Mad dogs and English men (or women!) go out in the midday sun
Posted on 3rd June 2015 at 07:30
It’s June and the forecast is for a mini heatwave over the weekend. Well, in the mid 20’s, which is a heatwave for the UK.
Cue the usual headlines about the dangers of the sun and sun bathing. Not forgetting global warming and pollution.
We all played outside in the sunshine as children, without any ill effects. And, if you Mother was anything like ours, she believed in fresh air and sunshine all year round. Not just in the summer.
So when did spending time outside in the sunshine become so dangerous?
And is slathering yourself in sun tan lotion really the answer?
Turn the clock back only a few decades – to a time before the annual two week holiday in the sun became the norm – and our approach to the sun was simple and straightforward.
Spend time outside every day, all year round. Let your body gradually acclimatise to being outside in the sunshine.
In the warmer months, get up early and spend time outside before it got too hot.
Stay in the shade – or indoors – during the middle of the day. And why not have a quick snooze or siesta after lunch?
Go outside again later in the day as temperatures started to drop.
And when you were outside, wear a hat and cover up with cool natural fabrics, like cotton or linen.
Now compare this with the modern approach.
Spend most of your time indoors, except for your annual two week holiday in the sun.
As you want to get the deepest tan you can, don’t bother covering up, but lay in full sun all day for your entire holiday.
Slather yourself in sun tan lotion.
Perhaps grab some lunch inside during the day, but not taking too long, as it means the loss of precious tanning time.
Not surprisingly, you probably spend the first few days of your holiday looking more burnt than bronzed.
And any tan you do get only lasts a few days when you get home, as you go back to spending most of your time inside.
Thankfully, a little commonsense is now beginning to rear its head, with advice now mirroring the traditional approach.
However many people still rely on the false sense of security that sun tan lotions provide, particularly those with high protection factors.
Ok, we hear you say, what’s your problem with sun tan lotions?
Well, have you ever read the label to see exactly what’s in it? Probably not, as most people just look at the SPF – sun protection factor – and tag lines such as “all day protection,” “mild as water,” and “blocks all harmful rays”. And that’s about it.
So here’s an example from a popular sun tan product found on the shelves of your local supermarket or chemist:
Aqua / Water, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Diisopropyl Sebacate, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Alcohol Denat, Titanium Dioxide [Nano] / Titanium Dioxide, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Isohexadecane, Octocrylene, Ethylhexyl Triazone, Drometrizole Trisiloxane, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Stearic Acid, Triethanolamine, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Synthetic Wax, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Diethylhexyl Butamido Triazone, PEG-100 Stearate, Palmitic Acid, Dimethicone, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Terephithalylidene Dicamphor Sulfonic Acid, Acrylates / C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, BIS- Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Disodium EDTA, Aluminum Hydroxide, Glyceryl Stearate
Out of interest, aside from the first ingredient, water, how many of the other ingredients do you recognise? Probably none.
It’s quite a cocktail of different chemicals – and many of them we had to look up ourselves.
Remember it’s not just the individual ingredients of any product that are important. It’s how they react to each other – and together.
And then, most importantly, that they are being applied directly to skin which is hot, with the pores open, so allowing them to easily pass into the cells below and so around the body.
Concerns have been expressed about many of the ingredients found in sun tan products, with three in particular being highlighted below:
Vitamin A derivatives, such as retinol or retinyl palmitate, which help speed up the rate of tanning. These have been linked with increasing the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer, so accelerating tumour growth.
Zinc Oxide, which acts as a sun block. It’s easily absorbed by the skin and more toxic than conventional zinc oxide, particularly to the colon.
Titanium Oxide, another sun block. Again, this is easily absorbed by the skin and toxic to the body.
Added to all this sun tan lotions prevent the skin from absorbing sunshine to manufacture Vitamin D. Essential for healthy teeth, skin and bones it also, ironically, helps protect against certain cancers.
So does it still seem like such a good idea to slather yourself in commercial sun tan lotion and sit in the sun all day long for your annual two weeks’ holiday? Perhaps not.
So how about a return to a more traditional approach to the sun – and your annual holiday in the sun?
Seeing your annual holiday as much more than getting the darkest tan possible. A time to relax away from the stresses and strains of life. Making the most of the sunshine in the cooler parts of the day. Enjoying a lazy lunch and siesta in the middle of the day. Keeping covered up and in the shade if it’s very hot. Using a natural plant based sun tan lotion which is kinder to your skin and will still help you get a tan.
You’ll still come home with a tan, just without all the added nasties.
As always, the choice is yours.
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