We love the sunshine and welcome it with open arms, but on the flip side it can have undesirable effects on our skin and health. The life giving sun is the force for all, with many powerful and important attributes - but as with all of natures wildest phenomenons we need to take care of the intense glow. So here at Nakin Natural Anti-Ageing Skincare we decided to do some in-depth research into the sun's benefits and its less desirable effects, as well as offering advice on safely getting the best of the sun.
The sun gets a lot of bad press, so we thought we should start with some of the benefits for our health. Sunshine has a positive impact on mood, and Vitamin D is produced by skin when directly exposed to UVB rays (without the use of sunscreen). We can get small amounts of Vitamin D from some foods, or larger amounts from supplements. Not everyone should take supplements and at Nakin our gut always tells us that a natural version of something will probably always be best. Infact Dr Mercola reported on work by researchers in Australia who found that supplements do not influence genes in the same way that natural vitamin D sources do, and may even block the potential benefits. So we advise to get vitamin D from food sources and from sunshine where you can. Some of the amazing benefits of vitamin D to health, as advised by Medical News Today, include:
CONTRIBUTING TO HEALTHY BONES & TEETH
IMPROVING SKIN CONDITIONS SUCH AS ECZEMA
LOWERING THE RISK OF DEVELOPING FLU
HELPING CONTROL DIABETES TYPE 2
REDUCTION IN THE ADVANCEMENT OF CANCER
On the other side, there cannot be many people that have not heard about the damaging effects that sunshine has on our skin. Let's be clear on the facts, there are two primary dangers that can occur when skin is exposed to too much sun. These are skin cancer and premature skin ageing. The sun naturally produces ultraviolet (UV) radiation which is the primary cause of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. An estimated 86% of melanomas in the United Kingdom are linked with too much exposure to sunlight and sunbed use .
When it comes to ageing the facts are less cut and dried. So where is the proof that the sun causes premature ageing? There are so many factors that accelerate skin ageing - stress, alcohol, smoking, pollution, diet and the choice of skincare routine - to name just a few. A study by the Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology compared sun loving women with those that did not like the sun on their skin. They found that sun exposure had a big effect on early skin ageing - especially with pigmentation, skin texture and lines. We were also interested in a study on identical twins reported by NBC News, where at age 61 one twin looked almost 12 years older. This was mostly due to sun worshipping and smoking for some years. The effects of the sun were clearly visible on her face, with erratic skin discolouration and age spots.
Skin ageing from the sun does not show up until we are in our thirties and continues in later life, when by then the damage is done. We can try to reverse effects of skin damage to some degree by using skincare with age resisting and repairing properties, which is why we developed our Anti-Ageing Products. However, preventing the cause is key and protecting skin is essential, so how do we get the right balance between sun exposure and sun protection?
This all depends on where you live, your skin colouring and the UV measure each day. Healthline.com state that even 5-15 minutes of exposing the skin to the sun 2-3 times a week will provide the vitamin D benefits that we need. This is just a guide as darker skins require more exposure than lighter skins. It is important to remember that Vitamin D stores only last for around 2 weeks, which is especially valid during the winter months.
So what is the best way to protect skin from the sun? The risk of developing melanoma is most strongly linked to intermittent sun exposure . This includes short, intense bursts of sun for those who generally have the majority of their time indoors, sun as sunbathing while on holiday. So avoid long sunbathing sessions and keep skin from getting red and burnt. Be especially careful when the sun is at its strongest, usually from 10-4pm. The absolute best way to protect skin is to cover up with hats, sunglasses, and long clothes as this is completely natural. Clothes with higher weaves offer higher protection. Always wear sunglasses that cover the whole eye area without gaps, and with at least 99% protection from UVA and UVB light.
The next best option for protecting skin is to use a natural sunscreen free from harsh ingredients. The Vitamin Council note that research shows sunscreen only helps prevent some carcinoma. They also say that there is research showing that sunscreen prevents melanoma, but other studies suggest that sunscreen increases the chance of getting melanoma. Don't forget to use sunscreen on skin areas that are easy to forget such as the backs of hands. They are always on show and therefore very susceptible to damage.
 Cancer Research UK
 Gandini S, Sera F, Cattaruzza MS, et al. Meta-analysis of risk factors for cutaneous melanoma: II. Sun exposure. Eur J Cancer. 2005;41(1):45-60. doi:10.1016/j.ejca.2004.10.016.