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  • Stacie Rose


Stacie Rose

If you watched the recent solar eclipse, were lucky enough to stand in the path of totality, or simply got swept up in the excitement over the sight of the moon swallowing up the sun, you are aware of the sun’s supernatural sway over its earthly superfans.


We rise with the sun and rest when it descends. It helps create a framework for

our days and brighten our mood. It gifts us with powerful doses of vitamin D that are impossible to come by in any other way. Supplements can helpful, but not a replacement.


Over the years the sun itself has been a polarizing topic. There were the days of basking, slathered in baby oil, with the “You have to burn first, to get a good tan.” mentality. That seems like a slice of insanity now. There were the days of tanning in those coffin-like tanning beds. I nearly got third degree burns and missed most of my senior prom. The endless pursuit of that sun-kissed glow is as real as it gets for some.


But once the news of skin cancer started to reach the masses, we quickly realized how damaging the sun can be to our skin, our eyes and how incredibly dangerous it can be with too much exposure and not enough protection.


Sun science got real, and we saw things like SPF 50 hit the market. The question of course was does anybody really need anything above SPF 20, and what is SPF anyway?

The market is now flooded with sun protection and sun enhancing products. Products for women, for men, for babies. Products for hair, scalp, lips, makeup with SPF, cosmetics that promise a bronzy glow. You have reef-safe products, vegan and organic products. Where does it end?  But more importantly where to begin?




The Skin Cancer Foundation breaks it down well.  There are two kinds of rays within the Ultraviolet (UV) spectrum that can damage your skin cells and lead to skin cancer. You’ll want to protect your skin from both types. UVB rays cause sunburn and play a major role in developing skin cancer. While UVA rays cause skin damage that leads to tanning as well as aging of the skin and wrinkles.




SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. SPF tells you how well it will protect your hide from the hidden dangers of that big ball of beautiful light. The number on a sunscreen’s SPF refers primarily to the amount of UVB protection the product provides.


There was a rumor permeating for years saying that “after SPF 30, it’s all just marketing.” That’s not entirely true. One worry is that higher SPFs could give people a false sense of protection when out in the elements. According to the American Academy of Dermatology you’ll want a sunscreen that’s SPF 30 or higher and water resistant if you plan to sweat or swim. SPF 30 should shield you from 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 sunscreen blocks 98 percent of UVB rays especially when applied as directed.




You’ll want to make sure the sunscreen says, “broad spectrum.” As you may have guessed this means the product protects against both UVA and UVB rays, making it a win/win, especially when reapplied as needed. As a rule of thumb apply evenly, generously, and often. Sun protection only lasts so long. So, check the label for directions and remember to apply and repeat more frequently if you are swimming, running, sweating or sense your skin starting to burn.




Seems that there are more sunscreens on the market than stars in the sky like luxury balms, sleek gold-flecked oils, creamy, tinted, fragrant, non-toxic, body sprays, self-tanners, drug-store faves. But what sets a good sunscreen apart from the rest?


There are endless “best of” lists if you want to dip your toe into the stream of sunscreen mania. A good place to start is with Environmental Working Group’s guide to the safest sunscreens. They are rated for various factors considering harmful chemicals and irritants.


When it comes to sunning, the most important thing to consider is your skin. Perhaps you are very fair and tend to burn and freckle. You might want to be extra vigilant. Suppose certain ingredients in sunscreen cause irritation.  You will the need to do a bit of research to find a good match. Luckily there is no shortage of options.   According to the National Eczema Association when choosing  the right type of sunscreen, it helps to understand why a sunscreen might trigger a flare in the first place. There are two common types of adverse reactions to sunscreen: the first is topical irritation; the second is an allergic reaction. Both responses have their unique underlying cause.


Irritant reactions to sunscreens are the most common. They occur immediately,” and are often characterized by stinging and burning.” This is usually caused by a high alcohol content in the sunscreen.


In the case of an allergic reaction to sunscreen, symptoms may appear more slowly. The flaring is typically caused by an ingredient that takes longer for the skin to absorb. “ “The most common allergens are usually the inactive ingredients such as fragrances and preservatives which can cause itching. If an allergic reaction occurs it’s best to consult with an allergist.

Eczema can present more challenges when choosing a product. Finding an appropriate product my involve a bit of trial and error and patch testing which is a safe way to be sure the product won’t trigger eczema If you have experienced topical irritation due to alcohol content, you can try an alcohol-free mineral sunscreen with NEA’s Seal of Acceptance. The active ingredients should feature zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, as opposed to alternative non-organic chemical compounds excluded by the Seal criteria




Remember that you are a unique individual. Choosing the right sunscreen product is a personal choice but also one worth great consideration.  Gorgeous packing can distract you from the mission which is to safely enjoy a place in the sun. Essential oils and natural ingredients are great if they work for you. Varieties that are non-toxic are always a good idea and lovely fragrances can be uplifting. Who doesn’t want to smell like a pina colada? But the various features and anti-aging promises can fall flat if they do not work with your skin. Luckily cosmetic companies realize that people have very different priorities. If you have acne prone skin, you might try an oil free moisturizing sunscreen on your face.  If you are worried about harmful chemicals, read those labels and check ingredients.


