Despite what we might believe, there are actually quite a few ways to avoid a sunburn and surprisingly, it’s not all about SPF. Yes, sunscreen is important and I cover myself with it daily, but there are some other factors to keep in mind if you want some more natural ways to avoid a sunburn or just want some more options. So now that summer is in full swing and sunburns can happen when we least expect it, take note of these smart ways to avoid a sunburn.
One of the easiest ways to avoid a sunburn is to eat tomatoes. Tomatoes have high lycopene content, especially when cooked, which can help protect the skin from sunburns. HowStuffWorks.com notes that the properties of lycopene become more effective after you’ve consumed the daily requirement for a few months. So in other words, don’t eat a tomato tomorrow and go out without any sunscreen on.
Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring carotenoid that can be found in algae along with certain organisms that eat it including shrimp and salmon and has been getting attention as an “internal sunscreen,” This potent carotenoid can penetrate skin cells and protect against UVA damage. Astaxanthin is also known to promote the skin’s moisture levels, smoothness and elasticity as well as minimizing dark spots, freckles and fine lines.
Is there anything that green tea can’t do? Green tea has been noted to protect skin from ultraviolet injury and offer photoprotection. The catechin compounds in green tea are thought to help protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays when you drink two cups of green tea per day. Green tea is full of antioxidant compounds which can help control inflammation and inhibit the development of tumors.
I know, it’s blaringly obvious that we should stay out of the sun to prevent a sunburn. But, avoiding sun exposure doesn’t mean staying indoors, there’s more to it than that. WebMD recommends staying out the sun from 10am-4pm when sunlight is the strongest or stay in the shade if you are out during those hours. You should also wear protective clothing like hats, sunglasses, long-sleeved clothing, pants or clothes that have SPF. They also recommend calculating the amount of UV exposure you’re getting by using the shadow rule: The longer your shadow, the lower the UV exposure. The shorter your shadow is, the higher the UV exposure.
I know this might sound like a silly suggestion since our bodies make vitamin D from the sun, but hear me out. Vitamin D is important for numerous reasons, but it also helps protect us from the sun’s UV rays and might even help increase your tolerance of sun exposure. You can supplement with cod liver oil or through vitamin D rich foods such as dairy products, leafy greens or fatty fish.
Certain medications, such as tetracycline and doxycycline, can actually increase sun sensitivity and cause your skin to burn more easily, so be sure to check your prescriptions to see if it advises you to stay out of the sun. If you’re still unsure, contact your doctor or pharmacist and ask. Other things that increase sun sensitivity are certain OTC pain relievers, some perfumes, St. John’s Wort and certain exfoliating skin care products. Pay close attention to the products you use before you go out into the sun.
Of course I couldn’t leave sunscreen out of this list! While these other suggestions can be helpful in preventing sunburn, you should never go without the extra protection. Make sure you apply a shot glass worth of sunscreen to your body and a teaspoon to your face and neck at least 10 minutes before you go outside.
There are some pretty interesting ways to prevent sunburn, but don’t forget to always apply good old sunscreen in addition to any other sunburn prevention methods. Do you have any tried and true methods of avoiding a sunburn?
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