Sun Protection: The Sun and Your Skin Year Round
Sun protection is of increasing importance, as the rate of skin cancer is on the rise. Our desire for a dark sun tan exposes us to the Sun's ultraviolet rays which can have detrimental effects on our skin and health. However, sunscreen lotions may not be the answer...
What exactly does the sun do to your skin?
Why Are Ultraviolet Rays from Sunlight Potentially Harmful to Our Skin?
There are two types of ultraviolet rays that have the potential to seriously damage our skin both in the short and the long term.
The shorter of the two is known as UVB. UVB rays do not penetrate the skin deeply, however, they can cause major damage to the DNA and are the type of radiation that will cause sunburn and lead to skin cancer.
The longer wavelength rays are UVA rays. These penetrate much deeper into the skin and produce free radicals. UVA radiation is associated with premature aging of the skin, also known as photo-aging.
How and Why Do You Get A Tan After Sun Exposure?
Exposing the skin to sunlight causes the epidermis (outer layer of the skin) to become thicker and initiates the melanocytes (cells in the skin that produce melanin - darker pigment) to produce melanin at a faster rate (Melanin absorbs the energy of UV light and prevents the light from penetrating deeper into the tissues). This process results in your skin developing a tan, the purpose of which is to give your skin increased protection against sunlight.
Problems associated with excessive or over-exposure to sun light:
There is quite a list of problems that can result from over-exposure to sunlight. The problems range from short to long term and they vary in severity from mild sunburn to malignant skin cancers that are potentially deadly.
Mild sunburn is not a major problem. The pain can be eased by using Aloe vera and Lavender and should not last more than a day or so. However, repeated sunburn will cause skin damage and premature ageing of the skin is usually the long term result. However, with increased severity of sunburn and increased frequency, developing skin cancers or skin tumours becomes a real possibility.
Skin cancers vary in severity and range from benign skin growths which can easily be removed to potentially fatal skin cancers that can spread to other parts of the body and may result in death. Not a price one should be willing to pay for a tan...
The skin is not the only organ that can suffer from over-exposure to the sun. The eyes are also susceptible to the sun's rays and may get damaged if not protected. Cataract, macular degeneration and other eye disorders are common results of over-exposure to the sun's radiation. While it is unlikely to loose one's eyesight as a direct result, there is always the possibility of complications that may end up in reduced or loss of eyesight.
Snow, water and even sand are highly reflective surfaces and on bright sunny days they multiply the effects of radiation. That is, even if you are sitting in the shade on a beach, the reflected radiation off the water and sand has the potential to cause serious sun damage to your skin. It is therefore very important to a) be aware of this and b) take preventative measures.
How to protect yourself from the sun's radiation
Wearing clothing that covers your whole body is one way to protect yourself. Using a wide-rimed hat, sunglasses, a long sleeve shirt and light, but full-length pants when out in the sun, is probably the best way to keep the harmful rays off your skin.
Stay in the shade as much as possible and avoid going out into the sun during the hours of 10:00 am to 4:00 pm in Summer and 10:00 am to 2:00 pm in Winter. Be careful of Daylight-Saving Time.
How Effective Is Your Sunscreen Lotion?
We are told that sunscreen lotions which contain SPFs (Sun Protection Factors) are also beneficial to keep the skin from burning, as they prevent the harmful rays from penetrating the skin. However, it has been shown that at least some of the ingredients used in these UV-protecting sunscreen lotions (ones that include SPFs) are potentially harmful to our health and should be avoided (Jarry, et al., 2004). This is why, we at Wildcrafted Herbal Products, do not put SPFs into any of our natural skin care products, but rely on anti-oxidants and other ingredients to help the skin cope with exposure to the elements.
