Natural Sun Protection

If you don't want to smear strange chemicals all over yourself, here are some approaches to natural sun protection and natural sunburn remedies.

| July/August 1980

Most of us are aware that overexposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays is potentially dangerous, and that a gradual tanning routine — as the summer season progresses — is the only commonsense approach to sunbathing.

It's less well known, however, that you can augment your body's natural sun protection systems if you increase your consumption of C and B vitamins, all of which are depleted when your body is regularly exposed to solar rays. Summer's delicious harvests of fresh cantaloupe, strawberries, tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli and collard greens provide — as do citrus fruits and juices — excellent sources of vitamin C. Foods rich in vitamin B include eggs, liver, poultry, wheat germ, unrefined cereals, milk, bananas, tuna, salmon, spinach, peas and dried brewer's yeast.

Inexpensive Sun Protection

Other natural protective aids are readily (and economically) available from your kitchen, bathroom cupboard, pharmacy, or health food store. (Note: As with all sun-care products, it's best to avoid the eye area when applying any of the following preparations.)

Sesame is the polyunsaturated nut oil "which most fully absorbs the ultraviolet rays of the sun," according to herbalist and natural beauty expert, Dian Dancin Buchman. In The Complete Herbal Guide to Natural Beauty, Dian suggests applying sesame seed oil alone as a tanning aid, or — if you have access only to whole seeds — grinding a handful of them in your blender or nut grinder and adding a few drops of water to make a milky fluid. One quarter teaspoon of witch hazel or ethyl alcohol can be used as a preservative, or you can just label the bottle and keep it refrigerated. (When swimming, you'll have to reapply the lotion each time you come out of the water, as it will wash off and leave you unprotected.)

Ms. Buchman also mentions that a combination of sesame oil, anhydrous lanolin, and water can be used as an effective tanning cream. Simply melt 1/4 cup of the lanolin in the top of a double boiler, then immediately blend in 1/4 cup of sesame oil and 3/4 cup of water. This mixture can also be stored in the refrigerator in a clean, labeled container.

Another natural sun remedy consists of peeling and mashing one large cucumber — straining the liquid through cheesecloth — then adding 1 teaspoon each of low-cost rose water and glycerin, both of which you can probably buy at your local pharmacy.

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