How to protect skin from the sun naturally – a look at Nature’s sunscreen




 

Sun damage conditions

 

If you are in the Northern hemisphere the summer is just about to begin. This means that skin will repeatedly be exposed to bad UV (ultraviolet) radiation coming from the sun. This may lead to a sunburn, photodamage and non-melanoma skin cancer.

You are familiar with a sunburn and how it looks like – the skin is red, swollen and inflamed. Photodamage is gradual worsening of the skin when it’s continually is being exposed to the sun. This results in skin discoloration, rough texture and wrinkles. Non-melanoma skin cancer sounds scary but it differs a lot from the dreadful melanoma you are thinking about. That’s because it rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Non-melanoma skin cancer is actually a common name for several types of cancer which are all characterized by small raised areas, usually red in colour and, in general, scaly and red skin.

You may be diligent about applying sunscreen while taking a holiday in a tropical country but totally forget about it at home. Actually, you are not the only one as this pattern is widely prevalent and therefore, ironically, majority of sunburn and more serious sun damage is acquired at non-vacation time. Before rushing to a health store to pick your natural sunscreen, let’s see how you can protect yourself from the sun with sunscreens designed by Nature!

Let’s begin. In the absence of a man-made sunscreen or other means of protection such as shady areas or long clothes, skin depends on internal defense mechanisms. These defense mechanisms are provided by a specific group of compounds found in fruits and vegetables. These compounds are called micronutrients. To protect you from the sun, some micronutrients act as UV (ultaviolet) absorbers, antioxidants and inhibitors of sun-induced harmful reactions.

Here is the summary the roles some micronutrients play to defend you from the sun and what they do exactly:

 

How to protect skin from the sun naturally

Farmland in Calgary. Calgary is ranked first among Canadian cities for the number of sunny days in a year.

UV absorbers – increase the barrier for UV radiation. As a result,  erythema*, edema** and the number of sunburn cells is diminished. Thus, in general, the intensity of a sunburn is decreased.

Antioxidants – protect lipids and proteins against oxidation (damage). And as a result, skin wrinkling, roughening and formation of brown spots is diminished. This means that intensity of photodamage is decreased as well.

Inhibitors of sun-induced harmful reactions – inhibit DNA damage, suppress formation of tumors and decrease inflammation. Therefore, lowering the chance of non-melanoma skin cancer.

 

 

Enough of science for today. Next time, I will explore the foods that provide the micronutrients with the above roles and how to use these foods to defend yourself from the yellow disk!

 

 

 


 

*erythema –  reddening of the skin

**edema – swelling of the skin

 

Main reference:

Sies H. and Wilhelm S. (2004). Nutritional Protection Against Skin Damage from Sunlight. Annual Review of Nutrition, 24, 173-200.

 

7 Comments
  1. Yes, most people who travel to tropical areas remember to wear sunscreen, but unless their skin is very fair fail to do so at home.

    Plus let’s be honest we’d much rather find ways to naturally protect ourselves than slather on sunscreen that has cancer causing chemicals in it. Why try to stop skin cancer and sun damage if you’re just going to put chemicals on the largest organ of your body that can cause cancer?

    Also, one of the greatest internal defenses are berries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. They are all high in antioxidants and eating them frequently in the spring and summer helps give you a natural protection.

    It’s not just summer time when damage can occur, we also have to remember that if we go on vacations to higher elevations and where the sun is reflecting off the snow we also need protection.

    • Hello,

      Your comments about protecting skin in higher elevations and during the winter are so true! I didn’t consider this at all. Thank you for noting that!

  2. This is an important issue especially now that beach season is in and a lot of people frequent the shore. How do you feel about getting Vitamin D through sun rays vs from food and supplement? I don’t know if our body synthesize Vitamin D from the sun if we put on skin protection.

    • Wing,

      Good question, never thought of that (I rarely use sunscreen). No, although sunscreen decreases vitamin D production to some extent, it will not result in vitamin D insufficiency.

      Read this article published by the British Journal Dermatology: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/713721

      Personally, I take Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend (along with organic egg yolks, only non-vegan foods I consume). Fermented (meaning it is raw) cod liver oil has a plethora of vitamin D (along with vitamins A and K2 that are hard to get enough eating only vegan foods)

      P. S. I have been taking this supplement for the last 1.5 month for the purposes of a cavity reversal. I do not want to make any big conclusions yet but my cavity got lighter and smaller, the pain that I had in the evenings is gone and teeth in general became whiter. I am going to make a post about this.

