There’s a lot of talk these days about the sun, its effect on the skin, and how to go about protecting it. You see, your skin is your body’s largest organ, and it’s been said by some that your skin is the window to your health.
But what does that mean exactly — “a window to your health?”
It means that your overall state of health is often reflected in the appearance of your skin.
So what does your skin look like? Is it oily or dry? Does it glow or is it dull? Is it smooth or bumpy? Is it pale or red? Do you have an even complexion or is it patchy? We can often take the condition of our skin as a clue to our general health.
The Purpose of Skin
One of the many purposes of our skin is to protect us from the outside environment. Sunburn, dark tans, freckles (in some cases), and age spots can all result from overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. While UV rays are always present, even during the winter or on cloudy days, they contribute to the most skin damage during warmer months. This is because people are outside more often, resulting in longer exposure times.
Repeated skin damage can be a contributing factor in the occurrence of skin cancer — one of the most common and most serious forms of cancer. In addition to that, overexposure to the sun can also lead to long-term damaged DNA, premature aging, and eye injury. Yikes!
So now that summer’s on its way and everyone’s ready to get out and about, go for walks, work in the garden, or play with the kids in the creek — it’s time to learn how much sun is good for your health and how much is too much. It’s also a good idea to learn how to naturally protect your skin from overexposure to UV rays (aka, sunburn) and learn how to manage sunburn if it does happen.
In this article, I’m going to share 4 different herbs that you can use on your skin to help it if you find yourself with any sort of skin damage this summer. Remember, your skin is the window to your health, and it protects your body from outside elements. Let’s do our best to keep it nice and healthy this summer — ideally preventing skin damage before it occurs!
4 Herbs for Summer Skin Damage
Aloe has skin soothing properties and is one of the best herbs for your skin. Why is this important? Aloe is great to use when you’ve been out in the sun too long and have a slight burn. It’s known to stimulate skin regeneration by increasing collagen production by up to 90%! Collagen is a very important structural element of the skin — one that slowly disappears as you get older.
To use aloe for summer skin damage, break a piece off of a fresh aloe plant, slice it open, and scrape out the gel from the inside. Mash it with a fork or blend it in a blender to liquefy it and rub it on your skin several times a day. You can also buy organic aloe gel or juice from many grocery stores, pharmacies, or markets and apply it the same way.
Comfrey is a connective tissue herb that can support your skin if it’s damaged in any way. It’s known as a “cell proliferate” which means it stimulates cell regeneration (new cell growth). Comfrey is an excellent herb to use if you have bad sunburn with blistering. Sunburn means that you’ve been exposed to such a high amount of UV rays that you’ve burned and killed the top layer of skin cells — sometimes even further down into the second layer of skin, if blistering occurs.
To use comfrey for summer skin damage, make a strong infusion of comfrey and use a cotton ball to gently swab your sunburn several times a day. You can also put it in a spray bottle and spritz the skin with it.
Horsetail is an herb that has a high nutrient content which helps to nourish and build body tissues. It’s also excellent for wounds. Horsetail contains significant amounts of silica. Silica is a mineral that the body needs in order to produce collagen. Collagen, put simply, holds the body together. It gives elasticity and suppleness to the skin and contributes flexibility and strength to the bones, hair, and nails.
To use horsetail for healthy summer skin, you can take powdered horsetail in capsules or mix the powder into your smoothies or food. You can also make teas and low alcohol tinctures (25% alcohol) with it. No matter how you choose to take it, the point is to get it inside your body so it can help your skin be strong and beautiful!
Calendula is a beautiful summer flower. It has beneficial properties that not only are anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, but it’s also known to support damaged skin and wounds as it’s thought to help the body produce collagen. If you get a bad sunburn, one that causes blistered skin, you have broken your body’s first line of defense against infection — your skin. Not only are you going to have to allow time for your skin to heal from the burn, but you’re going to have to protect it from infection as well. Calendula can come to your aid in both of these concerns.
To use calendula for summer skin damage, make a calendula infused oil using sweet almond or grapeseed oil and dab this oil on your burned skin several times a day. You can also make your calendula infused oil into a salve and blend it with some aloe juice to create a cream that you can apply to your blistered, sunburned skin. Psst… it wouldn’t hurt to infuse your oil with comfrey too while you’re at it.
Having healthy skin essentially comes down to what goes into your body. Eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of water will do wonders for you! Limiting your exposure to the sun and doing what you can to minimize harmful UV rays you’re exposed to is another step to healthy skin.
In reality, though, we’re all likely to get too much sun at some point during the warm, summer months. What we do to help our skin recover after that can make a world of difference in how our skin will look years down the road.