Applying chemical sunscreens every time you step outdoors may do little to prevent your risk of skin cancer while raising other risks. In addition, you're blocking your body's production of vitamin D and possibly some of sunlight's other health benefits, like its pain-relieving properties. That being said, you don't want to overexpose your skin to the sun and end up with a sunburn, either. To continuously enjoy the positive effects of sun exposure without getting burned, I recommend following these simple safety tips:
1. Protect your face and eyes by wearing a wide-brimmed hat or a cap. The skin around these areas is much thinner than other areas of your body and is more at risk for cosmetic photo damage and premature wrinkling. If it's too hot to protect your skin by covering with light clothing, and you'll be outside for extended periods, be sure to use a natural mineral-based broad-spectrum sunscreen on your skin — these products often contain zinc.
2. Limit your initial sun exposure and slowly work your way up. If you are a fairly light-skinned individual who tends to burn easily, limit your initial exposure to just a few minutes, especially if it is in the middle of summer. The more tanned your skin gets, the longer you can stay in the sun without burning. If it is early or late in the season and/or you are a dark-skinned individual, you could likely safely have 30 minutes on your initial exposure.
3. Build an internal sunscreen with beneficial antioxidants. Astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant, can be used both internally and topically to protect your skin from the sun. You can make your own lotion by adding astaxanthin to organic coconut oil, but be careful of staining your clothing, as astaxanthin is dark red.
Other helpful antioxidants include proanthocyanidins, resveratrol and lycopene. Eating healthy is also important. Fresh, raw, unprocessed foods deliver the nutrients your body needs to maintain a healthy balance of omega-6 and omega-3 oils in your skin, which is your first line of defense against sunburn.
Fresh, raw vegetables also provide your body with an abundance of powerful antioxidants that will help you fight the free radicals caused by sun damage that can lead to burns and cancer.
4. Moisturize your skin naturally. Before sunbathing, apply organic coconut oil on the exposed areas of your skin (as noted above, you could add some astaxanthin to the oil for an added measure of protection). This will not only moisturize your skin to prevent dryness but will also give you additional metabolic benefits.
By Dr. Mercola - Mercola.com