Your sunscreen may be to blame!
If your skin is starting to feel like the Sahara, you’re not alone. Even if you’ve been slathering on sunscreen all summer, the sun is hard on the complexion.
Part of the problem is what’s in sunscreen. A new report from Friends of the Earth questions the safety of manufactured nanoparticles—a popular, new way to deliver cosmetic ingredients—in sun protection products.
That’s because sun protective ingredients work differently as tiny nanoparticles than they do in their usual “bulk” form. Even the “gold standards” of sun protection—titanium dioxide and zinc oxide—don’t protect against dangerous radiation in minute form as nanoparticles.
This summer you may not have been getting the protection you thought from UVA (cancer-causing) rays and UVB (skin-burning) rays, but that’s not all! Whether used in sunscreens or your favorite cosmetics, nanoparticles can easily enter the skin. They can also be inhaled through the lungs, where they enter the bloodstream with unlimited access to tissues and organs.
Benzophenone, found in most chemical sunscreens, “is one of the most powerful free-radical generators known to man,” says Canadian researcher Hans Larsen, MSc, ChE. This ingredient and its derivatives (oxybenzone and benzophenone-3) may actually help promote skin cancer.
Antioxidants, on the other hand, offer real protection in sunscreens. One new study finds that botanical antioxidants, green tea, and vitamin C and E in broad-spectrum sunscreen lessen UV-induced sun damage more effectively than other sunscreens. Other research finds that taking vitamin E, grapeseed extract, and other nutrients can raise the skin’s own sun protective factor (SPF) by 10 percent!
Knowing that the skin is a major detoxification organ, I always avoid nanoparticles in any cosmetic and skin care products that I use. And I’m well aware that beauty is only skin deep.
If you want to stop those fine lines that the summer sun has added to your face, consume essential fatty acids (EFAs) like flaxseed oil. They lubricate the fatty layer just beneath your skin, giving you a dewy complexion that everyone will admire. In addition to taking GLA (another essential fat) as a supplement, you can also break open a capsule and smooth it on sun-parched skin.
Nurture your complexion from the inside out with vitamin A, the number one wrinkle fighter. Getting enough of this vitamin from brightly colored fruits and vegetables (plus a good multivitamin) helps ensure that skin stays taut, silky soft, and youthful looking—at any age. And don’t forget other antioxidant vitamins C and E. Or that all-star beauty mineral, antioxidant zinc.
“B” smart with your skin nutrients. A guardian angel for women, vitamin B6 helps treat dry skin so common this time of year, as well as acne. Pantothenic acid stops premature aging and wrinkles—due to summer sun—in their tracks. Other B vitamins (like folic acid, niacin, inositol, and choline) also support clear, supple skin.
At any age or stage of life, follow the basics of good skin care twice a day. Cleanse with a natural product suitable for your skin type. To tighten pores, tone with an alcohol-free astringent to prevent drying. Then moisturize to protect your skin from bacteria, makeup, smog, and other damaging agents. Daily moisturizing fattens up skin cells, helping to make your skin feel smooth and silky.
Unless you have sensitive skin or broken capillaries, you want to exfoliate gently once or twice a week. This will get rid of summer’s dead, dry skin, while stimulating circulation to give you a radiant, healthy-looking glow.