The sun’s warm rays are a magical source of healing and beauty. The right amount can energize you on a cellular level, give your skin a beautiful golden tone, ward off bacteria and improve a wide variety of skin issues. However, when it comes to sun exposure, balance is key. Too much sun can interact with unsaturated fats in the skin tissue and free radicals leading to sunburn, photodamaged and skin aging. 1, 2
For most people, the solution to these issues is sunblock. However, as we discuss in this previous article, most conventional sunblocks contain a wide variety of toxic chemicals that may only increase your risk for skin damage. Discover 5 natural ways to protect your skin from the sun and reap its beautifying benefits.
Natural Sun Protection Tips
1. Topical Vitamin E
The skin tissue is naturally rich in vitamin E, which is a protective substance that slowly destroyed by chronic sun exposure, stress, and aging. Due to its protective, antioxidant effects, vitamin E can reduce the incidence of both acute and chronic damage to the skin (i.e. sunburn, pigmentation, and skin cancer. In fact, studies have found that when mice are induced with ultraviolet (UV) irradiation while supplementing vitamin E, that they show no signs of toxicity and had significantly less acute and chronic skin damage, which was indicated by reduced inflammation and pigmentation and no incidence of skin cancer. 3
Keep in mind that vitamin E is best taken topically for treating skin issues. We suggest applying a natural or synthetic form of vitamin E oil directly to the skin after sun exposure. You can also use natural, non-toxic products that contain vitamin E-rich oils like our Gold Serum to protect the skin from inflammation. Also, studies have proven that combining some vitamin C with vitamin E yields more potent antioxidative protection. So you might also consider mixing a little ascorbic acid with your vitamin E oil before application. 4, 5
2. Topical Caffeine & Niacinamide
Niacinamide or vitamin B3 is a potent regulator of cell metabolism and can promote skin cell regeneration, making it a wonderful skin protective agent. What’s more, is that when combined with caffeine, it can actually have a sunblock effect. Furthermore, the polyphenols found in green tea applied before sun exposure can cause an increase of the minimal erythema dose (the amount of UV the skin can resist before burning), decreases the number of pro-inflammatory immune cells and together reduce DNA damage in the skin. 6, 7
3. Vitamin A (retinoid)
Vitamin A is another powerful antioxidant that has skin rejuvenating and protecting effects. In study, it has been shown to be able to reduce the signs of UV-induced early skin aging, such as wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity and pigmentation. Two things to keep in mind is that vitamin A is volatile, so its best to apply it after sun exposure, not before. So do not apply vitamin A to the skin then go into the sun. Secondly, the retinol form of vitamin A, which is typically animal derived, is the best form of vitamin A. Our Gold Serum has a patented plant-derived vitamin A that shares a similar structure to retinoid. 8
Regular exfoliation may not directly protect your skin from the sun; however, it can help systemically. Exfoliating the skin can help to remove any damaged skin cells from the skin’s surface, which not only improves your complexion but can encourage the genesis of new, healthier skin cells. When it comes to exfoliation, most conventional methods can be much too abrasive, which is why we recommend the use of Clay Masks. They provide gentle, yet effective exfoliation that also promotes blood circulation, which can assist your skin in its own regeneration processes.
To learn how to use a Clay Mask for safe and healthy exfoliation, be sure to check this post out.
5. Moisturize Regularly
Routine moisturizing, granted you use the right stuff, can be a simple and highly effective way to ensure the skin stays hydrated and resilient to various stressors, including sun exposure. If the skin is dehydrated and dry, it will be more prone to damage and also look much less healthy. When it comes to moisturizing, we have a few time-tested favorites, including extra virgin olive oil (rich in vitamin E), aloe vera, cacao butter (rich in protective fatty acids), and raw honey.
Each one of these ingredients can be found in the Alitura Moisturizer, and we share in detail the science behind their beneficial effects on the skin.
6. Optimize Your Diet
As the largest organ, the skin is directly affected by the functioning of your internal organs and especially your gut. The condition of the skin is often a mere reflection of the condition of the digestive system. Taking care of your intestines with an easy-to-digest nourishing diet can help provide your skin with antioxidants and nutrients that can strengthen the skin. In fact, we have briefly covered some of them, but there are countless antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that can help protect and repair the skin from damage.
Aside from keeping a healthy digestive system, there are key nutrients that you might want to incorporate daily to include in your everyday meals to support the health of your skin, including vitamin C, E, and A as well as zinc. Good sources of these nutrients include fresh orange juice, citrus, egg yolks, beef liver, oysters, and extra virgin olive oil. 9
A, as well as zinc. Good sources of these nutrients include fresh orange juice, citrus, egg yolks, beef liver, oysters, and extra virgin olive oil. 9
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s wonderful that the body is capable of regeneration and that there are things we can do to accelerate the process. However, we will save ourselves a great deal of time and effort by taking preventative measures. With that being said, here are a few tips additional to help you prevent sun damage:
Avoid Burning & Work Your Way Up: Did you know sunburn is essentially an allergic reaction to excess sun exposure? It is your body’s way of telling you that you have more than your fair share of vitamin D3. So the simplest way to avoid damage from the sun is to simply avoid burning. Granted that you're generally healthy and do not have many unsaturated fatty acids in your skin tissue, then you should not experience skin damage from the sun unless you burn. That being said, we recommend aiming for only 5-15 minutes of direct sun exposure during peak time (10am-4pm), slowly working your way up. Over time, you can even build your body's tolerance to the sun and be able to endure long durations of sun exposure without burning.
- Apply a Solution of Caffeine & Niacinamide: As we shared, both caffeine and niacinamide can act like sunblock, as well as stimulate skin regeneration. These are both water-soluble substances so you can purchase caffeine pills and niacinamide powder and add them to a spray bottle of filtered water and apply before going outside.