I hope you are enjoying summer! I clearly am, have been traveling Iceland and getting blue skies almost every day, which is a rare summer experience in Iceland ! And getting the sunshine is lovely and absolutely essential for health, but best enjoyed in moderation. I truly recommend you welcome in a delicious daily dose of sunshine in the mornings and afternoons, while sensibly avoiding getting burnt in between. It’s possible to enjoy the sun, and look after your health all at the same time. The sun is to be neither feared nor revered, but respected.
HEALTHY SUN RITUAL
To get nerdy with you, research shows that the golden hour for reaping the health benefits is actually in the early morning, ideally between 8-10 am. It not only helps you feel happier, it helps you sleep better, promotes healthy bones, boosts metabolism, helps to improve the way your body absorbs nutrients, aids in regulating hormones and moods, and also boosts immune function.
All of those benefits in as little as 10-20 minutes a day.
The first rays of morning sunlight stimulate serotonin and cortisol production, gently awakening you from your slumber. Sunlight detected via the retina throughout the day prompts the release of more serotonin, which regulates appetite and calms your mood. The advent of darkness prompts the conversion of serotonin into sleep-inducing melatonin. Leaving your curtains open to receive morning sunlight and avoiding electronic screens at night-time can greatly improve your sleep patterns and ensure you awaken feeling refreshed. The sun is also key to vitamin D production.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s stored in the liver and fatty tissues, meaning that if you choose to supplement for your vitamin D intake you need to take it with a healthy fat for better absorption. Vitamin D is a little bit different from other vitamins because our bodies make most of our vitamin D on their own by converting sunshine into chemicals that our bodies can use. These chemicals are actually turned into hormones, which is why the sunshine has such monumental benefits beyond just a base tan, so having healthy levels of vitamin D is crucial in living your healthiest life!
Keep in mind though, that too much of anything is a bad thing! …sunlight being a major player in that! We all know that it’s essential to wear our (toxic free) sunscreen and how to be safe when it comes to sunbathing, there’s a reason for that. With skin cancer and skin damage on the rise, catching too many rays at too harsh of an hour can lead to irreversible damage.
As mentioned the ideal time to grab some of that Sunshine Vitamin is between 8-10 am, this is because the sun light isn’t as intense in the morning as it is in the afternoon. Both UV and infrared light are the both plentiful in the morning; the reason this is important is because infrared helps enhance the absorption of UV rays in a healthy way—as opposed to one being stronger than the other and resulting in sunburn. The healthy combination helps to lower inflammation in the body, making it the ideal hour to catch some rays!
Another bonus of getting that morning light is that it helps to balance your circadian rhythm, which is how your body regulates when to go to sleep and when to wake up- ideally having your peak energy in the mornings and die down into the evening. Sleep is #1 to living a healthy and balanced life. Getting proper and adequate sleep helps to boost metabolism and to help make better decisions throughout the day.
Last but not least is the influence morning sunlight has on our endocrine system and having a daily healthy sun ritual (exposing your body to the sun in some way). When we think of sunshine, we think happiness and there’s a reason behind that. Exposure to healthy amounts of Vitamin D helps to regulate moods! So starting your morning off with a little sunshine vitamin can help kick start your day in a healthy AND happy way!
I love the sun but I also want to take care of my skin. When you are choosing sun protection, EDUCATE YOURSELF. We at Rvk ritual have a holistic approach and try to focus on having a healthy sun ritual in our daily habits. Ideally, you need a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen: this means it protects from both UVA and UVB. While logic would suggest there’s a big difference between a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15+ and 50+, there’s really not. The number indicates an estimate of how much time your sun protection is multiplied by. For example, if you personally burn after 10 minutes, a 15+ sunscreen will theoretically protect you for 150 minutes, and a 30+ sunscreen would protect you for 300 minutes. Confusingly, it’s still recommended you reapply your sunscreen every two hours for efficacy regardless of the strength, due to factors such as water exposure and sweating. Furthermore, the SPF rating is based mostly on the UVB protection offered, meaning as the SPF gets higher, the disparity between UVA and UVB protection widens. An SPF of 15+ will block 93 per cent of UVB rays, whereas 30+ blocks 97 per cent and 50+ blocks 98 per cent.
This labelling strategy leads many to use high-SPF products incorrectly due to a false sense of invulnerability, potentially leading to increased sun damage. High-SPF sunscreens contain higher concentrations of toxic sun-filtering chemicals. It’s best to stick to a lower SPF and reapply often. Make-up and moisturisers can provide additional protection, but their specific SPF claims are dubious as you are unlikely to apply the excessive amount required to meet the SPF on the label.
Mineral or physical sunscreens use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to scatter UV rays so they bounce off the skin. They offer broad-spectrum protection and are safe, with little to no skin penetration. The main downside is cosmetic, as the formulas tend to be thicker and whiter than their chemical counterparts.
Chemical sunscreens on the other hand absorb the rays, convert them to heat and then deactivate them. This process can worsen rosacea and brown spots by increasing the internal skin temperature. Many ingredients in chemical sunscreens are absorbed and show up in urine, breast milk and blood samples. Oxybenzone in particular is a known endocrine disruptor and causes allergic skin reactions. Chemical sunscreens are generally thinner and more spreadable, but need to be applied 10 to 30 minutes before sun exposure and require frequent reapplication, while physical sunscreens work immediately and last longer except in cases of water exposure.
THINK ABOUT THE PLANET
At the end of the day, sunscreen always ends up in the water, via the oceans we swim in or the showers we wash in. About 6000 tons of sunscreen wash into coral reefs each year. So do try to avoid products containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, as these chemicals are harmful to aquatic life. Products labelled “reef friendly” avoid these two ingredients; however, it is still important to check for octocrylene, homosalate and octisalate which may also cause coral bleaching and harm sea creatures.
Use your sunscreen correctly
So to sum it up, you want physical mineral sunscreen without the toxic stuff and you want to know how to use it. When applying sunscreen, take care not to forget the ears, lips, feet, back of the hands, inner thighs, upper back and the part in your hair. It’s recommended to apply 35mL of product to cover the average adult’s body. If you use a spray, be sure to avoid inhalation. Reapply your product every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. A hat, kaftan, sunglasses and shade should also be used for prevention.
It’s important to remove your sunscreen at the end of a day in nature to avoid a lingering white film and blackhead- inducing layer. Massage olive oil into your skin, then soak a hand towel in hot water, wring it out and wipe the skin clean! Thats it!
HEALTHY SUN RITUAL: I recommend you try this. Start your day by exposing as much of your body as you can in the morning sun for maximum 20 minutes (buttnaked if you can). Take in the healing for the body, mind & soul. (if sun is not an option exposing yourself to the morning daylight will be healing)