It sounds scary and it is: UVA and UVB damage the skin resulting in wrinkles, aging, skin cancers and reduced immunity. Melanoma skin cancer rates are consistently rising and with summer sun shining in all parts of Canada, we want to be able to enjoy ourselves outdoors. Follow these tips and protect your precious skin cells.
Surviving the Summer Sun
Dress appropriately. Wear a hat, long-sleeved, breathable tops (especially those that provide UV protection) and sunglasses
Use a quality sunscreen that limits the absorption of both UVA and UVB. Ensure that it is waterproof and sweat proof.
Keep well hydrated. Take water with you and adjust your intake dependant on weather. Dehydration not only affects the skin’s appearance in the short term, but prolonged periods of inadequate fluid intake affects elasticity and smoothness in the lower skin layers, creating wrinkles and poor skin tone.
Avoid excess sugar. Dietary sugar in the blood attaches itself to collagen and elastin, inflaming it, and breaking it down which is the start of the aging process
Consume adequate protein. Protein is the building block to form a new cell. Proline, glycine and lysine are amino acids that are essential for the production of new cells and collagen in the skin, and they also increase skin cell resistance to UV radiation.
Grape seed extract contains active ingredients called OPC’s (oligomeric proanthocyadines) that are powerful antioxidants (20 times more powerful than Vit E, and 50 times more powerful than Vit C). OPC’s bind to the collagen in the skin, protecting it from harmful UV radiation and oxidation. OPC’s also inhibit excessive histamine production in the skin, helping to control rashes and inflammation from the sun, and prevent skin disorders such eczema and psoriasis.
Vitamin C is required to stimulate the enzymes that convert immature pro-collagen into strong mature collagen. Without Vitamin C, collagen cannot be produced.
Genistein, a phyto-estrogen, supports and rejuvenates mature skin post menopause. It protects the DNA of skin cells from sun and environmental damage by up to 100% and increases fibroblastic synthesis of collagen by up to 200%.
Omega 3 fats control the inflammatory prostaglandin series in the skin and other tissues. They also regulate immune substrates that when stimulated by the sun’s UV rays, breakdown collagen. They also reduce oxidative damage from the UV light directly, and decrease photosensitivity. In addition, Omega 3 fats are natural skin softeners and moisturizers.
Treating a Sunburn
Aloe Vera Gel. The aloe plant contains many active ingredients such as amino acids and minerals, to glyco-proteins and polysaccharides. When applied topically to the skin, aloe has been shown to improve wound healing and soothe skin by reducing inflammation, accelerating cellular rejuvenation, improving vascular flow and inhibiting thromboxane production to reduce clotting that can impair healing.
Plain White Vinegar can be applied topically to sunburn. Although there is no strong scientific data behind this remedy, its cooling and antiseptic properties, and pH balancing effects can provide symptomatic relief.
Vitamin E Oil is used for several skin conditions as it penetrates the surface of the skin and works to ensure proper cellular functioning beneath. Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin with strong anti-oxidant properties that help protect healthy skin cells from the sun’s oxidative damage directly, or from further oxidation caused by sunburn itself. Vitamin E stimulates and contributes to the production of collagen and elastin, repairing and strengthening the skin.
Penny Kendall-Reed, ND