2014-07-09Sunscreen

Summer Skin Care

By Valerie Smith, Nob Hill Store Team Leader

I’m frequently told that I have beautiful skin– and while the flattery is nice, my skin looks like it does because I take care of it. In my years here at the Co-op I’ve discovered a few fundamentals:

  1. Eat good food, five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day! Limit processed foods.
  2. Drink more water. Glowing skin is hydrated skin.
  3. Avoid toxins. Get a few houseplants to filter the air; use natural, non-toxic body care; quit smoking. That kind of thing.
  4. Nourish and protect. Outer layers can be damaged and worn away with rough treatment, so be kind!

It’s often said that the skin reflects a person’s health inside. I have seen the customers who eat well, exercise, and smile; many have a healthy glow about them. I’ve also learned that most of us have to reckon with our skin at some point, whether acne, eczema or dryness. While this list isn’t a substitute for proper research or medical advice, it supports healing and doesn’t interrupt those other avenues.

For me, all natural skin care is a nourishing ritual. It’s about pampering myself and having that being okay! I love the fresh smell of natural crèmes and butters. Sometimes scented, but with light, plant-source essences. My skin eats it up. I don’t get that feeling with artificial scents and petroleum-based ingredients.

Does your facial moisturizer cause your skin to break out? You might want to switch from the one you used all winter to a lighter one. In winter we needed to retain fat to keep us warm, we shed it in the summer. Facial skin is moister and often oily in the summer, and excess oil can result in blemishes. Though your cleanser is probably fine, you’ll need to use a thinner, lighter moisturizer in the summer. The same goes for body lotions.

Feed your Skin

Some of my favorite skin secrets aren’t lotions or oils; they’re foods. I told you that eating good food is good for your skin, but there are some foods that directly nourish it. And the great news: they’re delicious, too. Here are a few of my favorites:

•           Almonds. One ounce contains 35% of the daily value of vitamin E, an important fat-soluble anti-oxidant. As it combats free radical damage, the monounsaturated fat in almonds helps the skin stay elastic and hydrated. All nuts are a good source of biotin, a B vitamin essential for hair and skin health. Olives and avocado are good alternatives.

•           Red bell peppers. Packed with vitamin C and bioflavonoids, red peppers are good for the health of blood vessels that supply food and oxygen to the skin. Berries can be substituted here.

•           Dark salad greens. These bitter greens act as a digestive stimulant and gentle detoxifier. Skin is an organ of elimination, helping to push out toxins. Cleansing foods make the skin’s job easier.

•           Eggs. Their protein is high in sulfur, and this makes it perfect for feeding the protein structure of the skin. Egg yolk is high in vitamin A, a critical skin vitamin. A vegan alternative might be beans with a side of butternut squash or glazed carrots.

•           Apricots. Each one has over 15% of the daily value for vitamin A. It comes as beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. All carotenes are antioxidants as well, and combat free radical damage. Any vegetable that is bright red, orange or yellow will have a lot.

•           Kiwi. There’s a full day’s supply of vitamin C in each kiwi, as well as 250mg of potassium. Potassium not only helps your energy level, it combats the water retention caused by eating too much salt. That can cause your skin to look puffy and dull. Oranges can fill in here.

All these foods are great for snacking and adding to meals in salads and sides. They are also great for the heart, brain, and the immune system. Foster beautiful skin with these yummy foods and your whole body will benefit.

Sunscreens

This year I’ll do it. I’ll wear sunscreen every day. According to the Environmental Working Group, more than one million people will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year, and I don’t need to be on that list.

Because I spend so much time helping customers select sunscreens, I have spent a lot of time researching them. I also needed my own guidelines for picking and using sunscreens. Here is what I came up with:

•           Value of full-spectrum. Remember when sunscreens were called “tanning lotions?” They protected from the UVB rays that cause sunburn, not the UVA rays which cause premature aging and increased risk of cancer. The only ingredients that protect from UVA rays, remain effective over time, and aren’t considered health risks are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

•           Apply enough. The SPF is rated for a 150-pound, 5’4”person wearing a swimsuit. That person would need to use 1 oz. of sunscreen. You won’t need as much if you wear long sleeves and pants, but don’t skimp on covering exposed skin.

•           Avoid harmful chemicals. Look for products without parabens, triethanolamine, or petroleum products. Likewise, learn and avoid your allergies.

•           Apply appropriately. Use a higher SPF for long outdoor sessions than for the drive to work. Look for water-resistant options and re-apply often when swimming.

•           Remember sunscreens won’t do everything. Wear a hat and loose, long-sleeve shirt when you’re outside. Eat in the shade, and avoid the 10am to 2pm sunlight.

Now that I’m donning sunscreen every day, I’m more mindful to cleanse my face at night. I use a clay mask more often to clarify my skin. In case you’re wondering, my yard work sunscreen is Badger SPF 30. For work, MyChelle’s Sun Shield SPF 28; I like its muted color.

My next move? Get the people in my family to use sunscreen more often, especially my ten-year-old son, who can sidestep a lifetime of problems by starting now. Children have very thin skin and are more prone to burns. Treat your child’s sunscreen like any medicine and keep it out of reach when not in use. Even the safest sunscreen is potentially dangerous when ingested. You can use the same sunscreen that you use for yourself on your children as long as it’s full-spectrum and high SPF. Be diligent about applying it.

Is it safe to use a sunscreen with chemical ingredients in it? Given that UVA and UVB rays are known carcinogens, any effective, full-spectrum sunscreen is better than no protection. That said, my preference is sunscreen with natural bases and zinc oxide.

I find summer skin more prone to hot irritations like athlete’s foot, heat rash and sunburn. Aloe Vera is a great summer companion. It’s cooling, soothing and mildly anti-fungal, and can be used internally and topically. I like to drink one to two ounces of Aloe juice in a big glass of water to cut the summer heat, and I use it liberally on my skin after sun exposure or when it’s irritated. The Co-op stocks a good base of natural sunscreens, and a variety of aloe products. Come visit Jennifer at Nob Hill, Lisa Rae at the Valley Co-op, Katherine at the Westside or Michael in Santa Fe any time for deeper explanations and demos of some of our favorite skin care products!

 

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