Continuing on the grapeseed oil moisturizer theme, let’s talk about sunscreen. I have mostly Irish ancestry, with blue eyes and fair skin that freckles (and burns) easily. The up-side of being a burner instead of a tanner is that I learned very early in life that baking myself in the sun wasn’t a good idea. I’ve never been to a tanning bed, and while my friends in high school were covering themselves in baby oil and lying on sheets of aluminum foil, I was sitting in the shade or wearing sunscreen. For several years, I was diligent about wearing sunscreen all the time (late teens, early twenties).
Just before my husband and I got married, we bought wide-brimmed Columbia hats, which have turned into one of our best purchases ever. It’s been more than eight years and the hats are still going strong – and we wear them nearly every day. Pretty much every time we leave the house we have our hats. The brims are wide enough that they cover our faces, ears and necks. I’ve noticed that my freckles are a lot lighter than they were in my pre-hat days. For several years now, we’ve been focused on making sure we’re getting enough Vitamin D from the sun (we supplement in the winter when UVB rays are in short supply, but get it naturally in the summer), but we make sure we’re getting sun exposure on our legs rather than our faces, since facial skin is so much more delicate and prone to sun damage.
For about the past four or five years, I’ve taken the hat concept one step further. Most of the time, I try to wear a cover-up when I’m in the sun. I bought a light weight linen zip-up jacket at a thrift store years ago, and I keep it by the back door all summer. In the house, I’m usually wearing a tank top, but I grab the jacket before I head out if we’re going to be outside for more than a minute or two. My shoulders and chest have always been prone to reddening easily in the sun, but that hasn’t happened at all since I’ve been using my cover-up jacket. I do the same thing with our sons: lightweight long sleeve shirts are great. Yes, it’s been a hot summer, but I’ve actually found that my arms feel cooler in the jacket than without, if the sun is beating down on us (it’s an off-white jacket – don’t do this with dark clothes in 100 degree weather!) As an added bonus, long sleeves also work well to keep mosquitoes at bay.
With my hat/jacket combo, I rarely wear sunscreen anymore. But sometimes it’s a must. Last weekend, we met up with a bunch of my husband’s family to take all the kids to a nearby water park. Our three-year-old wore a long-sleeved rash guard, but a hat wasn’t very practical, so he had sunscreen on his face. I thought about just wearing regular clothes, but I wanted to get in the water with our son (my husband and I took turns staying on land with our baby), so I wore my bikini and slathered on the sunscreen.
Back when I ditched all of our personal care products with questionable ingredients, none of our sunscreens made the cut. They were all loaded with toxic crud and there was no way I was going to use them on myself or my family anymore. I switched to mostly being in the shade or covering up, but I knew we needed some sunscreen for times when neither of those options was practical. By the way, I have never liked the idea of spray-on sunscreen (even back when I was using drug store sunscreen), simply because they stink so much and it was obvious to me that putting them on would likely involve inhaling toxins. I have since settled on two sunscreens that our family uses: Dr. Mercola’s Natural Sunscreen, and California Baby. Both work well and I don’t have concerns about the safety of their ingredients. My fair, sensitive skin approves of both of them too. They’re more expensive than regular sunscreen, but since we don’t use them every day, we don’t have to purchase them nearly as often as I did back before I stared covering up instead.
In addition to covering up or using a non-toxic sunscreen, we also eat tons of vegetables – antioxidants help protect our skin from the inside out, so load up on the veggies!
What are your favorite sunscreens and/or natural ways of avoiding sunburns?