a list of some organic, EWG-approved brands to consider:
As for the sunscreen's job - a higher SPF doesn't mean it's better. According to the EWG, "the SPF value is not an indicator of protection from all UV-related skin damages - clear evidence has emerged that lower-energy UVA rays are more numerous, penetrate deeper into the skin and can promote sun tanning without causing sunburn." Meaning sunscreens are not as efficient at shielding skin from UVA rays as UVB rays.
The graphic below shows that sunburn is primarily caused by UVB rays, but UVA rays cause tanning, skin-damaging free radicals and immune system suppression.
*You can head over to EWG's site to see how your sunscreen is ranked and to see what other options you can choose from.
Treatment for sunburns?
- Keep the area cool and protected from sunlight
- Do not pop blisters
- Rehydrate-drink lots of water
- Reduce peeling and inflammation by applying a safe lubricant/lotion to area. Here are some DIY treatment options:
- Mix of cornstarch + water for a paste. Apply for 20-30 min. Rinse with cool water.
- Oatmeal bath (1 cup of dry oats to bath) + coconut oil. Soak for 20-30 minutes.
- Witch hazel + mint + aloe vera gel + baking soda + filtered cool water for a paste. Apply 20-30 min. Rinse with cool water.
- Apply organic, non-GMO aloe vera gel.
- Apply cold cucumber.
- Yogurt. Apply then shower with cool water.
- Coconut oil and add peppermint or lavender essential oil (with a 3:1 ratio).
Final thought. Aside from taking the necessary steps above, you must examine your skin regularly. Ideally, visiting a dermatologist annually would keep you informed and prevent any major development. If you notice anything that seems of concern, be sure to follow up with your primary physician immediately.
Be careful and enjoy the sun! ☺️☀️