Summer, Sunscreens and Vitamin D – SPF what, when and why?
Summer is finally here which means long days, hours of idling in the warmth and plenty of beach time. However, we are constantly being told to protect ourselves against the sun, with an ever increasing level of SPF sunscreens on offer. We are also being told we need vitamin D from the sun for our health. So how do we do both? In this blog post I dive into the risks and benefits of the big orange ball in the sky, and how best to approach sunscreens.
Why do I need sunshine?
Sunshine is vital for health and can boost mood. It also helps our bodies to produce vitamin D, a hormone essential for immune health and the function of many other systems in the body. In fact, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a wide range of health disorders including cancer, autoimmune disease, depression and high blood pressure.
Vitamin D is difficult to obtain through the diet and so vitamin D supplements are increasingly prescribed. However, there have been several recent articles published about vitamin D supplementation and how its been shown to be ineffective (see example here). The only other alternative for obtaining vitamin D is via the sun. But how can do I this without getting burnt or increasing my risk of skin cancer?
How does our skin deal with the sun?
For the most part, our skin is not designed to withstand long periods of time in the sun. When we do, our body creates melanin, a pigment which gives the skin its color and helps protect the skin from some forms of sun damage (think tanning and pigmentation). In a nutshell, the darker your natural skin tone, the more melanin your skin contains, the less likely you are to burn.
When you do get sunburnt, DNA damage occurs in the skin cells. Under normal circumstances, a healthy body repairs this DNA damage and you’re none the wiser. However, under certain circumstances this DNA damage can lead to some types of skin cancer, particularly basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
Okay so I’m pretty fair skinned and feel I need sunscreen, but there are so many levels of sunscreen. How do I figure out which one I need?
This all depends on how much time you’re planning on spending in the sun. SPF numbers can be misleading as there is not a massive difference between SPF 15 and SPF 50 when it comes to UVB rays (see below).
- SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
- SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays
- SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays
In my opinion, if you’re only spending a limited amount of time in the sun on any given day, SPF 15 is all you need. However, if you’re heading to the beach or off on a bushwalk, which means you’ll be spending hours in the sun, grab the SPF 30 or 50.
How do I get my vitamin D from the sun without increasing my risk of skin cancer?
Even the Cancer Council states that “the best source of vitamin D is UVB radiation from the sun”. Their recommendation for maintaining adequate vitamin D levels is to spend a few minutes outdoors on most days of the week when the UV Index is 3 or above (such as during summer). Sun protection is recommended when spending extended periods of time outdoors, especially when the UV index is at its highest.
What level of sun protection does your new face lotion offer?
Our latest product, Protect + Clarify Daily Face Lotion, has been formulated to protect skin from UV rays with a level of zinc oxide designed to meet SPF 15 standards. This means it’s perfect for daily use. It’s also important to note that this level of zinc spreads on invisible – no more ghost face. Basically, I made it for the women and men like myself who spend most of their day in the office but are constantly being told we need some level of sun protection, even if we only spend 15-30 minutes in the sun.
It also has other benefits including:
- More natural sun protection provided by Karanga seed oil and microalgal extracts rich in carotenoids, shown to protect skin against harmful UV rays.
- Australian native snowflower which helps to reduce pigmentation and naturally brighten skin. It also contains a compound called Kaempferol which has been shown to be protective against skin cancer.
- Biofermented hyaluronic acid supports collagen synthesis and reduces appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Rosehip, jojoba and buriti oils deliver potent rejuvenative properties, increasing skin elasticity, balancing skin tone and providing a richly moisturised complexion.
- Premium essential oils, including rose otto, provide antiseptic and astringent properties, benefiting those that struggle with acne, inflammation and redness.
Shop our latest product Protect + Clarify Daily Face Lotion
Please note that we haven’t put the SPF 15 rating on our packaging as we have yet to receive formal test results. These will follow in 2020. We just couldn’t wait to get this face lotion out in time for summer and offer our customers an alternative to our most luscious moisturiser, Ultimate Face Crème.
I for one am super excited about this product and can’t wait to hear how you find it. Here’s to a fabulous summer!