Researchers have shown that “… sunscreens may prevent skin redness partly by UV absorption and partly by inhibiting the skin’s inflammatory response. As such, sunscreens might promote instead of protect against melanomas” 2,3. Another 5-year skin cancer study in Queensland, Australia, into the effectiveness of sunscreens, showed that from an initial 1621 participants, there was no difference in the number of skin cancers between the group of people who used sunscreens and the ones that did not. In other words, this study showed, that whether you use sunscreen protection or not, your chances of developing skin cancer is the same 3. Serpone, et al., (2007) report several other studies that showed similar results, that is showed the ineffectiveness of sunscreens.
Considering the wide use of sunscreens (containing SPFs) one could reasonably expect the incidence of skin cancers to reduce, however, this is not the case and in fact, especially in the northern hemisphere, the incident of skin cancer seems to be rising...
Natural Means of Protecting Your Skin
Apart from covering your body when out in the sun, there are additional precautions you can take to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun.
Antioxidants include: vitamins A, C, E; selenium; coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), and alpha-lipoic acid, Green tea to mention a few. These antioxidants stabilise the free radicals formed by UVA radiation penetrating to the deeper layers of the skin. Food for Your Skin, is an article which will provide you with information as to which foods contain these antioxidants.
Essential Oils and Herbal Extracts:
There are several herbs, plant extracts and essential oils that will help to nourish, revitalise and to some extent help repair damaged skin. Among these are Lavender Oil, Echinacea purpurea (herbal extract/tincture), Yellow Dock (herbal extract/tincture), Aloe vera gel (plant extract), Green tea and many others.
When you are out in the sun, increase your intake of water, as the skin uses perspiration to cool us down. This perspiration is water (mostly) and as it evaporates from our skin, we need to replenish it, else we become dehydrated and the skin can not effectively cool the body.
Using mineral water (water containing natural mineral salts) can be of additional benefit, as it contains salts which aids the body in utilising more of the water.
Natural Skin Care Products:
Natural skin care products contain many of the essential oils and herbal extracts referred to above as well as cosmetic butters and other natural and beneficial ingredients. As such they can help to protect and nourish your skin. Good quality products provide nutrients in the form of essential oils and other plant extracts, and assist in preventing dehydration of the skin.
Natural substances such such as vit. E (alpha-tocopherol) combined with vit. C has been shown to protecting the skin (to some extent at least) from the harmful rays of the sun4.
In addition, following a daily skin care regime will keep your skin healthy and vibrant, and will thus help your skin to better cope with protecting itself from the sun.
- Hubertus Jarry, Julie Christoffel, Guillermo Rimoldi, Lilli Koch, Wolfgang Wuttke (2004) Multi-organic endocrine disrupting activity of the UV screen benzophenone 2 (BP2) in ovariectomized adult rats after 5 days treatment. Toxicology, 205: 87–93.
- T.M. Chiang, R.M. Sayre, J.C. Dowdy, N.K. Wilkin and E.W. Rosenberg, Melanoma Res. 15 (2005), p. 3. Cell Res. 12 (2002), p. 311.
- Nick Serpone, Daniele Dondi, Angelo Albini (2007) Inorganic and organic UV filters: Their role and efficacy in sunscreens and suncare products. Inorganica Chimica Acta 360 (2007) 794–802.
- Fuchs, J. (1998) Potentials and limitations of the natural antioxidants RRR-alpha-tocopherol, Image-ascorbic acid and β-carotene in cutaneous photoprotection. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, Volume 25, Issue 7, Pages 848-873.
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Skin Care Secrets Uncovered
There are many myths, half-truths and facts about skin care. There are no secrets to skin care, but there are some not so well known facts. Skin care secrets come in all shapes and sizes - like using haemorrhoid cream to reduce bags under the eyes and so on.
In this article, however, we look at some statements made by an author (whom I will not name) of a skin care book and review how valid these are. Skin care secrets are not secrets at all. Most of the time skin care is simple common sense. Unfortunately common sense is not very common...
Authors statement - Skin care secret #1: You can clean your skin, but you can't "deep-clean" it.
