Should You Use Sunscreen… Or Not? : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Wednesday Jun 20 | BY |
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With all the confusing information out there, are you better off using a sunscreen, or not? If you do use one, which is the best?

Do sunscreens protect against skin cancer, or encourage it? Do they do anything beyond protect you from a sunburn? And what about nanoparticles, and other questionable ingredients? Put it all together, and are you really doing something good for your health by slathering the stuff on, or would you be better off forgetting about all and heading out au naturelle?

Do Sunscreens Protect Against Skin Cancer?
The general consensus is that they do, but the evidence supporting that notion is actually pretty scant. After reviewing the scientific literature, the FDA stated that available clinical studies “do not demonstrate that even [broad spectrum products with SPF greater than 15] alone reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.”

The International Agency for Research on Cancer recommends clothing as a first line of defense, stating that “sunscreens should not be the first choice for skin cancer prevention and should not be used as the sole agent for protection against the sun.”

Meanwhile, despite the rise in use of sunscreens, cases of skin cancer continue to increase. In 1972, sunscreens and sunblocks took in about $18 million. Last year, a single Banana Boat brand took in that much, while the top 10 sunscreen products netted more than $300 million in sales. Yet rates for melanoma have increased from approximately 8.7 per 100,000 people in 1975 to 25.3 per 100,000 in 2007, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

If we’re using more sunscreen, why haven’t the rates gone down?

Theories and More Theories
Some studies have shown that sunscreens protect against skin cancer, and some don’t. Some experts believe that the most recent study—conducted over a 10-year period in Australia and following over 1,600 adults—which concluded that sunscreens do protect against melanoma, is one of the best academic studies we’ve seen so far, and essentially lays the question to rest. Others note that the study found sunscreens to protect against one type of skin cancer, but not another, and that such information cannot be ignored.

Another study published in 2011 (Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics) concluded that there is insufficient evidence to suggest that sunscreen use alone is adequate protection against UV radiation. Lead researcher Marianne Berwick, Ph.D., noted that differences in sunscreens, as far as how protective they are or aren’t, could be part of the problem.

Other experts theorize that many people who are at risk, who stay out in the sun for hours, don’t reapply sunscreen often enough. The fact that skin cancers often show up on sites of the body that are usually not exposed to the sun, like backs, trunks, and legs (rather than arms and faces), may indicate that these areas don’t get time to build up natural defense mechanisms.

Could Sunscreens Increase the Risk of Cancer?
In addition to the concern that sunscreens may not adequately protect against cancer is the concern that some of them may actually encourage the formation of the disease. Several studies in the 1990s indicated that frequent sunscreen users were more likely to suffer the deadliest form of skin cancer. Others came up with the opposite conclusions.

One study, for instance, by researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology, found that when exposed to sunlight, some sunscreens undergo a chemical reaction that may release unstable molecules known as free radicals—which have been linked to cancer and accelerated aging. (Note: the sunscreen used was formulated in nanoparticles, which many have cautioned about because of their potential to penetrate skin and sink into the body.) Other studies have found that chemical sunscreens like octocrylene, octylmethoxycinnamate, and benzophenone-3 create intense free radical damage when exposed to UV rays.

Recent results from the FDA also indicated that retinyl palmitate, a common form of vitamin A available in many sunscreens, may create free radicals and speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight. In the one-year animal study, tumors and lesions developed sooner in those participants coated in a vitamin A-laced cream than in those wearing a vitamin-free cream. Both were exposed to only nine minutes of maximum intensity sunlight each day.

What About Vitamin D?
According to an article in Scientific American in 2009, three-quarters of U.S. teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D, the so-called “sunshine vitamin.” Such deficits have been linked with several health problems, from cancer to heart disease to diabetes. According to the study quoted, there is a trend of vitamin D deficiency going on. Between 1988 and 1994, 45 percent of people examined in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey had 30 nanograms per milliliter or more of vitamin D—considered sufficient for overall health. A decade later, only 23 percent of those surveyed had that much.

Other experts are skeptical that there is such a widespread problem, as there is disagreement about how much vitamin D we really need. Nevertheless, there is some agreement that many of us aren’t getting enough vitamin D, and since there are few sources in the diet, we really need to use supplements or the sun to create it in our bodies. (Please note—for some people, sunshine doesn’t raise vitamin D levels at all, so be sure to get tested to be sure your levels are in the optimal range.)

How much time in the sun you need to develop enough vitamin D depends on your skin color, your age, how intense the sun is, etc. So again, we’re left confused. Spend 10-15 minutes unexposed, then put on the sunscreen? Or just go with supplements? You may need to have your blood levels of vitamin D checked on this one, then ask your doctor for the best approach.

