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Ditch the Sunscreen? The Kiwi Guide to Intelligent Sun Exposure

With summer upon us and the sun shining, the topic of Vitamin D, sun exposure, sun tanning, and sunscreen use keep popping up.

Typically by this point of the year we begin to see “news” articles popping up, telling us of the devil of the sun, to avoid the sun if possible and the need to cover ourselves in sunscreen at all times.

Yet Vitamin D – specifically, LOW levels of Vitamin D – have been directly linked now with over 100 diseases, including no less than 16 cancers.

And what is the number one source for humans for Vitamin D? Made in our bodies via sun exposure to UVB radiation.

Due to a mix of modern lifestyles, living latitudes, and the “conventional advice”, I feel very strongly that most people are getting insufficient exposure to sunlight, the ultimate source of Vitamin D in our lives, for both health and happiness.

You have heard me say this often, go get some sun, yet I just had these two on the Athletic Greens Facebook page after I made a comment on getting outside for some Vitamin D:

Facebook reader: Some of us burn in the sun (versus tan), which can lead to skin cancer.


Facebook reader: … Put some lotion on and get some sun. No one burns in 15 minutes

Confusion on this topic abounds. They are both right, and yet they are both wrong.

So what is it….. Ditch the sunscreen? Lather up? In the sun? Out? What to dooooo?

Here is the Kiwi two cents on this one.

Let’s look at the three big things people are trying to avoid when they think of sunshine time and sunscreen, or not.


1. Sunburn; pain and a nasty red look

2. Wrinkles and aging

3. Skin Cancer

Let’s cover off skin cancer first; by far the biggest issue of the three.

There are three main types of skin cancer

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

Cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM)


SCC and BCC are both pretty well correlated to sunshine exposure, particularly UVB exposure. Almost always occurring in areas with the largest amount of sun exposure (face, back of hands, neck, ears) they account for nearly 90% of total “skin cancer” – yet are responsible for about 10% of cancer deaths.

This is partly because they tend to not be particularly aggressive cancers – are indeed frequently benign – but also because they can typically be detected early and easily removed via a simple out-patient procedure. Not fun, but not as bad as the one below, melanoma. It should be noted that sunscreen has indeed been found to correlate with decreased SCC, with BCC shows very mixed results.

The nasty malignant melanoma (CCM) on the other hand causes 90% of the deaths related to skin cancer. This cancer has the ability to metastasize (spread) and is frequently undetected until late. That is a tragic combination. It should be noted here that melanoma most commonly occurs on areas of the body that do not typically receive regular sun exposure.

When most people are tailing about avoiding “skin cancer”, they are referring to malignant melanoma.

Because most of us know someone who has had melanoma, and thus this is potentially pretty charged, I decided to include all reference links below.

My wonderful Aunty Lynn died of malignant melanoma in 2004. Thinking about melanoma is a pretty personal deal to me, and I have AVOIDED the use of sunscreen for nearly 10 years.

For the facts behind why I chose to do this, read on.

Sunscreen and Melanoma

Most Doctors and government agencies the western world over advise people to use sunscreen to reduce their risk of skin cancer, particularly nasty CMM.

Despite this promotion of sunscreen and its constant availability, the incidence of CMM rose 81% between 1973 and 2003 in the USA, and continues to rise at 3% a year.

The same study I pulled that one out of noted “There currently is little evidence that sunscreens are protective against CMM”. No kidding.

A number of further studies have come out proposing that not only does sunscreen not prevent melanoma, but have even suggested that sunscreen use may actually increase the risk of CMM

So we have CMM rates increasing, studies showing that sunscreen doesn’t help and may even be harmful. Is that what you think you when you look at all the ads devoted to sunscreen and decide to incorporate the “slap on some sunscreen” approach to skin cancer prevention?

How about we add some paper to the fire and talk about sun exposure and melanoma ….

Sun Exposure and Melanoma

A couple of study synopses for you:

1. A 2005 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) looked at the link between sun exposure and mortality from melanoma.

This study, conducted over five years, concluded that frequent exposure to sunlight resulted in a 50% reduction in mortality rates from melanoma.

Yes, 50% REDUCTION in mortality rates.


2. People in the Northern states of the USA where there is LESS sun and year long radiation have a 20% plus higher rate of CMM than those who live in the year round sunshine states of Florida, Arizona, Texas. (30/100,000 vs 25/100,000)


3. Cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) has been increasing at a steady exponential rate in fair-skinned, indoor workers since before 1940. A paradox exists between indoor and outdoor workers because indoor workers get three to nine times less solar UV exposure than outdoor workers get, yet only indoor workers have an increasing incidence of CMM

Rates of incidence of melanoma are not increasing in outdoor workers yet have been increasing in indoor workers steadily since 1940.

