Feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin is one of life's simple pleasures. And it’s actually addictive because ultra-violet radiation from the sun releases those feel-good hormones called endorphins.
WHY WE NEED A LITTLE SUN
Sun exposure helps your body produce vitamin D, which is actually a hormone, essential for good health and immunity.
This fat-soluble “sunshine vitamin” also helps you absorb calcium to form and maintain healthy bones. Vitamin D has beneficial effects on moods, immunity, diabetes and glucose metabolism, heart health, hypertension and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. It has also been linked to the prevention of some cancers.
Yet more than half of Australians are deficient in vitamin D, especially at the end of winter. So it is worth having a test to check your levels of “vitamin sunshine”.
THE NEED FOR SUN PROTECTION
Meanwhile, we need to balance our vitamin D needs with rising rates of melanoma. It’s worth remembering you only need 10 minutes of sun exposure on your face and arms each day to get your daily dose of vitamin D. Limiting your time in the sun to early morning and late afternoon is the safest practice in summer, especially if you live in a part of the world where UV is high in the middle of the day.
Aside from the melanoma, sun exposure speeds up ageing of the skin, collagen breakdown and wrinkles, yet less than half of us protect ourselves properly.
Choosing sun protection can be confusing and there are growing concerns about both the health and environmental risks of some types of sunscreens.
Sunscreen comes in two forms: physical and chemical – although some sunscreens are a combination of both, so it pays to get familiar with ingredients you may wish to avoid.
Broad-spectrum sunblocks: Protect your skin against both ultra violet-A rays and ultra violet-B rays (UVB rays cause sunburn on the surface of our skin while UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin causing structural damage and changes to skin cells DNA that may lead to cancer).
A word on SPF: It’s important to remember higher SPF ratings do not mean you can stay in the sun longer. They still need to be reapplied regularly and after swimming.
Physical sun blocks: Use the mineral-based ingredients zinc oxide and/ or titanium dioxide to reflect UVA and UVB rays. Some physical sunblocks contain nano-particles of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to make them invisible but that may also mean they can be absorbed by your skin. Or they may use ‘microfine’ or ‘micronised’ particles that are too big to be absorbed but small enough to not leave a white film on your skin. From a safety perspective, we recommend micronised, not nano-ised.
Chemical sun screens: absorb UV rays and can sometimes contain a combination of chemicals that are known as endocrine disrupters because they can disrupt or mimic the reproductive hormone estrogen. Some of these chemicals are also allergens that can irritate your skin. These include ingredients such as oxybenzone and methoxycinnamate. Additionally, chemical sunscreens are released into the water while you swim, potentially causing damage to coral reefs and other marine life.
Topical ingredients: Scientific studies show that some natural ingredients help to protect the skin from sun damage when applied topically. For example, studies show that carotenoids, antioxidants found in a range of plants, help to absorb UV and provide some protection from sun damage. Vitamin E also has been shown to help protect the skin from UV stress when applied to the skin. Ingredients including jojoba oil, raspberry seed oil, carrot seed oil, wheatgerm oil, macadamia nut oil, shea butter, olive oil unrefined sesame oil may offer some SPF but should only be used in combination with a measured physical sunblock such as zinc oxide.
Dream Repair Cellular Serum is a supercharged, antioxidant-rich blend of 15+ powerful ingredients including tocopherol (vitamin E) and vitamin E-rich camellia seed oil, plus pro-vitamin A carotenoids from micro-algae, tomato seed extract and sea buckthorn berry, which work synergistically to deliver a high level of antioxidant cellular repair, have photo-protective benefits and help to mop up sun damage as well as boost collagen production. Adding a few drops into your moisturiser with an SPF during the day may help boost your daily sun protection routine.
Protective Clothing: Along with slopping on sunscreen, the SunSmart message is to slip on sun protective clothing, slap on a hat and slide on your sunglasses and seek shade under a densely canopied tree, or a sun umbrella. In other words, sunscreen alone is not enough.