The truth about sunscreen
Woman applying sunscreen at the beach

We’re told to cover up, slather on lotions and simply “stay out of it.” Revered by many cultures, the Western world has come to fear the sun; advised to keep our distance if it’s pure skin and great health we seek. But, are we doing the right thing?

Rethinking sun exposure

What if sunscreen and avoiding daylight is contributing to the very disease we’re trying to avoid?

We’re an indoor culture of gadget buffs, trading time outdoors for lounge room pursuits of iPad tinkering and staring at SmartTVs. When we do dare venture outside, we’re told to cover up and avoid the blazing ball in the sky at all costs to save our skin and our health—a far cry from other cultures who revere it, and our ancestors who worked and played long hours under it sans sunscreen and without so much as a hat.

The toxins

The market for sunscreens, sunblocks and lotions, whether they spray, squirt or simply roll on is big business—a multi-million dollar market that has the Western masses plying themselves and their family with a multitude of chemicals that stop the sun from penetrating the skin. However, we’re now baking ourselves in toxic ingredients that are detrimental to our health, and missing out on important nutrients the sun naturally provides, such as Vitamin D, explains natural health expert Tyler Tolman of

The controversy

“It’s absolutely not the truth that the sun causes cancer,” he says. “One of the leading dermatologists and scientists in the United States, Dr. Kenneth Nelder, has proven the sun does not cause skin cancer… what causes skin cancer is not eating enough fruit and vegetables and also putting products onto the skin that are known to cause cancer.”

“If you look at the statistics of cancer rates and when they started to skyrocket, it happened at the same time that marketing started to come out, telling people to cover up, put petroleum-based products on your skin because the 'sun causes cancer’—that’s when people started getting cancer.”

The statistics

The message in Australia and New Zealand has been heard the loudest, with Australasians told because our sun is in close proximity to the depleted O-Zone Layer, we need to be more mindful than the rest of the world in order to avoid skin cancer—with two in three Australians destined to suffer from it by age 70, according to The Cancer Council: a rate four times that of the U.S.A., Canada and the U.K.

Sunscreen sales Down Under reflect the fear, with sales booming. As do the costs to treat skin cancer. The Cancer Council reports it is the “most expensive cancer.” In 2001, it was estimated treatment of the non-melanoma kind cost $264 million, while melanoma reached $30 million.

The evidence against wearing sunscreen is mounting, as research shows blocking the body’s absorption of ultraviolet radiation is detrimental to Vitamin D production—the very vitamin that protects against 77 per cent of all cancers from breast and colon cancer to cervical and skin cancers.

The ingredients

Skincare and wellness entrepreneur Annmarie Gianni, who developed an all-natural skincare line under her own name, suggests using organic and natural lotions, gels and creams that contain nourishing ingredients.

“Zinc oxide is considered the safest option for children and adults, as long as it’s not presented in tiny nanoparticles that penetrate the skin,” she says.

Top tips for healthy sun exposure

  1. Up your fruit and vegie intake. Nature’s foods boast antioxidants, which prevent sun damage. Having a morning smoothies is a great way to pack a lot of vegetables and/or fruit in one sitting. Be sure to “chew” your drink in order to get the digestive juices working and make the most out of all the goodness.
  2. Put your bare feet on the ground. In the modern world we’ve lost our connection to the earth thanks to footwear. Walking barefoot is healing as it allows you to receive Vitamin D from the sun, while getting negative ions from the earth.
  3. Eat certain foods. Avocados, berries, tomatoes, watermelon and tumeric root, as well as green tea, work from within to protect against damage from prolonged sun exposure.
  4. Apply extra virgin coconut oil. It works as a natural sunburn protector with an SPF of approximately four.
  5. Choose creams wisely. If you must wear a protective cream, be sure it’s completely natural and organic, such as zinc oxide, which sits on top of the skin only.
  6. Have a hat handy. If you’re diet is inadequate, covering up with a hat and long sleeves is a good way to minimise chances of sunburn.
  7. Stay hydrated. Drink eight to 12 glasses of water per day.
  8. Avoid wearing sunglasses. These trick the brain into thinking it’s night, stopping the body from producing proper hormones needed for sunlight.
  9. Expose yourself to sunlight regularly. Don’t go more than three days without ultraviolet light.
  10. Dry brush. Cleaning your skin with a dry brush or salts keeps it healthy and able to assimilate Vitamin D better when you are in the sun.

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Comments on "Sunscreen myths"

Evan February 18, 2014 | 6:22 PM

What rubbish. Absorbing negative ions from the ground through bare feet? Where the hell did you ever learn such unscientific and unfounded crap? The link between UV radiation and skin cancer is indisputable. I'd like to see your evidence [from peer-reviewed science journals] that demonstrate the 'toxicity' of sun screen. Furthermore, you only need a small amount of sunshine to get adequate levels of Vitamin D - generally 2 to 3 hours of sunshine on your hands, arms and face PER WEEK. You generally get this going about your normal activities, even in winter. So please, try REAL science. And stop making things up.

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