Protecting Your Skin from the Sun

. . . do what smart people have done for millennia

There is a natural way to protect your skin from the sun, one that has been used effectively for millennia. While it’s true that some things have changed – depletion of the ozone layer has made the sun’s rays more intense; also in times past people stayed in one place for generations, and pigments in their skin adapted to the intensity of the sun where they lived – the same principles still apply.

1.  Maximize Antioxidant Intake. Antioxidants protect skin from potential sun damage, making diet the single most important factor in skin protection. Getting your 10-12 servings of fruits and vegetables daily will go a long way towards supplying the antioxidants you need. Most culinary herbs as well as green and white tea, garlic and olive oil are also high in antioxidants. However, because environmental pollutants nowadays chew up antioxidants faster than you can say “free radical damage,” we need more antioxidants than ever, making supplementation necessary.

Antioxidant supplementation needs to begin at least three months before sun exposure so you have a chance to build them up in your tissues. A variety of different kinds of antioxidants works best. Our new Age Defense Formula (on sale through the end of July) combines various antioxidants to offer protection from all five types of free radicals. Vitamins C, D, E and K, as well as curcumin, quercetin, CoQ10, manganese, selenium and zinc all offer different kinds of antioxidant protection. (For more information on antioxidants see our Antioxidant Handout. Most people would benefit from taking vitamin C “to bowel tolerance.” Click here for instructions on how to determine your bowel tolerance for vitamin C.)

2. Consume the right oils. Processed vegetable oils increase your likelihood of burning; omega 3 oils, like flaxseed and fish oil, and saturated fats, like coconut oil and animal fats, strengthen the skin to resist burning.

3. Use Antioxidants and Lubricating Oils Topically. You don’t need expensive skin creams and lotions. In fact, you’d do far better to use pure and simple things that traditional societies have used for centuries, like olive oil and coconut oil. Use only pure, high-quality oils; rubbing oxidized oils into your skin would be counterproductive! Another choice is frequent spritzing with a mixture of pure water and powdered vitamin C.

Don’t expect these to totally replace sunscreens! They don’t block out the sun’s rays the way sunscreens do. This is a good thing because they allow tanning and the creation of vitamin D (the way nature intended), but you still have to . . .

4. Be Intelligent in Your Sun Exposure. We are made to be sun worshippers. We’re naturally drawn to sunbathe, and it wasn’t long ago that sunbathing was prescribed by doctors for a variety of ailments. We’ve only begun to appreciate the many benefits of sunbathing from a scientific standpoint. However, while sun can heal it can also harm if you get too much of it. Everyone is different in this regard. Saturating your skin with antioxidants can allow you to stay out in the sun longer, but if you start to turn pink, cover up or get out of the sun! It’s unnecessary to buy special clothing made of sun-resistant fabrics; any closely woven fabric will do the job. Pace yourself early in the season so that you gradually build up a protective tan.

Since the introduction of sunscreens, we’ve been indoctrinated in the belief that the sun is dangerous and we need to avoid it at all costs. This is simply not true. Sunlight is an essential nutrient, absolutely necessary for good health. Ditch the sunscreens and stick with Mother Nature’s plan. You’ll be the healthier and happier for it.

Traikovich SS. Use of topical ascorbic acid and its effects on photodamaged skin topography. JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery. 1999.  125 (10):1091-1098.
 Shapira N. Nutritional approach to sun protection: a suggested complement to external strategies. Nutrition Review. 2010.  68 (2):75-86.
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