In the winter months, we all dream of warm weather. The sun is a powerful, natural source of energy that can give us life, warmth, and stimulate joy. But in the back of our mind we question… “Will being out in the sun harm me? How can I protect myself? Will I burn today?”
Let’s take the time to break down a few questions that will hopefully give us peace in going outside
Does it have to be hot out to burn me? No! Certainly not. You can actually get burned on a snowy mountain. The reason you get burnt, though, is not because the skin gets hot, but because you are being exposed to UVA and UVB rays from the sun. As those rays penetrate your skin, your skin produces melanin and it is melanin that gives you a “tan” look. So it could be below freezing, but if you are closer to the sun (such as a snowy mountain) you’ll be getting higher exposure to the rays.
Is it dangerous to stay in the sun too long? Not unless you burn. There is a difference between being outside (Where you are still getting sun exposure, but indirectly) and lying in the direct path of the sun for hours on end without protection. The UV rays from the sun are good for our bodies as it promotes the creation of Vitamin D, a vital vitamin that many are already deficient in.
Can’t I get skin cancer from the sun? Skin cancer is often a big question for those who are worried about staying outside too long. Studies show that, even with the development of Sunscreen, skin cancer rates are going up. Why is that? The key to protecting yourself from skin cancer is to work with the sun, not against it! Here are a few things to consider:
There is a difference between sunscreen and sunblock. Very often, sunscreen is chemical and sunblock is mineral. This means that sunscreen is absorbed into the skin and filters the sun's rays (much like a screen on a window or door). The rays are still getting through, and are even being absorbed into your skin! However, sunblock works on the top of your skin to create a protective barrier against the UVA and UVB rays.
So if sunscreen and sunblock can’t protect me from skin cancer, what causes it? The answer to that is kind of ironic. Most skin cancers are linked to a Vitamin D deficiency- the very thing that sun exposure stimulates in the body! The modern diet and lifestyle (eating processed foods indoors) is a breeding ground for a vitamin D deficiency, without which the body will be less protected against cancer infections. Sunscreen (the chemical one) actually has an adverse effect on your body by reacting with your hormones, it is a toxin. The constant exposure to the toxin and your body’s inability to produce vitamin D can ultimately lead to aberrant cell growth and dis-ease. A Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to complications in pregnancy, in both the mother and the baby.
So do I or don’t I wear protection in the sun? Yes. Your goal should be to get enough sun exposure to promote vitamin production and hormone stimulation while also protecting your body chemically. Be aware of what is in your sunscreen: ingredients such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, and preservational parabens are harmful chemicals to your body. Don’t be afraid of going out into the sun “unprotected” for some amount of time (your skin does a wonderful job at protecting you from light, chemicals, pathogens, cuts, scrapes etc. Trust it!) Gradually increase your time outside with your skin.
Ok I’ve gotten my Vitamin D, but what if I have to be outside for a long time? Consider using a sunblock that is made from minerals such as Zinc oxide. Insert links to better sunblocks/ erin’s recipe. Physical barriers such as sun shirts, hats, and umbrellas are also options when trying to find the balance between you and the sun.
Anything else? You can actually eat your sunscreen! No, I don’t mean squeeze that bottle into your mouth. But you can protect your skin from the inside out by paying attention to what you eat. Consuming healthy fats, leafy greens, and food with omega-3 while avoiding processed food, vegetable oils, or excessive grains and sugar will give you the micronutrients needed for healthy and protective skin. Try to find foods that are high in antioxidants (berries and even dark chocolate).
Every human being is perfectly different. At every age and stage, we will constantly be shifting with our environment. It is important to have a baseline understanding of how your body wants to work, and then go from there on how to best take care of it! The sun is our friend, and your body will miss it.
Organic Sunscreens of 2020:
Why vitamin D is imperative for pregnant women:
Sunscreen for kids:
Eat your sunscreen: