As the weather warms up and spring arrives, many of us are eager to spend more time outside. However, spending too much time in the sun can lead to painful sunburns and other skin damage. I know this from experience – I was so excited for spring that I spent all day outside yesterday helping our neighbor put up her pool, and ended up with a painful sunburn.
While conventional sunscreens can help prevent sunburn, they often contain chemicals that may cause allergic reactions and some studies have shown that they may be doing more harm than good. Fortunately, there are several natural ways to prevent and treat sunburn that are just as effective without the harmful side effects. And you won’t end up looking like a lobster like me this summer.
Preventing Sunburn Naturally
The easiest way to prevent sunburn is to cover up with clothing. Loose, lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and pants, as well as wide-brimmed hats, can protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Here are some options to consider:
- Tightly woven fabrics such as denim, cotton, and polyester provide better protection than loosely woven fabrics like linen or cotton gauze.
- Dark colors provide more protection than light colors.
- Synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester provide better protection than natural fibers like cotton or silk.
Another effective way to prevent sunburn is to seek shade. When outdoors, stay in the shade as much as possible, especially during peak sun hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). If you can’t find natural shade, bring an umbrella or pop-up tent to create your own.
Drinking plenty of water is essential for keeping your skin healthy and hydrated. When your skin is well-hydrated, it’s less likely to get sunburnt. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day, and if you’re spending time outdoors, drink even more to replace fluids lost through sweating.
Eat Sun-Protective Foods
Certain foods can help protect your skin from the inside out. Here are some foods to include in your diet:
- Berries: Rich in antioxidants that protect against sun damage
- Leafy greens: High in vitamin A, which can help repair skin damage caused by the sun
- Citrus fruits: Rich in vitamin C, which can help prevent skin damage caused by UV radiation
- Fatty fish: High in omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve your skin’s natural UV protection
- Nuts: Rich in vitamin E, which can help protect against sun damage
Use Natural Sun Protection
If you’re going to be outside for an extended period, consider using natural sun protection. Here are some options to consider:
- Zinc oxide: A natural mineral that reflects UV radiation
- Titanium dioxide: Another natural mineral that reflects UV radiation
- UV-protective clothing: Clothing made from special fabrics that provide extra protection from the sun
Natural Sunburn Tips
- Wear protective clothing made from tightly woven fabrics
- Seek shade during peak sun hours
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
- Eat sun-protective foods rich in antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin E
- Consider using natural sun protection like zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or UV-protective clothing
- Apply aloe vera gel to sunburnt skin for its anti-inflammatory properties
- Use cool compresses or take a cool bath to reduce inflammation and pain
- Apply coconut oil to moisturize sunburnt skin
- Take an oatmeal bath to soothe and heal sunburnt skin
- Stay out of the sun to avoid further damage to your skin.
Treating Sunburn Naturally
Aloe vera is a natural anti-inflammatory that can help soothe and heal sunburnt skin. Apply aloe vera gel directly to the affected area as often as needed. For an extra cooling effect, store the aloe vera gel in the fridge before applying.
Applying cool compresses to sunburnt skin can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Soak a clean cloth in cold water and apply it to the affected area for 10-15 minutes at a time. Alternatively, you can take a cool bath or shower to help ease discomfort.
Coconut oil is a natural moisturizer that can help soothe and hydrate sunburnt skin. Apply a thin layer of coconut oil to the affected area and let it soak in. Repeat as often as needed to keep your skin moisturized.
Taking an oatmeal bath can help soothe and heal sunburnt skin. Add a cup of colloidal oatmeal (finely ground oatmeal) to your bathwater and soak for 15-20 minutes. The oatmeal will help reduce inflammation and itching, leaving your skin feeling soft and smooth.
Stay out of the Sun
The best way to treat sunburn is to avoid further exposure to the sun. If possible, stay indoors or in the shade until your skin has had a chance to heal. If you do need to go outside, wear protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to shield your skin from further damage.
Always Try to Use Natural Ways to Prevent and Treat Sunburns
Sunburns can be painful and uncomfortable, but there are several natural remedies and preventative measures you can take to protect your skin from the sun. By following these tips, you can keep your skin healthy and safe while enjoying the outdoors.
As for me, I learned my lesson the hard way. I was so excited for spring that I spent all day outside without taking any precautions, and ended up with a painful sunburn. But I hope my experience can serve as a cautionary tale and encourage you to take the necessary steps to protect your skin from the sun. By using these tips and natural remedies, you can avoid my fate and keep your skin healthy and glowing all season long.