If it was sunshine that was causing the melanoma, this would hardly be the case now would it?

So what is going on?

To get a better idea we need to quickly look at the ultraviolet radiation (UV) present in sunlight.

For the people falling asleep already, I promise to get to some recommendations before the end of the post.

Microwave me baby – Sun and UV radiation

There are two types of radiation most prevalent in sunlight, UVA and UVB. For years, researchers and sunscreens focused on UVB, and blocking it.

That is because UVB was thought to be the primary causative agent of of all skin cancers via direct DNA damage. This is also the one that makes you feel like you are “burning” when you get enough of it.

To me burning = natural alarm system. We will return to that. Back to UVB.

When you look at the SPF protection on your sunscreen label, they are referring to UVB. UVA is not covered in this.

Some of the newest sunscreens do now include some UVA blocking protection, but a review of the UVA and sunscreens has shown that even the very best ones block only 25% of the UVA. (This best result was achieved using Titanium Dioxide, a potential carcinogen in itself).

So what is the deal with UVA? It may not smash your DNA directly like UVB has the potential to do but it would appear that UVA can cause havoc to the DNA via oxidative stress and degradation of Vitamin D, UVA exposure in the absence of UVB being highly correlated to increased melanoma risk.

Oooohhh. Vitamin D! We are back! I thought I would never get there.

It is important that you note that Vitamin D is made by our bodies from skin exposure to….. drums please…. UVB radiation from the sun.

Yep, those sunscreens are designed to block UVB, and if you don’t get enough UVB in your life, you don’t get to make Vitamin D.

That means you are either stuck with Vitamin D from foods (found in small quantities in liver, fatty fish, eggs) but those are tiny amounts, or relying on supplementation.

You might wonder why as a spokesperson for a supplement company I don’t jump up and down about you taking our Vitamin D more. This is because while we do think that supplementation is a long way better than nothing, supplementation is a very distant second to sunshine on the skin.

Want more Vitamin D in your life, and all the immuno-protecting, cell-regulating benefits that go with it? The SUN is by far your best option.

So lets talk then about why sunscreens not only do not protect against melanoma, and my actually increase your risk of it.

1. Sunscreens block UVB rays, the ones that we need to make Vitamin D – in other words, block the bodies natural defense mechanism AGAINST many cancers, including melanoma, while allowing IN the UVA, which can increase your risk for melanoma.

This is a bad plan for success.

2. By blocking UVB rays, we stop or delay the “burning” response, our bodies’ natural alarm system for too much sun exposure. Thereby allowing us to stay out in the sun longer than our body wants to.

The “I’ve had enough UV radiation” natural alarm override – this is a bad plan for success. When the fire alarm goes off after sensing smoke from a fire in your house, do you put on some ear plugs so you can stay in the house longer?

3. Improved sense of confidence in sun burning time – resulting in a false sense of confidence, resulting in us prolonging our time spent in the sun. Use of sunscreen results in INCREASED incidence of sunburn. More than 66% of sunburned people in one study had used sunscreen to prolong their time in the sun.

And the most likely to use sunscreen are those whose skin is most likely to burn, with sunscreen taken to increase time in the sun without “sunburn” – the highest risk category.

The Kiwi One-Liner On The Sunscreen Approach: Let’s let in the rays that can cause melanoma, block the ones that make Vitamin D which can help protect us (in people who due to modern lifestyles frequently have low levels of cancer protecting vitamin D to begin with), extend our time in those rays beyond our bodies natural tolerance and in ratios of UVA to UVB that are alien to our chemistry, and rub a host of chemicals into our skin that we sure as hell wouldn’t want our children to eat.

If this sounds like a good plan to you, stick to it. Personally, I think it is crap.

After a summary of the studies relating to melanoma, it would appear that people who go into the sun rarely, yet when they do get sunburned, are by far the highest risk for melanoma.

“We agree that intense, intermittent outdoor UV overexposures and sunburns initiate CMM; we now propose that increased UVA exposures and inadequately maintained cutaneous levels of vitamin D(3) promotes CMM.”  – Godar et al. 2009

I think their hypothesis is pretty much on the money based on everything out there right now.


