Can’t live with the crap you read about it. Can’t live without it – sometimes.
Making heads or tails out of the information about sun exposure, sunscreen and all the mis-information we have shoved down our throats is enough to make me (and I’m sure you) crazy.
Do I have all the answers?
Hell, no. But I’ve been doing some research for myself and I can share with you some of the information I have filtered down and to help me make some decisions about how I will protect myself from excess sun.
First and foremost this will sound crazy but it is the honest to goodness truth. If you won’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin.
Your skin is the largest organ in (on) your body and it ABSORBS everything you put on it. EVERYTHING– straight into your bloodstream. So be mindful of what is IN every lotion, cream, soap, powder, deodorant etc. you put on your body. No joke, folks. Chemical laden lotions can jack you up something awful.
I gave up sun “worship” years ago. I rarely just lay out in the sun for longer than an hour any more without covering up or getting into the shade. I believe that that sun is good for us but only in small doses.Vitamin D is important for everyone. It is especially important for autoimmune patients as it is a key player in repair and recovery. Click To Tweet
Like plants, the sun helps us to produce a variety of really great things in our system which contribute in positive ways to our overall good health. Vitamin D is at the top of the list. Now that I live in the South, I get plenty of sun from just being out and about during the day and my desire to be tanned happens naturally, without me trying to cram it into a few weekends a year like I did when I lived up North. Back then I was always pushing the envelope to get the darkest tan every year. Dumb.
It Isn’t So Much the Sun That is Bad for Us
But burning– that is where the problem comes in.
So let’s not get all caught up in the details of why BURNING is bad for you. You’re not stupid. Let’s just figure out how we can avoid burning before we start talking sunscreen. Your body is DESIGNED to take vitamin D in through the skin. Don’t block it’s ability to do so every time you leave your house.
If you enjoy a lot of outdoor activity, keep a bag of useful avoidance items in the trunk of your vehicle, along with your sunscreen of choice. Hats, light-weight, long-sleeved, light colored shirts (the men’s department of the thrift store is a GREAT place to get old cotton shirts), a long skirt (for you ladies) lightweight yoga pants or some other favorable athletic wear. I have a bevy of sarongs and I keep ’em all over the place. You can wrap them around your waist for a quick cover up, toss it over you head and/or shoulders or drape it over head to create some shade for yourself. They are compact, easy to use and wash and dry quickly. They don’t block out all of the sun, but they block out quite a bit.
Umbrellas are a must if you are on the beach for an extended period of time. Keep in mind that even if you are under it, you can get reflective light off of both the sand AND the water. Be mindful of covering up. If there is a restaurant or beach bar nearby, sneak in for a bit and help support a local business by enjoying some of what they have to offer, shade included.
If you choose to use sunscreen, be sure to cover your body with it before you get dressed. That way you don’t miss any spots. The tops of your ears and feet are an often missed spots.(not that I would have any experience with that). I very infrequently use Sunscreen but if I know I’m going to be outside all day long and I know I’ll have a difficult time getting out of the sun, I’ll cover up as soon as I get out of the shower — head to toe. Slater that shit on. Get a friend to help with the hard to reach places.
Here’s where the jury is still out and we aren’t sure, but are pretty certain, these things are NOT good additives for us in our sunscreen.
Vitamin A – Sure it’s good as a dietary supplement but it seems it’s not such a good to be baking on our skin all day. Companies play into your familiarity with things that are good for you, they just don’t tell you how THEY are using it and that in THEIR form, it’s ain’t so great for you.
Parabens – Widely used as a preservative in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry, it has been getting a bad wrap for a while and we aren’t totally sure how harmful they are to the body we know it’s not great. It mimics estrogen in the body and has been found in low dosages in breast cancer tumors. Make sure any products you buy for your skin are paraben free.
Oxybenzone – It too mimics estrogen in the system. See above parabens.
Is good sunscreen more expensive? Hell yes, but considering how much you should/will be using it over the course of the year, YOU are worth the extra few bucks. Organic is always better.
Here is an additional resources for you to view. This “hall of shame“ is particularly helpful if you have children as it highlights some of the bigger offenders marketing to that demographic. The Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) has tons of reliable information on sunscreen. Check out their 2016 guide to sunscreen.
One Last Thing
If they make the labels too hard to read, put it back on the shelf and make another choice as they more than likely don’t want you to know what is actually in it. This is true of any label on any product. How you spend your dollars at the store is the single most important way to create change in ANY industry. Economics 101 teaches us that if you support their less than desirable products they will continue to make more. If you support their better quality ones, they will produce more of those, and as is the case with most things produced in greater volume, it becomes less expensive to produce, the larger the volume.