Sunshine is extremely good for you. It enables your body to produce Vitamin D, which is necessary for absorbing calcium. It also improves your mood and some people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) without it.
However, too much sun is damaging, especially to fair skins. In this country, where summers are unpredictable, and sunny days not guaranteed, it is tempting to “make the most” of the sunshine when it appears. However, the result is usually red, sore, burnt skin.
It is a common belief that skin won’t tan unless it has burnt first. This is completely untrue! Burnt skin won’t tan because it is damaged. Keep burnt skin exposed to sunlight, and you will only burn more. Not only are you creating wrinkled, dry skin for yourself, but you are greatly increasing your risk of skin cancer.
You need to give your skin time to get used to the sun. A bit of a tan is fine, but only if you have the sort of skin that tans. The darker your skin is, the more it is protected from UV light, but pale skin sometimes won’t tan at all, and exposing it to strong sunlight won’t make it tan – you need to accept the skin you have.
Herbal advice for healthy skin in the sun includes a diet full of anti-oxidants to minimise sun damage and keeping covered up when sunlight is strong (especially at the beginning of summer, when your skin is still pale).
Prevention is best, but if you do get sunburnt, apply aloe vera gel to soothe and heal the skin, and compresses of cucumber to cool the skin. If the skin has become badly sunburnt and blistered, bathe it in strong, cooled Calendula tea. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of dried Calendula petals and leave until cool. Strain and then soak a cloth in the tea, wring gently and lay over the affected area. Repeat several times until the skin feels cooler and soothed.
Irritated skin may benefit from an oat bath. Wrap a cup of rolled oats in a cotton cloth and tie under the bath tap. When the bath is filled, use the oat-filled cloth as a sponge, washing the body with the soft, milky liquid that seeps out of it.
Even if your skin is dark, sunshine can still affect it, either making it dry and flaky, or oily. Moisturise dry, flaky skin with comfrey cream or olive oil. An easy way to make comfrey cream is to stir infused oil of comfrey into plain, unscented moisturising cream. Use a herbal toning lotion, such as the one below, to reduce oiliness, close pores and freshen the skin.
Rosewater, Elderflower and Witch Hazel Toning Lotion
- 60ml elderflower water
- 60ml rosewater
- 60ml distilled witch hazel
- 2 drops of sandalwood essential oil
Mix all the ingredients together and bottle. Shake well before using.
Lavender Sunburn Oil
- 30ml olive oil
- 30ml cider vinegar
- 30ml glycerine
- 10-15 drops lavender essential oil
Mix together and keep in a bottle. Apply gently and frequently to painful, burnt skin. Use this after sun exposure, not before, and keep burnt skin out of the sun.