Perfect Example of Stupidity In The Sun (photo credit: shelleylyn)

So what is the prescription for sunshine success.

The long version: Finding your own unique middle ground where you are getting adequate cutaneous vitamin D status without increasing your risk to develop UV-induced skin cancer and in line with your own skin pigment, lifestyle, and climate considerations.

Consider that for the bulk of human evolution, humans were in equatorial regions. What do people look like who come from those regions?

Plenty of melanin, darker skin, less risk of melanoma, harder to burn but likely a much higher need for total sun exposure to ensure adequate vitamin D status.

Over generations of folks drifting northwards in Europe, whiter, more sun sensitive skin was naturally selected for. With less melanin in the skin (which by the way, you can alter upwards with plenty of sun exposure, known as “tanning”) sun rays came pounding into the skin, and people could synthesize more Vitamin D off of less sunlight. They also tend to burn more quickly.

A trade off.

Cutaneous levels of melanin adjust upwards in response to frequent response to sun exposure. This increases time to burn generally in line with skin color. It should be noted that the individual variation in the optimal amount of sun exposure varies dramatically by genetics, lifestyle, and climate.

Soooooo, if you are of Sub-Saharan African descent and living in Alaska – you are probably going to need a lot of time outdoors to get anywhere near enough cutaneous Vitamin D. Burning is going to be the least of of your worries.

And, if you are a red-haired pale-skinned Scottish descent living in Rio de Janeiro, you will need to cover up or seek shade pretty quickly, especially in the summer months. But don’t AVOID the sun, just be smart about it. Over time, your ability to stay out in the sun will increase slightly with the increased melanin production, thereby decreasing your risk of sunburn.

Remember, it is sunBURN that is the enemy, not sunSHINE.

What about aging?

UVA – aging via oxidative damage – think on an apple going brown after you cut it open

UVB – aging via direct dna damage (though this damaged skin seems to protect against melanoma)

Both cause aging. My experience with people who have sought the sun in intelligent, consistent incremental doses throughout their lives has tended to be a golden glow, which I find attractive.

This is a personal preference, so your call on how much time you spend out in the sun each day. Excessive time in the sun WILL age your skin faster.

For those with fair skin and obsessively worried about sun related aging, the trick will be getting in enough and then leaving the sun immediately. At a guestimate, if you are very fair skinned then building up to just 20 minutes a day total in summer may be more than enough to satisfy Vitamin D requirements. Do this in four doses of 5 minutes and the world is your oyster.

Don’t forget all this will vary massively depending on genetics, lifestyle and climate. If playing sunshine minimalist for whatever reason I absolutely recommend you get your vitamin d levels checked to make sure you are not on the low level.

What about sunscreen toxicity?

A lot of fuss has been made about whether or not sunscreens have toxic properties.

The two ingredients most people jump up and down about are Octyl Methoxycinnamate (OMC) and Titanium Dioxide.

OMC, a chemical compound present in 90% or more of commercially available sunscreens, can potentially damage tissues if it penetrates past the dead dermal layer of your skin. I personally think this is highly likely.

Titanium dioxide, mentioned earlier, a popular (and so far, highest efficacy) ingredient used to block UVA rays, can block up to 25% of UVA rays but can cause an increase in cancer in mice via DNA damage, oxidative stress, and an increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines. That said, mice are mice, people are people.

Whenever thinking about using a chemical on my body, or not, and in terms of how much and how often, I always remember my old chemistry teachers advice;

“When dealing with chemicals, if you wouldn’t EAT it, or feed it to your children, then don’t sniff it, taste it, or touch it with any part of your skin”.

Obviously you will make your own call on this. Since the only reason to take sunscreen is to extend your time under the sun beyond what you think your body can do naturally without burning or aging effects, and sunscreens block UVB and therefore Vitamin D and may in fact be toxic, my take on sunscreen….. is to skip it.

Some will chase “natural” sunscreens, but again over to you on how you want to play with that one, but if women especially want to put a small amount of sunscreen in sensitive places like the sides of their eyes, I am not going to judge you.

Me? The sun I seek, I am the opposite of a minimalist when it comes to sun exposure. I feel beter, more relaxed, more energetic, and getting outdoors in the sun makes me happy.

I am also pretty olive skinned, when I have had enough, I skip the sunscreen, instead cover up or go for shade, just like my ancestors did.