What to Do?
The whole sunscreen question seems to be growing more confusing by the year. With the FDA delaying its enforcement of new regulations that might have made choosing a sunscreen product a little easier, consumers are still left on their own to sift through all the research and conflicting information to come up with the best option for them.

Here are some general guidelines likely to help:

  • Use clothing and shade as a first line of defense. Do not rely on your sunscreen alone to protect you. If it’s too hot, look for special sun-protective clothing that’s woven in a way to allow the material to breathe while blocking UV rays. Try SunPrecautions, Coolibar, and Patagonia brands.
  • Choose brands of sunscreens that you can feel confident about—those that are natural and organic, and are committed to consumer safety. Start with the Environmental Working Group’s sunscreen guide for a little help on what’s what.
  • Be smart about what parts of your body are exposed. If you rarely show your belly to the sun, for instance, be more careful to protect it.
  • If you’re low on vitamin D, consider 10-20 minutes of exposure a day on your arms, hands, and areas of your body that are used to the sun. How much sun you want to get of course depends on your skin, your sensitivity (those with rosacea are advised to avoid the sun), and your risk factors for cancer. Slowly build up your resistance (a tan). Just be sure you don’t burn. Note: Vitamin D is critical to health. It’s important to get your blood tested to be sure your levels are in the optimal range, and to take a supplement if necessary.
  • Choose sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, preferably not in nanoparticles. Go with conscientious companies that are putting out smart choices.
  • Avoid those products with chemical sunscreens (like oxybenzone) and vitamin A (retinyl palmitate or retinol), and avoid sprays and powder—choose lotions instead.
  • Go with an SPF of 30–50.
  • Keep an eye out for moles that change color. Be particularly careful with areas that are hard to see, like backs and scalps.
  • Fight against free radicals with antioxidants, vitamin C and vitamin E. Eat antioxidant-rich foods like berries, leafy green vegetables, artichokes, red beans, and the like. Consider vitamin C and E supplements.
  • Try a glass of green tea before you go out—some studies have indicated it may help protect against skin cancer.
  • Try some natural sun-protecting oils like red raspberry seed, hemp seed, macadamia, sesame seed, and jojoba, but realize the effects are varied and limited.
  • Look for natural sunscreen formulas that may contain horse chestnut, helichrysum extract, and sea algae, as these are being explored for their potential UV-protective benefits. Avoid bergamot and other citrus oils, however, as they increase the skin’s sensitivity to light.

Kev’s thoughts:

I’m a really white guy. The best sunscreen for me is the shade. I don’t like the idea of putting a chemical laden product on my skin and having it “bake” into me. I spend time in the sun, but I keep it light rarely more than 30-60 minutes and almost always in the later afternoon.

Also, after now being in the skin care industry for a while — and after attempting to make a truly natural sunscreen — I don’t trust any product on the market. Maybe I’m jaded, but we learned a lot about what you do and what you don’t have to put on the label. The sad thing is that you can leave off just about anything nasty that you want to make the product appear natural.

Where do you land on the sunscreen debate? Any tips to share?

* * *

Photo courtesy esmjFitness-Sean Hammers via

“Sunscreens Exposed: Nine Surprising Truths,” Environmental Working Group,

Emily Main, “Why Sunscreens Can’t Keep You Safe,” Rodale News, January 2012,

Ani, “Sunscreen Ingredient May Up Skin Cancer Risk,” Times of India, May 14, 2012,

Jordan Lite, “Vitamin D Deficiency Soars in U.S., Study Says,” Scientific American, March 23, 2009,

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Cindy says:

    I don’t like chemicals in skin care products, so I try to avoid them, even in sunscreens. I have very fair skin, so if I’m going somewhere for the day, I’m okay for 1-2 hours, depending on what time of day it is, but then I have to put on sunscreen if I don’t want to burn to a crisp. I use & love Aubrey’s Organics sunscreen. My 2 daughters & 2 granddaughters all have darker skin from Mexican/American Indian ancestry, so they just don’t ever seem to burn, no matter how long they are out in the sun. I envy them. If I do end up with a sunburn, I immediately mix some raw apple cider vinegar in water & apply it as often as I think about it. It works wonders.

  2. Great article Kev. In 2007 I did my own investigation on of ingredients and harmful chemicals in skin care and personal care products, including sunscreens. What I found out compelled me to lay off of skin care products with SPF ingredients added. I also rarely use sun lotions unless I plan to be out in the water. Instead I cover up after getting a small dose of natural sunlight. I also am a big proponent of using essential oils to keep my skin heathy. In fact I make a lot of my own skin care product with high quality vegetable oils and essential oils. Daily use of lavender, frankincense, sandalwood, cedarwood, myrrh and helichrysum are excellent choices for assisting my body to repair and regenerate good cells. Lavender is great for sun burns and kitchen burns (Do not use the hybrid of lavender called lavendin as it will inflame the burn.)
    One additional note about citrus oils – grapefruit essential oil is not photosensitve like the other citrus oils and may be used safely before exposing skin to the sun. Have an awesome Summer Solstice celebrating our sun!

