This summer is so hot in Stockholm, that we can’t stop talking about sun protection. Sunscreens and appropriate clothes are only part of our sun protection strategy.
How you can prepare your skin for safe sun exposure:
1. Anti-inflammatory diet: eat “good” fats
To make sure the body has the proper building blocks for healthy skin and to reduce inflammation, you can consume enough healthy saturated, monounsaturated, and omega-3 fats while avoiding polyunsaturated fatty acids and high omega-6 vegetable oils.
Make sure that your diet is high in micronutrients from vegetables, omega-3s, and fat-soluble vitamins from fish, and monounsaturated and saturated fats from plant and animal sources.
This type of diet will also be beneficial for many other health conditions.
2. Eat Antioxidants
Just by avoiding grains and omega-6 oils as well as focusing on proteins, fats, and vegetables instead, your diet will be higher in antioxidants. Even real food “treats” like berries and dark chocolate are packed with antioxidants.
Antioxidants help reduce inflammation and free radicals. Research has shown a strong protective effect of antioxidants against inflammation and skin damage.
3. Up the Vitamin D
This is a logical if you think about it. Melanin, the dark pigment that we get when we tan, is produced to shield the skin from further UV exposure by providing a type of barrier. This is why those with darker skin need more sun that those with fairer skin to get the same amount of vitamin D.
When the body has enough vitamin D, it will start producing melanin to keep from getting too much. There is evidence that optimizing vitamin D levels through sun exposure and even through supplementation will help the body produce melanin faster and retain it longer. Of course, this is a genetic and very personalized issue that is best handled with testing and the help of a qualified practitioner.
4. In some cases, vitamins C and E have been credited with preventing sunburns. They can also make the effects of the sun much less severe. The key is combining them. Separately, vitamins C and E aren’t nearly as effective as they are when taken together. Try eating green foods for a good source of vitamin C, and snack on almonds to boost your vitamin E intake . Not only will eating these foods help protect you from the sun, but they’ll also help your skin look better.
If you do get sunburned:
- Take frequent cool baths or showers to help relieve the pain. As soon as you get out of the bathtub or shower, gently pat yourself dry, but leave a little water on your skin. Then, apply a moisturizer to help trap the water in your skin. This can help ease the dryness.
- Use a moisturizer that contains aloe vera or soy to help soothe sunburned skin. The aloe plant is 99 percent water, but it also includes two key ingredients that increase its skin-soothing benefits. Glycoproteins work to minimize pain and inflammation, while polysacchrides encourage skin growth and repair. Additionally, aloe can help hydrate your moisture-sapped, sunburned skin. You can find a lot of gels in the market: for example, in a pharmacy you can find one for 39 SEK.
- If a particular area feels especially uncomfortable, you may want to apply a hydrocortisone cream that you can buy without a prescription. Do not treat sunburn with “-caine” products (such as benzocaine), as these may irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction.
- Consider taking aspirin or ibuprofen to help reduce any swelling, redness and discomfort.
- Drink extra water. A sunburn draws fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body. Drinking extra water when you are sunburned helps prevent dehydration.
- If your skin blisters, allow the blisters to heal. Blistering skin means you have a second-degree sunburn. You should not pop the blisters, as blisters form to help your skin heal and protect you from infection.
- Take extra care to protect sunburned skin while it heals. Wear clothing that covers your skin when outdoors. Tightly-woven fabrics work best. When you hold the fabric up to a bright light, you shouldn’t see any light coming through.