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Protecting Your Skin Naturally

Summer is upon us! Green grass, trees full of leaves, blooming flowers, and sprouting gardens. None of this would not be possible without plentiful rain and an abundance of sun. The sun…a delight and a worry. Although it is good to directly soak up the sun’s warmth for beneficial vitamin D, we are often
concerned about the effects of those harmful UV rays. The solution? Lather on the sunscreen? Be careful, many brands of sunscreens contain chemicals that can be just as harmful to your skin as those UV rays. So, what can we do? Eating the right kinds of food and paying close attention to the ingredients found in the sunscreen you are using can make a big difference in the health of your skin and how well it is being protected.

Protect Your Skin with Food
There are a number of common foods that contain natural sun blocking protection. Below are a list of nutrients that can help protect the skin and the foods in which you can get these nutrients from…

Beta-Carotene: sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, collard greens, most yellow & orange vegetables
Lycopene: tomatoes, watermelon, pink guava, pink grapefruit, papaya, persimmons, red cabbage
Lutein: spinach, kale, peas, Brussel sprouts, zucchini, broccoli
Epigallocatechin gallate: green tea, black tea, rosemary, thyme, garlic, oregano, cocoa
Flavonoids: citrus
Proanthocyanadins: cacao, grape seeds
Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, kale
Vitamin C: citrus, strawberries, kiwi, peppers
Astaxanthin: wild salmon, krill, shellfish
Vitamin E: olive oil, omega 3 fatty acids, nuts, seeds

Watch Those Ingredients
When purchasing sunscreen for those warm summer days when the sun is intense, avoid sunscreens that contain any of the following ingredients:

Oxybenzone: a chemical that helps other chemicals penetrate the skin
Octinoxate: a chemical that gets absorbed into the skin and helps other chemicals absorb more readily into the skin
Retinyl Palmitate: an antioxidant, but when exposed to the sun, it creates free radicals that are toxic to the body
Homosalase: helps the sunscreen penetrate the skin, but can become a hormone disruptor in the body
Octocrylene: a chemical that when exposed to UV light, produces radicals that can damage the cells and cause mutations
Paraba Preservatives: can cause hormone disruption, allergic reactions, and create toxicity in the body

Safer Alternatives
There are a number of natural and safer alternatives to sunscreen ingredients. Look for the following:

Almond Oil: contains an SPF of 5
Coconut Oil: contains an SPF of 4-6
Zinc Oxide: contains an SPF of 2-20 (depending on the quantity use)
Red Raspberry Seed Oil: contains an SPF of 25-50
Carrot Seed Oil: contains an SPF of 35-40
Shea Butter: contains an SPF of 4-6

Remember, although we want to protect our skin from harmful UV rays, we also want to give our skin the time to soak up some natural vitamin D from that summer sunshine. So soak it up!