“Oh Mr Sun, Sun, Mr Golden Sun,
Please shine down on me…
Oh Mr Sun Sun, Mr Golden Sun,
Hide behind the tree…
These little children are asking you…
To please come out so we can play with you….”
Whenever I sing this song to my baby boy, I’m reminded of two things: (1) to make sure he gets outside enough to play & (2) not to let him go outside without sunscreen and a hat.
So, with this constantly in the back of my mind plus recently compiling a feature on the ‘Benefits of the Sun’ for a Sunday paper (read it here), got me thinking quite a bit. Then I attended a very insightful presentation by Sonette Donker (of Dermalogica) about being sun safe & it made me decide to play devil’s advocate for a moment & share some of the interesting bits on why you should AND shouldn’t get sun.
WHY YOU SHOULD SPEND TIME IN THE SUN
- These days we mostly get messages about why we should stay out of the sun, when in actual fact many of us do not get enough sun at all. Those in the know will tell you that the sun has a positive multi-dimensional effect on you – meaning that you get physical (Vitamin D synthesis) & emotional exposure, which is why it keeps the winter blues (SAD or seasonal affective disorder) at bay. When sitting in the sun, Vitamin D synthesis takes place which gives you a sense of well being.
- A Vitamin-D shortage has been linked to various health issues like brittle bones, blood pressure problems, oxygen levels in the blood, a compromised immune system, obesity, heart disease, insulin resistance, depression, exhaustion & osteoporosis. Children with a Vitamin D deficiency could be affected by tooth decay, infections, respiratory problems due to weak muscles and compromised growth.
- Sunlight makes you happy. We all know how blissful it is to lie on the beach, baking in the sun & just forgetting about real life. This happens due to the fact that Mr Sun regulates hormone levels – including serotonin which deals with emotions in your brain. It has actually been found that (in a study using rats) too little sunlight can actually alter your brain structure.
- The sun makes your clever (or at the very least helps concentration).
WHY YOU SHOULDN’T BE BAKING IN THE SUN
- It can drastically increase your likelihood of getting skin cancer.
- The sun causes dehydration that can lead to headaches & wrinkles.
- Wearing the correct amount of sunscreen is important:
- Firstly work out how much SPF you need. SPF (eg 15) x time (eg 10 minutes) it would normally take to burn = length of time in the sun before re-applying sunblock (150 minutes).
- Sun exposure leads to & aggravates pigmentation. Being badly sunburnt is the worst feeling ever, & noticing those first liver spots due to sun damage is awful!
- Enzymes are stimulated by UV rays to break down collagen & elastin – those exact ingredients that you spend a fortune on to get the benefit from your skin care range.
- It inhibits your immune system. When the skin is exposed to sunlight, certain chemicals are released that suppress immune cells (white blood cells, T lymphocytes and Langerhans cells) and UVB is known to destroy Langerhans cells.
- Sunburn ‘cooks’ the proteins in your skin, collagen and elastin – similar to putting your arm (or face!) in a frying pan.
- Your body won’t produce Vitamin D from exposure through glass. You can burn not tan through a window because glass mostly protects against UVB, but not UVA.
- A person’s risk of melanoma doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns in their life. (Yup – now you recall all those reckless summers spent on the beach!)
In case you were wondering what my point is….: I suppose what I’m trying to say is:
- Like with many other things (I’m thinking wine, chocolate), when it comes to sunlight complete deprivation is not good. So, consume in small, sensible doses!
- It is best to stay out of the midday sun (from mid-morning to late afternoon).
- Make sure you apply an adequate amount to ensure you are getting the desired SPF. This is generally about one teaspoon (5ml) for the face and 2 tablespoons (a tot glass) for complete body coverage. Unless you are using a waterproof formulation, reapply sunscreen whenever you swim, exercise or sweat profusely. The National Cancer Society recommends re-application every 2 hours.
- If any mole or other mark changes colour you are concerned about a melanoma… Do this the moment it changes colour or shape.
Most important is to look after kiddies’ skins – yup, prevention is better than cure. Make them wear hats, train them to wear sunscreen as part of their daily routine.
If you’re in the sunny southern hemisphere, then make sure you’re sun smart this season. Get small doses of sun. That is 10 minutes 2-3 times a week for white skins; 25 minutes 2-3 times a week for darker skins.
Those in the Northern half of the world: remember to get your dose of light to keep away the blues!
May you have many happy sunny days ahead!
Image courtesy of shutterstock.com