  3. Sylvia says:

    Does it matter what colour tone your skin is as to whether you have a risk to skin cancer? Or is it only fair skinned peoples who are at risk in the sun. My uncle died two days ago from skin cancer that eventually spread throughout his body and was a very painful and never ending way to die. It was a relief in a way that he finally did, just so he would be out of pain. His started with a mole on his side. My mother is currently in 3 year remission from stage three skin cancer, the mole was on the sole of her foot, definitely not a part of her that ever sees sun and she has never been a sun worshipper. She had to have lymph nodes at the top of both legs removed. Neither of these people are of light skin though I can’t see how the sun caused skin cancer in my mother’s case. My uncles it is definitely possible since he was a oceanographer and geologist. Both of them used sun screen.
    I wonder though if it might be related to the fact that they only started using sun screen when it became recommended to do so. Perhaps the seed is planted for skin cancer years before.
    Thank you for the article, I prefer to use clothing. I don’t use chemicals on my skin. It is the largest organ in/on our body and absorbs already to much pollution from the air and water.

  4. Hubert says:

    I’m surprised not to see nature’s solution in the articles: your body is made to warn you for too much sun. If you pay only a little attention you will feel that the sun from caressing your skin will turn to irritating it and to burn it. We do have a sun-instinct after millions/billions years of exposion to the sun.
    Since sun (read vitamin D and other things we don’t know about yet) is so important to the body people from the north in only a short (evolutionary short that is!) period developed white skin.
    So the message is: get as much sun as you can while it feels good. You will adapt (get a tan) with the changing of the seasons. And just like barefoot: go bareskin.

  5. Amber says:

    I’m so glad you shared the news on sunscreen. Though it’s there to provide protection, I can’t help but wonder if it really is linked to skin cancer. One of my Naturopaths seems to think so and another is on the fence. I have pretty fair skin so I have always used sunscreen (except in my teens when I used baby oi…OUCH), but am now continually vitamin D deficient. So now my Naturopath says to go out in the sun for about 10 minutes with no sunscreen to soak up some vitamin D and then apply the sunscreen. I also try to just wear clothing that protects me so I don’t have to use sunscreen.

  6. kat says:

    I stopped using it more than 10 years ago. I don’t care to use chemical based products period and don’t put anything on my body that I wouldn’t put in my mouth and eat.

    I’m very fair skinned and for many years was extremely sensitive/allergic to the sun. Now that my immune system is stronger I love being able to enjoy natural sunlight! As someone already mentioned your body will provide you with signals letting you know if you’re starting to get too much sun. Anyone can do this, all it takes is tuning in to your body’s innate wisdom.

  7. Thomas says:

    @Sylvia: That’s an interesting question about skin color. Bob Marley died of skin cancer. Something like genetic dispositions or diets may play a larger role.

    I have read several studies that correlate extreme sunburns during childhood (when our skin is most sensitive) and skin cancer later during adulthood.

    It’s a shame we can’t go back in time and change things, knowing what we now know. 🙂

  8. Sharon says:

    The only sunscreen I would use is the certified organic one (yes, it works!) from my website:

    I used it on a Florida vacation (I live in Canada) in middle of winter and I didn’t burn.

    If you consume enough astaxanthin (purple corn, Bio-Astin, etc) you will not burn. I learned this on Natural News and it does work. You will not even tan if you take enough.

    For burns nothing works like lavender essential oil. Just be sure to use an authentic one not a synthetic one.

  9. Rob says:

    Sharon is right. Astaxathin does work. I have experimented with it on myself as well. And it works for me.

    I have a lot of trouble believing that our bodies cannot be exposed to a moderate amount of sun exposure without risking cancer.

  10. Ramiz says:

    I believe every person would accumulate vitamin D if following some rules:
    1. Vitamin D is created when your skin is exposed to the UVB. UVB’s are available only when sun hits your spot on Earth at 50° or more, so late afternoon might not have any UVB available. The URL for the U.S. Naval Observatory Azimuth table is
    2. Start sunbathing for a short time like 10-15 minutes, then increase as you progress.
    Don’t stay in the sun too long, do not burn.
    3. Don’t use a shampoo on your skin when you take a shower after sunbathing, as that would rinse out most of the vitamin D.
    For more check out this article at

  11. Gen says:

    Coconut oil gives some protection too — I believe similar to SPF15. We have two organic sunscreens in Canada that I use, Green Beaver and Badger. Both are good.

