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Protect your skin from the sun

A lot of people feel like Africans don’t have to protect their skin from the sun because of the melanin in our skin. However while it is true that the increased amount of melanin in darker skinned people offers some protection against the UV rays that can lead to skin cancer, it is not always enough and the current recommendation is that everyone use some form of sun protection, even Africans.

The recommendation from the The American Academy of Dermatology is to use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15. SPF stands for sun protection factor which measures how much the sunscreen protects you from ultraviolet (UV) rays. So the higher the SPF is, the more protection it offers.

However SPF 15 is really designed for temporary exposure, like just walking to your car from your house or office or just generally running errands and being out and about. If one is going to spend large amounts of time outside, for example gardening or watching sports etc then the recommended SPF is 30 or higher. In addition people with fair skin, or bleached skin should use SPF 50 and higher.

The thought is that you experience most of your sun exposure as a child so parents should be mindful to make sure that children are protected by wearing sunscreen. Sunscreen should be applied at least 15 minutes before going outside and it should be reapplied every 2 hours while outside.

The sun can also do damage that causes wrinkles and age spots as we grow older. Dermatologists recommend using antioxidant-rich face and body lotion at night, in addition to sunscreen, to reduce inflammation on skin resulting from exposure.

There are many brands of sunscreens available in the market, however some people prefer using natural products to protect themselves. The good news is that there are some readily available oils that offer some sun protection. Sesame oil is purported to block out 30% of the sun’s UV rays while coconut oil and olive oil block out 20%.

Vivawoman magazine offers the following recipe for natural sunscreen.
“3 tbsp. Grated Beeswax
3 Tbsp Shea Butter
1 Tbsp. Avocado Oil
1 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp. Sesame Oil
1 tbsp. Canola Oil
3 tbsp. Aloe Vera Gel
3 tbsp. Lavender Hydrosol
1/2 tsp. borax powder
1 Vitamin E Gel Caplet
Take Beeswax, Shea Butter, Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil, Sesame Oil and Canola Oil and melt it in a double boiler. (Do not boil). Add Vitamin E Gel Caplet to the melted oil/butter. Now warm the Aloe Vera Gel, Lavender Hydrosol and borax powder in a separate pan until the powder is mixed well with the other 2 ingredients. Mix it with the melted oil and butter. Whisk properly until you get a creamy texture. Store it in an airtight jar and keep it refrigerated.
You can refrigerate it for up to a month if you have not used any preservative but if you use 5-6 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract(Natural Preservative), it will last more than a year. You can take it out of the fridge 10-15 minutes before applying.”

About Ekene Onu