I think that we can officially say that summer is finally here! For many of you, that will mean heading for the outdoors to the beach, camping, boating or simply enjoying a backyard barbecue. But along with all the outdoor fun comes the increased risk of sunburn, dehydration and aging skin!
The skin is the largest organ of the entire body by weight and surface area. In fact, the skin consists of 16% of the total body weight of an average adult, this being equal to 1.5 to 2 meters of skin. That is a lot of skin exposure to the sun!
The main function of the skin is to protect the internal body from its external environment; including bacteria, dirt and inflammatory molecules such as free radicals that can damage and mutate the DNA within our cells. The skin also provides a barrier to prevent of dehydration, helps to regulate our body temperature, is directly related to liver and gastrointestinal function, and is a primary organ of elimination and detoxification.
Ultraviolet or UV radiation is found in the sun’s invisible rays, the ones that cause sunburns and sometimes skin cancer. UVA and UVB radiation damage the skin by changing the structure of cell DNA resulting in the potential to cause skin cancers, degradation of collagen and elastin molecules leading to aging and wrinkles.
Here are some useful tips to help you enjoy a safe and healthy summer outside:
- The first line of defense is to dress appropriately. Wear a hat, breathable tops (that provide UV protection) and sunglasses. Use a good quality and natural sunscreen that limits the absorption of both UVA and UVB. Many of the commercial sunscreens contain chemicals that can cause allergic skin reactions or irritations as well as create a toxic burden on the body; however, some brands from your local health food stores will provide you with skin protection while minimizing those toxic chemicals. Check out the Environmental Working Group website for a list of the best and worse sunscreens: