Enjoy the Sun and Keep Your Skin Healthy!
You want healthy skin that looks good into oldest age. During the summer months, it feels like a balancing act to protect your skin and enjoy the outdoors that are particularly tempting.
It seems your only choices are coating your skin in chemical-heavy sunscreens or avoiding the sun altogether. It doesn’t have to be that way.
When it comes to sun exposure, the main thing to remember is RESPECT. The sun is our planet’s source of light and energy, powerful, and potentially deadly. Mankind would literally die without it. If you balance sun exposure with a healthy dose of good old-fashioned respect, you and the sun will be great friends!
How Much is Too Much?
In the 1950s, social norms about bare skin in public started to relax. Suddenly, tanning became a national pastime. Entire families spent their summer days outside, coated in baby oil. They baked to golden brown and proudly showed off their tan lines.
No one worried about maintaining healthy skin unless they burned. Even then, the moment the burn faded, they were back to “laying out” again.
Many of those tanning innovators are probably still laying in the sun on a Florida beach as I write this. Some of them (perhaps many) may have had a skin cancer scare (or more than one) but love the color so they continue to soak it up.
In the 1990s, access to many outdoor wild spaces opened up to regular people in a way they never had been before. Suddenly, it was possible to find places to explore, take on hobbies you never considered, and venture out into the world in ways that were brand new.
These days, spending a day at the pool or beach is an all-day affair. Men, women, and children play in sunshine and water for hours. Sometimes they use over-the-counter sunscreen and maybe they’ll even remember to reapply it every couple of hours.
No one thinks about damage to skin cells when they’re hanging out at the pool, having a barbecue, attending an outdoor music festival, or running a 10K for charity. No one worries about keeping skin healthy when they get a “little” sunburn a few times every year.
You might remember shades or a hat – maybe. Shades are considered both cool and fashionable but a lot of people don’t like hat-head, would never consider wearing clothes to cover their skin when everyone else is in shorts and tank tops, and wouldn’t be caught dead holding an umbrella.
Tanned skin – in the media – is considered a sign of health. A model could be dehydrated from a photo shoot all day in the sun, vitamin deficient to make sure the swimsuit looks just right, and half-blind from glare…but her skin looks amazing! It’s also a status symbol, telling the world that things are so great you can just laze about in the sun.
Every time you burn, your skin suffers.
If you’re a person who burns deliberately to “build a base tan,” there’s something you should know. Every burn, it gets harder for your skin to repair the damage you’re causing.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T the Sun for Healthy Skin
If you love the sun, you gotta show it some respect.
Essential vitamin D3 is needed to protect your bones, teeth, nails, and help defend your body against disease. Multiple studies have connected vitamin D deficiency with cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Experts agree that you can get all the vitamin D3 you need in 15 minutes a day – exposing your bare hands and face to sunlight. Any longer and you need to protect your skin.
5 Tips to Keep Skin Healthy (and still enjoy the sun)
- Make your own sunscreen. Most over-the-counter sunscreens actually increase sensitivity to the sun. They also block 97% of what your body requires to manufacture vitamin D3. They’re loaded with chemicals and scents you don’t need or want to apply to your skin (with direct access to your bloodstream).
Check out this Wellness Mama1 article for sunscreen that’s easy to make, effective, and 100% natural. Remember, coconut oil has a natural SPF of 4-6% without blocking vitamin D3 production.
- Don’t be stingy with natural sunscreen. Coat your entire body with it before you leave your house and re-apply it (set a timer on your phone) every 2 hours (and immediately after getting out of the water). Applying it before you get dressed means you’re fully covered at least once whether your tank top strap slides a half inch to one side or not.
If you’re going to be outside but figure you don’t need to worry because it’s overcast – think again. You can burn when it’s cloudy, cold, through the windows of office buildings, and even by reflection off cars, sand, or concrete.
- Know what pharmaceutical side effects could be a problem. Like many chemical sunscreens, some medications also increase photo-sensitivity and your risk of burning. Antibiotics, antihistamines (Benedryl™), diuretics, painkillers (Aleve™), acne creams, and prescriptions for serious illness such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer treatment, and malaria are among the known pharmaceuticals that increase sensitivity to sunlight.
- Get the water your body loses in the sun. Water, water, and more water to keep your cells as hydrated as possible at all times. If you’re going to be outside all day, double your usual water intake. Alcoholic beverages rob you of necessary hydration and narrow the capillaries of your brain, increasing your risk of heat stroke and medical dehydration.
If alcohol is part of your social scene, drink a full bottle of water between alcoholic drinks to minimize the vessel contraction effects. This isn’t just for fun. If you work outside regularly such as landscaping or construction, you need a lot more water than the recreational outdoors people.
- Slather your body in coconut oil, lotion, or your favorite moisturizer. Your natural sunscreen goes a long way to helping protect your skin from moisture loss but don’t forget to moisturize after time in the sun.
Apply coconut oil (or your personal favorite organic oil) liberally after a day spent outside. It will help replenish the natural moisture your skin requires to keep doing its job of protecting all the “inner parts” of you.
The sun is critical to your health (skin and all the rest of your parts) but it should never be taken lightly or considered “harmless.” Failing to recognize the power (and possible ferocity) of the sun is a good way to end up in the hospital.
1Wellness Mama: wellnessmama.com/2558/homemade-sunscreen