The Kiwi Prescription for Sunny Times happiness:

Do not avoid the sun – doing so will result in low vitamin D levels and increased likelihood of depression

Do not BURN. SunBURN is your enemy. The occasional burn and not much sun otherwise is the worst thing you can do

Listen to your skin, at the first sign of reddening or burning, you should already be out of the sun

Seek incremental sun exposure. Start with short doses, of 10 minutes each, before 11am and after 4pm each day if fair skinned in summer. You will quickly build a tolerance and can extend your time in the sun as desired.

Once your sun dosage is done for the day/period, seek shade or cover up.

If you choose to continue your time in the sun, covering up is superior to sunscreen.

Sunscreen increases cancer risk and may be toxic – ditching the sunscreen is recommended

Do not use sunscreen to prolong your exposure to the sun

The same rules apply to your kids!

Let Your Kids Play In The Sun Intelligently, Starting With Small Doses, Which Can Be Longer Early and Late In The Day. Then Cover Them Up. (Smart Sun Exposure As a Child DECREASES Melanoma Risk). Same Rules Apply To Big People


I also recommend you keep your anti-oxidant coverage right up via smart nutritional choices to assist in protection against excessive oxidative stress.

As always, if you are eating according to my food quality guidelines in the Food for Fat Loss series, then you are avoiding pro-inflammatory n6:n3 loads, gut damage and inflammation, and nasty metabolic byproducts of poor insulin metabolism. It is highly recommended that you eat this way, or something very similar.

Always avoid sunburn, but for health and happiness I would much rather you had a tiny bit too much sun, than too little.

I haven’t been burned in years. Food has something to do with it, but so does my sun hat.

Take it away mate, I hope you enjoy your adventures in the sun this weekend.

Enjoying some intelligent sun exposure will make you happy, I guarantee it.

“100% Focus on Happiness”

That is my mantra, and it starts with phenomenal health.


Chris “the Kiwi”

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About the author
Chris 'The Kiwi'
So named because he comes from a little country in the Pacific called New Zealand where a small, fat, quasi-blind, and largely defenseless bird by the name of “Kiwi” is the national animal, and what we are called when we land in other countries. He is focused on using what he can remember from his studies for a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science and his cumulative years as a nutritionist and strength coach to help other people enjoy amazing levels of health and energy. He enjoys ticking through his list of life goals and meeting new people.
  • Andrea

    An apple a day… (and some sunshine) keeps the psychiatrist away.

    • Anonymous

      Love it, and yes, I would agree – especially on the sunshine part. Cheers

  • Jane Becker

    Chris, I live in Pennsylvania, USA. I have been told that from Nov. to March in the northern half of the US the sun does not rise far enough in the sky to produce Vit. D no matter how long you spend in the sun. Is this correct? In these months I take cod liver oil for the vit. D benefits.

    • Anonymous

      Hey Jane, great question. Pretty much, though if you are out there aplenty it will help – the cod liver oil a good idea. I would still push for the sun time as much as possible even in winter though – even if just for happiness. Have a read of this: http://christhekiwi.com/vitamin-d-action-plan/

  • Sherri Lynn

    I wonder if this has anything to do with the levels of aloe in the sun screen. I am sensitive to the sun, and any sunscreen that has aloe in it will cause me to blister horribly, not just burn. There are only two sunscreens made in this entire world in which I can actually use. those particular sunscreens actually stop me from turning into a lobster and I don’t end up with what is classified second degree burns.

    • Anonymous

      Hey Sherri – only go in the sun for as long as you can without burning WITHOUT any sunscreen :)

  • Andres

    Great article Chris. I have a quick question. You recommend to be in the sun before 11 and after 4. What if I want to go at 12-2pm what is your advice? Thanx a lot

    • Anonymous

      Hey mate. You can go anytime, just don’t over do it. Incremental is the key

      Chris Ashenden

  • Anonymous

    great post..as someone who is not melanin deprived :), I do follow the same prescription you give for getting out in the sun but clearly, i’m out there longer since I do need more Vitamin D…But, I do a very LIGHT covering of sunscreen and I end up being out at least 30 minutes a day during the summer. of course, when I start to feel like i’m sunburned (and folks with melanin *DO* get sunburned), I head in. simple. :)

    • Anonymous

      Hey mate – skip the sunscreen and only go in the sun for as long as you can without burning WITHOUT any sunscreen :)

  • Dan Townsend

    Hi Chris,
    You have talked a lot about vitamin D and the need to take a supplement if a
    person isn’t getting at least an hours’ worth of sunshine each day. My question
    is, how much of your skin needs to be exposed for the one hour per day to get
    the body to generate an adequate amount of vitamin D?

