Don't Fear the Sun

Don't Fear the Sun

September 03, 2019

What’s not to love about the sun? Its warm, sunny rays lift depression, warm our bones and give our skin a gorgeous golden glow. Of course, it’s also responsible for sun burns, melasma, aging and, worst of all, melanoma. So is it a friend or a foe? Read on for VeesHoney’s take. 



The case for sun exposure

For years, the battle cry for safe sun has been to slather on the sunscreen, hide under hats, and seek out shade. While well-intentioned, this advice may be turning us into the proverbial “bubble boy,” over-protecting us to the point of causing harm. While there’s no denying too much sun can cause major damage, UV rays are in dire need of a better PR team.

The sun has played a huge role in humans’ physiological and cultural evolution. Agriculture, sleep cycles, religion — almost every pillar of human life is connected in some way to that bright orange ball of light in the sky. 

The benefits to your bod are impossible to ignore. Our body craves the natural production of vitamin D3, which is created when our skin comes in contact with sunlight. Substance P, which promotes blood flow and regulates immune function and mood disorders, and calcitonin, a vasodilator that protects the body against hypertension, oxidative damage and inflammation in the vascular system, are also produced by soaking in the sun. Sun exposure has even been shown to improve mood, suppress apetite, regulate pain, increase relaxation, and stimulate sex drive.



The case against traditional sunscreen

So, if we want to enjoy all the benefits of our planet’s closest star, can’t we just slap on some SPF and enjoy the sun without fear? HECK. NO.

While SPF will keep your skin from getting burnt by the sun’s rays, the chemicals in modern sunscreen can be even more harmful than a sunburn. In fact, according to the CDC, the number of new melanoma cases diagnosed per year has more than doubled since 1999. While there are many factors at play here, one culprit is thought to be the endocrine-disrupting chemicals, like oxybenzone, found in most mainstream sunscreen products. Gross. 

For your face

Choose a mineral sunscreen. Double check for clean ingredients and do not touch anything with oxybenzone. Non-nano titanium dioxide and non-nano zinc oxide are the safest options. VeesHoney recommends: 

For your body

Many oils contain natural SPF. Create your own natural sunscreen using the following oils — just make sure you’re sourcing high quality, organic products.

  • Almond oil: SPF around 5
  • Coconut oil: SPF 4-6
  • Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide: SPF 2-20 depending on how much is used
  • Red raspberry seed oil: SPF 25-50
  • Carrot seed oil: SPF 35-40
  • Shea butter: SPF 4-6



Eating for sun protection

It's also worth noting that when you slather on SPF, you essentially make yourself invisible from the sun, meaning you miss out on your body's natural synthesis of sunlight into vitamin D. Luckily, if you're thinking about cutting back on your sunscreen application, there are eating habits you can adopt to minimize your risk while you’re out enjoying those golden rays. 

Proanthocyanids protect our DNA from mutation, which includes protection from UV radiation. VeesHoney approved sources of proanthocyanids are: 

  • Cinnamon
  • Red cabbage
  • Peas and beans
  • Blueberries (a handful in the morning only)
  • Hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts
  • Cocoa
  • Thorne OPC 100

Resveratrol is a phenolic compound shown to function as an antimutagen (stops genetic mutations), antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and promotes cell differentiation which can help thwart cancer. If you know me, you know I’m not a huge fan of fruit sugars — and most whole food sources of resveratrol are found in fruits like grapes — but if you are eager to add this into your diet, your best bet is a handful of blueberries in the morning. 

Beware of resveratrol supplements, however, because a lot of them are junk and packed with fillers. Plus, it’s not particularly bioavailable when taken orally because humans metabolize it quickly — meaning you’ll pay a lot of money just to pee it out. The only VeesHoney approved supplement is ResveraCel by Thorne

Apigenin is a type of flavinoid that is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and protects against UV-induced carcinogenesis. VeesHoney approved sources of apigenin are: 

  • Chamomile
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Endive

Additional VeesHoney approved supplements to try are: 



More tips and tricks

When it comes to maximizing benefits, choosing NON-GMO is super important. The more humans intentionally cultivate plants for desirable features like taste, appearance and size, the more we significantly reduce the amount of naturally-occurring antioxidants. 

Also, especially if you’re going to be in direct sunlight, you MUST be careful with citrus as it can cause severe melasma when applied topically and ingested in excess. For example, if you are taking grapefruit seed extract, do NOT exposure your skin to any sunlight! It’s a perfect recipe for dark spots and discoloration that can be tough to fix. 

Last but not least, there’s a big link between your risk of damage by UVB radiation and your circadian rhythm. A 2017 study by Joseph S. Takahashi, PhD, chairman of neuroscience at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute, highlights the importance of timing your meals in order to optimize your body’s natural protection from the sun. Time restricted feeding — specifically, daytime restricted feeding — can reverse your diurnal rhythm (aka your body will think it’s nighttime), which in turn increases your skin’s sensitivity to UVB-induced DNA damage (read: sun damage, skin aging and skin cancer). Intermittent fasters, take note before you skip that SPF!

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