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Summer Sun Protection

Andrea FabrySummertime brings increased exposure to the sun. What precautions should we take? Can we avoid the use of chemical-laden creams and lotions? Are there any potential health benefits in sun exposure, or should we do our best to avoid it?

Humans get most of their vitamin D directly from sunlight. For those who live in darker parts of the world such as Norway and Alaska, it's necessary to get vitamin D indirectly by consuming oils from fish and other animals that have been exposed to sunlight. For this reason, we need not avoid the sun—we simply must be wise about it.

Maintaining a healthy dietary balance of omega-6 and omega-3 oils is one of the first natural lines of defense against sunburn. Avoiding sugar and pro-inflammatory industrialized oils can also help. The less inflammation, the stronger the skin's natural protective abilities.

Let's take a look at other safe, natural ways to care for your skin this summer. Armed with a little knowledge and a bit of creativity, you'll be ready to enjoy plenty of fun in the sun!


Sunscreen

Many sunscreen products contain potentially harmful ingredients, including oxybenzones and retinyl palmitate. The Environmental Working Group has researched 800 commercially available sunscreens and determined that 75 percent of these products are unsafe due to toxic ingredients. To view the list of recommended sunscreens, consult EWG's latest Sunscreen Guide.

Sunscreens typically block UVB rays but not UVA rays. The UVA rays are responsible for the majority of skin problems due to overexposure. Therefore EWG recommends choosing a sunscreen with a mineral such as zinc oxide, which offers UVA protection.

It's also important to note that a higher SPF (sun protection factor) does not guarantee added protection. Sunscreens with an SPF of 15 blocks up to 93 percent of incoming UVB rays. SPF 30 blocks 97 percent and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent. Keep in mind that SPF does not take into account UVA rays.

Why not try a homemade sunscreen? The following recipe can be adapted to suit a variety of needs:

  • 2.5 oz. sesame oil
  • 1.5 oz. coconut oil
  • .5 oz. beeswax
  • 4 oz. filtered water
  • 2 tbsp. zinc oxide

Melt the oils and beeswax in a double boiler over medium heat. Remove from heat, add water, and mix with a stick blender until creamy. Add zinc oxide.

To maintain shelf life, add vitamin E oil, vitamin C powder, and/or grapefruit seed extract.

For added benefit, mix in 1-2 capsules of astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is produced by microalgae and provides a natural sunscreen when eaten by fish such as pink salmon and shrimp.


Sunburn

Avoid the use of mineral oils, including baby oils which consist of mineral oils and fragrance. Mineral oils are phototoxic, meaning they make the skin unusually sensitive to light and subject to damage by light. Mineral oils, like other petroleum products, cannot be absorbed properly by the body and stop the skin from using its own natural moisturizing capabilities.

In the event of a burn, try the following natural treatments:

  1. Aloe PlantAloe. Aloe vera is antibacterial and healing for burns because of its aloectin B, which accelerates healing. You can buy an aloe product such as aloe vera juice or aloe vera gel (see these examples) or keep an aloe plant on hand. Aloe plants are simple to maintain and the gel is easily extracted by breaking apart the leaves.
  2. Tea. Tea contains tannic acid, which helps relieve pain. Place two to three bags of black tea into a bathtub of lukewarm water and soak in it. Save the tea bags and place the cooled, wet bags directly on sensitive areas.
  3. Olive oil. Olive oil contains oleuropein, which helps reduce redness, water loss, and blood flow after overexposure. The extra blood flow causes swelling, one of the causes of sunburn pain.

Quotes

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"...at age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

Dedication