Protecting skin during warm weather

With Spring upon us and Summer approaching, here are some useful reminders of how to protect your skin during the warmer seasons.

Sun-induced skin damage happens surprisingly quickly. Zinc based sunscreens and natural sun protective oils, such as carrot oil or red raspberry seed oil, are preferable to the cocktail of chemicals in most commercial sunscreens.

UVB rays from the sun stimulate healthy vitamin D production, but also skin damage and sunburn. Limited but regular sun exposure is preferable to sun baking or getting burned. Keep exposure limited and away from the midday hours when the sun is at its most intense. During the hottest part of the day stay in the shade and wear non-sheer protective clothing. Leave arms exposed for brief periods of sun in the early morning and late afternoon for vitamin D synthesis. Be mindful of sun glare off water, sand and concrete. You can still burn if it’s cloudy or if you are in the pool.

If you do get too much sun, you can obtain rapid relief by applying aloe vera juice directly from the plant onto the sunburn. Aloe is also a valuable houseplant for improving air quality.

Lavender essential oil is another wonderful tool to have in your travel kit. It is soothing for insect bites, stings, accidental burns and sunburn. Good quality (preferably organic) lavender essential oil is safe to use undiluted on adult skin. Essential oils can be irritating to the skin, particularly when combined with sun, so apply early evening and not in full sun. Avoid citrus essential oils as they can cause photosensitivity.

Antioxidant-rich foods such as brightly coloured fruit and vegetables can minimise sun damage and inflammation. Top up with (preferably organic) in-season red peppers, carrots, spinach, and cooked tomatoes.  Aim for a diet based in locally grown, seasonal foods rich in antioxidants such as apricots, berries, citrus fruit, peppers, parsley and other leafy greens, and anti-inflammatory foods such as oily fish which can help protect the skin and minimise sun damage. Choose organic produce where possible.

Papaya and pineapple are great foods to snack on in the event of a sting or bite as the vitamin C, bioflavonoids and enzymes help reduce irritation. Certain homeopathic remedies such as Apis, Belladonna, Ledum and Sol can offer relief for bites, stings and sun damage. Look up their properties or consult a practitioner for best use.

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