I do believe that the sun is one of the best ways to get our daily dose of vitamin D, and many people have actually become afraid of it. There is no question that skin cancer is on the rise, but 15-minutes a day of sunscreen-free time in the sun is actually good for most us (know your skin type, family history, risks, etc. And of course, this recommendation does not apply to young children, and definitely not to babies.) Our bodies produce vitamin D through sun exposure, and having the optimum level is important for many reasons like helping to prevent cancer cells from growing or replicating.
For most adults, it is safe to be out in the direct sun for 15-minutes a day without sunscreen, but after 15-minutes it is time to lather up with your favorite natural or DIY sunscreen.
Since the skin is your largest organ, it is important to pay attention to the ingredient list of everything that you rub-on and apply. The most toxic UV filters are oxybenzone and octinoxate. Sure these active ingredients aid in blocking the sun, but they are not good for us in the long run. Some sunscreen chemicals may actually mimic hormones and disrupt the hormone system. I see way too many patients, women especially, who have used a host of hormone disrupting products that wreak havoc and aid in throwing their bodies off balance. So avoiding these ingredients and other harmful chemicals is important. There are some less toxic UV filters that some of the more natural sunscreens contain including titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and avobenzone to name a few.
Quick, DIY Sunscreen Recipe
An alternative to harmful sunscreens is making your own with natural ingredients. If you are going to be out in the sun for a longer period of time, mix two tablespoons of coconut oil with one tablespoon of non-nano zinc oxide powder (make sure you do not inhale the powder—use a mask—and keep out of the reach of children). Apply 15-minutes before heavy sun–exposure and reapply often, especially if you’re swimming as it’s not waterproof. Store in a mason jar, in a cool, dry place for up to 6-months.
Another idea is to add 1 tablespoon of non-nano zinc oxide powder to your favorite body crème. I recommend using a crème that is free from parabens, phylates, and parfums. [Also, it must not contain any citrus oils as these oils can increase light sensitivity and likelihood of sun burn]. Mix well and store in a cool, dry place for up to 6-months.
We want to protect and preserve our skin, but exposing the skin to the sun a little bit each day is not a bad thing. Enjoy the sunshine!