While pool ownership is one of the great joys of a prosperous American life, it does come with a few minor hazards.

Accidents are well on the fringes of likelihood for most pool owners, but there is one clear and present danger faced by almost all: overexposure to the sun.

While it’s tempting to think that sunburn is easily avoided by simply slapping on some SPF, the unfortunate reality is that sunscreen itself may present its own inherent dangers, several of which are being studied and hotly debated in medical circles. Some sunscreens offer inadequate or less-than-advertised protection from UVA and UVB rays. Controversial ingredients common in sunscreen, such as retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, and various nanoparticles, have proven harmful to animals in lab tests and their effects on the human body have yet to be fully understood.

Of course, that’s not to say we shouldn’t use sunscreen. Whatever incidental health impact sunscreens might have are certainly, indisputably preferable to melanoma. However, there are more natural — and more environmentally friendly — methods by which one can protect the ever-delicate epidermis from Apollo’s searing rage.

Here are just a few natural sun protection remedies:

Shade

By far the most effective way to avoid skin damage caused by the sun is to avoid the sun. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy the pleasures of your poolside paradise. When not actually swimming, employ umbrellas and tasteful landscaping to create sun-free zones to which you, your family and your guests can retreat. The view will be just as beautiful, the air will be just as warm, and your skin will thank you.

Also forgotten far too often on sunny days is mankind’s crowning achievement in sun deflection: portable shade — also known as a hat. If shade isn’t readily available, or if you’re on the move while skimming, vacuuming and freshening mai tais, pop on a hat to ensure that your face is protected.

Finally, many manufacturers offer shaded pool floats, so that the sun is no danger even when you’re actually in the pool.

Sun-Blocking Foods

Several of nature’s most delicious treats also happen to protect the skin from UV damage. While no food is a replacement for sunscreen if you plan on extended exposure, several snacks can act as a strong supplement to your anti-UV regimen.

The key is antioxidants. Foods that are high in antioxidants are beneficial for a variety of reasons, not least of which the scientifically proven fact that antioxidants boost the skin’s natural resistance to UV damage. Good selections include blueberries, salmon, dark chocolate, watermelon, tomatoes, green tea and pomegranate. All of these items, when chosen in their organic, least-processed forms, are incredibly healthy in sun or shade (including the chocolate), so eat up.

Organic Sunscreens

More naturally produced sunscreens that are available use fully organic ingredients and limit the use of processed chemicals. The non-organic compounds that protect your skin are suspended in natural plant materials like aloe that soothe and nourish the skin while providing a natural base for the necessary sunblock.

The best part? Organic sunscreens are priced competitively, and are sometimes even more affordable than traditional sunblock.

Of course, if you plan on sunbathing or otherwise exposing yourself for an extended period to the sun’s rays, sunscreen is an absolute must. But depending on your poolside lifestyle, a few simple steps can minimize your sunscreen use during normal activities like lounging, swimming, and generally enjoying the good life.

Learn more about the health benefits of owning a pool.

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