What did people do before sunscreen?
So hopefully my last post gave you enough reason to at least reconsider slathering on sunscreen this summer. I can tell you we won’t be using it at our house. (Well, to be honest, we haven’t used it for a couple of years now.) But unless you think I recommend ditching the toxins and just going out to bake, think again.
The truth is the sun can do a lot of damage.
Skin cancer is real. In our day and age we have to be conscious of that fact. Being careless about our exposure to the sun is probably not a good idea… especially if you tend to live the majority of your life indoors (and eat a Standard American Diet).
So what did people do before sunscreen?
Depends. Like diet, the approach to sun varied from people to people depending on culture and climate. But here are a few ideas that you can borrow from them to help protect your own skin:
This is the most effective, harmless way of protecting yourself from the sun. Light weight fabrics, hats, scarves… whatever helps keep your skin away from the sun’s rays. Remember to pay particular attention to your eyes as the skin around them is very delicate.
Get a tan.
The brown pigment melanin in the skin is a natural defense against UV radiation. When exposed to moderate levels of exposure (depending on skin type), a sun “tan” absorbs UV radiation through the melanin and dissipates the energy as harmless heat, blocking the UV from damaging skin tissue (1).
Of course with our sedentary and mostly-indoor lifestyle this can be a little tricky and takes some time to “build up a resistance.” You want to avoid a burn. But the great thing about this is that your body will also be able to synthesize the Vitamin D that is so essential for good health. In fact, I highly recommend checking out this article by Dr. Mercola on how to gradually build up your exposure to maximize your Vitamin D. He covers some important points and gives some tips and precautions.
Eat real food.
Also, like so many aspects of our health, our diet affects how easily we burn. By eating real food you can help protect your skin. It’s all connected, folks. (Want to learn what kinds of food help? Read this, this, and this.)
There are also some homemade sunscreen recipes online using coconut oil. Just be careful, like the chemical stuff some people tend to think they are 100% covered if they put something on. You can still burn. Always monitor your sun usage.
What do we do?
For my family, we try to get some sun each day. If we know we’re going to be out for a long time we cover up. I also use a little coconut oil around my eyes and on the delicate skin on my face. We also take fermented cod liver oil (FCLO) daily and eat lots of real food. Nobody has had a burn in my family for years and we are spending more time in the sun than we used to.
Keep in mind that the sun is really powerful, but it’s also a resource that can help us in our quest for health. Understanding our relationship with the earth and sun can provide more energy, vitality, and joy. Who doesn’t enjoy feeling the warmth of the sun? Let’s soak in the goodness and keep the toxic stuff away.
If you still can’t seem to “let go” of the idea of sunscreen….
Just in case I haven’t convinced you to get rid of your sunscreen, at least consider taking the time to research one that will do less damage. The Environment Working Group provides so many valuable resources on many products to help consumers choose the least toxic stuff out there. Check out their 2011 guide to sunscreens. There’s also a recipe for toxic-free sunscreen in my book Toxic Free.
So tell me… what are you thoughts on sunscreen? Do you use it? Are you reconsidering?
(top featured image by Seb.tec, Flickr)