Natural Ways to Protect Your Skin from Sun Damage

August 10th, 2011

Spending time outdoors can brighten your mood, increase your energy level and provide you with more immune-boosting, vitamin D. But it’s no secret that the sun’s rays can be harmful to your skin. And while proper sunscreen applications are essential, there are also plenty of natural ways to guard against sun damage. Certain foods can decrease photosensitivity – and even a simple vitamin supplement may lower your risk of sunburn.

Foods, drugs and cosmetics to avoid before going outdoors

Skip the perfumes and after-shave lotions. They may leave unattractive brown spots if applied before going in the sun.

Deodorants and deodorant soaps containing hexachlorophene can cause an itchy, red rash during sun exposure.

You are more likely to burn if you take medications such as tetracycline, diuretics and anti-depressants. Oral contraceptives may cause dark blotches around the eyes, so make certain to apply facial sunscreen to those areas.

Celery, citrus fruits, figs and vanilla make the skin more photosensitive, so don’t eat them right before going outdoors.

Certain types of caffeine can increase sunburn risk, so skip the coffee, black tea or soft drinks before or during your time in the sun. Drink green tea, diluted fruit juice or water instead.

Vitamin supplements that guard against sun damage

Beta-carotene (a derivative of vitamin A) can help decrease sensitivity to the sun and enhance the power of sunscreen. Eat plenty of carrots, cantaloupe and salads made with romaine lettuce or spinach. A 25 mg supplement of beta-carotene will also help protect the skin during sun exposure.

B vitamins help the skin retain moisture and elasticity, and without adequate stores, your skin may be more sun-sensitive. In addition to daily supplementation, snack on nuts, and eat plenty of chicken, eggs, fish, beans and other healthy proteins.

Low vitamin C levels may cause dry skin and encourage wrinkling, especially with long-term sun exposure. To keep skin supple and healthy, make sure your diet includes foods like strawberries, papaya, broccoli and red bell peppers. If you do experience a mild sunburn, take 500 milligrams of vitamin C with equal amounts of bioflanoids, 3 times daily for two weeks, to aid healing and prevent sun damage.

Remove leftover spots and pigmented areas

After significant sun exposure, you may notice an increase in freckles, spots and unsightly blotches. To improve natural exfoliation, add 2 cups of milk or 1 cup of vinegar to warm bath water, and soak for fifteen minutes. After the skin is softened, gently rub the surface with a loofah or washcloth.

To even out skin tone and further eliminate those darkened areas, smooth equal amounts of lemon juice and glycerin directly onto the skin for 15-30 minutes, once daily, until spots have faded.

Sources:

Mother Nature’s Guide to Vibrant Beauty and Health, Myra Cameron, Theresa DiGeronimo, Prentice Hall, 1997

Smart Medicine for Healthier Living: Practical A-Z Reference to Natural and Conventional Treatments for Adults, Janet Sand, Allan Spreen, James B. LaValle, Avery Publishing Group, Inc. 1999

University of Maryland Medical Center – www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/beta-carotene-000286.htm

Share