According to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, there are two primary types of sunscreens, and they work differently. Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s harmful rays like a sponge. On the labels of these sunscreens, you’ll see such active ingredients as avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate and octinoxate. Some of these chemicals have become highly regarded as toxic and dangerous. According to the National Library of Medicine  Oxybenzone (BP-3) and octinoxate (OMC), two common sunscreen ingredients, were recently banned in Key West and Hawaii due to their toxic effects on marine ecosystems. Their impact on human health should be carefully considered.

Physical (or mineral) sunscreens block and reflect the sun’s harmful rays and act as a shield. On the labels of these sunscreens, you’ll find titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, or both, listed as the active ingredients. These sunscreens may leave a visible white coating when applied to the skin. Pediatricians and dermatologists recommend using physical or mineral sunscreens (those with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) with young children and anyone with dry skin or eczema. They also caution against using spray-application sunscreen, which might be inhaled.

Other ways you can protect children is to avoid direct sunlight during peak hours from 10am to 2pm, staying in the shade during this time. Always Keep babies out of direct sunlight even early and late in the day. Outfit small children in sun-protective clothing, made of light but tightly woven fabrics that block UV rays. Accessorize your child with a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses for added protection. Who doesn’t adore a little i fashionista?




There has been a long debate about how much sun we need for good health. And for a while the recommendation was to wear sunscreen all the time, in the shade, in the winter all day, every day and stay OUT of the sun!  I’ve been known to grace a beach or two with a pasty white layer of sunscreen, sunnies the size of cinnamon buns, a wide brimmed hat big enough to shelter a large family and all its distant relatives, while hiding inside a beach tent. One might ask, “why not just stay inside?.” I like the waves, the sound of seagulls, the salty air, the feel of the sand through my toes, peacefulness, soft beachy curls in my son’s hair, the smell of skin products packed with vanilla and coconut and that dazzling SUN.


“Keep Your face always towards the sunshine-and shadows will fall behind you.”

Walt Whitman


So, do we hide from mother nature’s brightest beacon, or do we bath ourselves in it’s beautiful light? According to The National Library of Medicine Vitamin D is a hormone that can be generated in the skin through ultraviolet light exposure or ingested by taking supplements. Vitamin D deficiency may have numerous negative effects on health. Sun avoidance strategies are not the necessarily the best bet as we had previously thought due to the unwanted health risks associated with hypovitaminosis D (vitamin D deficiency). UV exposure is the primary method of boosting serum vitamin D levels, which accounts for a myriad of health benefits. Higher levels of vitamin D are actually  associated with protection against cancer development, including melanoma.

Sun protection strategies should still be implemented to reduce skin cancer, and sunscreen only minimally lowers vitamin D production. So, think protect, rather than avoid. There’s the distinction and perspective you’ll need this summer.

For clarity, do get out there in the sunshine. You need that boost of vitamin D and the warmth of the sun’s rays. Do not forget the sunscreen because sun protection strategies should still be exercised to reduce the risk of skin cancer. Sunscreen only minimally lowers vitamin D production. Vitamin D deficiency can increase chronic diseases and cancer, while adequate vitamin D levels can help prevent them. So, get that sun. Get that vitamin D, but also get yourself a good sunscreen. This is the everything in moderation paradigm sandwiched between the safety first and health is wealth rules of thumb.


Once again, because it cannot be overstated, sunscreen if your BFF. The people with the healthiest skin on the planet swear by sunscreen. Dermatologists ALWAYS recommend it as well as a yearly screening for skin cancer. If you plan to be in the sun for an extended period, bring along a hat. It’s a good fashion opportunity. According to UCLA Health you’ll want a pair of shades that offer 100% UV protection from all UV light (UVA and UVB) or 100% protection against UV 400. Avoid tanning beds and too much direct sun in the middle of the day when the sun is hottest. Plan accordingly and don’t forget to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.



Worshippers rejoice but proceed with caution. Most people these days know someone who has been diagnosed with Melanoma which is a kind of skin cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic most melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet light, also called UV light, which comes from sunlight or tanning lamps and beds. Limiting exposure can help reduce the risk of melanoma. Knowing the symptoms of skin cancer can help ensure that cancerous changes are detected and treated before the cancer has spread. Melanoma can be treated successfully if it is found early.

If we heed the ancient tale of Icarus and enjoy the sunshine with joy and reverence for its immense power and energy we can allow the healing rays to lift us up, brighten our days and fill us with positivity and illumination. After all the cure for the blues or a plain old bad day is often a walk beneath the golden, shimmer of the summer sun.


“Keep Your face always towards the sunshine-and shadows will fall behind you.”

Walt Whitman








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