Finally, a warm sunny Sunday. It was time to go pull weeds and clean up the garden.
Uncharacteristically, I quickly slathered coconut oil over my arms and put on my racer back tee. I say uncharacteristically because if you have spent any time with me during the summer months you’ll know I am all about good sun protection (especially after a long winter spent bundled up).
In my enthusiasm to get outside, I didn’t remember my own advice and two hours later when I went to the bathroom to wash my hands I turned and caught sight of a blood red burn covering my back. The severity was even more noticeable when the tee came off. Think red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting. It was that bad.
Now, after many days of applying aloe vera and coconut oil I can shift in my shirt and not feel like my skin is being dragged across gravel.
I’ve learned my lesson for this summer and I hope you can take my example as a warning and prepare yourself properly for your outdoor adventures.
After reading my little story you may think to yourself, “Well, why didn’t she put on sunscreen?” and that is an interesting point. I no longer wear standard sunscreen. After researching the ingredients in standard sunscreens I realized there were too many potentially harmful chemicals and things that I could not identify in them. I am not convinced that sunscreen protects you as the marketing suggests. Despite advances in sunscreen, skin cancer is still a common health issue, even among non-sun dwellers.
So what should you do and what should I have done before spending time in the sun?
Start from the inside.
I can tell you my diet recently has been infiltrated by sugar, processed junk food, and alcohol. I am not surprised I burned as badly as I did.
Limit processed foods. Limit sugar. These foods promote inflammation within the body. Your body doesn’t function at its optimal level when it is being bombarded with inflammation-causing food-like substances.
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet:
Supporting your body internally will ensure you can absorb and utilize the vitamin D you will get from sun exposure. Vitamin D is so very important to your overall health. If you have time this is a great article (If you don’t have time to read it just take my word for it.) You need vitamin D and you can easily get it from the sun if you are eating the right food and not inhibiting your body by using standard sunscreen.
If you are eating an anti-inflammatory diet your body is probably in such a state that a simple slathering of coconut oil all over your skin may be enough of a sun filter for you if you won’t be spending a long time in the sun.
Sounds great, Madeline, but I don’t always eat perfectly and I want to spend more than 30 minutes outside and still protect my skin. I get it! If you are going to be out in the sun long-term and/or you know you haven’t been eating the way you want to it is best to use a good sunscreen. (I do still recommend you get about 15 minutes of direct sunlight so you can absorb that Vitamin D.)
Last summer I simply added zinc oxide to my lotion instead of buying sunscreen. This worked very well! It’s still important to choose a lotion that is not loaded with strange chemicals though. Just a reminder that most of those chemicals you can’t identify can disrupt your hormones and/or have been linked to causing cancer or other health issues.
If you are a fan of DIY you can make your own sunscreen! I have followed Wellness Mama’s recipes before so I trust her homemade sunscreen will be awesome!
If you don’t have time to make your own there are still options!
Here are a couple of my favorite brands of sunscreen that I have used and trust.
There are many products out there now that are not filled with unnecessary chemicals. This is a fun review of various brands.
The warm weather is here so prepare yourself! Choose a method that suits your lifestyle but will also provide the level of protection your skin requires. If you do plan on spending a day in the sun don’t forget to drink plenty of water, consider wearing a hat, and find some shade during the hottest part of the day.
Now, go on that outdoor adventure!
Photo credit: weheartit.com
This article was originally sent out in the JAC Newsletter. Get the next one sent directly to you!