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Sun-Savvy: 5 Expert Tips for a Radiant Summer

This article was published in several of the June 2024 issues of Best Version Media's local print publications, including Newcastle Living.

 

Sun exposure is always a hot topic (pun intended). Being in the sun is good for us – it can boost your mood and your vitamin D levels, regulate your pain, and stimulate the energy centers in your cells. But too much can increase your risk of skin cancer and accelerate skin aging. So, like most things, the key here is finding that sweet spot in the middle.



 

Here's how to enjoy the sun safely this summer.

 

1. Understand the Sun's Effects

Sunlight emits two types of radiation: UVA and UVB. UVA rays contribute to skin aging, the darkening of freckles, and tanning, while UVB rays can cause sunburns. Interestingly, before a sunburn develops, UVB rays help your body produce vitamin D, which is crucial for bone health and immune function. However, too much of either UVA or UVB rays can increase the risk of skin cancer and premature aging. Finding a balance is essential—aim to get enough sunlight to produce vitamin D without harming your skin.

 


2. Optimize Your Vitamin D

Most Americans are vitamin D deficient, which affects many aspects of our health. About 10-30 minutes of midday sun several times a week is usually sufficient to maintain healthy vitamin D levels. Remember, the amount of sun exposure needed varies based on skin tone, location, and time of year. Utilize testing and vitamin D3 supplementation to ensure adequate levels for health.

 

3. Time Your Sun Exposure

The safest time to enjoy the sun is before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. when the sun's rays are less intense. Not only do sun exposures at these times keep our circadian rhythms in balance, but even our mental health is improved by being out in morning and evening sun (also, ditch the sunglasses at these times). If you're out during peak hours, limit direct sun exposure to intervals of 15-20 minutes. That’s usually enough to get crucial Vitamin D, and not enough to cause damage.

 

4. Cover Up

Many Americans primarily use sunscreen for skin protection. However, as the skin is our largest organ, and it absorbs the things we put on it directly into the bloodstream. To minimize excessive use of sunscreen, use protective measures like clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses during peak hours for primary protection. These methods are more effective against long-term damage compared to sunscreen alone.

 

5. Choose Your Sunscreen Wisely

The sunscreen market is complex and poorly regulated, making product labels and marketing confusing. There are two primary types of sunscreen: chemical and mineral. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV light, convert it to heat, and may worsen dark spots and have been shown to disrupt hormones. Mineral sunscreens, like those containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, reflect UV rays, providing broad spectrum protection and are generally safer.

 

Sun-savvy summary: Be outside in the morning and evening. Choose a zinc oxide based sunscreen with an SPF of 15-50 and apply it every 2 hours during peak sun times when you can’t be covered. For a comprehensive list of sunscreens that meet strict safety requirements, visit www.ewg.org/sunscreen/ .

 

 

Photo Credit: Danielle Barnum Photography.


Cara Merak is the owner of the Unscripted Clinic in Newcastle, Washington. She


champions a holistic healthcare approach, prioritizes identifying and

addressing the root causes of health issues and sharing them with her community on UnscriptedClinic.com/blog and Instagram. @UnscriptedClinic. She welcomes requests to cover specific topics and can be emailed at Cara@MerakFunctionalWellness.com.


If you are looking for personalized health support,

we highly recommend, contacting the Unscripted Clinic or



Sources:

  1. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation: What It Is & Its Effect on Your Skin. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10985-ultraviolet-radiation

  2. Matta, M.K., Florian, J., Zusterzeel, R., et al. (2020). Effect of sunscreen application on plasma concentration of sunscreen active ingredients: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 323(3), 256-267. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2019.20747

  3. Environmental Working Group. (n.d.). EWG research: The trouble with ingredients in sunscreens. Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/

  4. Krause, M., Klit, A., Jensen, M.B., Søeborg, T., Frederiksen, H., Schlumpf, M., Lichtensteiger, W., Skakkebaek, N.E., & Drzewiecki, K.T. (2012). Sunscreens: Are they beneficial for health? An overview of endocrine disrupting properties of UV-filters. International Journal of Andrology, 35(3), 424-436. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2605.2012.01280.x

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