Is Your Sunscreen Safe?
When I was a teen I thought avoiding the sun at all costs was a super smart strategy for good health and beautiful skin. I’m actually filing that one under “Things I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then.”
Don’t ask me why I even remember this, but I can vividly see myself as a teenager, flipping through a copy of Redbook magazine, reading an article on skin care and admiring the porcelain complexion of a woman and her mom who were being showcased in the article for their lack of wrinkles, and their soft, smooth skin that made them appear several years younger than their biological age. Of course, they contributed their beautiful complexions to their avid use of sunscreen products and their careful avoidance of the sun. Don’t ask me why at 15 I was so preoccupied with getting wrinkles, but I remember feeling a sense of pride in my own skin regime which also included avoiding the sun like a movie star hiding from the paparazzi- sunglasses and hats included.
We’ve been told for years now that sun exposure is directly responsible for wrinkles and skin cancer, the truth is that while sunscreen sales have become a billion dollar industry, rates of skin cancer have continued to climb. The true story is that sunscreen blocks the rays that build Vitamin D (UVB rays) while the rays that deeply penetrate the skin and cause damage at the cellular level are largely unchecked by sunscreen (UVA rays). UVB rays don’t just synthesize Vitamin D within the skin- they also warn us when we’ve overdone the sun by causing the tell tale signs of sunburn. That means when we rely on sunscreen to protect us from the sun, we’re actually allowing the damaging rays of the sun to do their dirty work without the benefit of the UVB rays that signal when we’ve had too much. No Bueno.
You need healthy sun exposure on a daily basis. How much is enough? Enough to get your daily supply of Vitamin D- but not enough to burn. For most people, this equates to about 15 to 20 minutes of full sun during the afternoon, depending on where you live (Those living in Northern Climates will need more.)
When is sunscreen appropriate? In our house, we always slather on (safe) sunscreen when our time in the sun will be longer than our skin’s ability to handle it. Your best friends’ outdoor wedding. Your nephew’s track meet. A day at the lake with your family. Sure, you live in the real world where some events require you to head out into the sun and avoiding a burn is a necessity. Definitely grab the sunscreen for those days! Check out my top 3 safe sun tips below- and get your Vitamin D today!
Safe Sun Tips
- Get some healthy sun exposure each day- around 15 to 20 minutes in full sun most days.
- Use sunscreen wisely- It’s not necessary for every day, especially if you spend most of your time inside a building. Use it when you know you’ll be in the sun for longer periods than your skin can safely stand, like a day at the lake or cheering your kids on at their baseball game.
- Certain foods actually boost your bodies’ ability to safely endure sun exposure. Leafy greens like kale and spinach, as well as berries and sweet potatoes, are chock-full of carotenoids and polyphenols- antioxidants that protect our skin from damage caused by too much sun.
Next week I’ll be back to share with you the damage avoiding the sun did to my body- including contributing to my autoimmune health issues. Stay tuned!