Cool That Summer Burn!
By Dr. Michelle Kmiec , Founder OHH
The sun has been worshiped and honored since ancient times by many religious, cultural and spiritual ceremonies. And although we may not be performing traditional sun dances or praying to the sun deities, our devotion to the sun is undeniable! But as we seek out the sun at the beach, by the pool, on the golf course or ski slopes, the occasional sunburn becomes inescapable.
Of course conventional sunscreens do a great job of protecting us from UVB rays; however, this is a problem. Because it is the UVB rays that our bodies need for vitamin D production. Not to mention that Vitamin D is protective against cancer.
There is another problem with conventional sunscreens – they cause photosensitivity. And photosensitivity is a leading cause of skin cancer. From The Truth About The Sun, Sunscreens and Skin Cancer:
An FDA report contains the following list of substances that cause photosensitivity (or have photo-reactive agents in them) and that can cause skin cancer in the case of chronic sun exposure while using them:
- Food additives
- Antibacterial soaps
- Petroleum products (including Vaseline)
- Cold and allergy medicines
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin (Amigesic), ibuprofen (Motrin), Aleve (naproxen sodium), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Voltaren), etodolac (Lodine)
- Antibiotics, including the tetracyclines and sulfonamides
- Sunscreens containing bergamot oil, sandalwood oil, benzophenones, PABA, cinnamates, salicylates, anthranilates, PSBA, mexenone, and oxybenzone
If the FDA and other groups such as The American Cancer Foundation are only interested in protecting the general public, then why aren’t they looking at the chemical ingredients which are known to cause photosensitivity and that are in the products being recommended?
As you can see, protecting your skin from the sun’s dangerous UV rays is more than just rubbing on some protective lotion. The protection starts with what you put into your body and how you protect yourself from harmful chemicals that you are exposed to on a daily basis.
Personally, I have never worn sunblock and rarely have had a sunburn. But when conditions arise that cause me to feel that I need a little extra skin protection I reach for alternatives provided by nature.
Here are some amazing oils that not only offer protection from the sun’s rays but also do wonders for your skin!
Red raspberry seed oil:
Red raspberry seed oil has a 30-50 SPF (absorbs 97% – 98% respectively).
A 2000 study published Food Chemistry found the following:
“The optical transmission of raspberry seed oil, especially in the UV range (290±400 nm) was comparable to that of titanium dioxide preparations with sun protection factor for UVB (SPF) and protection factor for UVA (PFA) values between 28±50 and 6.75±7.5, respectively.”
Neem oil has long been known for its health benefits, especially as it relates to the skin. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Spectroscopy found that neem oil absorbs about 60% of UV radiation.
Sesame, Coconut, Peanut, Olive, and Cottonseed oils:
These are oils that you may currently have in your house.
A 2011 study on the ‘Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation’ found the following:
“Sesame oil resists 30% of UV rays, whereas coconut, peanut, olive, and cottonseed oils block out about 20%.”
Now if you do get overly sun-kissed, there are several natural remedies to put a cool halt to the discomfort brought on by occasional over-exposure.
Ice. Cooling sunburned skin with ice seems logical. However, it is important that you don’t put the ice directly on the skin as it could stick and cause irritation or damage. Be sure to put a thin washcloth or towel around the ice before applying it to the skin. Another option is to soak the towel or washcloth in ice water and then apply to the affected area.
Aloe Vera. Aloe Vera has anti-inflammatory properties and can soothe and cool the burned skin. Only pure 100% Aloe Vera gel should be used. If you have an aloe plant, simply remove a leaf, split the leaf lengthwise and spread the clear liquid gel over the sunburned skin.
Vinegar. White vinegar is said to remove sunburn pain when applied topically to the skin. In a spray bottle, prepare a solution of ½ white vinegar and ½ cool water and spritz over sunburned skin. Alternatively, a clean towel or washcloth could be soaked in the solution and then applied to the skin as a compress. Vinegar is also known for quickly turning that burn into a skin protective tan!
Witch Hazel. Witch Hazel has anti-inflammatory properties and can relieve sunburn pain. Moisten a soft cloth with witch hazel and apply to the sunburned area.
Milk. The fat and protein content of milk have an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. The coolness of the milk will soothe the pain. Soak a clean cloth in cold milk and apply to the sunburned area.
Honey. Honey contains enzymes that have been shown to promote healing. It also has known antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Apply pure organic honey to the sunburned area.
Cucumbers. Cucumbers are often used to reduce redness and puffiness around the eyes and can also be a great sunburn remedy. Rub the sunburned area with cucumber slices or mash up the cucumber and apply to sunburned skin to hydrate and moisturize.
Baking Soda. Baking soda has been shown to ease the pain of sunburn as well as reduce redness. Combine baking soda with cool water until it becomes a paste-like consistency. Apply the paste to the sunburned area and leave on for 15-20 minutes or until burning has subsided. Rinse off and pat dry with clean towel.
Lavender Essential Oil. Lavender Oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and aids in skin cell regeneration. Soak a clean towel or washcloth in cool water with several drops of lavender oil. Apply as a compress to the sunburned area or lightly rub the solution over the skin. The cool water and lavender oil can also be added to a spray bottle and spritzed on the skin.
Black Tea. Black tea contains tannins which are known to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Add several black tea bags to cool water. When the water darkens soak a clean towel or washcloth in the tea infused water and either apply as a compress to the affected area or lightly rub over the sunburned skin. The cool teabags can also be used as compresses.