Staying safe in the sun – naturally

August 9, 2018 6:45 am Published by Leave your thoughts

If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that summer in the UK isn’t always quite as certain as it’s been this year. There’s usually a short burst of it round about May – and a more prolonged period just as the schools are about to return in August. But it’s not generally something you can rely on. And perhaps that’s why, when it does make an appearance, people in this country have a tendency to go a little crazy.

‘This year’s T-shirt tan line will be of the round-necked variety’, announced my cousin after the first blast of sun in May last year. Desperate to get enough rays before they disappeared, he wasn’t bothering with sun-cream at all.

Amusing as his subsequent facebook pictures were, perhaps he should have bothered. Even in this country, it’s necessary to protect ourselves properly from the sun. And if you’re going somewhere much more reliably hot, it’s absolutely essential.

What’s the problem with the sun?

The problem lies with the ultraviolet (UVA and UVB) rays from the sun. They ‘burn’ the top layer of our skin, killing the skin cells (even a slight redness is termed a ‘light’ sunburn). Sunburn results in age spots, dryness and wrinkles. Ultimately, of course, it can lead to skin cancer.

What’s the answer?

The answer isn’t simply to ‘stay out of the sun’, especially in this country, where its appearance can be fleeting. The sun is our life-source. Those same UVB rays convert the cholesterol found in our skin into Vitamin D, which is essential for every organ system in our body to function properly. Sunshine also boosts our immune system, helps build our bones, promotes good mental health and may well protect us from some of the more serious nasty diseases.

Sun-cream?

We know that our customers aren’t generally fond of slathering themselves with unnecessary chemical lotions. Health concerns have been raised about some of the formulas on the market, particularly when used frequently. At Naturally Good Food we stock something a little different: a range of organic, natural, highly effective, high-SPF, sun-creams for adults and children.

These will need to be applied regularly, especially after swimming, vigorous exercise or having been buried by your grandchildren in the sand. And they need to be applied everywhere. As a wonderful old lady once remarked to me on a boat trip in Bruges: ‘one always forgets the back of one’s ankles’. You’ll need to protect your lips, too, as well as the tops of your ears, under your chin, your nose and hands. According to skin cancer charities, the majority of skin cancers occur in frequently forgotten areas.

Or not?

 

We’ve also got some straightforward, entirely natural, commonsense ways to stay safe in the sun that don’t involve sun-cream at all. You might know some of them already – but it never hurts to be reminded.

  • Protect your skin with clothing. Loose, long-sleeved clothing is best, along with a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Protect your eyes: UV rays damage eyes too, sometimes seriously. Get some proper sunglasses that block at least 99% of UV light.
  • Wherever you are, avoid the period when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. You really don’t have to be a mad dog or an Englishman: stay away from the midday sun!
  • Build up your exposure gradually (easier of course, where sunshine is guaranteed). As your skin becomes accustomed to the sun, it produces more melanin, a protective pigment, dispersing this throughout your body. With gradual exposure, your body’s natural protection steadily increases.
  • Stay hydrated on the inside: skin that has the correct balance of moisture is better protected from the sun, being more pliable. Drink plenty of water – and when you’re not drinking water, choose something else hydrating, such as coconut water.
  • Stay hydrated on the outside: after bathing, or in the evening, massage your skin with coconut oil or after-sun, to lock in the moisture.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Sunburn is a kind of inflammation: a healthy diet protects against this and makes your body better able to deal with it if it occurs. You need a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals – all the kinds of things we’re so hot on at Naturally Good Food!
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This post was written by Yzanne

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