  12. Mary Beth says:

    I agree with what Hubert said.
    I don’t use sunscreen unless I want to protect my shoulders from burning if I know I will be out for a longer time than usual and I use a hat for the same reason. I tan well and easily so I feel comfortable in the sun. I won’t buy commercial sunscreen either, only from a company that cares about pure ingredients. I am 50, have great skin and I don’t worry about getting skin cancer or prematurley aging skin. I think it’s all hype to sell product.

  13. Jennifer says:

    I agree that some some is essential for getting the vitamin D we need. A day at the beach with kids can be tricky, though! I think kids should also get some some on their skin, but they do love to play outside for hours, and that can be too much- especially in a pool or at the beach! In this case, I think a wide-brim hat, sunglasses, swimsuits with SPF built in, and even a cover-up are essential. Since my kids won’t keep hats on, I do occasionally apply sunscreen to their faces, and sometimes shoulders and arms, depending on what they choose to wear for clothing. I always check out the latest research, and choose the safest sunscreen I can find.
    Here is one I am looking into. I would like to trust Nadine’s products, as she claims to use 100% real, natural, and organic ingredients without chemicals- hopefully that is true!
    or this one- which does contain an unspecified lecithin (is it gmo soy? sunflower?) and glycerin, but otherwise looks good. (unless they’re hiding something, too!)

  14. Jennifer says:

    some SUN, not some some! 😉

  15. Jennifer says:

    Gen, you’re perfectly RIGHT abuot Coconut Oil. I grew up with it – eating foods cooked in it, and using it as a natural suntanning lotion. In Canada, we’re a bit paranoid – just live and eat healthy and let nature take its course.

  16. Pete Adams says:

    MMS Spray (10 activated drops per 1 oz of water) gives sun protection for 15 minutes.

    Easy & Cheap to make (Cost approx. 55 cents per 4 oz bottle at retail prices).

    Additional benefit of detoxification of the body by absorption through the skin.

    More info. at

    Peace & Love

  17. Tara Burner says:

    I dont use sunscreen…period.
    I dont slather chemical gunk on myself…period!
    I’m in the sun A LOT!
    I work outside 3 days a week
    and get into the sun/skin cancer debate daily.
    Honestly I believe it’s more about diet/lifestyle than anything and minimal to do with actual time/exposure to sun but that’s me and well I’ll always be in the sun and lovin’ it.

  18. Andreanne says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I did an experiment with my family, and I noticed that we only burn in the sun when we bath or shower in chlorinated water. Since then, I put a shower filter and no more sun burn for us. It is hard when we go on vacation because of the swimming pool my boys like to swim in. I need to find a solution for that, hope we’ll find one soon.

  19. Dennis says:

    If you read Gabriel Cousens M.D’s book
    Spiritual Nutrition he says we take most
    of our vitamin D from the sun in through
    our eyes!….

  20. Beatriz Lopez says:

    Great article. I have learned A LOT about natural sunscreens as well, especially from this company, Keys Care. I use their sunscreen, Solar RX. I learned that nano particles have not been shown to sink into the skin. There are lots of studies showing this, you can read about it here

    The woman who began this company had melanoma. Her husband is an engineer by trade and they came up with an all natural sunscreen that is safe and works. Of course they don’t promote baking in the sun or being in it too long. Also, I learned that you have to take the studies that show something into the right context and not let scare tactics make you believe what they want you to believe. He, the co-founder, points out that the citrus oils used in the studies, that cause photosensitivity were used undiluted. Using them diluted with other natural oils won’t cause photosensitivity. It is truly an all natural pure sunscreen and also makes my skin look SO healthy and beautiful. Also, there are many studies that prove that cancer is caused by diet. There is a study, on Jeff Novicks facebook page, that shows how exposing your skin to the sun after you have eaten vegetable oils and wine can raise your skin cancer risk. So diet is a HUGE factor. Of course the sun is good for us, but we don’t need that much to get the good benefits of it. I get my sun and then cover up for the rest of the day. I would never use or promote the use of those horrible chemical laden sunscreens, and I also don’t lay in the sun for an hour. I would recommend you talking with him. If still you find that you cannot make a truly all natural sunscreen, then please share with us so we can steer clear of all that stuff. Thanks!

  21. My family lived in the sun in California,
    vacationed in Hawaii, and Mexico, and never
    wore sunscreen, and never burned, We nourished
    our skin with correct eating, vegan, fresh live
    juices, many greens, and this has protected our
    skin and given us Vit D without worrying about

  22. Tina says:

    Coconut oil (organic)all the way. I never burn and tan nicely. I also use it after showering from a day in the sun. I’ve used it for years. Essential oils are also on my list of skin care products. I also use lemongrass (lightly) layered on top of the coconut oil to protect from ticks, insects while outdoors. (but not on the face or sensitive skin areas) The coconut oil goes a long way and is a lot less expensive than the sun block items.

