To many people, summer is all about heading outside to enjoy the weather. But getting too much sun can be dangerous. To have a fun-filled summer with your family this year, remember that it’s essential to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. COVER UP Covering your skin is one of the best ways to avoid skin damage. Wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants or skirts can protect your skin from direct exposure to UV rays. While this tactic protects you from the sun, it offers poor defense against the heat. So, if you opt for cooler attire, it’s important to cover all exposed skin with a copious amount of sunscreen. Be sure to reapply every two hours for maximum skin protection. SPEND LESS TIME IN THE SUN If you’re planning to spend a significant amount of time in the sun, consider your environment. Will there be plenty of shade? Will you have to bring your own? What’s the best way to step out of the sun for a few minutes? Wearing sunscreen and protective clothing are great ways to shield yourself from UV rays, but it’s important to avoid being in direct sunlight for long periods. Taking a break from the sun gives your body the time it needs to recuperate and helps prevent sunburn and heatstroke. COMMON MYTHS ABOUT SUN EXPOSURE Many people think that a tan is better than a sunburn, but the result of tanning is still sun damage. When your skin tone changes due to the sun, regardless of whether it tans or turns red, it’s a result of the epidermis reacting to damage caused by UV rays. Both are symptoms of harmed skin. While vitamin D is important, the sun does not contribute to its creation as much as you might think. Doris Day, a New York City dermatologist, explains that if your skin were to constantly produce vitamin D from being in the sun, it would reach toxic levels. Vitamin D is the only vitamin that your body can produce on its own, through a common form of cholesterol or 7-dehydrocholesterol. Spending time in the sun does help vitamin D form, but you need far less exposure than you think.
SOURCING THE SWEET-SMELLING STUFF Call it a pseudoscientific fad or a medical revolution; either way, essential oils are more popular today than they have ever been. Though research on the efficacy of lavender, ginger, and the dozens of other sweet-smelling oils is conflicting at best, people are using them at an astonishing rate. In fact, according to Stratistics MRC, essential oils were a $5.91 billion industry in 2016 and are expected to reach $12.85 billion by 2023. Whether you’re an essential oil acolyte or you fly into a rage at the faintest hint of bergamot, your mind is probably already made up about aromatherapy. The question remains, though: Where does all this delicious-smelling stuff come from? Most essential oils are derived from a process called steam distillation . Soon after harvest, the plants are placed on a mesh inside a sealed still, into which steam is injected. As the steam rises and envelops the plant, it breaks it down and lifts its constituent components up through a tube and into a condenser. The condenser cools the resulting vapor and collects it in liquid form at the bottom. Since essential oils do not mix with water, they float on the surface, where they’re siphoned off, bottled, and shipped off to a distributor. There are other methods, such as expression (aka cold pressing), but because steam distillation is so easy to do, most essential oils you see on the shelf will have gone through this process. Lavender essential oil is harvested from sheaves of lavandula angustifolia , that purple herb you see all over gardens across the United States. There are lavender farms all over the world, from California to Japan to Brazil, but the biggest world producer of lavender is, interestingly, Bulgaria. Tea Tree oil comes from the leaves of melaleuca alternifolia , commonly known as narrow-leaved paperbark, a short, bushy tree that produces white, fluffy flowers in the spring. The trees are endemic to Australia, but today are usually farmed in New South Wales or Queensland. Bergamot is distilled from the peels of lime-green Bergamot oranges, or citrus bergamia . Most of it comes from coastal areas around the Ionian Sea. Whatever you do with it, use it sparingly on your skin — it can amplify skin damage from the sun! WHERE ESSENTIAL OILS COME FROM
Knowing how to protect yourself from UV rays is the first step to having a safe, fun-filled summer!
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