By Dianna Kasprzak
I remember as a teenager, sunbathing to get a tan. I really hated the process -- I would get so hot! Thankfully, as I grew older, I got busy with life's responsibilities, and simply didn't have time to lay around anymore -- whether indoors or outdoors!
When we consider our health, some amount of discussion about sun exposure is relevant, as caretakers of both our own bodies -- and the bodies of the little ones entrusted to us.
In short, our skin is our largest organ, and anything put on our skin, goes into our bloodstream. (It also washes off, polluting groundwater, lakes and rivers.) And thus enters the subject of sunscreen....it's toxic! It does not do a favor to our liver, the body's main detoxifying organ. When we apply creams and lotions to our skin -- most of which are toxic, unless carefully chosen -- our liver has to work overtime to remove the toxins, diverting it from the task of keeping us healthy. What happens when the liver becomes overloaded with the toxins the body receives through the mouth, put on the skin, or breathed? It can no longer manage the number of free radicals -- and cancer begins.
We lived 16 years on the island of Java, Indonesia -- the largest and most varied archipelago on earth, with over 18,000 islands hugging the earth's equator. We observed how the local people cared for their skin during long exposure times to the sun. They covered their heads. They covered their bodies. They did not sunbathe at the ocean's edge. Instead, they watched the crazy foreigners who did!
So what are some wiser approaches to our skin's summer care?
Wear a hat with a visor/brim.
Choose a natural fiber such as straw or cotton denim, as opposed to polyester. When the sun is more intense, you can tilt the position of your hat to provide more protection to your face. Shop second-hand and you can find inexpensive options.
Wear long sleeves when working in the yard and garden.
You might think wearing long sleeves in the heat of summer would be hot, but you will be surprised how cooling it can be. A man's shirt (one from your father, your husband, or again, thrift-store-acquired!) is roomy and comfortable.
Be sure it is 100% cotton and a lighter color or white, which will provide the best cooling effect. On particularly hot days, you can spray or douse the shirt with water, which creates an especially cooling effect!
Use unrefined, organic cold-pressed or centrifuged coconut oil on your skin before and after sun exposure.
Check the label and find one you can purchase locally or at your favorite online source. Here are a couple of options:
In Minnesota, Aldi's generally carries organic, unrefined, cold-pressed virgin coconut oil by Simply Nature, in a 14 fl oz jar.
You can also establish an account with the national buying club, Azure Standard, that specializes in organic and non-gmo products. Here is a link to one of their raw coconut oil products. You can also find these products at your local health food store.
I keep one jar specifically for skin care (cold-pressed or centrifuged) in the bathroom or bedroom for skin care use. I keep another cold-pressed jar in the kitchen, for use in raw energy bites and on hot cereal. I use refined (expeller pressed) for cooking, since it is less expensive. It is unnecessary when baking or cooking to use raw products, since they will be subjected to heat, thereby nullifying the raw feature of the oil.
Be sensible about how much sun you get.
In other words, take a little at a time. Some skin can handle more exposure, so know your body and pay attention to its cues! Babies and small children need to be guarded and protected. Keep them covered at all times with brimmed, cotton hats, and/or shaded by an umbrella or make-shift canopy. Their skin is thin, fragile -- and it is our duty to practice vigilance in their care and protection.
If over-exposure occurs, splash on organic raw apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is made from apples. During the fermentation process, beneficial bacteria is created. When purchased in its raw form (it will say "raw" on the label), it is rich in raw enzymes and antioxidants. Just like cold-pressed coconut oil, the nutrients in the vinegar will actually nourish your skin, taking away the sting (although you momentarily DO smell like a pickle, but it quickly goes away). If applying to your face, avoid the eyes and use sparingly.
Exercise care and common sense when putting vinegar on the faces of young children -- use only a drop or two with a few drops of water -- as the strong smell can be overpowering.
Here are some raw apple cider vinegar options, obtainable through Azure Standard Buying Club.
This is my summer skin care program.
It's simple, inexpensive, and it works.
To read more about sunscreen's toxicity, visit this website:
For comprehensive reviews on specific sunscreens -- and more natural alternatives for those who feel they need more -- visit the Kitchen Stewardship website. Katie Kimball also offers a printable document: https://www.kitchenstewardship.com/natural-mineral-sunscreen-reviews/