  23. Nurse Jon says:

    I used to burn so bad that I would blister at even the least exposure.

    One year, I decided to solve the problem, only from the inside out.

    What I tried on the first attempt worked so good, I have been using it since. I am also an artist and some of the shows I attend are street fairs. This means being outside through the hours that could provide the most burning on my skin.

    Yet I do not even get light pink now.

    First, please note this is still in the initial research and as a scientist, I admit that it is a bit extreme.

    I take about 10 grams of bonded whey protein isolate (it has to be bioactive) and reconstitute it in orange juice that has been microwaved for 10 to 15 seconds (the perfect viscosity to mix it in). This has become more available and can be found at many health food stores. I take this at midnight the night before the beach exposure. I also eat 2 Brazil nuts for the 200 mcg of selenium they provide. I get up and take it again at 4 AM and again at 7 AM.

    At 4 and at 7, I also take a NAC (N-acetylcysteine) along with a vitamin C. This will take up to 1 hour to be absorbed and once in the system, has a half life of 12 hours. Timing is part of why it works.

    With the NAC, too much can be dangerous so do not think that more is better. Also I tried it with just the whey protein and just the NAC and it did not work taking just the one.

    Both are forms of cysteine that help the body to produce glutathione (GSH). One of the services GSH provides is protection from radiation. Wait, isn’t photons from sunlight a form of radiation?

    Recently I have added the water cure to this as well. Taking about 10 ounces of water before bed and 1/8th teaspoon of sea salt dissolved in the mouth at night, 4 AM and 7 AM.

    Foods to avoid…any foods with MSG. Meat tenderizer is basically a skin tenderizer, getting you ready to cook in the sun. Also, I avoid any meats that are not organic. No dairy unless it is both raw and free of BGH. Organic milk should be acceptable. But, no ice cream or other dairy products that could have this for a few days before the exposure.

    So far, it is working wonderfully.

    Also note, I do not take these supplements on a regular basis because of the expense. But to enjoy a weekend in the sun, they are priceless.

  24. IH says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I normally don’t use sunscreen and definitely not when I go for my morning run. However, while living and traveling in the South West of the US we found it useful to use some when we visited some of the National parks in the middle of the day in July. In Utah and Arizona it really gets hot in the hight of the summer. Like some of the people here on the blog we have found too that you reduce your chances of sun burn if you have a healthy diet/lifestyle. If we use sunscreen we go with a brand called Avalon (vitamin C) and it works for us.

  25. Heather says:

    I have been mixing my own skin cream for over 10 years with different creams that I get from our farmers market and I add 1/4 tsp. of Vitamin C crystals to each tablespoon of cream. I mix up 3 tablespoons at a time and that lasts me around a week and a half. I use it all over and since I have been putting this Vitamin C cream on me I have not gotten burnt by the sun.

    I used to burn quite easily and now I don’t and I know all the ingredients are edible and I don’t have to worry that I am not getting my Vitamin D because it is not blocking the rays it is just making me less likely to burn because my skin is healthier.

    It’s so easy to mix it yourself with your favorite creams. Some creams get a little runny with the C though so it is good to experiment. I use goat milk cream, Shea butter cream, coconut oil, bee balm and sometimes other kinds if I find something I want to try.

  26. Ira Edwards says:

    81 summers, lots of sun, and never a drop of sunscreen. It is a toxic drug.
    I have had sunburns, one very severe 1949 working in a soybean field in Iowa.
    A melanoma a few years ago was NOT caused by sun exposure. It likely was less agressive because I get sun.
    Dermatologists have a terrible time coming up with explanations why melanoma is more frequent in states with less sunshine.
    Sun does not burn. It creates free radicals that inflamme the skin for hours afterward, which is why you don’t feel any burn until later. A vitamin C cream protects, and can be applied either before or after.
    I have rarely used that, but just enjoy the health benefits of the sun.
    Some of our modern chronic disease is due to lack of sun, one of the most natural components of our good environment.
    One of the benefits: Sunlight makes vitamin D sulfate from cholesterol sulfate, and even good vitamin D3 is not the same.
    Ira Edwards

  27. Sean Baker says:

    Thanks everyone for sharing..I don’t have much to add, but have become more health conscious in my more recent years, and am already taking some supplements mentioned, and have discovered new ways of using them,,because all of YOU! I truly do believe lifestyle is as much a help/hindrance as anything, and don’t believe in slathering on chemicals..I cover up, limit exposure..and now have new things to try! Thanks!

  28. Sean Baker says:

    Ok, strangely enough..this was just in my inbox..enjoy!

  29. Lois says:

    Coconut oil is the best of all.

  30. Tom Kelly says:

    Methinks this whole sunscreen idea is just a big multi-million dollar marketing scam. Look at people around the world in tropical climates(lucky dogs)! They are born,live, work and play their entire lives in the sun, sometimes all day exposed!

