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  • Writer's pictureMelisha Meredith

Sun Exposure: Healing Benefits? or Dangerous?

Sun Protection, Sun Screen and Sun Burn Relief


When the weather gets warm, I inevitably forget how desensitized my skin is to sunlight and end up with skin that’s a little too toasted! 

It happened to me at my sons’ track meet a couple weeks ago! My forehead was red and peeled a bit. Oops!


That got me thinking about sharing some “sun tips” with all of you. 




First, Sun Protection


Is it needed? Is it good? Is it safe? 


Remember that the light from the sun's rays are very good for you!

  • You need sunlight to manufacture vitamin D. Getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D lowers your risk for disease and illness.

  • Sunlight will benefit the health of your circadian rhythm, your body's internal clock. This will impact your energy through the day and your sleep at night.

  • It benefits the health of your hormones such as serotonin, the hormone that affects mood, emotions and digestion.


A healthy approach to the sun, would be to get as much as you can (ideally in the mornings and evenings when the light is most beneficial) without sun protection including no sunglasses. You want to do this without getting overexposed and getting burned. 


Everyone’s safe sun tolerance will be different. For me the limit with no protection in the morning or evening is about an hour, and less in the afternoon. Going in and out of the shade can also help extend your time outside without protection. 


If you are getting overexposed, you can wear sun protective clothing or put on a sunscreen.  Sun protective clothing like hats and loose, lightweight shirts are wonderful because it helps you avoid the need for a lotion altogether.  That saves you money in the long run and potentially protects you from the harmful ingredients found in many sunscreen products. 


Foods that help protect your skin!


Another really neat way to protect yourself is to eat skin-protecting, sun-loving foods!  These types of food will have a cumulative effect over time!  


  • Antioxidant rich foods like blueberries fight off free radicals that can damage skin due to sun exposure and stress.

  • Omega 3 fatty acids from nuts, seeds and fish are skin-loving fats that help maintain your skin’s integrity and are anti-inflammatory.

  • Beta carotene that our bodies convert into vitamin A from foods like carrots and leafy greens, is vital for skin health. A 2007 meta-analysis found that beta carotene provided natural sun protection.

  • Avoiding inflammatory foods - seed oils, white flour, white sugar, conventional dairy - will help our cells to be healthier and resist damage.


Imagine that... God made food to help protect us from sun damage!  Sounds like something He would do, doesn’t  it?! 


In summary, the sun is very good for our health, so it’s great to have some time in the sun each day when we don’t have sunscreen or protective layers! The best time for that is morning and evening with the light from the sun is most healing and least harsh.


Opt for sun protective clothing first when needed.




Sunscreen 


Sometimes, we still need sunscreen!  Some days shade isn’t available and extra clothing isn’t too feasible. Days at the beach, long days in the garden, and days at an amusement park might be examples of this. 


When choosing a sunscreen, you have to be careful and mindful if you don’t want to slather harmful chemicals on you or your family. 


Ironically, some people use sunscreen to protect themselves from getting skin cancer, and they try to do so with a sunscreen that has ingredients linked to cancer.  Please don’t do that!


It’s not really sunscreen that protects us most from skin cancer.

We have more sunscreen than ever in our world and more skin cancer than ever!


What to look for:


Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the only 2 active ingredients that are shown to be both effective and non-toxic.  Look for one of these as the main active ingredient.


Deciphering the rest of the ingredients can be challenging if you’re not used to it.  Avoid phthalates, fragrances, propellants, oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.


Some non-toxic brands I like to use: 


And my favorite facial sunscreen is by Norwex



Sun Burn Relief


If you’re like me and sometimes get a little too toasty in the sun in spite of doing your best not to, here are several natural ways you can relieve the burn and start to heal the skin:


  1. Aloe.  Succulents are so trendy now, that many households have an aloe plant… use it!  Cut open a leaf and use the clear goo to apply to your skin.  Be wary of aloe lotions, many have toxic ingredients.

  2. Lavender essential oil.  This is a calming oil that reduces inflammation and helps heal burns.  I dilute mine with fractionated coconut oil and then apply gently. I take this on all beach trips!

  3. Oatmeal paste.  Make some oat flour in your food processor and then mix the flour with some water and apple cider vinegar until you have a thick but workable paste. Apply to burn areas.  Leave on for about two minutes and then rinse off.  Careful not to clog up your sinks with it!

  4. The Sun Relief Balm from Earthley is another great option that is easy to travel with!


I hope this helps you become more prepared for your time outdoors!  Be sun-safe out there!


Melisha 


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