    • Anonymous

      hey Dan. sorry about the late reply. a good question, and there are a lot of variables. have a look at the great chart that my sister put together for our post on Vitamin D on this site

  • Geoffrey Graham

    ignore my previous unfinished email.

    Chris, I read with interest your comments.
    I compete in Ironman events, and with a very fair skin damaged from youthful exuberance I now find at the age of 61 I need to be careful.
    The three parts of ironamn training involving swimming, cycling and running means a lot of time in the sun. Coverin up to a dgree after a certain amount of time is sometimes feasible, but what about when racing?.The events mean I spend 12 hours in the sun-impossible to cover up so what can i put on my skin to protect me from excessive sunburn?

    • christhekiwi

      Hey Geoffrey,

      It is pretty hard. For the run you can experiment with running in a loose white shirt. Swimming is easy, just go full length suit and adjust thickness for temp. But on the bike it will be tough. I would try and chase a so called “total block” there are some beyond the zinc blocks that make this claim (such as Anthelios SX which claims uva and uvb blocking) – but realize you are playing with fire here mate. Crap chemicals on your skin plus extending periods in the sun WAY past when you should be out there. Your call of course. No easy answer.

  • Geoffrey Graham

    Chris, I read with interest yur commensts and they allmke sense.However.What do you recommente wheniyiyu have troi spedn a lot of timeoccasioanlly in the sun,past the sensibel time, and you can’t cover uop.

  • Jenn

    High Quality Cod Liver oil helps loads. Both my guy and I burn relatively easily because we are lax on & irregular about our consumption. However my 4 year old daughter can last hours in sun exposure without sunscreen and not burn. (She actually loves taking her FCLO) It’s pretty amazing. Especially because we are kind of a pale family.

  • Eugene

    Great post Chris, you’ve got yourself a new reader :)

    I think we’re on the same page regarding sun exposure, that’s the way I think about it as well.

    But I wanted to ask you something. What’s your opinion about moles? Maybe you came across some info in your extensive research. I have quite a lot of moles and I tend to stay out of the sun because of them. People with many moles have a higher risk of developing melanoma but should they avoid the sun completely?

    I am not really fair-skinned and I don’t burn that easily yet I still have tens of moles, probably genetic. I only get sun exposure before 10 AM. What’s the risk of a mole turning into a melanoma?

    • Anonymous

      Welcome Eugene!

      A high number of moles is a higher CORRELATIVE risk factor with melanoma.

      My prescription for you would be simple:

      Do not avoid the sun. The sun rocks. Vitamin D is awesome.
      Seek incremental sun exposure
      Never let yourself burn
      Get checked regularly by a dermatologist who can generate a mole map for you and track changes in your moles

      The only difference for someone with olive skin who rarely burns and has a high number of moles and someone with olive skin who rarely burns with a few or no moles is the attention and frequency of checking them regularly.

      Hope that helps!

  • Nlouise88

    Are you known as The Kiwi because you only come out at night ?

  • Sparlo

    Chris I am sure there are ethical/legal reasons for you to not mention the possible benefits of Athletic Greens in this debate but the antioxidant capacity of AG will also help to protect you from sun damage and free radicals that might promote skin cancer.
    That would be one thing that stands out to me in terms of the timeline you mentioned at the start of your post in relation to the increasing incidence of skin cancer. We as a population probably have the lowest levels of antioxidants in our diet than ever in history and the effect on skin cancer is just one more deadly knock on effect of this.
    Anecdotally, a lot of people notice that they burn much less when switching to a primal type diet from the Standard American Diet and it is my opinion that this is likely due to the increased amounts of veggies and fruits that you eat when you do that. So cleaning up your diet is one very important factor that you left out of your post Chris, probably because there is not the scientific evidence out there in peer reviewed journals to back it up but to me it is a no-brainer.

    • Anonymous

      Hey Sparlo,

      Well spotted and I agree 100%.

      I do believe eating adequate and varied amounts of anti-oxidants every day is a really good idea, not just for protection from the sun, but nearly every parameter of health. It should also be noted that those who adopt a more ancestral approach to eating also tend to get outdoors, walk in the sun, and seek to get some solid Vitamin D action, which should not be discounted.

      The reality is that I am extremely biased in favor of Athletic Greens, and really think it could help a lot of people. However, in the interest of presenting this as impartially as possible, I left out the Athletic Greens angle.

