It’s sunburn season, and as they say, the best cure is an ounce of prevention. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s difficult to find safe products that protect your
skin from the sun without exposing you to other health risks. Thankfully, there are numerous natural products, many already in your cupboards, which can keep your time in the sun healthy and fun.
Monterey Bay Spice Company advises “that certain herbs, oils and extracts can help you get a golden glow without risking your health from UV rays, chemical preservatives or synthetic dyes.” Green tea, ginkgo biloba, chamomile, bergamot, clove, geranium, mandarin, walnut shell extract, carrot essential oil and borage seed oil are just some of the potential ingredients the company says are found in all-natural self-tanning products. Additionally, amla berry (in supplements or as a paste) makes a wonderful Ayurvedic antioxidant rejuvenative for the skin.
Here’s a couple of natural recipes you can try this summer to reduce your skin’s photosensitivity and tendency to burn:
Use rose water or a rose petal spread blended with boiled and cooled milk as a cooling beverage you can drink to bring down your body’s temperature.
Cooling Watermelon Purée Mask
Make a watermelon puree and apply it evenly, except in the eye area. Rinse off with room temperature or lukewarm water after 10-15 minutes to help cool your skin. Cotton pads soaked in organic rose water can be placed over closed eyes.
Cooling Milk Bath
Add a couple of drops of organic rose water to room temperature milk and either rinse your face with it, followed by room temperature water, or apply generously with cotton pads and rinse off after ten minutes with room temperature water.
Skin-protecting Spice Mixture
Sauté equal parts turmeric, coriander, fennel and cumin in ghee and add it to your vegetables and grains to stimulate digestion without overheating your body.
Herbal Self-Tanning Lotion
2 cups water
6 tablespoons dried green tea leaves
2 tablespoon dried linden leaf flowers
6 tablespoons sesame seed oil
6 tablespoons avocado oil
1 cup lanolin
10 drops chamomile essential oil
10 drops cinnamon leaf essential oil
- Make a strong tea with the green tea, linden and water. Let cool, then strain.
- Place remaining ingredients into a blender and add 1/2 cup of the tea. Blend at a low speed for 1-2 minutes. Slowly drizzle in the rest of the tea while blending.
- Pour into a clean, sterile container and store away from heat and light.
- To use, thoroughly massage a small amount onto skin after showering. Let skin air dry a few moments before dressing.
Natural Sunscreen & Sunburn Rescue
6 ounces pure aloe vera gel
3 capsules vitamin E oil, broken
1 tablespoon zinc oxide ointment (available from most pharmacies)
15 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops wintergreen essential oil
5 drops carrot essential oil
Blend all ingredients together in a large measuring cup or bowl. Scoop into a clean, sterile contain and apply to the skin
as often as needed.
Best Natural Sunscreen
“The sunscreen oil recommended in Ayurveda is from the fruit and seeds of the evergreen neem tree indigenous to India,” according to Sunlightenment. You just need a thin layer on exposed skin. As a general recommendation, apply every 60-90 minutes or three times in a four-hour period. Neem oil alkalizes the skin, reducing its acid content while keeping it moist. This means it won’t react to heat as easily. Mix it with a little coconut oil or ghee if you don’t like the smell. The good news is that Neem is also a great mosquito repellant!
If you don’t have the time or the inclination to create your own sunscreen, just be careful about which products you purchase. When considering the best sun protection for your skin, it is important to understand the difference between suntan lotion, a sunscreen and a sunblock. Ensure that your product has both UVA and UVB protection, and be sure to look for “full spectrum coverage.” Know that not all products are created equal. Check out the 2015 EWG Report noting some of the misleading marketing trends in sun care products released over the past ten years, and don’t worry about buying any lotions with higher than SPF 30; the protection levels above this number offer minor improvement and the number tends to encourage bathing abuse due to the perception that wearers are more fully protected.
Here are a few recommendations for healthier choices. In addition, please consider Arbonne’s line of vegan cosmetic and skin care sunscreens, which include a lovely sunblock for children and adults with sensitive skin.
See this month’s FOCUS ON FOOD blog for additional tips on healthy sunbathing.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concerns, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for an appointment. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.