Summer is the season when fun beach days are synonymous with skin sun damage. So, when the sun gets hotter and humidity increases, it is time to step up with your skin care regimen. The goal is to keep skin healthy, hydrated, and protected.
Most of us tend to reach for store-bought bottled sunscreen, balms, or creams to last us a season. But, these products can be expensive and their chemical and synthetic ingredients can lead to more harm than good.
Luckily, you don’t have to go too far from the garden if you want safer, cheaper, and more effective skin products. Plants contain active molecules beneficial for the skin but without the harsh ingredients of commercial cosmetic products. In fact, plants were a staple in ancient beauty practices because of their effectiveness.
Each plant has different functions for your different skin care needs. Here’s what you should look for in looking for natural summertime skin protection.
How Antioxidants Benefit the Skin
UV rays and pollution are environmental aggressors you cannot avoid. Even when the day seems drafty, remember that behind the clouds is the sun hiding. As cliché as it sounds, a cloudy day can still cast harmful UV rays that damage your skin.
Antioxidants play a role in reverting the effects of these skin stressors.
They are substances that protect the skin from oxidative damage caused by free radicals from UV and pollution.
When taken internally or externally, antioxidants combat skin aging and promote overall skin health.
The most important sources of antioxidants are Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as flavonoids and phenolic acid. These substances are the potent antioxidant powerhouse that leaves the skin nourished, and protected and fights premature skin aging.
Proper skin care comes from the inside, so if you want a youthful glow, topical applications may not be enough.
The best and basic step is to load up on antioxidants through a high-quality diet. The best source comes from dark, leafy greens and many types of berries. Blueberries, raspberries, elderberries, and other wild berries are rich in antioxidants.
Carrots, sweet potatoes, spirulina, and other fresh herbs and spices are also beneficial for skin health.
Among them, curcumin that comes from turmeric is the most potent source of antioxidants. It is often consumed as a tea, used as a spice, incorporated into other foods, or applied topically for the best result. The medicinal herb lemon balm has also been shown to have an impressive antioxidant profile.
Most plants contain antioxidant properties, some more potent than others. These are due to the phenolics present in all parts of the plant – from its roots to the tips of its leaves. Even the pigments that make the blueberries blue and raspberries red have antioxidants that protect against oxidative damage.
The role of antioxidants is to freeze or neutralize the free radicals. Free radicals are the unstable atoms that damage the cells resulting in ageing and many diseases. Introducing ample antioxidants in the body produces electrons that bind and eliminate these free radicals. The chain reaction provides a protective layer on the skin to ward off damage and boost the overall immune health.
How do vitamins and minerals help in skin health when applied topically?
- Vitamin A: Retinol, or Vitamin A, is an essential nutrient in promoting better skin health, fighting inflammation, and warding free radicals. It helps in wound healing and decreases sebum or skin oil production. Vitamin A prevents the breakout of many skin problems like acne and pimples. It is important to include it in your daily skincare regimen during the humid days of summer. Vitamin A is also found in rosehip oil, which also helps the skin against hyperpigmentation.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant also known as Ascorbic Acid. It improves the formation of collagen, a protein responsible for giving the skin elasticity. As humans age, collagen in the body breaks down, and the body may not be able to produce more. Reinforcing the body with Vitamin C improves the synthesis of collagen and brings benefits to skin health. The body does not produce Vitamin C on its own. But, it is abundant in most citrus fruits and leafy greens. The topical application of Vitamin C also provides the same benefit to the skin. Among numerous topicals, rosehip oil contains an active form and a significant amount of Vitamin C.
- Vitamin E: The main function of Vitamin E is to protect the body tissues from harmful free radicals. It helps improve immune health and boosts the formation of red blood cells. When applied topically, Vitamin E protects the skin against photodamage caused by UV rays. It smoothens the skin and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin E also improves the skin’s hydration and wards off skin ageing. Vitamin E oil comes from many plant sources like avocado, sunflower, sesame, wheat germ, and pumpkin seeds. These oils are best for the skin, however, among them, pumpkin seeds produce a strong aroma and deep color. So, when using pumpkin seed oil for topical application, apply it only in small amounts.
