As thousands of people each year are diagnosed with skin cancer, we're discovering the importance of protecting our skin from the sun. Sun block and sun screen products are available everywhere and we constantly hear about the importance of wearing these products at all times. But what if we don't want to use sun blocks or sun screens? Are there other, more natural options out there?
Some sunlight is actually important. Sunlight helps promote skin growth, hormone production and can improve our emotional well-being. Sunlight is also important for the production of Vitamin D - a very difficult vitamin to get without sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency may be linked with breast, prostate and colon cancers. Of course, sunlight is also linked to skin cancer, so moderation is the key with any sun exposure. Most experts agree that ten or fifteen minutes a day is plenty of sun exposure to promote Vitamin D and help prevent against deficiency of this important vitamin.
It's important to have some sort of sun protection, especially as the following products will not prevent sunburn. They do seem to protect against some sun damage on the cellular level however. Many people use these products in combination with sun blocks and sun screens.
- The most natural sun protection you will find is going to be products that cover your skin and prevent the sunlight from getting to it in the first place. So long-sleeved cotton clothes, sunglasses that you can't see your eyes out of and broad-brimmed hats are highly recommended and are the best option for natural sun protection.
- Always drink plenty of fluids while out in the sunlight. Drinking lots of water helps the skin stay moisturized and may help prevent sun damage, at least a little bit.
- Shea butter actually contains a chemical that does provide some sun protection, about a 6 SPF. This is a common ingredient in skin care products.
- Zinc and titanium oxides protect against UVA rays-making them more valuable to prevent sun damage than sun screens and sun blocks. UVA rays cause damage to the skin on a cellular level. One big complaint about these products is that they leave a white layer on skin. There are some newer products on the market designed not to leave a white layer.
- Try supplementing your diet with 25 mg/day of carotenoids (Vitamin A) and 355 mg/ day of Vitamin E to diminish your body's sensitivity to UV light. This method may actually protect your body from sunburn, at least a little bit.
- Jojoba oil is a very common ingredient in natural sun protection products. It's a natural sebum (our body's own lubricant for skin and hair) and is a natural lubricant with protective properties for the skin.
- Green tea may provide natural sun protection. You can use it either by soaking a towel with cooled tea and rubbing it onto the skin or by ingesting it. One of the major components in green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). While EGCG probably won't prevent sunburn, it may prevent the cells from mutating and turning cancerous.
- Aloe vera helps protect the skin's immune cells against the sun, which is why it's such a great antidote for too much sun (sunburn). But some studies are finding that it also may prevent the cells from mutating into cancer cells.
- Emu oil can help protect the skin from sunlight. It's greaseless, and easily absorbed by the skin. Some studies claim it prevents skin cancer on the cellular level, while other studies find it prevents wrinkles from too much sun. It may or may not prevent against painful sunburn.