Get your skin ready for sunny days with a steady diet of skin-protective vitamins and nutrients. Studies show that lycopene, found in tomatoes and watermelon, helps to protect against sun damage, as do extracts from avocado and pomegranate. Chill in the shade with a tall glass of iced green tea—a rich source of polyphenols that protect against UVB-induced stress and UVB-induced free radicals. Consider fish oil or algae supplements to enjoy the photoprotective benefits of omega-3 fats EPA and DHA for your skin.
Along with the risk of burning, overexposure to sunlight can cause premature skin aging and skin cancer—so be judicious about your exposure. When choosing sun protection, remember that sunblocks are the only effective form of sunscreen against skin-aging UVA rays; they usually contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Sunscreens use chemical agents that absorb burning UVB rays. Be aware that no matter how much or how often you use sunscreens, they don’t protect against skin cancer.
Choose sun-protection creams containing well-known antioxidants such as vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol acetate) to protect against UVB radiation, promote healthy skin, and help reverse signs of skin photo-aging. Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) applied topically has proven to protect against sunburn, limit sun-induced DNA damage, and speed healing of sunburned skin. It’s also useful in reducing wrinkling caused by UVB rays. The green tea polyphenol EGCG (epigallacatechin-3-gallate) is also a useful ingredient; it protects against oxidative cellular and genotoxic damage from UVA radiation. Zinc, silymarin, and soy isoflavones may also boost sunscreen’s ability to protect your skin against rays and cancer. Also consider formulas containing propolis for broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection.
When, despite your best efforts, a day outdoors leaves you with the sting of a burn, turn to pure aloe vera gel straight from the plant: simply break a leaf and smooth the watery gel on skin. Or combine a teaspoon of aloe vera gel with five drops of healing essential oils. Choose from essential oils of geranium, chamomile, or lavender. You can also add healing evening primrose oil to jojoba or kukui nut oil, or slather tropical oils like coconut or tamanu directly onto sore skin. Research also supports the use of vitamin E on sunburned skin.
Smooth, stubble-free skin is the perfect accessory for shorts, swimsuits, and sleeveless tops, but sugaring, waxing, and shaving can irritate skin. Soothe and support your skin with antibacterial coconut oil, healing calendula or lavender oil, or anti-inflammatory chamomile oil.
If warm weather leaves your skin shiny, give it gentle treatment. To help tighten pores, add cider vinegar to a sink full of warm water and splash on your face after cleansing. Avoid using abrasive scrubs—they can stimulate oil production. Moisturize with fast-absorbing, mildly astringent hazelnut oil to help tone, tighten, and firm skin. Argan oil adds moisture without leaving a greasy residue.
Take the bite out of insect stings with a supply of antiseptic and soothing essential oils. Apply a drop of lavender oil directly onto a bite for immediate relief. Keep tea tree oil on hand for bites and to cleanse hands and feet after gardening: Simply add a few drops to wash water.