    Do they have cancer,No not generally; do they use “Sunscreen crap” maybe and now they are getting western culture’s diseases! Use common sense, limited exposure to begin with, longer untill you build up a nice base tan . After you do, go play and don’t worry about it! If you fry yourself the first of the season,you’ll peel and learn to be more careful next time. Eat lotsa fruits & veggies including fresh coconut, coconut products,and cold pressed virgin coconut oil!

    Read, Study, Relax, Express Gratitude for your blessings. Eat Natural foods, and work on your tan! 🙂 Tom

    Remember some can and will tan, others… God don’t make no junk. Man always tries to outdo nature. Dream On fools. FDA portects only big corporations. Leave your money in your pocket, in my opinion.

  31. Fen says:

    This is an interview with Dr Bruce Fife himself about coconut oil. The part in the podcast that talks about coconut oil protection from the sun starts at the 11th minute. Of course do listen to the whole podcast, its extremely informative.

  32. Kelly says:

    I’ve been studying Vitamin D on my own for years now, and I’m always finding conflicting information. I have come to believe that we can only make Vitamin D when our skin is exposed to UVB rays, not UVA, which are present only during midday. UVA rays only cause us to get tan, they do not provide any Vitamin D. So according to this, Kevin, if you only go outside after 4pm then you can’t get any UVB rays and therefore cannot produce any Vitamin D naturally. Has anyone else come across this information?

  33. Chris says:

    Thanks for all your comments. Always enjoy reading them.
    I read many years ago now that a combination of bad fats in people’s diets and artificial lighting (i.e. fluorescent) makes people very susceptible to skin cancer. This could be one reason for skin cancer to begin where we don’t get usual sun exposure e.g. sole of foot, inner thigh and for one of my friends inside her mouth!!

  34. Cassandra says:

    We generally don’t use sunscreen – only if we are going to be out in the sun for longer than an hour during the midday hours. However, I have noticed something interesting. Last week, I had my two kids at swimming lessons. The fair one did not burn, but the darker complected one got a bit too much sun on his face and shoulders – not enough to bother him much or to cause alarm but enough to be noticeable. I make sure both get plenty of vitamin D supplements in the winter and make sure they get out enough in the summer to cover that. But I wondered why the difference? The only difference I could come up with was that the fair one takes cod liver oil and walnut oil everyday (he is skinny and has a hard time gaining weight and this helps him) and the darker one does not. So that night I gave the darker one walnut/cod liver oil too and then also on Tues, Wed and Thurs. On Thursday the darker one went with dad on an all-day pre-school trip to a farm. They were outside _all_ day long. Dad came back with his neck and face looking like a lobster and the darker kid was slightly pink but it was gone by this morning. Dad cannot stand taking my oil pills so he never has. He will peal and the kids will not :).

    So I think that vitamin A ingestion along with enough vit D in the body work together to keep the skin from burning. That being said, each person has to have their vitamin levels checked before experimenting like this. My kids are used to it and I keep careful track of their reactions to things and make sure nothing goes overboard. In the end, they are both much healthier than I had ever expected due to trying to keep natural and avoid chemicals that don’t occur naturally.

  35. Hubert says:

    Skin cancer has very little to do with sun exposure. Mostly it’s the toxins accumulated in our skin (we know from where by now :-))that cause the trouble, like all cancers are caused by toxins. A healthy skin will not get burned easily and will warn you in time. So if you have to work in the sun too long: cover up like the people in the tropics do.

  36. Brenda says:

    I have red hair and freckles. I have had my share of sun burns over the years. Astaxathin and omega 3 essential fatty acids are amazing. I can be out in the sun a long time and not get burnt now. I only use sun screen if I am sailing on the bay for long hours, with the reflection off the water making it easy to burn. I only use organic sunscreen with non nano particle zinc & titanium. I don’t like how it feels on my skin, it beats a bad sunburn though.
    BTW I was told that Coconut Oil is a good sun screen, so I tried it last summer. I got burnt right away. Faster than if I didn’t use anything. That is my experience with that.
    Great subject to cover Kevin. Thanks.

  37. The “oil” component should’ve been your first clue Brenda=) It heats faster than water so it’s not a very good sunscreen.

    Personally I sunscreen has no effect on me, even SPF80 didn’t protect me from sunburn. Maybe my skin is just that sensitive. Thanks for the “avoid the chemicals” tip Kev, I’ll keep that in mind. Maybe if I tried organic it would work for me.

