LIVING COLUMN Enjoy every moment of your summer safely and naturally.
Let’s make the most of those glorious sunny days – safely and naturally
My passion for all things natural started, as it does for so many women, when I was pregnant. As a self-confessed career girl singing in pop bands, I’ll admit that it was a steep learning curve. But my pregnancy made me realise that I had to look after my own body, coordinate a ‘building project’ (the baby) and ensure that I left a bit of the planet behind for them to enjoy. Focusing on natural health and wellbeing became an important part of this. I made it my business to seek out great natural alternatives to just about everything. Back then, it felt a little like a lone crusade, but 11 years on, millennials are rocking the wellness trend and I’m just as passionate as I ever was about the holistic picture.
I describe myself as being imperfectly natural – it’s important for me to stress that I don’t get everything right and I don’t expect anyone else to. I’m glad that I used that name for my rst book, Imperfectly Natural Woman, because otherwise I’d probably have found myself under some scrutiny as I nished o the kids’ sh ngers, or added another wine bottle to my recycling bin!
Summer is one of the times when I didn’t always get it right. When I was writing my book, I was covered up, sitting in the shade looking vampire-like and eschewing all manner of sunlight. I’m fair-skinned and burn easily, but it wasn’t until I realised just how low my vitamin D levels were that I started doing a bit more research into the importance of getting some sunshine.
It turns out there’s an epidemic of vitamin D de ciency, and health professionals everywhere are encouraging women to check their levels. There are even oncologists who claim that many breast cancer deaths could be saved if women had adequate vitamin D. While supplements can help, making the most of the sun’s rays is another way to boost your levels. So this summer, I am reforming my sunavoiding habit and getting my kit o (well, exposing my arms and legs!) to soak up some long-overdue sunshine. Of course, too much sun is also a bad thing – I always head outside armed with a big hat, parasol and sun cream. But here’s another thing that I’ve learned: conventional sun creams, while e ective at keeping your skin safe, also block out the bene ts of the sun’s rays and often contain a whole raft of potentially toxic ingredients. I’ve been trying out natural sun creams instead – I love Shade, an all-natural, non-toxic, SPF 25 suncream that contains only shea butter, beeswax, coconut oil and zinc. It’s thicker and takes a little longer to absorb than regular creams, but you aren’t left with any white streaks once it’s all soaked in.
Another favourite of mine is a fabulous combined sun cream and insect repellent from Less Mosquito, the creators of the only insect repellent that actually works for me, Incognito. The fact is, I am oh-so-attractive – to mosquitoes. I used to think that having good levels of vitamin B helped, but sadly despite eating copious amounts of Marmite and taking supplements, it didn’t deter them. I suggest avoiding conventional insect repellents; many contain DEET, which can be highly toxic. Incognito, and its sun cream sibling, makes you literally invisible to mozzies. I took it on holiday last year and it worked brilliantly – I was doubly delighted because as well as being natural, it’s proven to protect against malaria.
You can also try warding o insects with essential oils. Get an empty spray bottle and half ll with ltered water, a teaspoon of neem oil and a drop of vodka (to preserve), then add up to 100 drops of a mix of lemon, eucalyptus or tea tree as repellents, as well as a few drops of lavender oil, geranium, or rosemary for a sweet scent.
So head outside this summer – with just a few small swaps you can enjoy the sun and look after your body as well.