If you are already a raw food aficionado odds are you are also very conscious of what you put ON your body, not just what you put in. It's the apex of summer, the time where the blessed sun becomes even more powerful and we get to soak up that precious vitamin D many of us lack throughout the year. The sun is an amazing healer, we are beings of light and our cells react positively and are energized when hit with certain wavelengths of light. However, the sun's rays are very strong these days with heightened levels of solar activity and it is important to be aware that our skin is hit directly and may need a little extra protection. Now, protecting your skin from the sun does not have to mean layering on loads of chemical UV absorbing ingredients that go into your tissue and do who knows what once there. There are SO many beautiful options for protecting your skin from the sun naturally and safely these days. And contrary to mainstream knowledge about the skin and sun, there is more to protecting yourself than layering on loads of products. In order to reap the many benefits of sun exposure and limit the negatives we have to look at the entire picture on a very holistic level.
Possibly the two most important keys to healthy skin in the heat of summer are hydration and antioxidants. The skin is an organ of the body and is highly connected with our nervous, circulatory and endocrine systems, so what is going on internally plays a huge role when it comes to the appearance and resiliency of the skin. The skin draws from within our bodies nourishment and water, so first and foremost when addressing the care of our skin we must make sure we are eating the right foods and also drinking plenty of fluids. Pure water and the juices of raw fruits and vegetables are best. Hydrated tissue is happy tissue, and when the skin becomes dehydrated this increases inflammation and weakens the skin's barrier protection. It can also cause the skin to over-secrete oils in an attempt to re-balance water levels and heal cracked tissue. This oil, while playing an important role, can end up blocking delicate pores leading to acne breakouts and even more inflammation. An intact barrier is very important when it comes to protection from the sun as UV rays will also increase heat and lead to water evaporation from deep within the skin. If our skin's barrier is strong and intact we become much less likely to get dehydrated during the summer months. Which means no leathery looking complexions! Water is totally important when it comes to hydration, but so is oil. Making sure to get the proper amounts of essential fatty acids and healthy, organic, cold processed oils will also help your skin stay plump and dewy all summer long. Think chia, hemp, flax, 11olives, avocados and coconut.
The antioxidants in raw fruits, vegetables and super foods will help aid the skin in fighting any free radical damage caused by UV rays from the inside out. If our blood is highly mineralized and full of antioxidants and bioflavonoids our skin has a reservoir of protection to draw from. With an abundance of antioxidants available the skin can begin to repair any cellular damage right away. Below is a list of some of the best antioxidants and phytonutrients when it comes to protecting your skin from the sun and where to find them:
Beta Carotene - Spirulina, chlorella, goij berries, dark greens, broccoli, apricots, carrots, yams and winter squash like kabocha. Beta carotene turns into a form of Vitamin A within the body and is incredibly important for the growth and repair of our soft tissue, mucous membranes, skeletal system and skin. Think green and orange when sourcing foods high in this nutrient.
Lutein - Kale, dandelion, mustard greens, cabbage, spinach, green beans, mangos, and papayas, winter squash, yams, pumpkins, beets, pomegranates, red grapes, red peppers, tomatoes and red berries. Think red, orange and green when sourcing foods high in lutein. Aside from helping to prevent skin cancer, lutein is also very helpful in the prevention of macular degeneration and for protecting the eyes from too much light.
Lycopene - Tomatoes, guava, pink grapefruit, and watermelon. Think red, orange and yellow when sourcing lycopene. Lycopene is fat soluble so consuming a healthy source of fat with your lycopene rich fruits will help aid your bodies absorption.
Astaxanthin - red pigmented micro algae (Haematococcus algae), krill oil, supplements such as BioAstin Astaxanthin. Like the above 3 antioxidants beta carotene, lutein, and lycopene, astaxanthin is also in the carotenoid family. The difference is this phytonutrient has even greater antioxidant power with a free radical fighting strength 65% higher than Vitamin C, 54% greater than beta carotene, and 12% greater than vitamin E. This carotenoid is like nature's sun screen, and is actually produced within algae to prevent the plant from drying out and suffering cellular damage from sun exposure. When consumed it can pass through our blood-brain barrier and literally reach every cell of our body for immense protection against free radical damage. Animals that eat the algae then acquire this phytonutrient and it's benefits. It is fat soluble and it is recommended to take a source of omega 3 fats with astaxanthin for full benefits. Fun fact: astaxanthin is the red pigment responsible for the signature pink huge of flamingo and salmon.
Rutin - Buckwheat, asparagus, rooibos tea, citrus fruits and their rinds, apricots, cherries, and dark berries. This antioxidant is an amazing bioflavonoid that helps strengthen our capillaries to prevent them from thinning and rupturing from UV damage.
Selenium - Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, bananas, dates, and grapefruit. Make sure to buy organic produce and nuts and seeds as this will ensure you're getting a higher level of this precious free radical fighting mineral.
Vitamin E - almonds, wild jungle peanuts, tocotrienols (rice bran solubles), sunflower seeds, spinach, swiss chard, turnip greens, papaya, mustard greens, asparagus, and bell peppers. Vitamin E is also critical for helping to maintain healing levels of Vitamin A within the body, which can become depleted with sun exposure. It helps keep the skin soft, supple, and aids in a healthy cell turnover process.
Vitamin C - Tropical fruits such as pineapple and guava, goji berries, all citrus including lemons, oranges and grapefruits, broccoli and cabbage, parsley, raw cacao beans, acerola cherries, amla berries, acai, incan berries, mulberries, and baobab fruit . Vitamin c is completely necessary when it comes to maintaining the structure and integrity of our collagen. A breakdown in collagen will lead to more wrinkles and loss of elasticity. When it comes to protecting the skin it is important to get vitamin c to our skin cells topically and internally both!
Polyphenols such as Resveratrol - Seeded grapes (made sure to eat the skin too!), cranberries, bilberries, blueberries, and wild jungle peanuts. Aside from fighting free radicals and inflammation polyphenols also increase oxygen and blood circulation to the skin which is nourishing and revitalizing.
Now that we've addressed skin care from the inside out lets talk about what we can do externally. There is SO much skin care out there these days that it is hard to not become overwhelmed. The skin, even though it is our first line of defense from the outside world, is also quite delicate and it's balance can be easily thrown off. Because of this it is important to keep a simple (yet effective) skin care routine. Using gentle cleansers and exfoliants is always best as well as keeping products as organic and chemical free as possible. Certain antioxidants like A and C can be used topically to build up antioxidant reservoirs within the skin, help tissue such as collagen and elastin regenerate, and can also stimulate new cell growth so that age spots and discolorations fade and the skin maintains a youthful glow. Vitamin C in particular is actually a great natural skin lightener and brightener. The active form of vitamin A, called retinol, is also amazing for building elasticity and density and smoothing away any surface irregularities or enlarged pores. A great way to get topical antioxidants into the skin topically is to use a nutrient rich oil-based serum containing oils like rose hip seed, baobab, argan, and sea buckthorn, all 4 of which are rich in Vitamin C, A, and E. The wonderful thing about many of these nutrient dense oils is that they contain not just one type of antioxidant, but a whole plethora of them, which work with each other to give a much broader spectrum antioxidant protection.
There are definitely times and instances where simply staying hydrated and bathed in antioxidants won't be enough and a natural sunscreen may be in order. These days there are so many fabulous, organic products out there which utilize micronized zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to create a powerful sun blocking shield on the surface of the skin. Many of these products have come a long way when it comes to texture and feel and are actually very cosmetically elegant. My favorite natural sun screen would have to be from a brand called Devita which is 100% natural and is basically micronized zinc oxide in a base of organic aloe vera. It is spf 30, perfect for day time use, and is to light you won't even realize you're wearing sunscreen. Another amazing natural sun care product is from one of my favorite companies Living Libations
. Nadine Artemis, the creative genius behind these products, is an herbal master and alchemist and has created a blend of beautiful oils and uncoated zinc oxide to give the skin protection and nourishment while fully enjoying the sun. The product is called Everybody Loves the Sunshine and is a divinely aromatic blend of seabuckthorn, tamanu, frankincense, rose otto, sandalwood, ginger, geranium, carrot, ginger, turmeric, calendula, red raspberry seed oil and more! Another option is to use a mineral powder such as Jane Iredale Let the Sun Powder Me SPF Dry Sunscreen. This product can be
layered over a moisturizer or on bare skin and can be worn in a translucent shade or a slightly pigmented shade for a bronzed effect. Links to these skin care products below.
And lastly, here is a nourishing, fresh, water rich salad that is easy to throw together and is full of all the different antioxidants described within this article.
Fun in the Sun - Skin Nourishing Phytonutrient Salad
serves 1 as a meal
2 large handfuls buckwheat sprouts
2 large handfuls sunflower geens
3 leaves kale - chopped finely
1/2 bunch romaine - chopper finely
1/4 cup broccoli florets- chopped finely
1/2 red or orange bell pepper - diced
1 juicy tomato - diced
3 tbs organic cold pressed hemp oil
2 tbs sunflower seeds
2 tbs hemp seeds
juice of 1/2 whole Meyer lemon
2 tbs apple cider or coconut vinegar
2 tbs spirulina or chlorella powder
1 pinch Celtic sea or Himalayan salt
Fresh herbs such as basil, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, chives, parsley
etc. chopped finely
1/4-1/2 avocado, diced finely
Mix ingredients in large bowl and chow down!
Devita sun screen:
Jane Iredale Mineral Makeup:
Living Libations Everybody Loves the Sunshine: