Skin Deep

Summer Skin Soothers

| July/August 2006

Growing up in Florida, I spent many summer days lying on the beach or by the pool working on my tan. But since my early 20s, I’ve been zealous about avoiding the midday sun, and I wear wide-brimmed hats and use sunscreen year round — even though I now live in Oregon.

I’m convinced that protecting my skin from excessive sun exposure will help to prevent skin cancer, wrinkling and age spots. But recently, I’ve become concerned about the potential toxic effects of many of the most commonly used sunscreen ingredients, some of which are found even in natural sunscreens. In several laboratory studies, benzophenone-3, homosalate, octyl methoxycinnamate, 4 methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC) and octyl-dimethyl-PABA have been shown to be endocrine disrupters — which means they potentially can cause reproductive problems and cancer.

As a result, I now use only the sunscreens zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, both of which are natural substances that are safe, non-irritating and block virtually the entire spectrum of the sun’s damaging rays. Additional beneficial ingredients in some sunscreens include green tea, vitamin C and vitamin E, all of which help to reduce the free radical damage caused by excessive sun exposure.

To protect your skin from sun damage, apply a full-spectrum sunscreen to any parts of your body that are exposed to the sun and wear a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses and protective clothing when you are outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you do get sunburned, you can help mitigate the damage with some easy homemade herbal remedies.


The quickest way to relieve the heat of sunburn is to take a cool bath. Cool water helps to lower the surface temperature of the skin, and baking soda and lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil soothe tender skin.

1 cup baking soda
10 drops lavender essential oil

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