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Can I eat my sunscreen?

Can I eat my sunscreen?  What a strange thing to ask!    

Glowing skin is an indicator of your overall health. Use of sunscreen is widely recommended to protect from sun damage and slow the ageing process.  

What does exposure to sun do to our skin

It not only triggers inflammation, suppresses our immune system, accelerates ageing and wrinkle formation, it can also increase the risk of cancer and overall skin damage.  

This can be slowed by protecting our skin from sun exposure by using sunscreen, hats, sunshades, avoiding peak UV times etc.    

UV A rays penetrate the skin deeper than UV B hence any topical sunscreen we use must block both. UV A is more related to skin damage, whilst UV B is associated more with skin cancer   

Sunscreens

  • Sunscreens scatter the rays and absorb the energy from the UV rays to prevent sun damage. 
  •  Lookout for more UV A protection and ensure the sunscreen you buy or make at home has the UV filter titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.  
  • Avoid sunscreens with parabens and oxybenzone. 
  • Homemade sunscreens cannot be waterproof as they must be processed in a lab to make them waterproof. 
  • European and Asian sunscreens offer better protection from UV A than American products.  
  • Even water-resistant sunscreen needs to be applied every 2 hours.   

So can I eat my sunscreen?

Of course not. You can’t eat any sunscreen that you’ve bought. However there are a lot of strategies that include eating foods, which can protect your skin.

  • Grapes- Red or purple grapes are high in polyphenols which prevent reactive oxygen species from being produced from the effect of UV A and UV B.  
  • Red peppers. They have Vitamin C, and beta carotenoids which is a precursor of Vitamin A. It takes time for these to kick in, so start munching on them up to 12 weeks before summer – which practically means include them in your diet all the time!  
  • Sweet potatoes and carrots. Full of beta carotenoids, include them in your diet with some olive oil to help absorb the fat-soluble vitamins. Bake, boil, crisp, stew – eat in any form you like.  
  • Olive oil. Use daily and especially in BBQ, it has squalene which prevents skin damage. Of course not excessive to avoid those calories.  
  • Red wine. Lesser amounts especially with your BBQ.   
  • Blueberries. There is a reason nature gives us these in summer   
  • Citrus fruits with their vitamin C help make collagen by increasing hyaluronic acid in our body.  
  • Watermelon and tomatoes have lycopene which absorbs UV A and UV B.  
  • Nuts and seeds like walnuts contain Omega 3 which being anti-inflammatory, slows the ageing of the skin too.  
  • Green leafy, spinach / kale etc. are full of Vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin.  
  • Green tea stimulates collagen, which gives our skin integrity and firmness.  
  • Cauliflower. Not just high in antioxidants it has histidine. This alpha-amino acid stimulates the production of urocanic acid, which absorbs UV radiation.  
  • Ginseng is anti-inflammatory.  
  • Cilantro/coriander has Vitamin C and collagen boosting linolenic acid.  
  • Seaweed in the form of powder or Nori sheets are full of skin protecting vitamins.  
  • Tend to your inner garden-Probiotics and prebiotics which support our gut microbiome can boost skin health. 

Home remedies for sun damage

  • Drink lots of water.   
  • Apply cool water. Avoid pool water due to chlorine and ice – both can irritate the skin.  
  • Soak in a bath with 1 tablespoon of baking soda and some oats.
  • Apply 100% aloe vera gel or the gel directly from the plant (not aloe-based lotion or cream).
  • Chamomile tea – cool it down then soak a cloth and apply on sunburnt skin. NOT if you are allergic to pollens.
  • Apply a light moisturiser to reduce peeling. 

The Bottom-line

Although you can’t eat your shop bought sunscreen, there are a lot of things you can eat  to boost your body and skin, in preparation for your holidays in the sun or the summer season.

  • Eat seasonal, colourful foods.  
  • Start 12 weeks before summer /expected sun exposure or preferably all the time.  
  • Along with sunscreen applying Vitamin C serum and hyaluronic acid is better than collagen capsules and drinks.  

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