We’ve been told for decades that we need to slather ourselves with sunscreen all day long — whether it’s sunny or cloudy, winter or summer — in order to protect ourselves from the damages and health risks imposed by the sun.
The problem is that this sunscreen obsession isn’t helping. Not only are we scrubbing toxic chemicals into one of our largest and most sensitive organs (our skin), but wearing sunscreen hasn’t reduced skin cancer cases. In fact, melanoma rates have tripled since the 1970s.
We need sunshine to survive, but somehow we've made it the villain and declared ourselves helpless victims.
The sun is our primary source of vitamin D, an important vitamin that strengthens our bone health, helps balance our hormones, boosts our immune system and nourishes brain function. But when we apply sunscreen, we block the sun’s rays and subsequently, the production of vitamin D in our bodies. Sad, no?
So what’s a sun-loving, vitamin D-craving gal or guy to do? I’m a sun baby myself and I certainly won’t be holed up inside this summer, nor will I be dancing in the rays wearing oxybenzone-laden sunscreens (a chemical commonly used in sunscreens that actually becomes carcinogenic when heated. Yes. Heated, like by the sun!).
With these simple tips, you can protect yourself from toxic sunscreen chemicals and reap the sun’s benefits at the same time!
1. Get your sunshine during off-peak hours.
The sun can cause the most damage when it’s high in the sky: anywhere from 10am to 4pm., but that may differ slightly depending on where you live.
Stick to the sunshine early in the morning or later in the day, with one little caveat: spend 10-15 minutes in the sun during peak hours to get your daily dose of vitamin D. This is all the time you need to grab your essential amount of vitamin D.
2. Don't wash off the vitamin D.
Vitamin D is formed on the surface of your skin when it's exposed to UVB rays from the sun, but that vitamin D doesn't sink in right away — it can take up to 48 hours to absorb the majority of it. But at the end of a sunny day, most of us are in the shower scrubbing off the sunscreen, sweat and sand … and sending all that lovely vitamin D down the drain.
I'm not telling you to stop showering, but try to rinse your body in the shower with just water if you can. Limit your soap usage to just your pits and your bits.
3. Eat your sunscreen.
UV radiation increases free radicals in our bodies. And what counteracts free radicals? Antioxidants! Boost your consumption of antioxidant-rich foods like berries, leafy greens, walnuts, hemp seeds, black beans, bell peppers, carrots, green tea, raw cacao, garlic and salmon.
There’s a reason nature offers us such a beautiful bounty of foods like berries in the summertime. Sure, they're delicious, but they'll also help us boost our consumption of important free radical-fighters.
4. Avoid sunburns and cover up.
Wearing sunscreen lulls us into a false sense of protection. We believe we can frolic through the surf for hours in tiny bikinis and we’ll be 100% shielded from the sun. This is how sunburns happen, people!
No one wants to end up looking like a leather handbag. Don’t spend too much time in the sun all at once, and wear lightweight clothing that'll allow you to cover your skin and still beat the heat.
5. Make your own natural sunscreen.
If you feel naked or uncomfortable going without sunscreen, try making a homemade version instead. Add some zinc oxide to batch of DIY sunscreen to help deflect the sun from your skin.
Remember to include nourishing fats like almond oil and shea butter will keep your skin supple and smooth, and toss in some lovely essential oils to smell sweet.
By using these sun protection strategies, you can get the essential sun nutrients that will ultimately benefit your health and well-being.