Herbs Offering Sun Protection


When it comes to sun damage, prevention is the key, so do your best to limit your sun exposure, and wear protective clothing or sunscreen when you go outside. Almost 75 percent of sun damage occurs without our even going to the beach or lying out in the sun — as we walk down the street, ride a bike or even drive a car (if the windows are down). Special skin cells spread a dark pigment called melanin through the skin to tan it, protecting sensitive underlying cells from the sun’s destructive tendencies.

Aloe Vera: This ancient natural skin care herb protects the skin’s immune cells against the damaging effects of the sun, according to research from the Department of Immunology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston. Fresh aloe vera may be applied after any type of sun exposure. Its anti-inflammatory, moisturizing, emollient, and antimicrobial actions make it especially useful for preventing sunburn damage.

Coenzyme Q10: Also known as ubiquinone and CoQ10, this enzymatic co-factor penetrates into the viable layers of the skin and markedly counteracts damaging free radical activity (oxidation) caused by the sun.

Green Tea: Whether applied topically or consumed as a beverage or dietary supplement, green tea is a premiere skin protectant. It protects against direct damage to the cell and moderates inflammation, according to research from the Department of Dermatology, Columbia University, New York. Studies suggest that the catechins in green tea are some 20 times stronger in their antioxidant powers than even vitamin E. Men, women and children need to position this super shield on their side against the ravaging effects of the sun.

Calendula: Although not studied scientifically, this herb has been used clinically for skin conditions including sunburn. It may also be used as a homeopathic remedy at doses consistent with that kind of therapy.

According to skin specialists, sesame oil decreases the impact of the sun’s burning rays by about 30 percent, while olive, coconut and peanut oils and aloe vera block out about 20 percent of the rays. Research shows that a 3 to 6 percent dilution of an extract ofHelichrysum, sometimes called immortelle, makes an effective sunscreen. And a new sunscreen made from amino acids found in sea algae is currently being tested in Australia.

Carrot-seed essential oil: is especially beneficial to sun-damaged skin and is even used to treat pre-cancerous skin conditions. The beta-carotene it contains has been proven to protect against ultraviolet-induced skin cancer.

Home-made Natural Sunscreen
  • 2 ounces aloe vera gel
  • 2 ounces sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon vitamin E oil
  • 24 drops lavender essential oil
Method: Combine ingredients. Shake well before using. Remember, this will not provide total sun protection.

Helichrysum Essential Oil (Immortelle):

Botanical Name: Helichrysum angustifolium
Parts Used: Flowers

Potential uses and benefits: Many healing properties have been attributed to this remarkable oil. From infection and inflammation in respiratory conditions, muscle pain, arthritis to liver problems and as a detoxifier in drug withdrawal. It is most commonly used in skin treatments for its’ ability to stimulate the production of new skin cells. This makes it popular in facial care for acne scars, dry and weathered skin and, for mature skin. Excellent in massage and herbal oils for sensitive, inflamed skin, muscle strains, aches and pains.