If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably already experienced your first sunburn of the season. It’s always my goal every summer to avoid getting burnt but that short drive a couple weeks ago with the sunroof open just had to be done and I was clearly underestimating the power of the sun that day. Aside from (obviously) wearing sunscreen, here are a few extra tips to help protect your skin this summer.
Boost your antioxidant status.
While increasing the amount of antioxidant-rich foods in your diet can help your body protect against UV damage, it’s definitely not a replacement for sunscreens, which help block UV rays from damaging your skin in the first place. Boosting antioxidant status can be helpful in the long run for overall tissue health and can act as a buffer for helping your skin recover from any sunburn. Foods high in antioxidants are said to have a high “ORAC value”, which is a fancy acronym for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. These foods include acai berry, cacao powder, and a number of herbs and spices such as cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, basil and oregano. Try adding a few of these spices to your meals for a little added protection.
Tomatoes have been shown to have protective effects for skin exposed to UV radiation. Tomatoes contain an ingredient called lycopene, which has been shown to offer sun protection when consumed orally in the appropriate quantity. But it’s not just a couple cherry tomatoes that are going to give you that protection. Lycopene is a fat-soluble ingredient, meaning it needs to be taken with a fat source, like olive oil. Lightly cooking a generous handful of tomatoes on low heat with 1-2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil is an excellent way to extract this important ingredient. Think Mediterranean tomato-based dishes for summertime meals to help get your daily dose of lycopene.
The tried and true Aloe vera
Aloe vera for sunburns is a well-known folk remedy with the evidence to back it up. A number of studies have shown that Aloe vera helps reduce the inflammation and pain associated with a burn. For that reason, it’s a great after-sun product to have around. While the quality of various Aloe vera products may be questionable, the best source is straight from the plant itself. Simply break off a piece of Aloe and apply the liquid to your skin. Studies have shown that Aloe can be beneficial for superficial or partial thickness thermal burns, meaning only mild to moderate sunburns. Anything above and beyond a mild sunburn should be seen by a health care professional and Aloe alone may not be the best treatment for a more significant burn.
In addition to a broad-spectrum sunscreen, these tips can help give you that added protection again the sun’s rays. Enjoy your summer safely!