So excited that the sun is out, the sand is hot, and pools are open! After so many months of cold weather and/or being stuck indoors due to COVID-19, the warmth of the sun is vital medicine for all of us. Like many others, my values shifted slightly during this time. I came to understand the true importance of personal health and caring for nature the way nature nourishes me. I am going to enjoy the sun because it is important to my overall well-being, and I am going to do so cautiously because he is powerful. Here is some information so that you can do the same.
Sun exposure without the proper protection can lead to the following:
- Skin Cancer: UV radiation is a carcinogen that is directly linked to the 3 most common types of skin cancer: melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma.
In the last decades cases of skin cancer have increased. This is most likely due to the depletion of Earth’s Ozone Layer, increased use of tanning beds, and irregular sun exposure resulting in sunburn.
Though there are serious concerns regarding too much or unprotected UV exposure, receiving sunlight is vital to our existence.
- We need sun to produce the hormone Vitamin D; need Vitamin D to maintain immune function and bone health
- Sunlight can boost mood and balance immune function
- Helps with eczema and psoriasis
- Low levels of Vitamin D contribute to cardiovascular disease, depression, and anxiety disorders
So being in the sun is a good thing, but can turn into a bad thing if you aren’t careful. The production of Vitamin D plateaus at a certain amount of sun exposure. It is hard to establish a recommended amount of sun because UV radiation varies based on season, latitude, elevation, clouds, presence of pollution, and skin types.
What scientists do know is that Vitamin D production maxes out long before we have reached the amount of sun exposure required to cause even a faint burn.
Oh but the sun is so fun and it feels so good! I’m right there with you. I LOVE THE SUN. & I am 100% a supporter of doing what your mind and body respond well to and enjoy. But, let’s be smart!
- Avoid excessive sun exposure when the sun is the strongest; 10am-2pm.
- Cover with clothing, wide-brimmed hats
- Wear a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and apply frequently
Since we are being smart, let’s educate ourselves on the concerns of sunscreen, because there are many, for your personal health and the health of the environment.
There are 2 types of sunscreen- mineral sunscreen, meaning the sunscreen is made up of minerals found naturally, and there is chemical sunscreen, meaning the active ingredients in the sunscreen that protect us from UV rays is formed in a lab.
Mineral Sunscreen's prime active ingredient is Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide. These minerals absorb UV radiation and reflect some UV radiation. They protect against UVA and UVB radiation, they are non-irritating, best for sensitive skin, less likely to clog pores, and have a long shelf life. Sounds great, but there are a few drawbacks. Mineral sunscreen is difficult to spread and therefore leaves white marks and residue on the skin, which bothers some. BUT, there are no health risks and no environmental risks with mineral sunscreens unless the Zinc Oxide used is nano-zinc- then there is an environmental risk. So make sure you purchase mineral sunscreen that is non-nano Zinc.
Chemical Sunscreen’s prime active ingredients include: Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octinoxate, Octocrylene, Oxybenzone. These chemicals absorb UV radiation. They are easy to apply and spread, water resistant, and do not leave residue or white streaks on the skin. Drawbacks include: takes 20 minutes to take effect, irritating to sensitive skin, breaks down in direct sunlight and needs more frequent application, and the shelf-life is short. The ingredients used in chemical sunscreens absorb deeply into the skin and even into systemic circulation causing further irritation and health issues, including hormone-disrupting. A few of the prime active ingredients pose environmental risks- Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, and Octocrylene. More about these risks can be found in the Sexy Ass Blog- Simple Substitutes to Living a More Naturally Nourishing Life.
For your personal health and for the health of the environment, choose to apply a mineral sunscreen, and/or wear protective clothing, and/or be strategic about the hours and amount of time in the sun- anything except applying a Chemical Sunscreen, burning your skin, or not being in the sun at all.
Furthering your sun support, there are photo-protective herbs that you can incorporate into your diet.
- Contain antioxidants that can be particularly helpful in protecting the skin against UV radiation
- Help prevent or reverse cellular damage from UV light
- Should not be used in the place of sunscreen, but can be used before/after sun exposure to further your sun support.
- Green Tea
- Tulsi (Holy Basil)
- Aloe Vera
- Elder Flower