This post was originally going to rate the best sunscreens for this year. However, after extensive research I’ve decided to change it to a post I think will be more beneficial. It contains the latest sun safety tips, but additional information I think will be useful albeit somewhat controversial.
Today is the day I step way out on a limb in that my research finds flaws with the science that tells us to stay out of the sun. Science has made wrong assumptions before. Could they be wrong again? My research into the subject of sun safety says they may well be wrong in laying all the blame on the sun for the increase in skin cancers. Soon you will see why I came to this conclusion.
That said, you do need to take precautions when you are subjecting yourself to the sun’s powerful ultra violet radiation.
Anyway, here goes:
What are UVA and UVB?
Both are radiation given off by the sun differing in their wavelength. The UV part stands for Ultra Violet. The A and B parts stand for the wavelength. Just in case you’re interested, A = 320 -400 nanometers and B = 290 – 300 nanometers. UVA, the longer wavelength is usually what gives us sunburn. UVB, long thought not to cause damage to our skin, now is thought to also cause skin cancers. Its short wavelength (right there next to X-rays), penetrates much deeper into the skin.
Can exposure to the sun cause skin cancer?
Absolutely, but let’s take a longer look at this. Sun damage in the form of cancer isn’t a new thing. There have been mummies 2000 or so years old that our scientists have determined had skin cancers when they died. However, for us living today it appears the problem is on the rise. According to one study, between 1992 and 2004, melanoma incidence increased 45 percent, or 3.1 percent annually.1 The big question here is why? Is the sun bombarding us with more UV radiation? I checked on that and apparently it is not except in areas where the ozone layers have thinned. Could it be that we are spending so much time indoors that our skin is more sensitive to the ultraviolet radiation. There may also be environmental factors that are partially responsible for the increase in skin cancers. The truth is no one knows the reason so the sun is an easy scapegoat.
In addition to cancer, one thing we know for sure. Too much sun exposure can prematurely age the skin. We can’t have that now, can we?
An interesting point to note is that some of the chemicals in sun screens penetrate the skin and are associated with melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer.
Can what we eat, drink and apply to our skin make us more sensitive to UVA and UVB radiation?
Yup. There’s a ton of products that can increase our sensitivity to the sun including some sunscreens; for a list check out: http://www.tanningtraining.com/btc/ch8.html?prodid=2. There are even some foods such as carrots that can make our skin more photosensitive. When you think about all the chemicals we ingest and slather on our skin, there’s a good chance they could be a factor in our apparent increased photosensitivity. Then again, maybe the chemicals themselves could be the causes of the increase in skin cancers. Right now scientists are blaming most skin cancers on the sun, but could they have it wrong? My research says yes.
Is a suntan bad for us?
The short answer is no. You will read that a suntan is caused by damage to skin cells. Actually, a suntan is the skin’s way of protecting itself from sun damage. The sun’s UVA rays stimulate the keratin in our skin cells to produce more pigment. That pigment is called a suntan.
The downside of sun exposure, including tanning, is that it ages the skin and that’s definitely not a good thing for a goddess.
Do we need sun to get vitamin D?
Yes and no are the definitive answers to that question. Here in the US we’re deficient in vitamin D and the sun is one of the best ways to get it. Why? Because the correct dosage of vitamin D in pill form has yet to be accurately determined. Vitamin D is one of those vitamins where enough is very good, but too much is very bad for us. Exposure to UVB radiation is necessary for the production of vitamin D from the sun.
Studies are ongoing to determine just how much exposure to the sun is needed to give us the required levels of vitamin D.
How can we live peacefully with the sun?
If you are very fair skinned, have red hair and or blue eyes and do not tan, you will be more sensitive to sun damage. If this describes you:
- Wear a natural sunscreen containing zinc oxide. There is some debate over the use of titanium dioxide. If your product contains one or both of these products, make sure they are not the nano-particle varieties (nano-particles can be absorbed through the skin).
- Go outside when the UV index is low.
- Keep to the shade on sunny days.
- Wear sun protective clothing
- Wear sunglasses
If you’re like me and tend to tan easily or sport a darker skin, you don’t need to be quite as picky as our fair skinned friends, but we need to use common sense.
- Avoid getting a sun burn. Every sun burn you get increases your odds of getting skin cancer.
- Keep visits in the direct sunlight to 10 minutes. According to the American Medical Association 10 minute of sunlight without sunscreen 3 to 4 times a week will give you the vitamin D that you need.
- If you’re going to work in the garden or go to the beach, apply a natural sunscreen (you can even make it yourself if you like). The sunscreen should contain zinc oxide (not the nano-particle variety). If the product you buy or make contains titanium dioxide, make sure it is not formulated with nano-particles since these small particles may be absorbed through the skin.
Final sun safety tips
- Always wear UV rated glasses as eye protection
- Wear a broad brimmed hat to shade your face. Goddesses this is important to keep your skin looking young. None of us is particularly fond of that “weathered” look.
- Wear sunscreen if you are going to be out in the sun for an extended time and that includes driving your car on a sunny day.
- Purchase UVP rated clothing (see below)
- Treat clothing with a UV protectant (see below)
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or more frequently if swimming or perspiring heavily
- Sunscreen is as important to ebony and Hispanic gods and goddesses as well as their fair skinned sisters and brothers.
Sun protection Resources
Sunscreen – We recommend the following all natural products:
- Natural Sunscreen (http://www.goddessgarden.com/t-ingredients.aspx)
- Badger SPF 30 (http://www.badgerbalm.com/s-29-about-badger-sunscreens.aspx)
- Create your own sunscreen using the recipe found at http://www.instructables.com/id/Sun-amp-bug-lotion-one-simple-solution/. This is a combo bug repellant and sunscreen. Leave off the DEET if you want to make sunscreen only.
Ultra violet protective clothing
- Coolibar – http://www.coolibar.com/index.html?s_kwcid=TC|8789|coolibar||S|e|6629679134
- Sunveil – http://www.sunveil.com/ (Some pretty clothing from this company)
- Sungrubbies – www.sungrubbies.com/
- Rit Sun Guard – You wash your clothes with this product to make them sun safe. I haven’t used this product, but it is highly rated and supposedly lasts for up to 20 washings. Remember, the better you can see through a fabric, the easier it is for ultraviolet radiation to reach your skin. Amazon carries this product and you might also find it at a local store that carries Rit dyes.
Just so you know, we aren’t affiliated with any of the companies listed above, but we thought they were worth presenting as options for you.
There is so much more to say about our relationship with our star, but I think what you have here will be a good start to a safe and wonderful spring and summer. I do encourage you to be a detective and investigate this topic more deeply for yourself. You may be surprised at the revelations you will unveil.
Now go have fun and relax.
1 Stern RS. Prevalence of a history of skin cancer in 2007: results of an incidence-based model. Arch Dermatol 2010; 146(3):279-282.