Summer is coming around and many of us are spending more time out in the sun. And though we may always apply sunscreen liberally, at the end of long hot days our skin will still feel the effect of the sun's rays. Friends in that natural health sciences tell us that most damage from sun exposure to our skin is our result of ultra violet rays creating free radicals within our skins cells. Our skin becomes inflamed as a result. Fortunately, topically applied antioxidants can quench these free radicals, reduce inflammation, and leave our skin with a happy healthy glow. Application of the proper formula can have a marked effect in reducing premature aging for yourself and everyone in your family.
Natural essential oils are highly effective antioxidants. Clove essential oil is one of the strongest natural antioxidants known, with and ORAC value of over 100,000 -- though it might be a little spicy to use on your face. There are a great many other essential oils with strong antioxidant action packed are known healers to the skin from which to choose.
For example, a study just released by French scientists note that Myrrh essential oil has a profound oxygen quenching effect on free radicals produced by the interaction of UV rays and the skin's sebum. All essential oils used in skin care have the ability to absorb oxidative radicals, and they each have specific healing properties for the skin. It's simple to compound your own formula: Choose from a few readily available oils commonly used in skin care, add them to one or more nourishing carrier oils and voilà! -- your own personally-tailored recipe. The obvious first choice is lavender.
Lavender reduces inflammation and has natural constituents which stimulate healthy skin cell regeneration. Lavender in fact began the modern aromatherapy revolution with its quick healing of burns. Really, when we come in from sun over-exposure, even without a sunburn, we do have a mild burn on a cellular level. Lavender can be used undiluted on burned his skin, and will be an effective addition to any recipe. Blue Tansy is a somewhat more rare essential oil with profound anti-inflammatory action.
Blue Tansy can be used in very dilute amounts; it is often called for in recipes at only a one or 2% concentration. Blue tansy's wonderful aroma will have you bathing in your lotion just for its sweet berry-like scent. Blue tansy is especially effective for sensitive skin that may be prone to irritation.
It is included in many eczema and allergy blends for its naturally-calming action. So if your skin is gentle, and the Sun treats it a little harshly, a little blue tansy can really help. Everlasting essential oil, better known as Helichrysum Italicum, is a wonderful and profoundly healing oil called for when the most potent anti-inflammatory and regenerative effects are needed. If you're looking for one of the secret ingredients in natural skincare, Helichrysum is it.
While expensive, just a small amount will have important healing effects. Helichrysum is used in wound healing and scar removal blends, and will do just as well for daily facial care. For folks with an eye toward really preventing any damage from the sun's rays, Helichrysum is a must. Like lavender Helichrysum can be used neat in emergencies, and at about 3% for a regular use skin recipes. And for be perhaps most profound protective effects, choose Sea Buckthorn. This essential oil has been studied by Russian scientists as a protective agent for cosmonauts in outer space.
It's deep red color indicates a high concentration of vitamin A like compounds, highly regarded for their skin healing properties. Steam distilled from the berries found across Europe, it too has a sweet fruity aroma loved by many. Sea Buckthorn is useful in virtually any skincare application, and most certainly for an after-sun formula.
Add at one to 3% in your carrier base. Other additions to your formula include myrrh, as it's antioxidant effects for the skin have recently been elucidated (use at 1-3%); natural vitamin E (use at 10-20 drops per ounce) -- also an excellent antioxidant for the skin; or a form of vit. C added to many skin care preparations these days, known as ascorbyl palimate (include .
5 to 1 gram per each ounce ~ you may find this in capsules, along with vitamin E at health food stores or online). Your essential oils and other ingredients are added to what are called 'carrier oils' in aromatherapy. Carrier oils are natural cold-pressed oils from seeds, nuts, and fruit. Good choices for your after-sun formula are Avocado, Apricot Kernel, Jojoba, Tamanu and Rosehip seed. Avocado is very hydrating, with a plethora of nutrients. Apricot Kernel is quickly becoming more popular in aromatherapy skin care for its anti-inflammatory action.
Jojoba is also hydrating and healing. Tamanu and Rosehip seed are the ultimate exotic skin care base oils. Tamanu is described in the aromatherapy literature for wound healing and scar reduction; Rosehip seed has been the subject of many University studies, and has been shown to reduce the appearance of sun damage.
The recipes are really flexible; you can easily tailor them to your own needs, or to those of your children and other loved ones. Here are a few examples to get you started: prepare a mixture of 1/3 each Apricot, Tamanu and Rosehip carrier oils (find these from a cold-pressed source for best results). For each ounce of base, add 15 drops each of Lavender, Blue Tansy and Sea Buckhorn -- include 15 drops of vitamin E and 1/8 teaspoon of ascorbyl palimate for that extra nutraceutical enhancement. You might also try a base of Jojoba, Avocado, and Tamanu; to this add 15 drops each of myrrh, helichrysum, and Sea Buckthorn. While simple, these formulas are highly effective.
They will reduce inflammation and quench oxidative radical activity in your skin on a cellular level. All of these oils are gentle enough for family members of all ages, though for the very young ones use only a quarter as much essential oil in the recipe. These oils are gentle enough for frequent application, and frequent application is encouraged for the long-term health and vibrancy of your skin.
The author is a lover of the summer sun, and is a naturopath with The Ananda Apothecary at www.anandaapothecary.com