How to Be Smart About Sun Exposure

It’s the holiday period again. The most important thing is to understand how much sun exposure is enough. And that no matter the weather, every day is a sunscreen day.

As with anything in life. You need to keep healthy and balanced. And the approach to your sun care routine should be no different. So, if you hibernate away from the sun, it’s just as bad as actively seeking a leathery and tanned complexion.

“Having regular, limited exposure to sunlight is not in itself unhealthy. In fact, we need sunlight exposure to activate our vitamin D levels. Furthermore, having regular exposure to small doses of sunlight conveys a limited measure of ‘immunity’ to bad sunburns and strengthens the skin,” says dermatologist and founder of the Skin Cancer Foundation in South Africa, Dr Marc Roscher.

How to Choose a Sunscreen

You may have awful childhood memories of gloopy, white sunscreen that made you sticky, translucent and somehow you still got burnt. Today, the importance of sun care has become so globally advocated. That finding a reputable brand of sunscreen isn’t too tricky.

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Requirements that Should be on Your Sunscreen Bottle:

  1. SPF 30 or higher
  2. UVA filters such as Mexoryl or Tinosor
  3. Water-resistant
  4. Added antioxidants
  5. UVA and UVB protection

TOP TIP: If you like to play a lot of outdoor sports. Always use a ‘sports sunscreen’ that won’t run when you sweat. Or get sticky to the touch. 

“Ask your pharmacist or dermatologist about which sunscreens are good and how to apply them. Remember that sun-protective agents should be applied daily to sun-exposed areas. Aesthetically pleasing products are much more likely to be used on a regular basis. So look for a product that you like,” suggests Roscher.

FAST FACT: Alcohol Sprays are more popular with males. As they are less irritating on hairy arms or scalp. But they are often less effective. So you may have to apply them more frequently. 

How Much Sunscreen Should You Use?

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One of the most basic guidelines for determining how much sunscreen you should be applying every day. Is to use a shot glass’s worth for your whole body. However, if you have high sun exposure during the day. For example from playing sports or going to the beach. Your reapplication will have to be a lot more rigorous than if you’re sitting behind a desk.

“Despite sunscreens indicating that you should reapply after two hours. When going swimming or sweating. Water-resistant sunscreens must be applied after 40 minutes and ‘very water-resistant’ sunscreens after 80 minutes,” notes Mpofu.

Other Than Sunscreen, You Should Also Use…

Rash Vests – Rash vests are very efficient at safely warding off sun damage. And as an added bonus, they feel like a second skin when you put them on.

Antioxidant Serums – Although they can be rather costly, and usually only available from skin care experts. sun | Longevity LIVEAntioxidant serums have great value as they essentially double up your sun protection when used with sunscreen.

Cosmeceuticals – The benefit of using cosmeceuticals as part of your daily routine is that most products  contain a high SPF as well as UVA and free radical protection. So instead of having to reapply sunscreen on your face throughout the day. You can simply touch up your make-up instead.

Understanding Sun Damage

Not only is sun damage a cause for rapid skin aging. But more seriously, it is the main risk for developing skin cancer.

“Caucasians develop features of damage, including sun spots, liver spots, wrinkles and more. Once this damage occurs, they are also more prone to skin cancers,” says Roscher.

However, this does not mean that people with darker skin tones are out of the woods…

“Dark-skinned individuals have what is called ‘delayed sun damage’. Occurring up to 3-12 hours after exposure, in melanin containing skin cells. This is responsible for up to 50% of sun damage to the skin,” adds Mpofu.

Preventing Skin Cancer

1. Avoid Sunbeds

Using  sunbed at least once a month increases your risk of skin cancer by 55%, and this increases after the age of 20. Your best bet is to apply spray on or self tans.

sun | Longevity LIVE 2. Plan Around Peak Sun Hours 

Remember that UV intensity is determined by the angle of the rays and not temperature. So try to plan your day and avoid being outdoors as much as possible between 10am and 4pm.

3. Don’t Neglect Your Moles 

It’s not the most flattering task. But doing regular mole checks after showering is crucial for monitoring any skin cancer developments.

4. Check Your Sunscreen Label

Ensure your product does not include Oxybenzone, or benzonephenone-3. These are one of the most common chemical filters found in commercial chemical sunscreens.  According to the EWG, oxybenzone is found in 80 percent of chemical sunscreens.

Oxybenzone has been cited as the cause for coral reef destruction in our oceans and Hawaii authorities are aiming to ban sunscreen products with this ingredient. There are concerns it has toxic effects on the skin. The EWG has rated oxybenzone an 8 on their toxicity rating scale, meaning it is one of the most toxic ingredients found in cosmetic products. The EWG and other toxicology experts are concerned about the compound because it has been linked to hormone disruption and has the potential to damage cells that may lead to skin cancer.

1 Comment

  1. 7 January 2017 at 5:29 am

    The way to be smart about sun exposure is to get plenty of it without burning. Sun exposure is vital to human health, and recent research has estimated that sun deprivation is causing about 330,000 deaths per year in the U.S. It is interesting that each year sun exposure decreases and sunscreen use increases. At the same time, melanoma continues to increase. Is there something wrong with this scenario?
    Here are some of the well-documented reasons that sun exposure is necessary:
    • The Melanoma International Foundation states that since 1935, melanoma incidence has INCREASED BY 3,000%. At the same time, sun exposure in the U.S. has DECREASED by 90%.
    •A 20-year Swedish study shows that sun avoidance is as bad for the health as cigarette smoking.
    •A Spanish study shows that women who seek the sun have one-eleventh the hip fracture risk as those who avoid sun.
    •Men who work outdoors have half the risk of melanoma as those who work indoors.
    •Women who totally avoid the sun have 10-times the risk of breast cancer as those who embrace the sun.
    •Women who sunbathe regularly have half the risk of death during a 20-year period compared to those who stay indoors.
    •Sun exposure increases nitric oxide production, which leads to a decrease in heart attack risk.
    •Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is essential to human survival, and sun exposure is the only natural way to obtain it. Sunbathing can produce 20,000 units of vitamin D in 20 minutes of whole-body exposure.
    •Sun exposure dramatically improves mood through the production of serotonin and endorphin.
    •Beyond vitamin D, sun exposure also stimulates the production of endorphin, nitric oxide and BDNF, all of which are vital to human health.
    •Regular sun exposure also reduces high blood pressure, heart disease, psoriasis and multiple sclerosis (MS).
    •As sunscreen use has increased dramatically, melanoma has INCREASED exponentially.
    For the scientific references and articles for the above statements, visit