If I had a propane heater, I would probably be laying out in the sun. Which has made me think about the sunshine and an old controversial blog post of mine. I reference it many times when talking to people who are shocked when they here my take on the sun… I am, after all, an esthetician and I am supposed to believe the sun is evil… so I am going to repost it here. This is probably about the most informational post you’ll ever see here….
June 10th, 2007
In 1999, while employed at a fancy-schmancy spa, I attended a class on the spa’s behalf about sun damage and aging skin. I am sure the spa’s owners sent me with the idea that I would come back and sell a bottle of sunscreen to every customer that walked through the door and by the end of the year, they would be able to vacation from those profits at some remote resort never thinking about me… boy were they wrong.
I have always been a bit of a skin purist. I feel like the skin care industry works on the insecurities of the general population and that many of the products out there sell a false sense of hope, producing no results, therefore making the buyer feel even more insecure that their skin is bad or their problem cannot be fixed. There are product lines out there that contain well over 100 SKUs. Are we really to believe that we need 100 products to make our skin look good?
So, back to this class. During the class I was presented with an enormous amount of information on what the sun does and how it does it and why its so bad. The repeated message was “SPF, all day everyday” and attendees were encouraged to sell their clients all kinds of sunscreen products and advise them to use it everyday regardless of their activities because “the sun is everywhere”, “the sun makes us look old”, “the sun is evil”, blah blah blah. Maybe it was the skin purist in me or maybe I am quick to think of conspiracy theories but something to me seemed a little off with this message. I spent my early teens growing up in sunny Florida. I didn’t know the meaning of sunscreen, nor did I care and to this day I can still pass as a good 5 or so years younger than I actually am. These sunscreen companies were trying to sell something and its a great marketing scheme – if people use more sunscreen, they will sell more sunscreen.
Upon my return home from this class, I knew I couldn’t go to the spa owners that spent money to send me out of state to this class and say “I won’t do it.” I pulled out all of the material I received and began my own investigation. It was then that I realized that cancer, of all kinds, had a lower rate the further south you traveled. Aha! I was onto something. I then realized that as higher SPF’s became available to the market, their protection numbers continued to increase almost identical to the way skin cancer rates rose in the years following. I also realized a similar rise in Seasonal Affective Disorder as SPF numbers increased. I gathered as much information as I could and went to work the next day prepared to take a stand: I will not push sunscreen on every client.
Since that day, I have advised my clients to only use sunscreen if they are putting themselves in a scenario where they have the ability to burn.
Let me further explain my thoughts.
I am not saying there is no place for sunscreen. In fact, I think it is often necessary during the summer month’s activities. But, if you use sunscreen all day, everyday, you are not allowing your skin to build up a natural tolerance to the sun. Without a natural tolerance to the sun, you are more likely to burn. Without a natural tolerance, when that SPF wears off or you forget it one day you are way more likely to burn. Sunscreen also prevents us from getting a good source of vitamin D which is an essential vitamin in maintaining organ systems and preventing Seasonal Affective Disorder. This means that every person has their own limit to how much sun they can get. My roommate, for example, has strawberry blond hair and quite possibly the fairest skin I have ever seen. I don’t think she needs to wear sunscreen all the time, but I do think she should have a bottle nearby should she need/decide to spend a little extra time outdoors on a sunny day. On the other hand, I do not have a tendency to burn and the last time I wore sunscreen was last summer while spending the day on a boat.
Burning is bad. Having a sunburn severely dehydrates the skin and in extreme cases can damage the formative skin cells. The “aging” that is related to the sun is more an issue of dehydration and not replacing the skin’s vital moisture and nutrients.
That doesn’t mean go tanning. My stance is more of an “anything in moderation” stance. I am not in anyway shape or form saying hang out in the tanning bed or at the beach until you look like that lady from There’s Something About Mary.
There you have it. As you can imagine, I have been scolded by just about every other skin care professional I know. I have been told by my own mother that my theory is crazy and I have had clients think that maybe I just didn’t know as much about the skin and products as everyone says I do.
Until this week!
Research published this week in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has determined that that vitamin D (also known as the sunshine vitamin) cuts the risk of several different types of cancer (not just skin) by 60 percent. The sun is our best form of vitamin D. The skin makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight’s ultraviolet rays. Multivitamins usually carry a much weaker variant known as D2.
“The findings … are a breakthrough of great medical and public health importance,” said Cedric Garland, a prominent vitamin D researcher at the University of California at San Diego. “No other method to prevent cancer has been identified that has such a powerful impact.”
So there you have it.
- Amy Faulkner
My final advice: Go have fun in the sun! Buy a bottle of sunscreen and use it only when necessary and make sure it doesn’t contain any parabens.