If you spend time in the sun regularly, you should be wearing some sun protection. If you Live in a cold and cloudy place and vacation and sunbathe for weeks at a time, you should be wearing sun protection. In fact, if you want to prevent wrinkles, you should be wearing sun protection.
I grew up and sunny Southern California and I am a summer baby. I have spent hundreds of days trail running with my shirt off, no hat and no sunscreen. I called it going tanning. I still love to do it, I just wish I had taken more precautions when I was in my teens and twenties. Only time will tell the damage that I have done to my skin.
Here is the truth: Sunscreen will not prevent skin cancer but will prevent sunburns. The sunscreen sold in the US isn't as good as the ones sold abroad. In the US, the FDA clears and regulates the ingredients of sunscreen (also has no real regulation or standard for UV protection. SPF 15 will protect 93% of UV rays and SPF 50 cover about 97% - that is for the first 45 minutes you wear it and don't go in the water). The process for getting a new ingredient approved for the formula is long and cumbersome. The last time they approved a NEW ingredient, it was 2002.
Yeah, in 20 YEARS of research, they haven't updated the formula.
My favorite is this one. It of course has been outlawed by the US but the good news is that if you live close to Canada, you can pick some up. You gotta get the one that is labeled in FRENCH. The US version is one of the crappy, US blends
And in case you haven’t heard, most of the chemicals you put on the largest and most absorptive organ in your body, are also dangerous for your health. These chemicals are absorbed into your bloodstream. The FDA knows this yet we can’t get the ingredient list updated. Also keep in mind that these chemicals are known to be killing coral reefs. Many vacation hot spots are calling for a ban on sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate.
I am down for this movement. I believe if you can't eat it, it shouldn't go on your skin. Chemical sunscreen has a high concentration of endocrine disrupting chemicals. We need to limit exposure to this as much as possible. Better choices are mineral sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They create a physical barrier between you and the sun. Plus we ingest trace amounts of these chemicals and we know they are not harmful.
Not to mention, by using sunscreen, you are just increasing your risk for overexposure to the sun. Yes, it happens. The burn is our bodies way of telling us to get into cover up or shelter ASAP.
So what are your alternative? We all need SOME sunshine and it is a mark of honor to come back to work or school a couple shades darker after great vacation.
Simply, you have to think and plan ahead for it.
Avoid the Hottest Hours
UV rays are strongest from 10am-3pm. This is when you need to be the most careful. Don’t be completely exposed for longer than 20 minutes at a time if you are going to be all day in the sun. Bring your cover ups and hat. Take them on and off throughout the day. Find shade and park your camp there.
My favorite time to tan is from 4-6pm and 8-10am. I go out sparingly between those other hours. When I do my tanning trail runs, I’m out no longer than 45 minutes.
Good nutrition can save you in every aspect of your life. A diet high in vitamin E, C and beta-carotene will help save your skin. There is also a case for high fat foods such as avocado and butter. Turns out that eating non-inflammatory, non-processed foods can actually help your skin from burning so much.
Being exposed to sunshine for a little bit everyday helps store vitamin D and prevents burns. If it’s too grey where you live, consider taking some cod liver oil as a supplement. You can cover A LOT of nutrition ground with that one supplement.
I don't know what happened making hats aren't a thing anymore. In the past, if you went outside, you wore a hat. In the military if is part of the uniform code to never leave a building without your cover. I am moving to the desert in a week and every time I visit, I am astounded by how many people are taking walks in the oppressive sun and NONE of them are wearing hats.
In Berlin, my favorite hat shop was run by a woman in her early fifties who smiled a lot and smoked. We got to talking on more than one occasion. She told me that since she was 19 years old, she wore a hat everyday, never went out in the sun. And I’ll be damned if she didn’t have some of the best skin I had ever seen on a 50 year old. The crazy part is, the woman smoked! After that encounter, I have been a hat girl. I love me hats. I wear one nearly every day: ball caps, panama hats, even palm rolled cowboy hats.
So many people say “I don’t look good in hats.” The truth is, they feel funny, out of place or they aren't comfortable wearing them. Once you find the right hat for your style and commit to protecting your skin, hats become an easy wardrobe accessory. Plus, you look ten times more put together.
Shirts & Lightweight Sun Jackets
If you want to know about good sun protection, look no further than the style choices of Arabs and Asians.
In middle eastern countries that are mostly desert, they wear long draped clothes of loose woven cotton. This pulls the sweat away from their bodies, catches breezes and keeps their skin from sun exposure. THIS is how you should think about sun wear.
I have a beautiful linen men’s button up that is about 5 sizes too big for me. I bought it at a thrift shop in France and it has become my most favorite beach accessory. I can still get some sun but for the most part, I am covered. It looks chic, bring me fond memories and keeps me healthy. There is nothing more you can ask for.
Asian women always have the best, more westernized sun clothes. They are diligent about protecting the whiteness of their skin. From my Asian clients and friends, I get the scoop on the best lightweight sport jackets and pants - that are WAY stylish. The secret is the material. There are a few options from Uniqlo, Champion and Adidas.
You can swerve into dork territory pretty quickly when it comes to sun protection clothes. They most important thing is light colors and covered. Those SPF/UV blocking numbers are always questionable seeing as there is no FDA regulation standard on what this means or entails. Just buy something that you like and would wear.
For sports, there are a number of options available to you. This is a great article from REI about how to choose the right gear. I have a great long sleeve fishing shirt that I wear when spear fishing and kayaking. It's a polyester/cotton blend, it’s from my boyfriends favorite fishing company and protects me just fine.
There are some natural oils that protect you from the sun. Using coconut oil everyday as a moisturizer is a big first step in regular sun protection.
You can also make your own. Turns out that carrot seed oil and raspberry seed oils have anywhere from 20-50 SPF in them. Mix with some powdered zinc oxide and you have yourself a healthy, effective alternative to sunscreen
Here is the recipe for one at Wellness Mama. I'm excited to make my own daily sun protecting oil for my face.
The fact is, no one should be laying out or exposed all day. Don't use sunscreen to mask the consequences of something that is harmful. Cover up, use shade, go in and out of the sun and be smart.