In the middle of summer we should be getting used to the extra care we have to take of our skin, especially here in New Zealand / Australia where we are so conscious of UV damage. But even so, I often spot sunburned people out on the street and it always brings out the skin-doctor in me.
So no sermons – we all know the sun-safe rituals at least in theory – instead, let me share three natural steps to happier summer skin…
Number one: the best natural ingredients for Sunburn Relief
ORGANIC ALOE VERAthe most effective cooling relief for sunburn
When you have it to hand, the clear cooling gel from a fresh cut Aloe plant is nature’s perfect burn treatment. It gives instant hydration and cooling relief while providing exactly what the skin needs to minimise damage and enhance the repair process.
The Aloe Gel that we have ‘bottled’ here for quick access has been further enhanced with Calendula tea and Lavender Hydrosol and their inherent healing properties. All ingredients are pure and organic to ensure that the active compounds are intact to work nature’s full magic healing and soothing. Slather it on until the heat ebbs. Apply at least 3-6 times to ensure saturation.
ORGANIC LAVENDER anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, analgesic, anti-oxidant
Basically one of the most calming, healing essential oils available, Lavender is wonderfully gentle on the skin and well known for its power on burns - including on pain and discomfort. There are various Lavender species, some of which contain higher concentrations of camphor that will not feel good on a burn, so it is important to be clear that we are talking about organic Lavender True or Lavender Sweet. Either of these can generally be applied direct to small burns (with the pure organic Lavender that I source, I have never encountered an adverse reaction to neat applications but it’s always good to proceed with caution for sensitive skin). And for larger body areas:
- add 25 drops of Lavender essential oil in a tepid bath, soak for 15min
- 15 drops in a tablespoon of Aloe Vera Gel, apply to affected area liberally
- Spray cool, distilled Lavender water on the body for quick relief and safe, gentle healing
- 1 drop of Lavender to 1ml of your moisturiser or body oil (preferably organic & natural also)
Number two: the quickest natural boost to skin nutrition for feeling summer soft and supple
ORGANIC AVOCADO OIL will rehydrate and replenish sun-damaged skin super fast
Not only really nourishing and packed with minerals and lipids that the skin requires, it is also quickly absorbed to leave the skin feeling instantly softer and more supple. It is high in antioxidants that work to combat free radicals caused by sun damage and also contains about factor 4 natural UV protection. Don't stop with this one when the sunburn subsides; keep it for absolutely the best natural moisturizer. Just add a drop of Lavender if you prefer a little added aroma and extra burn relief.
PURE H2O – drink as much water as you can to help your body rehydrate deep into your skin cells
Number three: a little know-how to find the best natural sunscreens for healthier skin
Here at Absolute Essential we work with pure plant ingredients and though many of them do feature highly in natural sunscreen products due to their powerful skin-conditioning compounds, we do not currently handle our own sunscreen product. It might be one to collaborate on in the future, but for now simply a word of advice to point you in the right direction.
You should know that New Zealand and Australian Standards Agencies changed legislation on sunscreen products in a bid to protect consumers from misleading product information. And USA Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its sixth annual report on leading global sunscreen brands, rejecting 75% of them out of hand for inconsistent claims and toxic ingredients.
Without getting too scientific, higher-energy UVB rays are the ones that burn us most (and can bind to our DNA and cause cancer). UVA rays are less fierce but greater in quantity and they go deeper. These rays generate more of the free radicals that can damage DNA and tissue, so these too are connected to cancer as well as premature ageing.
- You should always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen
But wait. Though we can screen against UV free radicals, the same screen cream has ingredients that react with sun energy and release yet more free radicals into the skin. The general consensus is that it is still better to use sunscreen than not.
But what exactly is a free radical? It is an unstable atom that floats around looking to steal what it needs from the nearest stable atom. Which starts a chain reaction that can kill cells and cause disease. Free radicals are a big deal because our modern environments and diets already give us more than we can easily handle. And they accumulate with age.
- Look for a sunscreen with natural antioxidants
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and allow them to be expelled from the system naturally. Vitamin E is very effective (see Avocado oil above), Vitamin C also, plus it boosts the antioxidant value of vitamin E. Certain pure essential oils have strong antioxidant properties also (check out Lavender above). Currently there is little control or consumer information on free radical protection in sunscreens so it is good to improve your chances with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables too.
But that is not the end of it.
Many of the 75% rejected by EWG are sunscreens still on the shelves that contain harmful ingredients.
- Avoid Paba, Vitamin A, Oxybenzone and Nanotechnology
Get out the reading glasses and check the small print! Even natural ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that get the thumbs up are potentially harmful when included in tiny nano-particle form. Oxybenzone messes with hormones and can cause allergies. Vitamin A has been linked in tests to skin cancer. And Paba can be a skin irritant for many people. Check here for more information.
My advice is to buy from a reputable holistic healthcare source where you will be able to find out all the relevant information to side-step the undesirables.
After a little research in the office, we are all ready to try Oasis Sun but if you already have a favourite that is well tried and researched please let us know - with all the bad stuff out there, the good ones should definitely be brought out in the sunlight!
Medicinal-grade Therapeutic Plant Oils must be 100% pure. At Absolute Essential we use certified organic or wild grown (sustainable) plants to produce our oils and all extraction processes are strictly controlled to produce the best quality oil with a maximum purity and therapeutic value.See more atAbsolute Essential.