Author Archives: Jessica Daniel

Sunbathing Through The Years

The idea of a sun-kissed look has changed over time. While some find a glowing tan to be a healthy look, others are all too aware of the damaging effects of the sun. Read on to find out how perceptions of a tan have evolved throughout the years.

Woman Sunbathing
In early times, many people worked outdoors. The increased exposure to the sun often resulted in significant, painful and even disfiguring burns that left most highly motivated to stay shielded from the sun. Those who had pale, porcelain were envied as this was a sign of wealth and stature. However, after the turn of the 20th century, the wealthy started taking vacations and returning with glowing tans which became the new vogue. Beauty products soon followed suit, to keep up with the new trends.

Sun protection products were first introduced in the 1950’s by Coppertone.  The company claimed their lotions would allow you to tan while protecting you from the sun.  However, as Erika Summers, M.D., a University of Utah dermatologist points our, “They claimed the product let in only the UV rays that promoted tanning and kept out the ones that burned you, which we now know is inaccurate. Simply put, all freckling and tanned skin is damaged.”

The concept of SPF was introduced in the 1960’s. However, the amount added to suntan lotions was very low, around 2-4 SPF. The additives were often thick and oily and didn’t rub into the skin very well.

Woman putting on sunscreen
During the 1970’s and 1980’s, tanning oils became more popular. At the same time, researchers were making progress in figuring out the effects of UV rays and creating sunscreens with sweat and water protection. Despite all of this, the media advertised sunbathing as the best way to take care of your skin. Summers elaborates, “Most of my patients who applied iodine or baby oil to tan have more skin cancers, wrinkles, and sunspots than my patients who did not. The people who practiced good sun protection back then actually have more youthful skin now.”

Finally, in the 1990’s UVA blockers were added to sunscreen and spray and gel sunscreens started getting more popular. SPF’s were also available in everyday products and higher SPF’s were seen more frequently.

Presently, the FDA regulates sunscreen labels to make them easy for consumers to understand. SPF levels are clearly stated on the labels, as is the fact of whether or not the sunscreens are broad spectrum. Vague descriptions like ‘sunblock’ and ‘waterproof’ are no longer used.

Despite all of this, dermatologists still stress covering up as the best way to avoid skin cancer and sun damage. When this is not possible, individuals should wear hats and sun protective clothing and apply a broad spectrum sunscreen daily, that is effective against UVA and UVB rays. Summers adds, “If you are insistent on looking tan, use a self-tanning product that also has an included sunscreen with SPF 30 or above. It is a myth that the self-tanner alone provides adequate protection from the sun.”

Sunburn Soothing Treatments

Woman with sunscreen Regardless of all the information we are given to protect our skin from the sun, sunburns do happen. Either we lose track of time, forget to reapply, maybe even nod off while sunbathing. Well, nobody’s perfect. And, if you do get a sunburn, you need to know that best way to treat it.

At first signs of a sunburn, you should act fast to cool it. If you are near water, you might want to take a quick dip to cool skin… with emphasis on the word ‘quick’! You don’t want to prolong exposure so it’s important to cool skin and then cover up and get out of the sun as quickly as possible. Then follow up by treating skin with cool compresses or ice water, but do not apply ice directly to sunburn. A cool shower or bath can be effective if you don’t stay in the water too long since it can have a drying effect. You also want to avoid harsh soap.

Moisturizing is also an important step in treating sunburn. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends moisturizing while skin is still damp from cooling and then follow up to keep the skin moist over the next few days. Avoid petroleum or oil based ointments which can trap heat and make the burn worse.

You also want to make sure you treat the inflammation as soon as possible. “At first sign of sunburn, taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin can help with discomfort and inflammation,” says Dr. Brackeen, who practices at the Skin Cancer Institute in Lubbock, TX. You can continue with the NSAIDs until the burn feels better. Over the counter cortisone cream, and aloe vera are both topical solutions that will help to this end. It is recommended you wear loose, soft clothing to avoid further skin irritation and stay out of the sun while sunburn is still active.

While healing from a sunburn, you want to drink plenty of fluids. “Burns draw fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body, so you may become dehydrated,” explains Brackeen. Rehydrate by drinking extra liquids including water and sports drinks that will replenish electrolytes at the first sign of burning and as skin heals.

woman with sunburn
Seek medical help if there are signs of severe blistering over a large portion of your body. You may also want to see a doctor if you are experiencing fever, chills, wooziness or confusion. Do not scratch or pop blisters as this may cause infection. Signs of infection include red streaks or oozing puss.

Although skin will heal from a sunburn, the skin has still been damaged. Repeat sunburns put you at a risk for skin cancer and premature aging so prevention is really the best route. Covering exposed skin, limiting sun exposure, and using an adequate amount of broad spectrum sunblock with a sufficient SPF are all key in avoiding sunburn. The SCF offers, “Remember how bad this sunburn felt, then commit to protecting yourself from the sun every day, all year long. Learn from the burn.”

Aloe Vera Cure All

Aloe Vera
Aloe vera. It’s in most of our medicine cabinets and used in our favorite skincare products. But did you know that in Chinese medicine it is recommended in the treatment of fungal diseases and has widespread use in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industries? In fact, the manufacturing of aloe vera extracts is one of the largest botanical industries in the world. Find out what it can do for you.

Soothes Rashes and Skin Irritations
Sure, when we have a rash or sunburn, aloe vera may be the first thing we reach for. But did you know that numerous reports have explored the role of topical aloe vera and its effectiveness in treatment of psoriasis, surgical wounds and burn remedies yielding astonishing results?

A 1996 study done at the Department of Clinical Physiology in Sweden tested 60 patients with chronic psoriasis and found results when part of the group used aloe vera vs. others who used a placebo. Those who used aloe vera came up with a cure rate of 83% with no relapses reported in a 12 month follow-up. Also, a systematic review of 40 studies was performed in 2009 showing that the oral administration of aloe vera in mice can heal wounds, decrease the number and size of papillomas (small growths on skin) and reduce the incidence of tumors by more than 90% in the liver, spleen and bone marrow. The studies also show that aloe vera effectively treats genital herpes, cold sores, dermatitis, frostbite, burns and can be safely used as an antifungal and antimicrobial agent.

Aloe Vera
Moisturizes Hair and Scalp

Aloe vera is also a great hair and scalp moisturizer. It’s nourishing properties and tons of vitamins and minerals will keep hair strong and healthy. It’s antibacterial and antifungal properties help with dandruff and the gel’s enzymes can rid the scalp of dead cells and promote regeneration of skin tissues around the hair follicles. Unlike many shampoos and conditioners, aloe vera is free of chemicals that can damage hair and cause skin irritations.

Treats Constipation
Aloe latex is a fluid derived from the inner lining of the leaves of the aloe vera plant. This juice has a natural fiber that aids digestion and improves bowel movements. Experts recommend drinking two ounces of aloe vera juice daily when constipated.

Boosts Immune System
The enzymes present in aloe vera break down what we eat into amino acids which turn the enzymes into fuel for every cell in the body, allowing the cells to function properly. Bradykinase, an anti-inflammatory mediator found in aloe vera, stimulates the immune system and kills infections. Since zinc is an important component in aloe vera, it could also help those with a zinc deficiency. Other vitamins present in aloe vera include Vitamin C which protects the body from cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease and skin wrinkling; and Vitamin E which reduces free radical damage, fights inflammation and helps naturally slow the aging process.

Benefits of Tea Tree Oil

natural tea tree oil
The pharmaceutical industry is growing rapidly with new advances constantly emerging. But with side effects and chemicals in question, it’s nice to know that there is one ingredient that is all natural, can be found in many kitchen cabinets and in many skin care products, and can help with illnesses and other unpleasant conditions. That ingredient is tea tree oil.

Acne
Tea  tree oil is considered one of the most effective remedies for acne. One study found it to be just as potent as benzoyl peroxide without negative side effects such as peeling and redness.

Hair
Tea tree oil can also be beneficial for the hair and scalp. It is effective on dandruff and can even be used to remove lice. To make a shampoo, mix several drops of the oil with coconut milk, aloe vera gel and essential oils like lavender oil.

Tea tree oil Cleaning
Tea tree oil also makes a great household cleaner. It has antimicrobial properties that can kill bacteria. Mix the oils with water, vinegar and lemon juice and use it to clean your bathroom and kitchen areas.

Psoriasis and Eczema
Because tea tree oil can reduce inflammation, it can also be effective in the treatment of psoriasis and eczema.

Toenail Fungus and Ringworm
Because tea tree oil is effective against parasites and fungal infections, it’s useful in the treatment of toenail fungus, athlete’s foot and ringworm. Put the undiluted oil directly on the effected area with a clean cotton swab.

Mold
Mold grows in many homes, often without the owners being aware of it. You can buy a diffuser and diffuse tea tree oil in the air around your home to kill mold and other bad bacteria. You can also spray tea tree oil cleaner onto your shower curtains, laundry machine, dishwasher or toilet to kill mold.

Deodorant
Tea tree oil can eliminate body odor. Its antimicrobial properties destroy the bacteria that causes odor. Make a homemade deodorant by mixing tea tree oil with coconut oil and baking soda.

Cuts and Infections
Tea tree oil mixed with lavender essential oil can help treat wounds. Make sure to clean the cut with water and hydrogen peroxide if necessary. Then apply tea tree oil and cover the cut with a bandage.

Oral Health
Because tea tree oil kills bacteria and reduces inflammation, it’s a great ingredient for a toothpaste or mouthwash. It can reduce bleeding gums and tooth decay. Mix tea tree oil with coconut oil and baking soda for a great homemade toothpaste.