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  • Writer's pictureRedwood Naturopathic Medicine

How to Protect Your Skin This Summer

As the days get warmer, we all head outside! The sun has a lot of excellent benefits, but long-term exposure is something to be aware of. Prolonged sun exposure and frequent burns can damage skin cells, sun spots, and skin cancer. UV rays from the sun penetrate the skin and cause skin damage. But there are many ways to protect your skin and enjoy the sunshine, including eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, choosing the right sunscreen, and wearing a hat!



Consuming a diet full of antioxidants helps fight the free radicals caused by UV radiation and sun exposure. A diet consisting of around 80% fruits and vegetables is the best way to maximize your antioxidant consumption. The fruits/vegetables with the darkest color contain the highest amount of antioxidants: berries, dark leafy greens, purple cabbage, etc.

Essential Fatty Acids:

The appropriate ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is crucial for the health and look of the skin. It has been shown that some omega-3 fatty acids lessen UV-induced photo-damage, aging-related skin changes, and inflammatory reactions. The appropriate ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is crucial for the health and look of the skin. It has been demonstrated that some omega-3 fatty acids can lessen UV-induced photo-damage, aging-related skin changes, and inflammatory reactions. The structural integrity of the skin and the functioning of the skin barrier is supported by omega-6 essential fatty acids.

•Great sources of omega six and omega three fatty acids are avocado, extra virgin olive oil, sardines, freshwater salmon, nuts/seeds, coconut oil, and avocado oil.


Choose SPF 30:

A higher SPF gives an illusion that you are better protected, but this is not always the case. It is more important to remember to reapply every 2 hours as it loses effectiveness over time.

Pick a sunscreen with UVA and UVB:

Some sunscreens only block UVA or UVB rays, but we are looking to get protection from both. UVA rays can penetrate the skin deeply and contribute to issues such as premature aging, dark spots, and skin tanning. Whereas UVB is more superficial and is what causes the redness of a burn.

Avoid tanning oils:

Tanning oils can leave the skin feeling moisturized and shiny, but it is important to remember these are often laden with fragrance and cut with other cheaper oils/additives. Tanning oils also often lack any SPF, but more and more are being made now with some SPF. If you opt to use tanning oil, limit your sun exposure as with no SPF, there is always the risk of burning.

Avoid spray sunscreen:

The spray sunscreens contain chemicals that are not necessarily safe to inhale (which is hard not to do when spraying it everywhere) and aren't necessarily safe for the environment. It is best just to avoid the spray sunscreens altogether.

•Avoid sunscreens containing oxybenzone:

Oxybenzone is an active ingredient found in almost all sunscreens. Oxybenzone is a known skin irritant and endocrine disruptor, . The European Commission found human exposure levels at the current moment are too high and changed their current concentration to 2.2%, whereas in the US, our current concentration rate per product is about 6%.

Which Sunscreen to Choose:

To find more information on which sunscreens are best for your health and the environment, check out the environmental working group!



The sun provides its most intense and harmful rays, particularly between 10 am and 4 pm. So choosing to avoid the sun or wear sun protective clothing during these times is the best way to protect your skin during the summertime.

Sun Protective clothing:

This is a great alternative to chemical sunscreens. Hats, umbrellas, UV protective clothing, shoes, and sunglasses are all great options to cover the skin during these peak hours.

Monitor UV Exposure:

Temperature and UV are two very different things. UV rays can be damaging even when it is cloudy/cold outside. An easy way to check the UV index is using the weather app on your phone or checking a weather website. A safe to be outside index would be 0 to 2. When the index reaches a 3 to 7 range, taking precautions such as sunscreen, shade, or sun protective clothing is essential. An eight or above, it is best to stay inside and wear some type of sun protection if you need to go outside.

Get Regular Skin Checks,

It is always essential to have your naturopathic doctor or dermatologist do a skin check at least once a year to monitor any changes or concerns that might arise.

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