At the Beach — February 6, 2014 at 5:00 am

7 Sunscreen Alternatives

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Maybe you forgot your sunblock at home. Maybe you want to experiment with something new. Or maybe, like me, you’re allergic to the stuff.

Whatever your reason, you have a need for an alternative to sunblock. Luckily, there are more that a few options out there. Here’s a look at 7 other ways to protect yourself from the sun.

Cover Up
Those itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikinis are fun, but they expose a lot of your skin to the sun. The solution is to cover up. You don’t need to mimic a nun’s attire, but think strategically by focusing on area where the sun is going to hit. Running along the beach? Throw on a lightweight t-shirt the covers your shoulders. Thinking of doing a little snorkeling? Don a UPF rash guard to avoid frying your back. This solution is particularly good for those who are active in the sun, and find that they sweat off sunscreen within minutes of applying it.

Hat’s Off—Err, Hats On
Newsflash: even if you’re not soaking up rays on the beach, the sun is still hitting your skin when you’re outside. Think watching a baseball game, going for a jog, or even waiting in line at an amusement park.

Keep the sun off your sensitive face by wearing a hat. A baseball-style hat is better than nothing, but your best option is a hat with a full brim to cover up your ears and the back of your neck, both of which are very susceptible to sunburns.

Under the Umbrella
If you’re spending an extended amount of time lounging outside, whether on the beach, in a park, or just in your backyard, you’ll want to seek shelter under an umbrella.  It’ll mean less sun exposure, less squinting, less suffocating heat and, most importantly, safer skin.

Opt for Oils–Maybe
It is said that same oils, like sesame, olive, coconut and peanut, act as natural sunscreens. It seems like a healthy and inexpensive solution, but approach this one with caution: I once slathered myself in sesame oil, only to find that I was frying even faster than normal (think French fries). Since there is no standardization for oils, it’s hard to tell how much, in what format, and so forth you need in order to provide the sun protection.

Explore Natural Options
If you’re concerned about all the chemicals in commercial sunblocks, focus on those with the fewest ingredients and those with the most natural ingredients. Zinc oxide in its pure form is a solid bet—that’s the white stuff that lifeguards coat on their noses.

Luckily, versions with other ingredients, like grape seed oil, are a little more aesthetically-friendly. Some products are mixed with sandalwood, another natural sunblock.

Eat Right
Holistic practitioners believe that a healthy diet will help protect your skin. Think brightly colored produce, especially leafy greens. The antioxidants in these foods can give you an extra edge. Meanwhile, avoid processed foods, fried foods, and alcohol.

Go Gradual
No tan is a safe tan, but if sunblock is absolutely not an option, be sure to expose yourself to the sun little by little. If you haven’t seen the sun in months, don’t sit out on the beach for eight straight hours. Ease your way into it to prevent an atrocious burn.

The Verdict?
If your reason for skipping out on sunblock is because you can’t stand the texture or the greasy feeling it leaves on your skin, you’ll be glad to know that there are a ton of other options available, from sunblock sticks (like deodorant) to wipes to mists. If sunblock is accessible to you, it really is the best way to protect your skin.

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