- Resveratrol is a polyphenol that acts as an antioxidant and anti-mutagen. It protects the body against heart diseases and cancer by reducing UV irradiation and eliminating free radicals. Red wine contains resveratrol. It is also found in peanuts, grapes, and many other berries, like cranberry. Accordingly, the richest source of resveratrol is the Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspitadum), one of the powerful herbs in this Eastern blend tincture.
Sunscreen products are a must, summer or not. It gives the skin protection against the harmful UV rays that are often the cause of premature ageing. Fortunately, you can also get its benefit from natural sunscreen found in plants.
Many plant oil offer sun protection. Sesame oil can resist about 30% of UV rays. Coconut, peanut, cottonseed, and olive also makes an excellent natural sunscreen.
Raspberry seed oil is a promising option for a sunscreen that can potentially block UVB and UVC radiation. UVB and UVC are the radiations that can cause sunburn and eye damage. Although it does not offer much protection against UV-A, which causes skin cancer, it is packed with antioxidants and skin-supporting essential fatty acids. Raspberry oil can hydrate the skin without clogging the pores.
Popular Botanicals for Healthy Skin
Here are some easy-to-grow and popular herbs you can find that bring great benefit to the skin.
- Aloe Vera. Aloe Vera is a famous plant when it comes to a plethora of skin problems and for achieving excellent skin health. It soothes skin inflammation, hydrates it, and maintains its natural glow. This anti-ageing herb contains potent nutrients that replace dead skin cells for healthy and glowing skin.
- Black and Green Tea. These teas are highly considered a traditional topical remedy for sunburn. They contain tannic acid and theobromine that soothes and cools the heat off the burned skin. These herbs also have catechins that repairs and restore skin damage caused by chemical and radiations.
- Calendula. Common marigold, or calendula, is high in carotenoids and flavonoids, making it an effective treatment for bruises and wounds. During the period of dry spells, a calendula bath increases hydration and improves blood circulation. It does not only help in reducing fine lines but is also a good remedy for chapped lips.
- Chamomile. The alpha-bisabolol compound in chamomile is an effective anti-inflammatory for soothing sunburns and sore skin. It speeds up the healing of wounds and prevents hyperpigmentation caused by these skin problems. Chamomile is an excellent herb for many skin problems of all skin types.
- Lavender. When it comes to soothing the mind, lavender is a top herb. But its action is also effective for skin rejuvenation. Lavender is an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory herb. When used as a facial steam, it can improve blood circulation and calm the nerve endings. Lavender also prevents dryness and acts as an effective skin toner.
- Cucumbers. Cucumbers are pretty popular in many summer drinks and are valued for their ability to reduce dark circles. Cucumber contains cucumerin and cucurbitacins that are essential in soothing inflammation and minimizing the effects of skin ageing. It can also promote collagen production and helps the skin retain moisture and keep it hydrated.
Summertime Skin Irritations
Sunburn isn’t the only skin concern during the summer months — insect bites and stings are also a bothersome reality. If you would like rapid, soothing relief, my All-Purpose (First Aid) Salve is outstanding for relieving the pain, swelling, and itch of mosquito bites and bee stings. It is also helpful for bruising, minor bleeding, and diaper rash. In my family, we use it for cracked hands, feet and lips as well. It is antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory. To stave off infectious illness during summer and beyond, use a Q-tip to coat the inside of your nose with the salve. It works wonders!
Herbal tinctures are a terrific addition to your summertime routine as they help to keep your skin in top health from the inside out. And soothing bites, stings, and other skin irritations during the hot summer months couldn’t be easier with my All-Purpose Salve, which is packed with organic and/or wildcrafted healing botanicals for rapid relief.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Wishing you a bright and joyful summer season!
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