As the days get warmer, and I’m trading out my ice scraper for my summer essentials in my minivan, sunscreen and sun hats are two of my must-haves. Our family spends a lot of time outside, and most of our weekends on a boat. One thing I have learned is that getting sun exposure is not bad, it’s actually amazing when done correctly. Just like most other things in the health world, there is an optimal amount of sun exposure with therapeutic benefit, as well as an excessive amount where it becomes harmful.
Top 10 tips for a healthy relationship with the sun:
Start the spring sun exposure slowly. Intentionally spend time in the sun, but for limited quantities of time.
Adequate Vitamins C/E and healthy fat intake has been cited to reduce sunburn.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends avoiding sunscreen use on your babies until at least 6 months of age. Keep them in the shade (or under a sun umbrella/tent) or covered with sun hats and sun clothing.
Look for sunscreens that are biodegradable, reef and eco-friendly, organic and contain non-nano zinc. Zinc oxide (uncoated) should be the only active ingredient.
Sunscreens that protect against UVA and UVB rays are ideal.
Our favorites are Badger, ThinkBaby and ThinkSport. I actually prefer ones that are a little thicker so that I can see where I have indeed applied.
Avoid aerosol sprays. Although these are convenient, it’s almost impossible to avoid inhaling the sunscreen particles into little lungs and the ingredients in them are typically toxic.
Homemade sunscreens recipes are readily available online. But be aware that there are some serious considerations before relying on these for protection. Make sure you are using effective ingredients and handling them in a safe manner.
Certain essential oils (like citrus) and salves should not be applied before sun exposure as these can significantly increase the likelihood of sun damage.
In case of a sunburn, we always keep aloe, Nordaker Naturals Healing Salve, lavender essential oil and vinegar close by. Remove the heat of sunburned skin by immediately applying cold Bragg’s apple cider vinegar compresses until skin cools down.
Find other great tips and tricks, as well as the current year’s most effective sunscreen, at the EWG’s website: ewg.org/sunscreen