It’s finally that time of year!
After being cooped up for the last several months it’s warm enough to enjoy some regular Vitamin D…naturally. Scientists are now questioning the efficacy of sunscreen now. Since the 1970’s sunscreen has become almost a universal trademark. After being invented in the late 1930’s and more commercially available in the mid 1940’s it’s hard not to notice the growing numbers of skin cancer despite the widespread use of this toxic cream we like to think is protecting us.
1. Ditch the Sunscreen facade. It’s NOT protecting you!
We’ve all fallen victim to the crazy itchy, peeling mess that follows a great day at the beach without proper sun protection. As kids we used to peel each other’s backs for relief, gross but true. The process of sloughing off damaged skin cells in called apoptosis. A NORMAL biological process that allows cells to literally commit suicide when they are too damaged to continue living in a healthy manor. What a beautiful thing! Our cells know when they are no longer able to contribute to the body, and therefore pay the ultimate sacrifice and die off before reproducing more damaged cells. Sunscreen cannot prevent the sun’s rays from hitting your skin and therefore each cell’s delicate DNA can still be exposed to this known carcinogen. When a certain gene gets exposed it can no longer tell the cell to die and therefore your skin cancer risk goes up.
2. Slip and Slap! Ditch the ‘slop.”
When I was in elementary there was a skin cancer prevention campaign called, “Slip, Slop, Slap.” To this day I remember the pneumonic to help kids protect themselves against the dangers of the sun. “Slip on a T-shirt, Slop on some sunscreen, and Slap on a hat,” it read. Well, most of this slogan is protecting us. Long sleeve swim wear is becoming more and more popular at the beach, and I love the sweat reducing caps I wear to work in my yard. When the sun is really beating down, a white long sleeve shirt is remarkably cooling. This fun fact surprised me too! Think about the women in the middle east under those layers of clothing. While they get used to it, there’s also a cooling component to this type of drapery. There was a Quaker family at my high school who’s religion advised the women to wear long skirts almost indefinitely. I asked one of the girls in my class if she was hot one 90-degree day. “No!” She said. “Skirts are surprisingly cooling in the summer and warming in the winter!” So long sleeves and leg covers may be more comforting than we’re giving them credit for.
3. Work in the wee morning hours or late afternoon.
It’s no secret that the sun is less intense in the morning hours. However, for those of us that work for a living the late afternoons are far more feasible. It warmer at this time, but as long as you practice everything in this article you should be fairly well protected.
For the love of all things holy, PLEASE, with a cherry on top drink plenty of water while you’re out and about this Summer. I used to pride myself in drinking a gallon of water every day. This was a regular practice for me, and still is, a few days each week. However, when you’re working up a sweat you’re also losing valuable electrolytes that your body needs to stay functioning. Add a pinch of sea salt and a squeeze of lemon to your water so it’s absorbed better and you stay hydrated longer.
5. Consider a zinc mixture instead.
While I’m not a huge advocate for the use of sunscreen, there are times when you just want to bare all and enjoy the free Vitamin D mother nature provides. For times when the yellow polka dot bikini just needs to be revealed, consider a more natural sunscreen that uses zinc (and makes your skin look purple…only for a few seconds) instead of chemicals. Beauty Counter offers a great product that you can find HERE. The Environmental Working Group also has a great app that allows you to search your already existing products to decide if you should keep or toss them. If you’re shopping at a convenience store, they also have an app to help you decide what products and brands are best for your family. You can download that HERE
Dr. Alexia Peake-Inhulsen D.C. CCSP