Everything You Know About Sunscreen Is A Lie {Part 2}

This is a Weird, Wild World we live in, Folks!

Things that seem to have a logical conclusion end up confounding, and the simplest combinations can synergize into life changers! This is what it's like studying nature and the human body, and the combination of the two! Can we say "Controlled Chaos?!?" And I LOVE every second of it! It keeps things spicy, ya know! As promised in the previous article, Today, we're chatting about natural, strategic ways to minimize free radical damage from the sun and environmental factors. We're gonna see a LOT of controlled chaos in this post. Stick with me to the end- it'll all make sense then...sort of...

But before we get to THE FIX, let's sum up the problem.

The POINT of sunscreen is to PREVENT more damage than it CAUSES. The POINT of our last article was to POINT to the fact that sunscreen alone does not PREVENT damage. In fact, it actually causes some damage.

Here's how (Nerd Alert):

Free Radicals are molecules that have unpaired electrons, and are starving for balance. They will steal electrons from other healthy cells to satisfy themselves, causing the donor (victim) to become imbalanced, and on and on...They not only create imbalance, but they also destroy DNA. Over time, this series of thefts results in chronic illness, disease, and least importantly, but most unwelcomed, visible aging. This is what a free radical looks like under a microscope: 
Actual Free Radical (Not Actual Free Radical)
 Lots of things cause free radicals...sun exposure, air pollution, toxins in food and cosmetics, smoke... in fact, natural bodily processes create them. Shoot- even acne makes baby radicals. But the trick is to minimize the amount of free radical production as much as possible to prevent those consequences.
Unfortunately, sunscreens contain ingredients that promote free radical damage. You'll find them in both the active AND inactive ingredients in conventional sunscreens, and in just the active ingredient in natural/organic sunscreens.
Have you noticed that the rates of skin cancer have continued to rise over the past two decades, in spite of increased use of sunscreen? There's also misunderstanding that just because you've applied sunscreen in the morning DOES NOT mean that you are protected throughout the day.
In fact, the most effective sunscreen degrades after about 2 hours on your skin, leaving behind free radicals. Constant reapplication  is necessary to ensure you are covered all day.
But I'm NOT saying you should reapply all day, every day...Confusing...I know... Let's move on...
Our fears toward risk of sun damage and disease have also caused us to take a teetotallistic approach to sun exposure- and here's where it gets super chaotic: We hide from the sun for fear of skin cancer and aging, thus missing out on our daily Vitamin D dosage. But low vitamin D levels are connected to all sorts of diseases, including skin cancer, as well as (ugg!!!) signs of aging. (If you're extra-nerdy, google "telemere length and aging"...or read this. ) Also, apparently ANY sun effects, tan or burn, are damaged skin cells. They say there is no "healthy tan". It's all so annoying...

But don't fret...there IS hope. And it's found in nature... Here's the deal:

Free Radicals are the punks that cause aging, cellular damage, and disease. And unfortunately, in our culture of synthetic manufacturing, we are overwhelmed by them-makeup, shampoos, conditioners, creams, moisturizers, acne treatments, sunscreens, shower gels, fragrances, hair sprays, and all that BEFORE you've even had your breakfast...

But they do have an enemy. And any enemy of OUR enemy is our friend, right? And that friend is the Antioxidant.

Here is what an antioxidant looks like under a microscope:

Actual Antioxidant (Not actual antioxidant) 

Antioxidants are givers. It's what they do. They give.
They are naturally produced in your body in small amounts, and occur in some of your most favorite REAL foods in large amounts. {dark chocolate, red wine, coffee, tortilla chips...ok, now I'm just telling you MY favs!}
They roam around your body, traveling up and down your veins, looking for ways they can help.
When they see a Free Radical trying to rob from a fellow cell, they gladly donate an electron to the radical to make it whole. And it doesn't even upset them to do it.
It's all quite altruistic if you think about it... Kinda like the priest in Les Miserables...  

Antioxidants are able to compensate for the deficit in Free Radicals.

The POINT is to make sure you have MORE antioxidants than Free Radicals roaming your body.  

And now for the fun part: Where to find antioxidants.

There are many different types of antioxidants, and several types of free radicals. Studies have shown that while isolated antioxidants are effective in treating targeted problems, they cannot give "full spectrum" efficacy.

Also, there is such a thing as antioxidant overdose, which comes from isolating antioxidants (supplements). Because of that, supplements are an OK way to add antioxidants to your diet in a pinch; However (here's more controlled chaos), the diverse antioxidants found naturally in food sources work synergistically to meet all of the demands of the body: think water AND fat soluble antioxidants. Plus, ya don't have to think about it so much.

So, let's wrap this thing up. Here's your plan:

  • Eat TONS of fresh veggies and fruits daily. (Or just juice...it's faster, easier, and a concentrated way to get a high dose of nutrients in one setting. Plus you don't have to chew so much...in case you're lazy like me.)
  • Apply REAL plant based oils and butters to your skin daily- olive, grapeseed, almond, apricot, red raspberry, argan, coconut, shea, cocoa butter, and so on...These guys are LOADED with a variety of antioxidants, and generously saturate those free radicals with love. Apply liberally- morning and evening, and if you are in the sun regularly, apply under your sunscreen. And I know exactly where you can get some. Best around, too. ;)
  • Drink water. Lots and lots of water to keep cells hydrated and fluid.
  • As for sun exposure and vitamin D: get some. Safely. 10-15 minutes daily, after you've applied your oils (but not sunscreen). Word is, best time for this type of exposure is between 11am and 1 pm, based on the position of UVB rays. But listen: we aren't looking to burn or tan here, just synthesize some Vitamin D. Don't go crazy. Excess exposure (more than 30-45 minutes unprotected) begins to break down vitamin D, and creates free radicals.
  • Let your belly bask, too. Read this really sweet article on sunshine and gut healing. Two birds, one stone.
  • And finally, it appears that darker-skinned people are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency- it's due to the fact that your skin rocks it in the SPF department. So, you probably definitely wanna supplement with food. Dairy, eggs, salmon, cod liver oil, and for all you fancy people: caviar. Or just take a vitamin supplement. D3 (the 3 is important)
  • And Finally, finally- please also read this from the skin cancer org. November to February stinks at hooking you up in the Vit. D department if you live above the 42 North Lattitude, whatever that means ;) , in the Northern US (including Northern California, so you all need to supplement, too. Since we've been known to swim in December here in Texas, I think we might be ok...)


Perfect Swimming Hole for Sun Protection Hamilton Pool/ Austin, Texas 

And as for sunscreen:

Use it. When you are going to be in the sun for longer periods of time (more than 30 minutes). Make sure it's natural (for real, y'all- there are a LOT of fakers out there. Look for the USDA organic seal, or read the ingredient label.)
Zinc Oxide is the active ingredient that you want. None other. Not oxybenzone, not avobenzone, and certainly not any of the synthetic inactive ingredients like parabens, fragrances, dyes, and the lot. Waste of money and free radicals.
Also keep in mind that UVA rays can penetrate through glass windows, and those rays ARE NOT the Vitamin D producing rays. They hate you. You should hate them, too. They are occurring from sun up to sun down, all seasons, all the time.
Wear protective clothing or natural sunscreen if you are sitting in a car or office with direct sunlight hitting your skin constantly. Google the pics.
You'll see what I mean.
         Amelia's ALWAYS prepared for Texas Sun.
 And with that exhaustive account, ladies and gents: we are done. See ya on the bright side!
Keri Lehmann
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