Did you know that your skin is actually an organ that helps convert sunlight into vitamin D? And the more of it that is exposed to the sun, the more you body is able to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for hormonal and brain health. Our skin also plays a critical role in protecting our internal body from toxins and bacteria. Follow these three essential recommendations to help keep your skin functioning optimally so you can enjoy the outdoors with ease.
1. Protect what your momma gave you
Whether your ancestry draws from the global south or not, excessive sun exposure may damage your skin. Yet, most store bought sunscreens have harmful chemicals and toxins and are not safe sun protection. You can make your own safe sunscreen or research popular brands to buy one that suits you.
Sunscreen alone is not protection enough. It is important to be mindful of how much time you spend in direct sunlight without compromising your ability to produce vitamin D. The closer to midday you expose your skin, the better for vitamin D but also for burning.
The key to healthy sun exposure is to never get burned. It is through burning that skin cells are damaged and become susceptible to further disease and even skin cancer.
At the beginning of summer go out in the sun gradually, as little as 10 minutes a day. Continue to increase your time in the sun so you are able to have normal sun exposure with little risk of skin cancer. During midday heat, try alternating between sunshine and shade during every 30 minutes or so.
Finally, wear a brimmed hat, sunglasses and keep a light layers handy made of breathable fabric to help keep cool and safe from powerful UV rays. These are effective and non toxic ways to stay protected in the summer heat without compromising vitamin D production.
2. Cleanse away what no longer serves you
A chemical free, natural soap with warm water is all you need for a daily cleanser. Adding dry skin brushing and gentle exfoliation once or twice a week is an important summer cleansing practice for softer and brighter skin. Both approaches help ensure sweat, dirt, bacteria and other toxins we may have picked up outdoors don’t make their way into our bodies through our pores. But check the labels on your products. Just like sunscreen, most store-bought products are laden with chemicals and harmful toxins. Find local makers of scrubs, body butters and cleansers with wholesome or food grade ingredients for your personal hygiene. If you are in Hamilton, check out moderne child mommy and me or our friends at Stone & Shadow .
When exfoliating, be mindful not to over do it, stripping away too much of your top layer can leave your skin susceptible to more sun damage. It is important to follow up all cleansing routines with nourishing oils like shea, coconut, almond and even olive oil to support your skin cell growth but also create a barrier.
Dry skin brushing particularly also helps boost our immune system by stimulating lymphatic flow. Lymph is a colourless fluid containing white blood cells that pass through vessels, ducts and nodes just under the skin surface. By stimulating its flow our white blood cells can travel throughout the body more efficiently.
3. Nourish your skin from the inside out
What you consume can lead to resilient and beautiful skin, especially if it is vibrant, colourful, whole foods. Dark leafy greens like kale, arugula, and even broccoli offer lutein and zeaxanthin which promote skin cell health and protection from sun damage. Orange and yellow foods like citrus and squashes offer vitamin C which acts as an antioxidant and carotenoids which are plant chemicals. Both help reduce the effects of UVB radiation. Watermelon contains lycopene, which prevents sunburn and skin cancer while ruby red pomegranate seeds strengthen the skin’s top layer. The other skin nourishing food group is healthy fats like avocado, olives, coconut oil, nuts and seeds. These offer essential fatty acids that help hydrate the skin and provide sun protection.
Foods rich in antioxidants and that also provide anti-inflammatory benefits can reduce redness by 35% when exposed to UV rays. Studies also show that Omega 3 fatty acid can reduce the risk of skin cancer by 40%. Eating nourishing foods gives nutrients to your skin for its first line of defence. Check our our E-Cookbook for recipes that feature these nutrient rich foods.
It is important to be well hydrated before heading outdoors in the summer heat. You can stay hydrated with water, iced herbal teas, infused drinks and plant foods like cucumber and watermelon. Be mindful of avoiding sweetened drinks made with refined sugar as they can dry out your skin and cause inflammation.
Be safe, eat nutrient-rich foods that nourish your skin, stay hydrated and have fun getting your Vitamin D and shine on this summer!