It is really beginning to feel like summer here in Portland – which means it’s a great time to both check and protect your skin! We are so covered up with coats, scarves, and sweaters all year round that it can be easy to forget common sense skin protection like sunscreen when the weather warms. Here’s a quick reminder that you can use this sunny season to ensure your skin health.
Skin Damage Prevention
Skin damage takes many forms. Wrinkles, age spots, lesions, and cancer are all very common here in the U.S. In fact; skin cancer is the most common cancer in America. Fortunately, it’s often very treatable and even preventable. Here are some simple things you can do on a daily basis to prevent damage from happening in the first place:
Protect yourself against sun exposure
Overexposure to the sun is a widespread cause for all kinds of skin damage – from age spots to sunburn to cancer. You probably know the basics of protecting yourself from the sun, but we are going to go through them again here:
- Use sunscreen or skin products containing sunscreen. While you should always apply (and reapply) sunscreen that’s at least at SPF 15, many sunscreens have harmful chemicals in them. So, be on the look out for ingredients like avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, parabens, and retinyl palmitate. Be sure to avoid these ingredients if possible when you are shopping for sunscreen.
- Make homemade sunscreen. There are many recipes available out there – but we recommend always using one which contains zinc oxide. This ingredient is the main thing that will help protect your skin from harmful rays.
- Wear sun protection indoors. Have you ever noticed that you get a sunburn on your left arm and face while driving your car – even though the windows have been rolled up the whole time? That’s because the windows in your car, in your home, and in your office let in harmful UV rays. Unfortunately, they block anything that would give you Vitamin D and just allow the harmful rays to stream in. So, even if you are indoors most of the time, it’s important to guard your skin against the sun.
- Don’t miss your lips! Your lips are skin too, so don’t forget to treat them with a lip balm that contains an SPF. You can also use oils that contain natural sun protection like raspberry seed oil, carrot seed oil, shea butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil, and wheat germ oil.
- Protect your scalp. Many, many people get uncomfortable sunburns in some of the worst places possible. Those places, in my book, are the scalp and the feet. Your feet are pretty simple to protect – either wear shoes or put sunscreen on them. But your scalp? That’s a little bit of a stickier situation. You can use hair care products with an SPF rating, but if you have thin or fine hair, that will likely only get you so far. Your best scalp protection is and probably always will be a hat.
Stay away from chemical irritants
Many products, from lotions to laundry detergents, contain chemicals that can irritate your skin and cause issues like contact dermatitis, scaling, and burns. You don’t need to have sensitive skin for these common ingredients to aggravate your skin. So, be sure to watch out for:
- Alpha hydroxy acids
- Aluminum compounds
- Ammonium lauryl sulfate
- Ascorbic acid
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine
- Dyes like Yellow #11 or Blue #1
- Salicylic acid
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
There are many ways to prevent skin damage. Following the above suggestions are simple things you can do every day to avoid harming your skin.
Many of us forget that our skin is the largest organ in the human body. Just like any other organ, you need to maintain good skin health to feel comfortable throughout your life. While you can use all of the above suggestions to prevent skin damage – what do you do to keep your skin healthy all year long? Here are a few tips you can follow for healthier skin:
Get a yearly dermatology check
As we grow older, our skin has likely been exposed to more and more potential for damage. So, it’s important to understand your skin’s baseline health by getting a dermatology check for sun damage, skin cancer, and more. Once you have that baseline understanding of your skin’s health, you will then be able to move forward with the appropriate treatment.
Keep your body hydrated
Even if you apply lotion after you shower, your skin needs to be hydrated in the same way as the rest of your organs – from the inside out. So, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout your day. Also, now that it’s summer, try switching to hydrating snacks like watermelon or grapes.
Avoid or quit smoking
The skin of a smoker is often less healthy and than that of a nonsmoker. A smoker’s skin loses elasticity over time and their skin wrinkles more rapidly. Additionally, a smoker’s blood vessels tend to constrict, bringing fewer nutrients and less hydration to your skin. This can all be avoided by quitting smoking and avoiding “social” smoking.
Eat foods that contain antioxidants
Another way the sun can damage your skin is by exposing it to free radicals. Antioxidants like vitamins C and E can lessen the effects of free radicals, so enjoy more antioxidant-rich foods like:
- Butternut squash
- Collard greens
- Dark chocolate
- Green tea
- Kidney beans
- Pinto beans
- Sweet potatoes
Overall, doing things that nourish your whole body will also nourish your skin. This holistic concept is an essential part of naturopathy, and we have found it to work with all of our patients.
If you are looking for more ways to treat a specific skin or health condition, make an appointment here at Flow Natural Health Care. We help people all around Portland and surrounding cities find natural solutions for their health challenges.