Summer's here, with its carefree afternoons and long, leisurely evenings. These days, however, between skin cancer fears and the various bites and bruises that you get from outdoor activity, summer fun may seem a little less jolly. But don't despair. Just check out our total guide to preparing for the great outdoors-and enjoy more fun in the sun.
7 ways to stay sun-safe
A sunburn will ruin your summer fun and set you up for wrinkles, premature aging, and skin cancer. What's the best way to stay protected? Try these seven safety measures:
1 Cover Up
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), sunscreens aren't the best way to prevent skin cancer; the agency recommends clothing, hats, and shade as primary barriers against UV radiation.
Wear a big brimmed hat; don a lightweight, long- sleeved shirt and thin cotton pants; and lounge under a shady tree. Avoid outside activities while the sun is directly overhead and UV radiation is at its strongest. And invest in sun-protective swimwear, especially for kids; visit SunSationalStyle.com for more info.
2 Slip on shades
Protect your eyes from UV damage, which can cause cataracts. Look for sunglasses that block 99 percent of UVB rays and at least 95 percent of UVA rays, and choose shades with side panels. But note that polarized and mirror-coated lenses don't offer any UV protection, and lenses that block blue light may not offer protection either.
3 Drink green tea
It's rich in polyphenols that prevent skin cancers and reduce photoaging (the damage to skin caused by sun exposure). Other sun-protective antioxidants have similar effects, including vitamins C, E, and A; zinc and beta-carotene; curcumin (in turmeric); resveratrol (in grape skins and red wine); and quercetin (in apples and onions). And lignans in soy and flaxseed help prevent the spread of melanoma from one part of the body to another.
4 Slather on sunscreen
Put it on 15-30 minutes before going outside. Pay special attention to vulnerable areas such as face, ears, hands, and arms. Choose a water- proof brand, use it liberally, and reapply after swimming. And keep reapplying every 2-3 hours, even if you don't hit the water: studies suggest that if you apply too little sunscreen or reapply infrequently, the sunscreen itself can harm the skin by causing the body to create more damaging molecules.
5 Don't rely on SPF alone
SPF (sun protection factor) measures a sunscreen's ability to protect against UVB radiation and sunburns. It doesn't measure protection from UVA radiation, which penetrates deep into the skin, accelerates skin aging, and causes skin cancer-so even a high-SPF product may leave you vulnerable. In fact, the best possible UVA protection from any sunscreen is only about 20. And because they suppress burns (a sign of skin damage) high-SPF products may tempt you to stay in the sun longer than you should.
6 Be a daily user
A recent study found that using sunscreen on a daily basis reduced the risk of melanoma, the most dangerous kind of skin cancer. If you're gardening, hiking, or even just sightseeing, slather on sunscreen, and look for lotion, lip balm, and makeup with added sun protection.
7 Use safe sunscreens
Some sunscreens may do more harm than good. For example, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) research suggests that retinyl palmitate, used in sunscreens, may increase the rate of skin tumors. Other ingredients, such as oxybenzone or octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC), may disrupt the endocrine system. Make sure that your sunscreen is doing more good than harm; choose safe brands from our list (at left).
Dozens of recent studies have linked vitamin D intake with increased immunity and reduced risk of osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, the body's main source of vitamin D is sunshine, and wearing sunscreen inhibits the skin's production of this crucial compound. Meanwhile, vitamin D levels in Americans have been decreasing steadily over the past two decades; a 2008 report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that as many as half of all adults and children have less than optimum levels, and as many as 10 percent of children are highly deficient.
What's the solution? Even the experts disagree. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there's no safe exposure to the sun and the risks of any sun exposure outweigh the benefits. But the American Medical Association recommends 10 minutes of direct sun exposure-without sunscreen-several times a week.
It's hard to get adequate vitamin D from diet alone, so supplements are one answer, but there's some controversy about the proper amount. Currently, the recommended dose of vitamin D from food and supplements is 400 IU per day, but most experts think that's too low. The Institute of Medicine has launched new research to reassess the current guidelines, and it's expected to raise the recommended levels-perhaps to as high as 2,000 IU per day.
- Get your vitamin D levels tested to determine if you're low or deficient.
- Consider spending 15 minutes per day in the sun without sunscreen; better yet, take a brisk walk.