Comment: Anyone reading our article on natural facial clays knows the author of the above statement is not a 'deep-thinker'. Clays draw toxins and other waste materials lodged in the pores of the skin out and are more effective than any water-soluble cleansers. The properties of Green Clay for example are very powerful in drawing toxins, micro-organisms and even bacteria into the clay for easy removal. This is why Green Clay products are often used to treat skin conditions such as acne.
Author's statement - Skin care secret #2: Dry skin doesn't wrinkle any more or less than oily skin.
Comment: Dehydration can reduce the water content of the skin from 70.6 to 65.85% (1). Therefore, it stands to reason that as the water is taken from skin cell, they tend to become flaccid and result in wrinkles. Using moisturisers that hold moisture in the skin rather than allowing the moisture to be lost, is definitely sensible and recommended by most dermatologists. In addition, good quality, natural moisturising creams not only help to keep moisture in the skin, but also provide vital nourishment in the form of plant nutrients for the skin to utilise.
Furthermore, dehydration is associated with changes in the appearance of the skin. In mild dehydration the skin may appear flushed, dry and loose, with a loss of elasticity (2,3). Obviously, loose skin is more likely to appear wrinkled than firm, well hydrated skin.
As I've stated in many of my articles, drinking 2-3 litres of water every day is paramount and indeed no moisturiser in the world can substitute for drinking water. In addition, dry skin tends to become irritated and easily inflamed potentially leading to eczema or dermatitis. Using a moisturiser will help to reduce the irritation and itching caused by dry skin and may prevent the complication of developing more sever skin conditions.
Author's statement - Skin care secret #3: A great number of skin-care problems are caused by the skin-care products used to prevent them.
Comment: Absolutely true. Many commercially available skin care products contain an extraordinary amount of chemicals in them. Many of these are deemed hazardous to our health. I've written an article that lists 10 commonly used chemicals in expensive brands of skin care products, all of which science has shown to be potentially harmful to our health. Read Toxic Ingredients in Skin Care Products if you wish to have a look at these ingredients.
Author's statement - Skin care secret #4: Getting a tan is foolish. If you are exposed to the sun, even for as little as 10 to 20 minutes a day, which includes walking to your car or talking to a neighbor outdoors, that cumulative exposure over the years will wrinkle your skin.
Comment: Rubbish. Your skin needs a small amount of exposure to be able to synthesise Vit. D. In addition, your skin is well armed to handle some limited exposure to the sun unless you are suffering from albumism.
Obviously nobody should spend hours in full sun, especially in summer, without covering their body using some sun protection and keeping well hydrated. However, if you expose your body's skin to sunlight before 10:00 am or after 4:00pm (during Summer) the intensity of the radiation is much less than during the mid-day hours. If you keep your skin exposure to under 15 minutes during this time, you are not likley to get burned and your skin will have a chance to make that vitamin D you need for you.
So there you have it. The secret to good skin care is simple common sense prevailing over marketing hype, and when combined with a little knowledge you can quickly determine what is right and what it hype.
(1) W Bianca. Effects of water deprivation on the water content of cattle skin. Int J Biometeorol 1968;12:153-157
(2) Principles of Human Nutrition. Ed M Eastwood. Chapter 8: Water, electrolytes, minerals and trace elements. London: Chapman & Hall 1997
(3) Kleiner SM. Water: An essential but overlooked nutrient. J Am Diet Assoc 1999;99;201-7
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Why Using a Toner as Part of Your Skin Care Regime is Important
Why Using a Toner as Part of Your Skin Care Regime is Important
As women are experiencing ever increasing demands on their time, many have opted out of using a toner in their skin care regime and only use cleansing and moisturising as the key steps to keeping their skin looking healthy, vibrant and young.
This is however a big mistake, as toning is a very important part of a daily skin care regime. Toning follows the cleansing routine and actually serves some important functions.
