By Maria Noël Groves, RH (AHG)
|Love this $5 sunhat from the feed store!|
Registered Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Educator
Summer is just about here! Sitting out in the sun on a nice summer day is the epitome of a relaxing good time. But, excess sun exposure can damage the skin over time, encouraging wrinkles and skin cancer to take hold. Take a queue from hot climates. Your best sunscreen is a tightly woven sun hat, sunglasses, light, loose-fitting clothes, and hanging out in the shade when possible. The runner up: a good sunscreen.
Not all sunscreens are made equal. Some make false claims while others contain potentially toxic chemicals. Of course, you can trust the Co-op to offer good, safe brands like Badger and All Terrain (both New Hampshire companies). See the complete list of approved sunscreens on the Environmental Working Group’s 2014 Guide to Safe Sunscreen or ask the Co-op’s helpful Health & Beauty staff to assist you.
Remember that while using sunscreen does protect against sunburns, there is no consensus that using sunscreen prevents skin cancer. And some sun, without sunscreen, is essential to allow your body to make the important nutrient vitamin D.
Got Kids? Childhood sunburns may increase the likelihood of dangerous melanomas in adulthood. Shade is really the best sunscreen, especially for infants. With toddlers and older children, choose one of the many kid-friendly sunscreens as a backup and apply heavily.
Got Burned? Turn to remedies with cooling and antioxidant-rich ingredients to help minimize the damage and find relief.
- Green Tea: Make quart or two of strong green tea, add it to a tepid bath, and rest in the cool water or soak a towel to apply as a compress.
- Aloe Gel: Store-bought gels work, and freshly sliced aloe leaves are even better. For extra cooling, store your aloe gel or leaves in the fridge.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Vinegar helps restore the acid mantle to the skin and does a surprisingly good job relieving sunburn pain (although you will smell a bit like salad dressing!) Dab or spray to onto the burn. Feel free to add a few drops of lavender essential oil for extra healing properties… and improved scent. Store your vinegar in glass or plastic – it will break down metal containers and lids.