Using ancient sun block methods for your next trip

Stef Zisovska
Stay safe under the sun

You probably know that the best protection from the sun is to stay in the shade. But, sometimes that’s not possible because there’s no tree around, we’re on a desert adventure, or we lost all our equipment in an accident.

Of course that everybody brings a sun screen cream before heading to the wilderness, but what do we do if we get lost and need to stay in the woods longer than expected?

No matter if it’s summer or winter, the sun beams will penetrate your skin and damage it as much as possible if you don’t know how to protect it. Here are some plant suggestions that can work as a sun block and others that will treat your burns.


The mud bath

Covering the body with dirt

If you give yourself a time to observe what’s going on in Nature, you can learn a lot of things about survival. For example, if you take a look at the natural habitat of elephants and watch how they behave, you can see them rolling in mud and covering all their body.

Covering the body in the mud is a method that the ancient tribes were using to protect the skin from the sun. It’s exactly the same thing the elephants are doing. A layer of mud upon your skin blocks the UV rays from the sun, and it works well when dried too.

Aspen tree

Road with Aspen trees

Aspen trees grow around Colorado and Utah and are more characteristic for the Northern Hemisphere. Inside the trunk of the Aspen, there is a white powder with SPF factor 5 that you can apply on the parts you want to protect. The good thing about it is that you can scrape off a lot of powder and bring it with you.



This fruit contain lycopene, a carotenoid known as a sun protector. Cooked tomatoes, paste, or sauce works better than a fresh one. But if you have no choice, you can use a raw tomato to prevent sun damage. Adding tomato in your everyday diet will make you more immune to future sun burns.

Vitamin D

Egg yolk

This one sounds ironic, right? The biggest source of Vitamin D is the sun itself, but yet we need more in our body to fight against it. Foods that contain Vitamin D are fish like tuna and salmon, egg yolks, oranges, cheese, beef liver.

Sun burn remedies

Aloe Vera

Spotted forms of Aloe vera are sometimes known as Aloe vera var. Chinensis – Author: Erin Silversmith – GFDL

Aloe Vera is the best remedy ever against sun burns. It’s easy to use too, just break the leaf and apply the gel on your skin. The cold and soothing gel will calm your skin within few minutes. This magical plant can be found in Florida, Arizona, and Texas.

Witch Hazel

Hamamelis japonica close-up flowers – Author: Kurt Stüber – CC BY-SA 3.0

Witch Hazel is a small tree or a shrub that contains Tannin which is known for reducing inflammation. Rub the Witch Hazel leaves and squeeze the oil out of it. This plant can be found between the months of January-March and September-November around  Minnesota, south Florida, East Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri.



The Peppermint plant grows everywhere where there is a moist soil. Apply cold peppermint tea on your sun burns, and you’ll feel the difference right away. You can also make ice cubes and have them ready in your fridge for when you come back from the beach.


Common Chickweed (Stellaria media) in Nashville, Tennessee – Author: Kaldari – CC0

Chickweed contains Tannin just like the Witch Hazel. It grows all over the fields in North America, and it’s easy to recognize. Make a paste out of the chickweed leaves and use it in your food.

Hiking in the sun

Nature gives us everything we need to protect our skin from the sun, we just need to look for the right remedies. Good luck!

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