Natural Sunscreen: Foods, Herbs and Essential Oils

Alternatives to commercial sunscreens do exist. Tomato paste (lycopene), frankincense essential oil, olive oil,  caffeine and resveratrol from grape skins have all demonstrated in studies to protect from and reverse melanoma and photoaging of the skin. Over the years I’ve written about foods, herbs and essential oils used for protection from UV damage and have presented the information at scientific and esthetic conferences across the U.S. There is ample research and evidence to support the intelligent use of botanical extracts and food as effective  protection from sun damage.

Thing is, we need sun. We evolved in the sun and it is a part of who we are. We manufacture Vitamin D using sunlight. We also evolved with an abundant supply of  available foods and plants that we eat and use as medicines, and help us manage the harmful UV rays from the sun. It makes sense that a diet containing high quality antioxidants from foods and plants will provide protection from the potential photoaging, sunburn and melanoma caused by sun UVR .

So here’s a quick list of what you can do now to begin your inside and out protection from sun damage.

Healthy Organic Diet for Protection from UVR Damage

Eat a “Rainbow Diet.” Fresh and organic greens, yellows, reds, oranges, blues and purples. And lots of them. Quality of food and it’s composition (it’s nutritional value) is as important as quantity.

These are just a handful of foods that are good for you and provide protection from UV and free radical damage

  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Mustard greens
  • Collard greens
  • Yams
  • Salmon
  • Tomatoes
  • Blueberries, blackberries, goji berries
  • Grapes
  • Yellow, red or green peppers

Supplement with

  • Supercritical extracts (Astaxanthin is excellent and New Chapter vitamins has a good assortment including ginger and turmeric)
  • Resveratrol
  • Alpha lipoic acid
  • Concentrated or isolated antioxidants.

Topical application of the “Rainbow Diet”

Extracts with high antioxidant value are your best protection from photo-damage to skin. Use skin care with an abundance of extracts from the above list and so much more. Your skin care should have color to it. White has no protection. My personal favorite is a formula I  made with astaxanthin, a bright red/orange carotenoid extracted (a “super extract”) from the red algae and well researched for it’s protection from cancers and aging due to exposure to the sun.

Use a daily body moisturizing lotion made from olive oil, safflower and/or sunflower seed oil. You can make this yourself and add some essential oils documented for protection from, and reversal of, sun damage, like

  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Cape chamomile
  • Hydrodistilled vetiver
  • Clove
  • Thyme (thymol or carvacrol type),

There is an important factor to topical and internal sun protection with botanicals. A body serum level buildup needs to be reached before you will be fully protected. This takes about 8 – 12 weeks of every day application and supplementation. If your plan was to eat a can of tomato paste today and go out in the sun tomorrow, well, go for it, but don’t expect full protection. Do expect the botanical based plan you start today to be effective in a couple of months or so. Yes, I know, if you live in any places that don’t have all year sunshine and beach, then there won’t be much summer left in a couple of months.

The sun is a good thing. Sun phobia causes Vitamin D deficiency and cancer. Go out in the sun. Eat your antioxidants, supplement with antioxidants and apply topically your antioxidants. This is how nature intended to protect us from the harmful rays of the sun.




  1. Lyna Morgan says:

    Essential oils….just what I have been looking for!….because I take coumadin, I cannot eat many of the suggested green vegetables……….but applying the oils to my skin will do what needs to be done.

  2. Kristin says:

    I’ve been juicing now for 6 months. Half greens such as cilantro, parsley, and basil, and half fruit and vegetables such as apples, oranges, carrots, and celery. I live in cloudy Seattle, and rarely spend time in the sun. Last week, I spent a week, mostly outside, in Germany with scorching sunny weather. Normally, my freckles would get very dark and I would have a sunburn on my face, but this time, neither happened. My skin turned a slight shade of tan (darker than my usual white), and my freckles stayed light.