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Sun Exposure: Foe or Friend? Answer May Surprise You!

January 14th, 2011

The sun is bad. Wear 900 SPF. Never walk outside if you can avoid it. Definitely never forget your SPF. Sun is evil and horrible for you.

It’s been drilled into our heads. That over-exposure to the sun will ruin your skin… and possibly your life. It only causes sunburns and skin cancer. We bate in sunscreen before we hit the beach or pool. But are we missing something?

Coco Channel first popularized the sun-kissed appearance to reflect an image of beauty and fashion. In recent years however, we’ve become more aware of the impact overexposure to the sun can have on our skin.

Sunlight contains ultraviolet a (UVA) and ultraviolet b (UVB) rays that are responsible for the sun’s damaging effects on the skin. Let’s call UVB rays “sun burning rays.” These are the rays that cause that immediate ruddiness of the skin and sunburns. The UVA rays, on the other hand, are the rays that travel deeply into the skin and can create the damage that is frequently associated by the sun’s rays. UVA rays are actually prevalent during the wintertime, which is why it is strongly encouraged to wear sunscreen throughout the entire year. These rays are powerful enough to penetrate glass and clouds, and they also have the ability to extend so deeply into the skin that it can negatively impact the the skin’s DNA and potentially lead to skin cancer, which the American Cancer Society says is the most common form of cancer.

That being said…

Some exposure to the sun may be important for your health. Sunlight is necessary for the Vitamin D production that is necessary for our bodies. We are just now starting to understand that Americans have high levels of Vitamin deficiency.

Vitamin D can:

  • Help our bodies adapt to stress and improve our mood.
  • Strengthen our bones.
  • Boost our immune system.
  • Protect our bodies against diseases such as certain muscle disorders, cardiovascular disease, and colorectal cancer.

It is important to protect yourself from overexposure. When using sunscreen, an SPF between 15 and 30 is sufficient. Look specifically for products containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These products scatter the UV rays so that they don’t penetrate the skin. Also, products containing avobenzone, oxybenzone and/or Mexoryl absorb the UV rays to protect the skin.  However, a little sun can actually do your body well. So you tell us, have we taken it too far?



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