Summer Sun

               Maya Sun by Lu West

             Maya Sun by Lu West

It’s officially summer and the sun is shining!  But how much sun should we be getting?  There is a lot of information out there today about sun exposure that it can be confusing to know how much is too much and how little is too little... let alone know if we should ban the sun’s rays all together…?  To this point, the short answer is no, sun is good for us! That’s why we want to dig a little deeper and tell you why.  Here’s what you need to know about summer sun exposure:

Think of it this way: we aren’t too different from plants; we too need solar energy to thrive. Getting 20 minutes of sun exposure every day has immense health benefits for your overall wellbeing.  For example, here are five noteworthy benefits of sunlight exposure:

  1. Improves mood by flooding the brain with endorphins, which in turn reduces pain… bonus!

  2. Helps to burn fat more efficiently.

  3. Regulates sleep cycle and improves evening alertness.

  4. Releases nitric oxide, a chemical transmitter stored in your skin, which helps maintain healthy blood pressure, prevents atherosclerosis and modulates your immune system.

  5. Treats certain skin conditions like psoriasis, vitiligo, atopic dermatitis and scleroderma.

All this, for finding a sunny spot and absorbing the warmth of the sun's rays.  20 minutes a day. And what’s better, that’s just the beginning!

The big winner here is the production of Vitamin D3 from the sun’s UVB rays.  Optimizing your Vitamin D levels is one of THE most important things you can do to achieve optimal living and feeling your best.

Here’s the downlow on Vitamin D: Vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin; it’s a steroid hormone precursor that is so powerful, it influences 10% of all the genes in your body.  That’s nearly 3,000 genes that are impacted by Vitamin D levels.

Often times we hear that we can heal our bodies with food, water, and meditation, for example, right?  But Vitamin D isn’t found in any of these healers. Knowing the vast effect Vitamin D has on the cells in the body, getting some sunshine becomes all the more important and apparent.  Vitamin D via supplements is an option, but the word “supplement” should be taken just as that, a supplement. Think of supplements as insurance... a cushion!  With supplements, you are helping to protect your skin from the inside out -- “internal sunscreen.” Supplementing Vitamin D for several months before you sunbathe can also help prevent sunburn.  We recommend getting your levels tested for appropriate dosage.

As you continue to read on, you might be asking yourself about sun exposure and its link to skin cancer and melanoma.  This is another important topic to address another day.  Our intention in this post is to create awareness of the absolute necessity of absorbing a few sun’s rays in order to raise your body’s levels of Vitamin D, which may actually help prevent and reduce the risk of some cancers.

Sun exposure needs boundaries, and for various reasons.  Let it be your PRIMARY GOAL to never get sunburned!  Or even that golden glow... because that means you got too much sun.  Here’s some guidelines for optimal sun exposure:

  1. If you have light colored skin: stop as soon as (or before) your skin turns the slightest shade of pink (10-20 minutes).

  2. If you have dark colored skin: one shade darker (about 20 minutes).

  3. You know your skin best.  If you tend to burn, limit initial exposure to a few minutes.  Remember the purpose and importance of Vitamin D and that anything beyond the minimal dose of sun exposure will not produce more Vitamin D, but it will increase the risk of getting sunburned.  

  4. Careless sun exposure will result in signs of aging (wrinkles, dryness, pigmentation).  As the EWG states, “if you want to prolong your skin's health and youth, avoid intense UV exposure.”

  5. Protect your face and eyes.  Skin on the face is much thinner and delicate, so use safe sunblock, wear a hat, and wear sunglasses.  

  6. 75% of sunscreens contain potentially harmful ingredients, so choose your sunscreen carefully by avoiding harmful chemicals such as oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate.  When selecting a sunscreen, look for zinc oxide.

What are some safe sunscreen options?  We like Beautycounter and Badger, two effective sunscreens that are mineral-based, not chemical-based, making them safe options for sun protection.  They are formulated with non-nano zinc oxide that sits on the surface of the skin, and thus, does not enter the bloodstream.  By sitting on the surface of the skin, the sun’s rays are reflected away. You won’t find any chemical SPF filters, which are unfortunately found in many other sunscreens on the market.  Although they blend well, chemical SPF filters absorb the sun’s rays and convert them to heat; they can highly irritate the skin. Badger brand sunscreen tip: mix with a small amount of coconut oil for easier application.

So yes, we stand by the saying, sun’s out, guns out, but like all things in life, be mindful and kind to your body :)  Here are a couple sensible sun exposure tips to leave you with:

At Kinfolk, we enjoy the sunshine with more than 40% of our bodies exposed for 10-20 minutes.  We take the opportunity to breathe deeply, ground ourselves and connect to nature and our bodies.  Anything beyond 20 minutes, we cover up, wear a hat and sunglasses, and apply our favorite sunscreen.  

Accidents do happen!  If you do burn, aloe vera is one of the best remedies as it’s loaded with powerful glyconutrients that accelerate healing.  The best is the gel straight from the plant, but if that isn’t available for you, look for a commercial product that bears the seal IASC, which certifies it contains true, unadulterated aloe vera.  Also, astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant derived from algae, has been found to offer effective protection against sun damage when taken as a daily supplement.