  38. susan says:

    I will have to try some of the combo’s suggested in the comments. Even though i live in the tropics i never put stuff on my skin, except sometimes i cut my aloe vera and smush it on. i am very fair and i love being outside.
    i, like everyone here, get creeped out by putting toxic stuff on my skin. This got me thinking about MOSQUITOE REPELLANT. Sometimes they are so horrendous here, even though the government sprays the innocent populous with tons of pesticides via trucks and planes and helicopters and we have nothing to say about it. Sometimes i have had to resort to the most lethal Deep Woods brand just to take a bike ride and then wash it off but i’m sure this ddt lotion soaks in.i’ve tried a few natural brands and they don’t do the job,i wonder how the seminoles managed, hung out by smoky fires. I definitely am going to try the coconut oil and vitamin c and purple corn.

  39. As an ecologist, ie: a person who has studied natural ecosystems and evolutionary ecology, I cannot for one minute believe the notion that the sun is dangerous to humans. People would have lived and hunted outdoors for all of our history. In so doing we would have been exposed to the sun a great deal. So it makes sense to me that the skin would respond to the sun by converting cholesterol into vitamin D, a useful biological process.

    On the other hand humans would not have lathered on baby oil and laid out in the sun to get a tan so perhaps that’s where our problems begin: more leisure time and a different way of interacting with the environment.

    My personal take on suntan lotions is to avoid them as much as possible. I think they are carcinogenic. I make a deliberate effort to spend 15 or 20 minutes in the sun each day, as near to naked as the situation allows, thus exposing skin to sunlight. If I’m going to be out in intense sun for a length of time, such as I will be when fly fishing or canoeing a river, then I will cover up, where a cool hat, use a sunscreen that uses titanium dioxide and enjoy myself immensely.

  40. Joe Mercola sells an all natural sunscreen and Ted Broer ( sells an all natural sunblock. I trust both of these guys with their products. They both have extensive research in nutrition, including skin care.

  41. lynne says:

    I’d love some feedback on a theory that I’ve read about. It stated that sunburn is vitamin D toxicity and that if one gets sunburned then one just need to consume extra Calcium.

    I accidentally got very burnt last weekend and tried this before I went to bed. When I woke up, the burn was almost gone. I’m a blue eyed, blonde that burns very easily. I’m curious whether this theory holds any validity.

    Does anyone have any information about this theory or tried it themselves?

  42. SarahB says:

    I studied aromatherapy with the Tisserand Institute in London. As a part of this course, we were shown slides of people with 2nd and 3rd degree burns from using citrus essential oils and then going out in the sun. These oils are phototoxic. Peggy (#2 comment) is right about grapefruit – it is the least phototoxic and bergamot is one of the worst. Here is what you need to know about them: they not only magnify the suns burning rays when you are in the sun, they continue to induce burning even after you go indoors! There is a time factor here, so if you are going indoors for the day and will be out of the sun until the next day and you put on some lotion containing a citrus oil, you will probably be OK.

  43. Violet says:

    How can you know if your all-natural titanium/zinc sunscreen has nano particles?

  44. zyxomma says:

    I am olive, and although pale in winter, I do tan. I use big hats and loosely woven clothing when I need sun protection. I love getting some healthy sun exposure, and do it several times a week.

    No sunscreens unless I’m sailing, and then only clean and green.

    Health and peace.

  45. Colin Black says:

    I agree that coconut oil is the best skin protection ,but we need to look at diet
    which can be the main cause of skin cancer.
    in particular processed oils, vegetables oils.
    A healthy skin is the most important
    requirement to avoid skin cancers.
    Also we need uvb rays to produce Vitamin D3
    so let the sun shine on your skin………………………..

