With much of the US and Europe currently enduring a record-breaking heatwave, now seems like the appropriate time to remind and educate ourselves on some of the ways we can take a natural approach to stay safe in the sun this summer.
In extreme cases, such as those being reported in Canada (2018), it has even been proved to be deadly with casualties as a result of the extreme heat. Sunstroke, sunburn, and dehydration are just some of the other potential health hazards encountered at this time of the year, with the young and the elderly, particularly at risk. So here are a few essential tips on how you can stay safe in the sun and what better way to tackle the heat- than with a few natural remedies!
Natural Remedies for Sun Protection
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1 Time Of Day
Avoiding the sun during its hottest hours (between 10 am and 3 pm) is a sensible way to avoid some of the potential issues caused by sun exposure.
However, many experts do believe that we are still vulnerable to skin damage throughout the course of the day, even if you may not see or feel any of the immediate consequences, such as redness or tingling sensations that you might expect, you may still be at risk.
UVA and UVB rays are the main skin-damaging components of sunlight. UVB causes you to burn and develop a tan, while UVA penetrates deeper into your skin and can cause long-term changes to your skin such as sunspots or wrinkles.
UVB rays peak in intensity when the sun is furthest overhead, with lower levels in the morning and evening. Unfortunately, those UVA rays remain relatively consistent throughout the day, meaning you are still at risk from potential damage early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
So, while it is not completely safe to sunbathe in the morning or later in the day, it is still much more advisable than hitting the beach at 1 pm.
2 Stay Hydrated!
With increasingly high temperatures, our bodies lose more water through sweating and evaporation as it works to keep itself cool. If we don’t drink enough water, we become susceptible to both heatstroke and dehydration.
Heatstroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to the sun or overexertion during physical exercise. Heatstroke may occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher.
While it is obvious that we must drink water every day, it is even more important during these achingly hot days to stay hydrated. 2.5 litres of fluids (which can include things like tea, buttermilk and soup) is the recommended.
While it is, of course, vital to use sunscreen during these long hot summer days, choosing the right sunscreen is actually just as important.
Unfortunately, most lotions and creams are loaded with parabens, colourants and petrochemicals, that don’t necessarily offer the protection you need, so it is vital that we avoid any of the sunscreens that could potentially cause undue harm to our skin and body.
While there are many different brands making all kinds of claims to protect you from the sun, it is important to look beyond advertising and actually check the back of the packaging to see what lurks inside the creams we slather over our bodies every couple of hours.
Some brands will use catchy slogans like “all natural” or “toxin-free” and while their claims may not necessarily be false, guidelines in this area of marketing are flimsy at best, so such proclamations should be taken with caution.
One of the worst chemicals found in many sunscreens is oxybenzone, which has been linked to skin damage and hormone imbalances. Retinyl palmitate is another of the more common chemicals found in sunscreens. This particular chemical is considered to be a potential carcinogen.
Better options for your skin during the summer months are natural mineral-based sunscreens, typically made from zinc or titanium.
These sunscreens help to reflect the sun, by reducing exposure while also helping to prevent the absorption of other unnecessary chemicals into your skin.
Zinc is also considered to be a vital ingredient in sunscreen as it can help to heal your skin if you have suffered sunburn on a previous day.
It is important to get the right amount of UV protection while you are enjoying the sun, you should always apply sunscreen lotion before going outside, as the sun can cause benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) tumours which can be life-threatening. So don’t be afraid to use it in large amounts to cover as much of your body as you can. You might look like Casper, but surely it’s better to look like a ghost than to be one!
And don’t forget - sunscreen does wear off, so to give yourself the best protection, it is recommended to regularly re-apply throughout the day. Every couple of hours should be fine unless you are swimming, in which case, apply more frequently.
If you would like more information on natural sunscreen or other wellness topics, please visit our friends at Postivehealthwellness.com.
They have a helpful guide to help you pick the right natural sunscreens to keep you safe in the sun this summer and have even got you covered with sunscreen recommendations for the kids, to protect the most delicate of skin naturally.
4 Cover Your Body!
A hat is an effective way of keeping out the sun, and while they may not always look especially fashionable, wide brim hats are particularly effective as a brim that runs entirely around the hat will help to protect your nose, eyes, cheeks, ears, and neck from the dangers of the sun.
Our eyes are particularly sensitive to UV rays and much like your skin, are also susceptible to damage when exposed to both UVA and UVB rays. To avoid any potential long-term damage such as cataracts or diminished vision, it is important to wear sunglasses that offer 100% UVA and UVB protection.
Ideally, your sunglasses should fit tightly around your face, wrapping around the sides of your eyes. This stops light from entering both below and above your eyes and while you may end up looking like the Terminator, you will also help to protect the sensitive skin that is so vulnerable to potential sun damage.
Hasta la vista damaged vision!
5 Take a Break!
Of course, the best, most natural way to avoid sun damage, is simply, by getting out of it!
While we might be busy having too much fun in the sun, our bodies may well be suffering. If you are feeling too hot, find the shade, don’t over-exert yourself. Rest, pace yourself and don’t ignore the warning signs of fatigue, dizziness or dry mouth. If you are feeling unwell, seek medical attention.
While the summer may seem like fun and games…. the sun is no joke and can cause permanent damage. It is so important to be vigilant and attentive to your body’s needs during this exceptionally hot weather.
Respect the sun when you’re having fun this summer. Your life may just depend on it.