  3. Awesome piece of info, thanks for the great post!

    It’s a fact that too much sun exposure could not only result in a painful aftermath, but the potential cancer threat is for me the worst thing.

    The inhibitors of sun-induced harmful reactions seem like the best of the bunch, manly because of the DNA protection.

    BTW, I’ve heard that sunscreen products actually cause cancer themselves. Is that even true?

    • Simon,

      Thanks for dropping by again!

      Actually, the sun, precisely UV radiation, doesn’t cause cancer. Cancer as disease boomed in the 20th century and even more in the 21st century. As you can imagine, in the past the sun was just as intense, however cancer was not nearly as widespread. UV radiation is just one of the causes of cancer. The root of cancer lies in our weakened immune system. Our immunity has been brought to its knees via toxins & chemicals from vaccines, drugs, food, water, air. The immunity, which is basically the body’s defense mechanisms, simply cannot neutralize the effects of too much UV radiation. Which ultimately results in wrong cells cycles, that is, cancer. If you feel like reading more about it, see what Dr. Paul Stallone, for example, has to say on this.

      Yes, it’s true if you are looking at conventional ones. Not those made from naturally-occurring minerals such as  zinc oxide & titanium dioxide.

      Even of you have the absolutely best natural sunscreen, don’t arm yourself with it from head to toe. If it’s not too hot out, only put it on the most exposed and sensitive areas. Like face, neck, shoulders. Your skin must be allowed to produce vitamin D (in fact, lack of it, is one of the causes of cancer!). It’s better to protect yourself with white cotton / linen clothes, so that the sunrays still can play a little with your skin 🙂

      Regarding which natural sunscreen to go for. Personally, in the last few years, I have been using the Goddess Garden brand.

      However, in the last months, I’ve been applying the Alba Botanica Sport one (just because the place where I get the Goddess Garden was out of it). Its ingredients are 100% vegetarian as well, and it does its job fantastically, but its smell is not my thing.

      If you still need some clarification, shoot me a reply.

      p.s. Don’t hide too much from the friendly sun! It’s a kind gigantic star that gives us life on this planet. As well as spoils us with that nourishing warmth that we desperately crave for during winters.

       

    • Simon,

      Thanks for dropping by again!

      Actually, the sun, precisely the UV radiation, is not an underlying cause of cancer. Cancer as a disease boomed in the 20th century and even more in the 21st century. As you can imagine, in the past the sun was just as intense, however cancer was not nearly as widespread. The UV radiation is just one of the triggers of cancer. The root casue of cancer lies in our weakened immune system. Our immunity has been brought to its knees via toxins / chemicals / contaminants from vaccines, drugs, food, water, air. Our immunity, which is basically the body’s defense mechanisms, simply cannot neutralize the effects of too much UV radiation. Which ultimately results in wrong cells cycles, that is, cancer.

      Yes, it’s true if you are looking at conventional ones. Not those made from naturally-occurring minerals such as zinc oxide & titanium dioxide.

      Even of you have the absolutely best natural sunscreen, don’t arm yourself with it from head to toe. If it’s not too hot out, only put it on the most exposed and sensitive areas. Like face, neck, shoulders. Your skin must be allowed to produce vitamin D (in fact, lack of it is one of the causes of cancer!). It’s better to protect yourself with white cotton / linen clothes, so that the sunrays still can play a little with your skin 🙂

      Regarding which natural sunscreen to go for. Personally, in the last few years, I have been using the Goddess Garden brand.

      While, in the last months, I’ve been applying the Alba Botanica Sport brand (just because the place where I get the Goddess Garden one was out of it). It’s natural, and does its job as well, but its smell is not my thing.

      I’m sure there are quite a few other companies that make safe and reliable sunscreens. By trial and error, eventually you will find one that you really like.

      If you still need some clarification, give me a shout.

      p.s. Don’t hide too much from the friendly sun! It’s a kind gigantic star that gives us life on this planet. As well as spoils us with that nourishing warmth that we desperately crave for during winters.

       

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