- Toning closes the pores of the skin. Once cleansing of the skin has been completed, the pores tend to be open and therefore slightly enlarged. As a result, moisture can leave the skin, which in return dehydrates the skin. This is not a desired effect on the contrary loss of moisture from the skin is highly undesirable.
- Closing of the pores has another benefit. It stops dust and other air born particles from settling in the pores and potentially causing problems. In addition, good quality, natural toners are anti-septic and provides moisture and nutrients to the skin, preparing the skin for the third step in a skin care regime - Moisturising.
Some skin care companies have tried to eliminate the need for this step combining the cleansing and toning steps into one step and formulated their cleansers to include toning functions.
Now think about this for a second and you will realise how ridiculous this concept is. A cleanser is supposed to open the pores and remove dirt and stale natural oils from the pores and thus cleansing the skin. A toner, as we discussed above, is designed to close to pores... See the contradiction? It cannot possibly work.
Any astringent (substance that closes the pores) cannot be applied to the skin at the same time as a product that is supposed to open and cleanse the pores. It just does not work. The whole idea is just to market a product to time-poor women by telling them they can combine these to steps and thus save time.
Unfortunately most women do not fully understand just how their skin care products work. They like them, their skin may even look good and the products therefore appear to be doing their job. In reality however, these types of skin care products are only doing a moderate amount of caring for the skin and the bulk of the products do very little at all except look good on the shelf and cost money.
The three steps in any good daily skin care regime must include cleansing, toning and moisturising. In addition, you should always consider using natural skin care products, as there are too many synthetic and artificial chemicals in commercially made skin care products which may actually do you harm.
Let’s look at a natural toner and it’s ingredients to understand how they actually work.
Wildcrafted's Wild Herb Toner is used for oily skin and has a number of specifically chosen ingredients, which include:
Rosemary, Witch hazel, Juniper Berry and Peppermint. These herbs and essential oils are chosen for their toning and invigorating effects on the skin, while Grapefruit, Niaouli and Sweet Orange refresh the skin and combine to maintain normal sebum (oil) secretion.
Rosemary oil is effective in the care of oily and sluggish skin being rejuvenating and promoting circulation. The herbal extract of Witch hazel is strongly astringent and anti-inflammatory. Juniper berry oil has a tonic effect on oily skin, while Peppermint is used for its cooling and refreshing actions on the skin.
As with most of the citrus oils, essential oil of Grapefruit has a cleansing and toning effect on the skin and is particularly good for oily and congested skin. It tightens puffy skin and reduces enlarged pores and helps to disperse pockets of accumulated fluid and impurities. Similarly, the Hydrosol of Niaouli is tonic and antiseptic to the skin and is particularly good for use on oily skin types. The essential oil of Sweet Orange is added for its fragrance and its gentle action on normalising oily skin.
Now you might have noticed, that several of the citrus oils are indeed also cleansing in their actions. Do not confuse using cleansing in conjunction with a toner as meaning cleansing of pores. Pores will close as soon as an astringent is used, however, the area of skin that is not a pore, will get a cleansing effect and removing of stale, natural oils.
A distinction must be made as to what you want a product to do. You may be able to use similar oils or herbal extracts, but there are specific actions that must be focused on. If you are formulating a cleanser you cannot use herbs or essential oils that have an astringent action or else you will not be able to cleanse the pores of the skin. If on the other hand you are formulating a toner, an astringent action must be one of its key actions and thus it is formulated to close the pores, preventing cleaning of the pores. This is why you have used a cleanser, which does allow for cleansing of open pores, before using a toner.
It is really quite simple and once you know what each of the steps are designed to do, it is easy to see why the 3-Step daily skin care regime is important.
About An Interesting Herb: Bergamot (Citrus aurantium)
(Citrus aurantium var. bergamia - Bitter Orange)
Bergamot oil is obtained by cold pressing the peel of the unusual pear-shaped fruit of the bitter orange. The small tree on which the fruit is found, is part of the Rutaceae (citrus) Family and grows in Italy. It should not be confused with Bee Balm that grows in North America and is also commonly called ‘Bergamot’.
