A Case for the Sun

We don't receive as many requests to add sunscreen to our product line as we used to so I'm hoping the tide is changing. Slathering on chemical laden, Vitamin D blocking, toxin inducing SPF lotion everyday is a habit that I believe needs to change. 

Ok, now that you're concerned about me let me explain.:) 

I'm 56 and have heard for forever that I'll age faster and get skin cancer if I don't apply sunscreen daily.  Well, I'm not convinced this is completely true because skin cancer rates continue to rise despite the overwhelming obedience from the masses.  Why is this?  If we're doing everything right, shouldn't skin cancer rates be diminishing? 

Unfortunately, the sun has been feared and hid from for three plus decades now and I don't think it's done us any favors. In fact I believe it's hurt us in many ways.    

When I was a summer camp counsellor in Texas in 1985...yup...the summer "Back to the Future" was in theaters and my boyfriend, now husband, and I went to see it....:) I had struggled with acne for about 2 years prior.  I had taken medication and prescription topical treatments and nothing seemed to help. But that summer was transformative for my skin. I never truly knew why except one thing was very different - I was outside all day everyday with those kids, swimming in the pool, canoeing on the river, playing outside and while that was going on I was getting a very very dark tan on my poor sun-deprived Canadian skin.  And an amazing thing happened. By the end of the summer my skin had healed and my acne never returned.   When I returned home one of the first things my mother said to me was "Arlene, your skin!"  It was clear!  Why did this happen?  Well, I can't say for sure, but in researching the sun over the years that one change in my lifestyle has made me wonder if this beautiful sunny creation of God's was the ticket.

Let's spend a little time rediscovering the positive attributes of the sun. 

There are at least 6 good reasons why we need SPF-free exposure.

1.  Vitamin D synthesizing.  What does that mean?  First off, we know that we need Vitamin D for many functions of the body and we're being told repeatedly to supplement.  But what if I told you that the sun was designed to work with our body to produce Vitamin D without supplementation.  UVB rays (the rays that cause burning) have a way of reacting with a cholesterol derivative that's actually produced in our skin!  This is exciting stuff!  When our skin is exposed to the sun this amazing reaction takes place and voila, it becomes Vitamin D in the body!  Without the sun we'll have to resort to food or supplements to get our Vitamin D which frankly don't work quite as well as God's sunshine due to absorption.  

2.  Increased awareness. We would all love to be more alert, engaged and more attentive in our daily activities, wouldn't we? One way to address this is to get into the sun!  According to research this is exactly what happens when we expose our skin to the sun as opposed to artificial light which has no ability to improve our quality of life. In fact, I would argue that being inside too much decreases quality of life. 

3.  Natural pain killer qualities.  I know this may be new news to you but research shows that the sun can give an analgesic type reaction to help with pain. Who knew? So the next time you're sick or have a headache be sure to sit in the sun for pain relief.  Good physicians know this to be true and will "prescribe" sunshine to their patience when feeling ill.   

4.  Mood enhancing. This is great news for depression and anxiety sufferers.  Often when we're depressed or struggle with the disease of depression it's easy to seclude ourselves in dark rooms. This unfortunately only exacerbates the issue.  Sunlight helps to increase our serotonin, a mood enhancing hormone, which is a good thing!

5.  Cortisol regulating. Cortisol is one of the hormones which help regulate light and dark cycles.  Light and dark cycles are also called circadian rhythm which allow your body to assign functions based on the time of day.  What does this mean?  Think prioritizing tissue repair while you are sleeping, and prioritizing the search for food along with regulating metabolism and movement when you are awake.  When the body is out of rhythm - like when a baby has his days and nights mixed up - everything goes wrong.  Getting into the sun helps to regulate this important hormone!

6.  Cutting edge research suggests that the sun may be capable of creating energy to the cells through the melanin in the skin.  Although the research is new I think most of us have experienced the wonderful energy enhancing effect of being in the sunshine verses being stuck inside all day long! 

So now let's talk about sunscreen. 

But first I'm going to rant a little if you don't mind.  We're so afraid of the sun that we will apply sunscreen under our makeup even if we're working in an office near a large window!  UVA rays, right?  Those aging rays, they say, will penetrate through that office window and make us look old sooner.  I'm just not buying it.  I personally believe the harm from the chemicals used in SPF formulas largely harm the skin as well as cause issues in healthy penetration of the sun's rays.  And I also believe in graceful aging by applying good lifestyle choices and with a joyful spirit!  Aging isn't bad.  We must come to terms with that.  To me the most beautiful older women are the ones who have a sweet spirit, a smile on their face and no botox!

OK, I'm done:) 

Obviously wearing sunscreen is important if we haven't slowly built our skin up to be able to handle a full day of sun at the beach.  So don't get me wrong, there is a place for a physical sunscreen.  

But the beach is a rare occasion.  There's a lot we can do beforehand "toughen up" our skin to the sun.

Spending about 20 minutes in direct sunlight daily without sunscreen with as much skin exposed as you can (while still being decent) can help your skin become less sensitive to it.  We all remember the "first burn" of the season!  Lily white skin exposed for the first time after being cocooned in long sleeves and turtlenecks for months on end suddenly enjoys an afternoon at the pool.....oops.....lobster.  But if you slowly work up to it daily you'll find your skin gets "tougher" and less sensitive. 

Training your skin to have a healthy reaction to the sun is key.  One of the best ways is to eat foods that aid in this training!   

1. Watermelon and tomatoes - Watermelon and tomatoes are high in lycopene and UV radiation protection. Most tomatoes in the grocery store contain GMO's so get them from a trusted farmer's market or better yet, grow them yourself!

2. Get your Omega 3's from fish - Alaskan cod, halibut, salmon (not farm raised and no catfish or shrimp).  Omega 3's can help with sun protection but also studies show they can help against some skin cancers.

3.  Dark Chocolate - high antioxidants help to protect your skin from sun damage and burns. 

4.  Leafy greens and herbs - basil, sage, parsley, kale, spinach and others.  They're high in B vitamins and help protect the skin from skin damage. 

5.  Green Tea.  Studies have shown that polyphenols and cartenoids help protect the skin from some skin cancers. 

6.  Beta Carotene found in red and orange vegetables and fruits.  Red/yellow peppers, sweet potatoes, papaya, cantaloupe, winter squash, pumpkin and carrots.  

7.  Berries:  Anthrocyacins in berries help in protecting the skin from sun damage.  

Extra tips for long days in the sunshine:

1. Avoid the sun between 10-4 pm

2. Wear a hat.

3. Cover up after 20 minutes.

4. If necessary use physical sunscreens that block the rays physically with zinc oxide.  

5. Help your skin barrier by skin brushing. 

6. Moisturize your skin well before going into the sun. Our Blue Lagoon Body Oil is wonderful for this!  

7. Drink lots of water.  Remember that dry skin burns like dry wood burns so hydrate from the inside. If you know you're going to be in the sun on a certain day make sure you drink a lot of water starting 3 days in advance.  And drink plenty of water while in the sun too!  Water will help to keep that fire at bay.  

And water comes in more than one form. There is a new found water state called Gel Water or H3O2.  Liquid, Iced, Gaseous and now Gel Water!  Who knows what they'll discover about God's created design next!  But gel water is found in our bodies on a cellular level so this is important to note as we want to feed our cells this type of water so that our body produces more and more healthy cells.  There have been recent studies on people who live in the desert and how they hydrate themselves and they found that they almost exclusively hydrate themselves desert plants not water.  If you've ever scraped out the gel from a fresh aloe vera plant this is that typical gel water from desert plants.  But there are others that you probably already are eating and those are cucumbers, melons, berries, peppers, tomatoes, ground and soaked chia seeds, jicama and lemons to name a few!  So don't only drink your water, make sure you eat it too!  

Embracing the sun that God created and gave to us is very freeing!  So let's start now in preparing our skin for the glorious summer months that are upon us!