Practicing Safe Sun

April 26th, 2012

Sun care protection from the inside out/outside in.

In Dr. Plourde’s groundbreaking book, Sunscreens Biohazard: Treat as Hazardous Waste, she suggests that antioxidants are Mother Nature’s protective sunscreens. The antioxidants with the highest proven sunscreen protection are anthocyanins, beta-carotene, carotenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols, stilbenes, tocopherols, and tocotrienols.

Superfoods like cranberries, pomegranates, wild blueberries, avocadoes, broccoli sprouts, and goji berry juice as well as a plethora of spices like ground cloves, dried oregano, dried rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, turmeric, sage, and dried Szechwan peppers are especially high in the antioxidants that have skin protection power.

The carotenoids lycopene and astaxanthin are the antioxidants of choice which seem to hold special promise as natural sunscreens. Lycopene is an antioxidant found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and watermelon (as well as supplements) that protect against damaging UV radiation. In addition to consuming lycopene rich foods, I would consider a supplement that contains at least 6 mg of lycopene daily.

Similar to lycopene, astaxanthin is a special substance in plants and ocean animals that absorbs UV rays like a sponge. Highly touted as being 500 times more powerful in antioxidant activity than Vitamin E and ten times more powerful than Vitamin A, this antioxidant does double duty as a natural anti-inflammatory. Although foods like salmon are extremely high in astaxanthin, one would need to consume up to three pounds every day to enhance your skin’s natural protection. Since this is neither practical nor recommended due to heavy metal contamination of fish in this day and age, a daily supplement of about 4-5 mg would be ideal.

Include these common sense habits in your sun care regimen:

1) Although sunscreens containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide – inert minerals – may seem a safer bet than sunscreens loaded with chemicals like benzophenone, they are not. These once-safe ingredients have been nano-sized for absorption deep within the skin’s layers and currently act as hormone disrupting agents like xeno-estrogens and testosterone-inhibiting substances. They must be avoided like the chemical sunscreens on the market, according to Dr. Plourde’s research.

2) If you must be out in the sun for long periods of time, the only really “safe” sunscreen available is the zinc cream that is sold in pharmacies and is used as a topical application for skin irritations, dermatitis, redness and baby’s bottoms. This sunscreen will remind you of the old-fashioned zinc oxide sunblocks back in the day before nano-particles made the zinc oxide invisible to the naked eye but delivered it deeper into the skin’s structure. The use, however, of this physical sunscreen will prevent the body’s production of Vitamin D.

3) Don’t entirely shun the sun. Allow yourself regular but brief unprotected sun exposure in the early morning or early evening to keep your vitamin D stores at optimum levels.

4) Include early morning outdoor exercise in your daily routine. Avoid long term sun exposure between 10 am and 4 pm when the sun’s rays are the harshest. If you do need to be out at this time, wear a wide-brimmed hat and cover up with protective clothing. They even make UV protection clothes to help you stay safe in the sun. Thanks to one of my fans for bringing that to my attention! These clothing items are available in a number of online stores.

5) Use an umbrella to shield your body from the sun, not only when you are at the beach, but also when you are at a ballgame or even walking around town. This is a secret that Thais and Malaysians use to keep their skin supple and young looking even in their sun-drenched tropical climates.

6) Pay attention to the signals your body gives you and find a comfortable, healthy dose of sunlight that is right for you. Too much sun is an amount that results in red, irritated skin or sunburn, but the full effect of ultraviolet light on the skin takes several hours to develop. This means that you shouldn’t stay in the sun until your skin is red. Realize that the ideal amount of time you can spend in the sun without causing harm to your skin will be different from your neighbor’s. It will depend on your skin; the altitude and climate in which you live; whether there is reflective sand, snow, ice water or concrete that is increasing your exposure; whether your skin is wet or dry; and whether you are taking certain medications such as sulfa drugs that make your skin more sun-sensitive.

Something else to remember when spending time in the sun is the importance of staying hydrated. And nothing cools you down like a glass of fresh lemonade! Try this delicious recipe for your own healthy helping of this classic thirst quencher: Fat Flush Lemonade


  • These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.