Updated: Nov 8, 2022
When it comes to summer many of us can’t wait to get out and enjoy the sunshine. In addition to making us feel good, there are many health benefits for our minds and bodies. Getting out for a couple hours of early morning sunlight and gazing into the sun can help to set a healthy circadian rhythm.1 This means that you’ll get more high quality sleep and be able to feel and look your best.
Once the sun’s UV rays reach an index of 3 or higher it’s a great time to go without sunscreen and get some vitamin D. It takes about 10-15 minutes of direct sun exposure on bare skin to synthesize 1000 IUs vitamin D.2 This tends to occur around the hot mid-day sun. So, while it is important to have some time without sunscreen to make this important vitamin. You will also want to wear a good mineral-based spf if you are planning to spend a long time outside.
Some good clean sunscreen brands we like are: Alba Botanica, All Good, Attitude, Babyganics, Badger, Blue Lizard, Think, and Think Baby. Those sunscreens, as well as others not listed, are mineral-based and don’t contain harmful chemicals. These 11 ingredients in sunscreen should be avoided at all costs: Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octocrylene, Cinoxate, Dioxybenzone, Ensulizole, Meradimate, Padimate O, and Sulisobenzone. These ingredients can cause endocrine disruption, reproductive issues, cancer, environmental damage, and more.3 Using the Environmental Working Group website (www.ewg.org) is a great tool to check if your products are considered safe.
If you do get a burn, applying Aloe Vera gel will help to soothe and heal your skin. Get yourself an Aloe Vera plant, that's the purest form of aloe to use on burns. It's best to apply cold compresses first to cool the skin and stick with only pure aloe gel, rather than heavy lotions or oils so that you don't seal in the heat and do more damage.
Another part of summer that we don’t love so much are the bugs. Unfortunately, these are par for the course if you live in rural areas or spend your time camping or at cottages. Luckily, there are some simple, healthy solutions that can make your time more enjoyable.
Natural patches are a great option for kids. They are made with essential oils and come in cute happy face stickers that you can stick onto their clothing. You can also make your own sprays using 1 part lemon eucalyptus oil and 10 parts witch hazel. There are also many other recipes you can try out and see what works best for you. It’s best to avoid products containing DEET whenever possible. There are many mixed studies out there concerning the safety of this product and whether or not it is carcinogenic, however, at the very least, it is known to cause rashes and skin irritation and can be very toxic for young children, animals, and wildlife.4
If you get bites, there’s a great product called, Nature’s Aid, which works well at taking the itch and inflammation out of the bite. It contains: aloe, witch hazel, tea tree oil, rosemary, and vitamin E. This product is great to have on hand and is beneficial for so many ailments, including more sun-related problems, such as burns and cold sores.
Get out and enjoy your summer but remember to keep these tips in mind! And, as always, proper hydration is key. Ensure you are drinking ½ oz for every pound of body weight on a normal day and make sure to increase that if you will be out sweating in the hot sun. It is also very important to get enough salt and potassium as straight water alone is not enough for adequate hydration. A delicious hydrating drink to try is 1 L of water with a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds, ½ lime, juiced, and a generous pinch of Himalayan or sea salt. Adjust amounts per taste but don’t leave out the salt!
Wirz-Justice A, Skene DJ, Münch M. The relevance of daylight for humans. Biochem Pharmacol. 2021 Sep;191:114304. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2020.114304. Epub 2020 Oct 28. PMID: 33129807.
Grassroots Health Nutrient Research Institute. May 4, 2020. Your Shadow Can Tell You if it’s the Right Time to Make Vitamin D. https://www.grassrootshealth.net/blog/shadow-can-tell-right-time-make-vitamin-d/
Color Science. 2022. What Sunscreen is Safe to Use? 11 Sunscreen Ingredients to Avoid. https://www.colorescience.com/blogs/blog/what-sunscreen-is-safe-understanding-healthy-and-safe-sunscreen-ingredients#2
Ruggeri, Christine. August 13, 2018. 6 DEET Dangers (Plus, Safer Science-Backed Swaps). Dr. Axe. https://draxe.com/health/deet/