Last week’s post talked about how I believe the topic of sun safety has gotten a bit out of hand. There’s so much conflicting information–first you see doctors and government agencies recommending constant application of super high SPF-containing, chemically-based sunscreens anytime you ever set foot anywhere near the sun.
Then you see the more holistically-minded doctors and other professionals saying NO–all this overuse of sunscreen is what’s caused the rampant Vitamin D deficiency seen in people of all ages, and that it’s necessary to spend some time in the sun sans sun protection because for the sake of Vitamin D production. This camp also typically believes that the chemicals in sunscreen are toxic and might actually contribute TO skin cancer, rather than prevent it. And then there’s a huge gray area in the middle. Though we have many different opinions on what’s correct in terms of sun safety, there are some evidence-based facts that everyone seems to agree on. Click HERE to read those.
Based on my own research and work on this topic (which has been lengthy), and based on the information compiled in last week’s post, I do have some advice that I believe is quite logical, common sense advice.
Here are my 9 pieces of sun safety advice:
- I agree with the holistically-minded doctors that we need small amounts of sun exposure on a daily basis. Go for a walk outside, let the kids play outside, do some gardening, and enjoy a book and cup of tea outside—it’s important for so many reasons.
- If you’re going to be outside at any time of year in the sun for longer than 30 minutes, wear some form of sun protection. This could be protective clothing or accessories, topical natural sun protection products on exposed skin, or try one of the newer internal sun supplements as long as it’s from a trustworthy source.
- If you choose to use a sunscreen product, use a natural cream or lotion with zinc oxide or (non-nano) titanium dioxide as the active ingredient, and containing as few inactive ingredients as possible. Avoid sprays and powders.
- SPF 30 doesn’t offer a significantly higher level of protection than SPF 15. All you get with higher SPFs is a higher concentration of the active sunscreen ingredient—which can be toxic. Just use SPF 15 and apply it more often.
- If you are going to be in the sun during peak sun hours, it’s important to reapply sunscreen every two hours, wear protective clothing, or go in the shade for part of the time to avoid sunburn.
- Eat a healthy, balanced, whole foods-based diet with a large variety of raw, fresh fruits and vegetables. These raw plant foods naturally contain antioxidants that counteract free radical damage to the body from the sun.
- Protect the skin’s natural protective barrier on a regular basis with a healthy skincare regimen. Use products containing plant-based oils, natural emollients and humectants, and antioxidants. The stronger the barrier is, the less chance there is for permanent damage to collagen, elastin, and melanin-producing cells in the deeper layers of the skin.
- Certain supplements such as collagen, hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants give the body additional ammunition against free radical and sun damage and can also help remove damaged tissue and rebuild stronger, healthier tissue.
- Stay hydrated! Dehydration weakens the skin’s immune function and decreases its resistance to the sun’s rays.
Don’t be afraid of the sun!
We need it for health, warmth, growth, and happiness. Our kids long to run around and play outside. Just like anything else, too much of the sun can be very damaging—so yes, please take precautions when outside in the sun for long periods of time—but let those precautions be sensible and based on fact and common sense—not marketing hype.
Please share it in the comments below!
*Image 1 credit: “Polihale beach + Zero base tan = overapplication of sunscreen,’ Jordan Fisher, 2010. Some rights reserved. https://flic.kr/p/8ejsju. Image 2: RIA Novosti archive, image #46053 / Alexander Liskin / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons