Chemical-Free Ways to Protect Skin This Summer

Posted on June 2, 2013
Woman covering herself with a sun hat

Getting badly burnt by the sun is never fun, and what’s even worse is what it does to your skin in the long-term. In the long-term, sun exposure (even if you don’t burn!) increases your risk of melanoma (the main type of skin cancer) and causes you to age and wrinkle earlier in life. This is why using a broad-spectrum, SPF 30 or higher sunscreen is so important.

But what if your skin can’t stand the chemicals used in most sunscreens? Some people are actually allergic to common sunscreen compounds, and can get irritated, red skin or even rashes from applying it, which is, of course, not desirable even if it doesprotect you from sun damage. When you’re trying to avoid getting burnt, it kind of defeats the purpose if the thing you’re using to prevent that burn makes you red all by itself.

So what’s a girl to do? Well, if you have a negative reaction to chemical sunscreens, or just want to avoid using them in general for other reasons, Vine Vera is here to show you how you can prevent sun damage without relying on irritating chemicals.

Use Physical Blocker Sunscreens

Probably the most important thing to understand if you want to avoid irritation with sunscreen is the difference between chemical sunscreens and physical-blocker sunblocks. The most common, easily available, and well-known sunscreens use specific chemical compounds that—when hit with ultraviolet rays—absorb the UV ray, react chemically, and give off the energy from the radiation in harmless ways that doesn’t hurt your skin. Physical sunblocks, on the other hand, are non-reactive, and are usually made up of a combination of finely ground minerals, generally titanium and/or zinc-based, which—when hit with those very same UV rays—simply reflect them away. No chemical reaction, just an ability to completely block the UV rays from even touching your skin at all.

Because they’re made with non-reactive minerals, physical sunblocks are extremely unlikely to irritate your skin, and allergies to them are practically unheard of. So, with a physical sunblock, you can protect yourself just as well (or perhaps even a little better, since physical sunblocks don’t degrade overtime and are better at protecting you all day long) without the need for harsh chemicals.

Install UV-blocking Windowpanes

If you spend most of your day indoors, you might believe you’re safe from the sun’s vicious onslaught, but unless you’ve thought ahead and gotten the right kind of windows, you’d be wrong. One of the reasons that dermatologists recommend using sun protection every day, as long as the sun’s out, is that, even indoors, you can get enough exposure to UV rays to contribute to long-term damage, even if you don’t burn.

To help with this, special windowpanes exist that do, in fact, filter out all damaging UV radiation, so call up your local glass or home improvement store and ask about having some installed.

Stay Inside During Peak Hours

Even with Sunscreen, there are certain hours of the day where it’s recommended to—if at all possible—stay out of the sun. These hours are whenever the sun’s highest in the sky, generally between 10 AM and 4 PM (adjust for daylight savings time accordingly, as necessary). During these times, if you can help it, stay inside, preferably in a home where you’ve installed the aforementioned UV filtering windowpanes!

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