- Increase your intake of food sources of vitamin D, especially fish: a 3-ounce serving of wild salmon has 500-1,000 IUs of D.
- Consult a skilled nutritionist or medical provider for advice on the best vitamin D supplements.
Safe Sunscreen Selections
Alba BOTANICA Mineral
Sunscreen for Kids
All Terrain Aquasport
Badger Sunscreen Face Stick
Aubrey Organics Natural Sun
Green Tea Sunscreen
Kiss My Face Face Factor
Nature's Gate Mineral Kids' Block
California Baby Sunblock Stick Everyday/Year-Round
Desert Essence Age Reversal
Jason Sunbrellas Mineral Based Physical Sunblock
Earth's Best ORGANIC
Mineral Based Sunblock
Green Screen Organic Sunscreen,
Skin Tone Tinted
L'uvalla Certified Organic
MyChelle Sun Shield
Soleo Organics Atlantis Resort All Natural Sunscreen
5 Fast Steps to Sleek and Smooth
You've shed your winter gear for skimpier garb. That means more skin is exposed. Get beach-ready fast, with these six steps:
1 Make skin glow. Invest in natural bronzers and lotions for an instant sun-kissed look without the burns. Try Dr. Hauschka's Translucent Bronze Concentrate, Ecco Bella Flower Color Bronzing Powder, or Kiss My Face Tinted Moisturizer.
2 Exfoliate rough skin and add extra smoothing with a nourishing mask treatment. Try Alba Botanica Sea Algae Enzyme Facial Scrub, Jurlique Daily Exfoliating Treatment, and giovanni Hot Chocolate Sugar Scrub.
3 Remove body hair with Parissa Wax Strips (pre-cut for easy application). Or try Aubrey Organics Creme de la Shave White Tea and Citrus Shaving Cream for a smooth shave.
4 Prep your feet for bare toes and strappy sandals. Start with Aubrey Organics Neat Feet Foot Scrub, and follow with Dr. Hauschka's St. John's Wort Foot Cream.
5 Smooth and soften hands with heavy-duty cream; try Borlind of Germany Hand Balm, then shine with a chemical-free nail polish such as SpaRitual or No-Miss.
Natural First Aid Kit: 8 essentials
Summer activities mean more chance of scrapes, burns, and bruises. Prepare yourself by filling a small nylon hip sack with natural first-aid supplies. Include adhesive bandages, alcohol, instant cold packs, tweezers, and these eight essentials:
- Bach original flower essences Rescue Remedy can center and calm emotions after a trauma; a small bottle of drops is easiest to carry, or choose pastilles, spray, or the new gum.
- Heel traumeel Pain Relief Gel is good for muscle and joint pain, sports injuries, bruising, and strains; or look for a straight arnica gel.
- Mill creek botanicals aloe vera gel helps relieve minor sunburns, redness, and chapped, irritated skin; or use a cream with St. John's wort, calendula, and/or comfrey.
- Boericke & Tafel sssstingStop gel reduces itching, pain, and redness from bites.
- Boericke & Tafel florasone Cream, a homeopathic alternative to cortisone, soothes itches and rashes-including poison ivy and poison oak.
- quantum health buzz Away wards off mosquitoes, flies, ticks, fleas, and gnats.
- NeoBiotic herbal antibiotic ointment, to help protect and heal wounds.
- Desert essence 100% australian tea tree oil has antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties, and can be used on bites, stings, and scrapes.
aubrey organics green tea & Ginkgo moisturizer spf 10 combines organic green tea to prevent free radical damage with ginkgo to invigorate skin for a rosy glow. Jojoba oil soothes and moisturizes.
bach original flower essences rescue cream soothes dry, damaged, or irritated skin safely and naturally. Flower essences, including crab apple, help speed skin's healing.
hylan's arnica spray is convenient product to have on-hand this summer. Simply spray on the healing powers of arnica-great for bruises, sprains, strains, and other mild injuries.
Lavera anti-aging facial sun screen spf 15 is a 100% mineral sunscreen packed with skin-nourishing ingredients, including licorice to reduce redness and hyaluronic acid to soften wrinkles.
quantum health deet-free buzz away extreme keeps annoying insects away without DEET or other harmful chemicals. This convenient spray is sweat-proof, waterproof, and has a pleasant aroma. Take with you on vacations to avoid being bitten alive by mosquitoes!