Vital Vitamin D3
The sun, via UV radiation sends the body a body a message – this signals a molecule on the skin (7-dehydrocholesterol) to convert to the active form of Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) in the body. Vitamin D3 synthesis entirely depends upon UVB radiation, which effectively penetrates only the epidermal (outer) layers of the skin.
Vitamin D deficiency is a current, dangerous epidemic, estimated by experts to affect 90% of the world’s population. Due to commercial sunscreen and misinformation, many people are failing to get sufficient sun exposure. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to increased risk of virtually every form of cancer, cardiovascular disease and immune insufficiencies. Data has existed for years, that proves a causal link between the use of commercial sunscreen and melanoma – even the FDA have gone on record, to state that commercial sunscreen has no evidence to suggest that it provides any protection against skin cancer.
UV Myth Busting
The sun emits many different types of rays – however only Ultraviolet A (UVA) and B (UVB) reach the earth’s surface. The amount of UV light that hits the earth is ever increasing, as our protective ozone layer is being depleted through mankind’s inability to protect the planet we inhabit.
UVB rays penetrate the epidermis and cause burning from overexposure to sunlight. They oxidise the fats in the cell membranes, destroying their barrier function. Some UVB rays penetrate further into the epidermis, causing sunburn, which constitutes oxidative damage. Oxidative damage is caused by free oxidising radicals (unstable atoms with an electron missing that causes chaos by stealing an electron from a neighbouring atom). Free radicals damage fats, proteins, connective tissue and our DNA, resulting in poor health and premature ageing.
In summary, excessive UV light damages our cells on a molecular level, affects their ability to manufacture proteins, repair and reproduce. Collagen and elastin, which are both responsible for keeping our skin strong, supple, plump and elastic is damaged.
Overexposure and Sunburn
The redness and inflammation caused by sunburn, occurs as a result of oxidization and the dilation of blood vessels, as the skin begins the process of repairing the damage to the epidermis and dermis.
UVA rays are responsible for oxidative damage to our cells and the connective tissue in the dermis, leading to sunburn, dry skin and accelerated ageing – leaving the skin more vulnerable to further damage. They penetrate deeper into the skin’s layers, down to the dermis where they damage collagen and elastin. UVA rays hit the earth even on cloudy overcast days and they penetrate glass.
As a natural skincare practitioner and facialist, I am often asked about the damaging effects of the sun. My personal opinion, based on years of research, is that the sun is hugely beneficial for us on a physical, mental and spiritual level – provided it is enjoyed in moderation. I often advise clients with skin conditions to ditch their synthetic make-up and sunscreen and get out in the sun to allow biochemical reactions within the skin, to kick start the healing and balancing process. Acne, psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema will improve from exposure to sunlight, provided the skin is bare. Ironically, it is the lack of sunlight on the skin that can cause skin problems. In this article, I have condensed all my advice and expertise to demonstrate that protecting your skin is not complicated or costly.
Top Tips and Natural Sun Protection
Our bodies are incredible and have inbuilt protective mechanisms to deal with the sun’s rays. To prepare the skin before intense sunshine, consume vitamin B6 every day for one week.
Natural sun-screen protection comes from plant oils and fats such as coconut, eucalyptus, jojoba, and shea butter. I use Zinc oxide and red raspberry seed oil in my Sun Serum as they are powerful, natural protectants against UVA and UVB damage. Zinc oxide is a mineral sunblock, reflecting UV’s away from the skin, before it can cause damage to the epidermis.
With all burns, it is crucial to get the heat out of the skin, using a bath to immerse your body, as soon as you feel a tightening or tingling sensation. Stay under the water for a minimum of 15 minutes and ensure that the whole body is submerged.
Remember that wet and oiled skin absorbs more sunlight, due to the ways that the rays bend through aqueous liquid.
Stay out of the sun between the hours of 12pm and 3pm as this is when the ultraviolet light is strongest.
To reduce and neutralise the oxidative effects of sunlight, take vitamin C (2000mg) and vitamin E (1000iu) immediately after exposure – they are both potent antioxidant nutrients.
During the summer, Mother nature naturally produces green leaves high in chlorophyll and brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, high in phytonutrients and falavnoids to support our bodies to process the effects of the sun. Increase your intake of summer salads, juices and fruit smoothies and pure water, to reduce the effects of oxidisation on the skin and the body.
At Home Solutions for Sunburn
Here are my favourite home remedies that may provide relief from mild sunburn:
Apply chilled aloe vera and coconut oil to your entire body to make the skin more supple and nourished. Both aloe and coconut absorbs UV radiation, supports skin microflora, harmonises the healing process and accelerates epidermal repair.
Do not use synthetic ingredients on your skin, this will increase inflammation and cause cellular damage – stay away from any product that claims to cool the skin – they are extremely toxic.
Stay out of the sun for two whole days and cover up in light, white clothing, even if your symptoms have subsided and there is no external evidence of sunburn.
Tea can assist recovery - elderflower or yarrow are used by herbalists as a diaphoretics to induce sweating and epidermal recovery.
Apple cider vinegar – this is one of the most effective topical treatments. Vinegar can be applied as a compress. Soak clean natural fibre towels in 50% pure water, 50% apple cider vinegar solution. Wring the towels and apply on the affected areas, avoiding contact with broken skin and the eye area. Alternatively, add the solution to a clean spray bottle and spritz over the body every 30 minutes.
You should be drinking 1.5 to 2 litres of pure water a day (this can include herbal teas). While in the sunshine, this needs to be doubled as you will lose three times this amount from the body. Heat and dehydration will lead to illness and even death, so make sure you are hydrated before, during and after sun exposure – hydrate your skin from within to accelerate epidermal recovery. Avoid any beverages that have a diuretic effect, including alcohol, tea and coffee.
Skin Repair Recipes:
Alkalising Bath Soak
Handful of bicarbonate of soda
Two handfuls of Pink Himalayan Salt
Handful of organic oats
Contents of two green teabags
10 drops organic lavender oil
Add all the ingredients under running water to disperse and soak in lukewarm water for not less than 30 minutes. This bath is extremely effective as your body absorbs vital minerals and nutrients transdermally and is alkalized to accelerate repair. Inflammation, tightness and pain will be reduced.
After Sun Serum
50ml avocado oil
50ml coconut oil
25 drops of organic lavender oil
Add the ingredients to a glass bottle and shake well, store out of direct sunlight and apply liberally after showering and before bed.
Cooling Body Spritz
Tbsp Green Tea
Tbsp Cucumber Juice
Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
225 ml pure water
Add all ingredients into a glass spritzer bottle and shake well before use. Store in the fridge and use liberally every hour.
About the Author
Juliette founded Bare Skin Beauty in 2008, with the aim of redefining the concept of beauty and empowering people to feel confident and radiant in their own skin. Natural beauty flows from inner health.
Currently studying Nutrition and Anatomy and Physiology, Juliette seeks to educate and enlighten through her writing, encouraging us to eradicate toxins and consciously reconnect with our bodies. Believing “we are what we absorb” and that her unique Skinfood skincare can nourish, balance and repair the whole body.