Properties of Bergamot Oil:
- Vermufuge, and
Uses in Natural Skin Care:
Being antiseptic and wound healing, Bergamot is useful in toning lotions for skin irritations and in cleansers and creams for acne.
Traditional Medicinal Uses:
Bergamot has been used as a digestive tonic and a worming agent. As it is reputed to be strongly antiseptic with an affinity for the respiratory, digestive and urinary systems, it has also been used for a variety of infections and inflammations of these areas.
It has a refreshing and uplifting odour and is useful in depression and anxiety states, such as PMT, Post-Natal Depression, and can be found in:
Other Applications and Uses:
- Skin: Abscess, Acne,Carbuncles, Eczema, Herpes, Psoriasis, Scabies, Skin care, Wounds, and Ulcers (Tisserand, 1992).
- Respiratory: Bronchitis, Respiratory tract infections, Tonsillitis, Tuberculosis, Diphtheria (Tisserand, 1992).
- Other: Colic, Cystitis, Depression, Fevers, Flatulence, Gall stones, Glossitis, Gonorrhoea, Halitosis, Leucorrhoea, Nervous tension, Stomatitis, Urinary tract infections, Vaginal pruritis, and Varicouse ulcers (Tisserand, 1992).
Contraindications and Cautions: Some chemotypes of the essential oil increase the sensitivity of the skin to sunlight and may produce irritation in sensitive skins. Always use in dilution.
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We hope you enjoyed these articles and invite you to send us suggestions of topics you would like to see us cover in the coming months. Your suggestions are always welcome and we endeavour to cover the topics you would like to know more about - so don't be shy, drop us a line or two!
Also there are some great new posts in the forum and we look forward to 'seeing' you there.
In good health
Danny & Susan Siegenthaler
© Copyright: Wildcrafted Herbal Products, 2007
Wildcrafted's Natural Skin Care Newsletter - Back Issues
Hello to you all, and a hearty Miau.
I hope you found last month's article on Older Pets interesting and informative.
Choosing the Right Pet for You
Pets are great, they provide entertainment, companionship, friendship, and a whole lot more. However, they can also be the biggest problem you’ve brought into your life. That’s why when considering adding a pet to your home you should take great care to select the right one for you.
These days, people don’t just choose between cats or dogs as pets. The range of pets is growing and can include horses, reptiles, fish, birds, pigs and even some insects are becoming popular choices. The key is to identify which type of pet is right for you, your family and your circumstances.
If we consider dogs, just as an example, there are ‘lap dogs’ at one end of the spectrum and ‘hunting dogs’ at the other. If you are elderly and not very mobile, a hunting dog may not be your best choice. Similarly, if you live in a small flat, a Great Dane or an Irish Wolfhound may not necessarily fit the bill either.
Below are some questions you might think about before purchasing a pet:
* Do you have room for a pet?
* What activities do you enjoy and do you want your pet to be part of these?
* How do you spend your day?
* Do you have a No-Pets clause where you live?
* How much will your pet cost initially and over the long term?
* What if a pet does not fit your lifestyle?
* How much time can you devote to your pet?
* How difficult will your pet’s grooming regime be and how much time will it take?
* Do you have any allergies to dogs, cats or other animals?
* Can someone look after your pet if you are temporarily unable to do so?
These are just some questions to get you started. Once you’ve answered these questions and possibly added some of your own, you could talk to a veterinarian and ask for some advice as to the type of pet that would most likely suite your life and home’s circumstances.
If you take the time and do your research carefully and then look for the right pet that is likely to fit into your life and your home, you are less likely to create yourself a problem, and are more likely to enjoy all the benefits of having a pet as a companion and family member.
For now, Miau from me, until next month.
Kitty the Cat.
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Treat Your Skin to the Best Nature has to offer.
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Choose Wildcrafted Herbal Products to Look After Your Skin Naturally.
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