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How to Practice Safe Sun Exposure for Healthy Skin

In light of my recent post, "How to love your body with safer skincare"; I wanted to share more about safer SUMMER skincare practices and products you can choose for your best health. I don't know about you but I enjoy being outdoors during the summer, and try to maximize that time as much as possible.

Since I'm in the sun more, I pay more attention to my direct exposure by covering up as much as possible and using protection, such as safe mineral based sunscreen.

Crazily, sunscreen is one of the most controversial topics in the health and wellness world. As well as how to stay safe in the sun. I'm here to shed some 'light' on the topic for ya (ha, see what I did there).

On one hand, sun exposure is healthy. We can benefit from the sun's rays, it's how we actually make vitamin D in our body. BUT avoiding overexposure is key. We do need sun exposure.

There are UVA and UVB rays. The UVB rays are the good guys. Those are the ones that stimulate the vitamin D production in our skin. The UVA rays are the ones that are the primary refractor for cancer.

How To Practice Safe Sun Exposure

I am in the camp of just safe, cautious sun exposure, but when you do need sunscreen, you've got to have something that is safe. Cause why try to protect yourself from sun damage by causing a whole other burden on your health.

I stay in the shade or covered up while the sun is highest in the sky, usually between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm where I live on the East Coast. I allow myself to lay in the sun exposed without sunscreen for a short window of time until I just get pink. I can test this by pressing my finger into my skin and if the spot where I pressed turns white I know I'm done. This is mostly when I'm at the pool or beach or in direct sun for any activity.

If you are gardening or hiking, it's a great idea to wear a hat. There are some great hats with SPF built in already (such as this one that I have and wear when I'm picking berries or flowers or gardening). You can also wear longer loose sleeved tops and pants like our ancestors or even purchase swim shirts and hats too.

With all things, natural living and food, we just have to be smart about being in the sun and really develop strategies that are going to work for the activities that we need to participate in, but are also going to keep us safe.

UVB rays, which are the good ones, those usually peak around noon during the day. But they are a lot more easily filtered out by clouds and overcast weather. The UVA rays however are not filtered out as well. So even if it's cloudy and overcast outside, you could still burn.

So still keep that in mind when you're planning your outdoor activities that even if it's cloudy, that doesn't mean that you can just stay outside all day without running the risk of burning.

Avoiding Excess Sun Exposure

Overexposure can damage the skin’s fragile oils and make photo damage, acne and irritation worse, so even if you hate sunscreen, get some safe stuff for your face. It's why 'sun-worshippers' have leathery looking skin, sadly. The sun can be VERY oxidizing to your skin.

If you happen to be in the sun for much longer than your skin technically prefers, you will need a SAFE sun barrier. Here's some insight on how to choose:

  • Many people think that “safest” kinds of sun protection, besides clothes and shade, are those “sunblocks” – white, creamy, zinc-based lotions that don’t fully rub in. But these don’t actually “block” the sun. 
  • Most chemical-based sunscreens on the market (anything WITHOUT zinc oxide — will tend to use “benzone-based” ingredients like avobenzone and oxybenzone – avoid!). This includes brands like Neutrogena, Coppertone and Banana Boat, who basically fib about their SPF (anything over 50 is bogus, as SPF maxes out at 30). Not only are these chemicals bad for your body, they are terrible for our environment (and destroying the coral reefs in Hawaii which is why they were recently just banned).
  • Chemical sunscreens also use ingredients that may become MORE dangerous when they’re exposed to UV light! YIKES!
  • Sunscreens are now required to offer some UVA and UVB protection. This is where the term “broad-spectrum” came from – it was the alternative to sunblock that still indicated protection against both UVA and UVB rays. This broad spectrum coverage is crucial since 90% of the signs of aging are caused by the sun. Thus, the safest sunscreen you can buy is broad spectrum, zinc-based – and non-nano zinc-based sunscreens are ideal.

    Why? Because the suspension ingredients are much more solid – and often, more skin-conditioning – so you’re more likely to get the coverage you need, especially on the face. Non-nano particles mean there's very low risk of absorption or inhalation.

Phfew, are you tracking with me here. It's a lot to know for sure, which is why I feel it's so important to share this with you. The only sunscreen I’ve found that checks all these boxes and more? Beautycounter Protect Sunscreen.

BeautyCounter sunscreen also includes antioxidant rich California poppy, meaning it is actually working to improve  your skin health while you are wearing it! The sustainably sourced California Poppy helps reinforce the skin’s defense against oxidation that can lead to wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. Bonus, right?!

If you prefer a stick, the options for effective, non-nano zinc-based sunscreens are limited. After trying several brands, I can confidently recommend Beautycounter’s Countersun Mineral Stick.

The non-nano, reef friendly zinc-based sunscreens that I also recommend include a mist and lotion, also from BeautyCounter. I've been using them all summer and really am very happy with them. They smell great, are even a bit moisturizing and my skin does not react to them. Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Mist and the Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion.

Additionally, ladies if you wear foundation and love a dew finish, this moisturizing foundation has an SPF built in.

Beautycounter’s sunscreen has an easily blendable zinc concentration plus solid suspension ingredients in an antioxidant-rich base. So it won't leave your skin white, it blends in really well. It’s my new favorite brand of safe sunscreen for both adult and children's skin.

I love the sun. It can be good for you in the right doses, times and with the right precautions. Beautycounter’s sunscreens allow me to enjoy the sun without worrying about the added negative impact on my body.

Feel free to comment below if you have any questions or email me: [email protected] I'm happy to connect more to support you with any questions you may and help you find what you need.

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