  46. Pete says:

    Kev, I know from reading your blog for years now at how thoroughly researched you generally are when you write about something, that’s why I was really astonished to read that you only expose your skin to the sun in the late afternoon, as I hear so often especially from people that are really white (I’m naturally really white by the way). I don’t want to use the word ignorance but I’m afraid it’s a bit late at night to be coming up with alternatives, so I’ll press on. I’m regularly astonished at peoples ignorance when it come to the difference between UVA and UVB and how they penetrate our atmosphere differently, and how to optimise the amount of UVB while limiting the amount of UVA. The best way I know of, is Timing, and time spent. It sounds counter intuitive on the face of it, to get you sun exposure in the middle of the day. But here’s the reasoning. UVB’s, the ones that react with cholesterol on our skin to synthesise Vit D are very easily filtered and that’s why all sunscreens can block UVB’s and quite often don’t even block that UVA’s (but that’s not what I’m on about here). What I’m getting at is the UVB’s will be reflected, filtered or bounced off the Ozone layer morning and afternoon (the earlier and later respectively the less penetration). All the while the UVA’s are still forcing their way through. So in fact, the earlier or later your getting your sun, the less desirable the ratio of A’s to B’s. Now I’ve tried to have this discussion many time with my very fair skinned brother (who is academically very bright but health consciously ignorant). He tells me if he goes out in the sun in the middle of the day he’ll get burnt in ten minutes. So I say to that fair enough, go out for 6, 5 or 4 minutes However many you can get in before burning! This way your giving yourself the best ratio B to A rays. The closer to the middle of the day it is less time, far less time is needed to be exposing yourself to the A’s. The main thing to keep in mind is definitely don’t get burnt! Not only is it painful and damaging, but it’s using up your stores of Vitamin D rather then increasing them.
    Yes Kev, it might feel pleasant on the skin to get some afternoon sun but some people think cigarettes feel nice when drawn back too but we know better don’t we. Listen to the maths and the real science on this, it works. It’s really not that complicated I’m not sure why people are so slow to come to terms with it. Another way to think of it is this, a huge proportion of people who suffer skin cancer are indoor workers. Who for the most part only get exposure through glass. Again some A’s will pass through but no B’s will accompany them.
    Let’s look at it mathematically, I’m not sure what the actual ratio’s are but regardless of what the actual ratios are we know that the further away from midday the sun gets the faster the UVB’s diminish comparatively against the A’s). So Hypothetically let’s say that at midday the A’s to B’s are 2:1 and lets say for I hr of exposure at midday would yield you 1000 units of A’s so in that same time you’d receive 500 units of B’s. but your daily fill before you burn is only 15mins so that gains you 125 units of B’s and 250 A’s. now let’s say by 4:00 pm the ratio has gone to 4:1, now for that same 125 Units you might have to spend a couple of hours in the sun because not only has the ratio gone down but there’s less of every thing getting through. But because of the ever diminishing ratio you might not even fill you quota. But lets say you do and however long it takes we’ll just (for simplicity’s sake) calculate it at the 4:1 ratio. So by the time you’ve got your 125Units of B you’ve now showered yourself with 500 units of UVA’s
    One other thing I noticed you mention was that some people don’t convert sunshine to D, and I would just add to that, that one reason may be individuals that for one reason or another don’t have enough cholesterol, be it from Statins or wrong diet. You Liver needs to be able to make Cholesterol in order to convert those UVB’s into VitD.

  47. kt mm says:

    I agree w/ Tara Burner(funny last name for the topic). I really think a lot of it has to do with diet. Somewhere I read an article talking about eating food in season and it’s connection to nature providing the best things for us when we need them most. It’s blueberry time for most of us northerly folk and when my daughter and I load up on the blueberries, we never burn. By the time the blues are gone, usually mid-August, we both have a protective tan.

  48. Jennifer says:

    Since becoming raw, I’ve noticed that I don’t burn as easily. I’m a redhead and extremely white. I have, in the past, burned so easily, which results in a new patch of freckles. Recently I was out in the sun all afternoon and did not put on sunscreen. I did not burn at all. It was AWESOME! Granted, I was walking around and there were periods of time I was in the shade, but for the most part I was directly in the sun. I truly believe that when eating how our bodies were built, that the sun shouldn’t affect us so. I’m also very aware that my skin and body WILL tell me when I’ve had enough and should seek shade.

  49. w. says:

    we use hats and coverups, unless we go to the beach, then we use organic sunscreen. However all the wonderful comments on nutrition really has me thinking… and planning a bigger grocery list. thanks for all your thoughtful advice.

  50. This post really opened my eyes to the true reality … and dangers of wearing sunscreen. I relate with Kev – I’m not a proponent of using a chemically created lab experiment baking on my skin which truly does create a manifestation of unstable free radicals damaging your skin and your cells. I am nocturnal because of the dangers excessive sun and UV-A rays create. As a result, I’ve seen my skin repair itself beautifully over the past two-three years. If I can give you all great advise that has had efficacy with me – it’s to incorporate organic tomatoes, watermelon, persimmons, and guava into your diet heavily in the summertime. Not only are these all alkaline forming in your body, but they contain high amounts of Lycopene which acts as an internal sunscreen from the inside out. I consumed these reds in my diet one to two times a day since April and now my fair skin has a hint of a tan glow to it. Consuming lycopene buys you a safe 15-30 mins of sun exposure during the day because the anti-oxidant fights free-radicals at a cellular level while absorbing the UV-B Vitamin D 3 sunshine vitamin. We all know the saying “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food”. This theory applies here. Lastly, Coolibar is a great company that creates SPF – UV-A ray blocking clothing. Infused with Zinc-Oxide, they withstand several washings while still blocking harmful rays w/o having to slather on any chemical sunscreen. So 1) Eat lycopene-rich foods and 2) Wear SPF clothing. 3) Take $150 and put UV-A ray tint on your vehicle’s windows too – this prevents major aging since we spend so much time in the car when the sun shines through.

    Cheers to good health everybody and Mad Love!

    Bradley W.

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