Whether you’re jetting off for some much-needed winter sun or soaking up the rays back in good old Blighty, safe tanning is a something that’s even the most enthusiastic of sun-worshippers is taking on board.
While fair-skins and redheads need to be uber careful, there are ways, with a little smart thinking, that we can boost our glow and get a much-needed hit of vitamin D. Just don’t overdo it!
Remember the 3 golden rules:
- Always, always ALWAYS wear protection when tanning – at least factor 15 to protect against UVB and a minimum four-star UVA protection.
- Stay out of the sun at peak times ¬– in the UK this is between 11am and 3pm, March to October.
- Increase exposure to rays gradually, building up over a number of days to avoid burning.
On top of these rules, try these natural ways to help protect your skin, naturally.
This antioxidant is your skin’s very own SPF-booster, and is found in tomatoes and other red and orange fruit and vegetables. Prolonged sun exposure can cause free radicals to damage cells, but phytonutrient lycopene is thought to help neutralise these, so can give your suncream a helping hand.
Lycopene is fat-soluble, so is absorbed better when eaten with healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados or seeds. Yet another reason to gorge on a rainbow of fresh produce, but don’t forget to apply your regular sunscreen!!
Try: Slice up fresh tomatoes with ripe avocado and drizzle over an olive-oil-based dressing. Boost your suncream’s sun protection with lycopene supplements.
Found in citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes, vitamin C, alongside vitamin E, can reduce your risk of sunburn if taken over the long term. Citrus fruits are also thought to contain free-radical fighting nutrients, so can help protect cells from damage.
Rather than hitting the juice carton with its high sugar content, go for the whole fruit, as it contains fibre, which helps the body absorb the fructose more slowly into the bloodstream.
Try: Protect your skin from the sun naturally by adding grapefruit or orange segments to muesli or natural yoghurt, and boost with a vitamin C supplement.
A healthy diet of beta-carotene-rich foods such as carrots, tomatoes, red peppers, sweet potatoes, mango, melon and apricot, increases your levels of vitamin A. Beta-carotene helps maintain normal skin and has been linked to increased sun protection. Just one apricot contains almost 15 per cent of your daily vitamin A requirements. You could also take a daily beta-carotene supplement.
Try: Whipping up a skin-friendly melon and mango breakfast smoothie or include a beta-carotene supplement in your diet.
This amazing oil is not just perfect for healthy cooking and salad dressings – research has found that it may work as a topical aftersun too. Olive oil is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, which may help neutralise the destructive free-radicals triggered by exposure to the sun’s UV rays.
Try: It won’t work as a sunscreen, so don’t neglect your essential SPF, but slather on a lotion containing olive oil to give your skin a boost at the end of your day.
Is there anything this wonder cuppa can’t do? Not only is it thought to boost heart and brain health and stabalise blood sugar, it can also help guard against skin damage when tanning too.
Green tea contains catechins, which help protect against sunburn inflammation and UV damage. The tannins can also calm sunburn pains, and it has antioxidants to fight damage caused by UV light. Some studies show just two cups a day of this wonder leaf could deliver extra sun protection.
Try: Keep some cool used green tea bags in the fridge to soothe sunburnt skin or try a green tea extract supplement.
We all know we are supposed to avoid sunburn at all costs, but sometimes we just miss that bit at the side of the cossie, or our partner misses a spot on your back (Sacked! Immediately!). That’s where aloe vera steps in – there’s nothing quite like it for soothing hot, angry skin.
Studies show it needs to be used at 100 per cent strength to harness its anti-inflammatory properties, and aloe’s natural vitamins and minerals makes it a unique moisturiser and skin healer.
Aloe vera’s gel contains glycoproteins that relieve pain and inflammation and reducing swelling, as well as polysaccharides that repair damaged skin cells and trigger new ones to form.
Try: Keeping a bottle of this skin saviour to hand for sunburn emergencies.
It’s a cracker
This highly nutritious nut has already been tagged as a good source for omega-3 fats, and now research has shown that walnuts have skin-protecting talents too. They help the cells in the skin’s outer layer to fight UV radiation by preventing cell breakdown, otherwise known as apoptosis. Snack on naked walnuts before sunbathing or blend them into your summer smoothies to help boost protection alongside using sunscreen.
Try: Toss a handful of walnuts over a fresh green salad.