      In regards to anti-oxidant protection, there IS a bit of science there directly related to sunburn and even melanoma, but human nature being what it is, I would rather people utilized intelligent sun exposure (call it 99% of the puzzle), then got too carried away with the anti-oxidant angle.

      From a cancer angle, I cannot say anything as it relates to any supplement I am involved in, or the FDA will jump.

      Appreciate your comment mate



  • 5of8

    As is common with articles that attempt to convince the reader to go against mainstream science: the writer weaves in just enough good information (wear clothing, cover up) to make the reader think he is being reasonable, then tosses in some pathos to get the reader to think he is sincere (Aunty Lynn), and pads it with some scienticic jargon to make the reader think he really must know his stuff (pro-inflammatory n6:n3 loads).

    He attempts to use science while not being scientific enough, which pretty much cancels a lot of what he has to say. He presents his conclusions as scientific,[“(the studies) suggested that sunscreen use may actually increase the risk of CMM”], does not account for some obvious variables (who is exposed, time spent in the sun, diagnostic changes…), and totally ignores the fact that vitamin D deficiency has been recognised as a public health problem since the 1930s – long before sunscreen was in common use.

    What’s next? Climate change is a myth?

  • Desi

    This makes so much sense to me. I have an olive complexion and I never really burned as a kid. After all the sun scare stuff I started wearing sunscreen everyday and now I can’t be in the sun for more than 10 min or so without burning. I thought this seemed so counter intuitive. I was recently told that we produce less melanin as we age. Do you know if this is true?

    I’ve been doing your morning walks to earn my half cup of coffee sans sunscreen and I have noticed a difference. I’ve been looking for a good long sleeved white sun shirt. I think that and being smart about my exposure is my new plan. I love the sun, so this is like music to my ears.

    • Anonymous

      Great stuff Desi. Incremental, intelligent doses the key

  • Pamelahull

    Good article and basic advice of moderation is best. Just one comment that another reason that skin cancers have increased in recent decades is because of tanning booths — ARTIFICIAL sunlight! Yuck, how can that sound like a good idea to anyone?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZW54SJWU35LAWVUX3BN2JY2JDM Tymothy

    Great info Chris, as a fairly avid golfer with a fair complexion any ideas on what would help prevent burning when I spend 4-5 hours in the Texas sun 4-5 times a week. I was thinking of adding one of the oral sun protection supplements to my daily Athletic Greens and Omega3; (they use some type of fern extract) to provide about a 3-5 SPF.

    • Anonymous

      Hey Tymothy,

      Thanks mate.

      If this is what you want to do I would rather you

      1. got some pretty decent incremental sun exposure in earlier in the morning and in the early evening. Goal: increased tolerance to sun exposure – be aware of the SCC and BCC and potentially aging aspects if you overdo this.

      2. ideally played golf at those earlier times too

      3. covered yourself as much as you can if you are out in the sun longer than that or during other times

      Long sleeve breathable tops, decent hat (shouldn’t be a problem in texas), and some breathable trousers and you should be off to the races.

      The best “spf” is your bodies own tolerance to the sun, brought about by exposure plus genetics. I recommend you never burn, even if that means you tell your golfing mates to play earlier or later.

      Check out the response I wrote re the Masaii in another comment on this post.


  • Jewel

    you speak truth! our bodies were designed for our environment to include exposure to the sun <3. moderation too is critical in nearly all we expose our bodies to. some skin cancers are also related to many additional factors such as free radicals (gramps and his chew causing cancer up into his nose) that destroy…thankfully i consume Athletic Greens to help mitigate my biochemical imbalances ;)

  • Meegee632002

    Thank you so much for all the research you do and the straight forward you provide, your information is so valuable !! I have had per cancerous spots removed and my Dr. Gave me the finger wag about sunscreen and how much I needed it daily before leaving the house, so I did as i was told . Then i realized the affected areas were not healing, my brother mentioned sunscreen being poison, so I decided to stop using it and guess what? The areas where the per cancerous spots were removed healed in a matter of days! Again I thank you for pushing aside all the medical mumbo jumbo and getting to the easy to read facts!!! Thank you !!!!!! Now off to play in the sun ( in moderation of course)
    Peace and happiness to you Kiwi!!!!

    • Anonymous

      You are welcome mate! :)

  • Anonymous

    What about Bioastin astaxanthin as an antioxidant to help stay in the sun longer?

    • @CJ_NZ

      Chris does suggest gettingl ots of anti-oxidents, off which this is meant to be one of the best for sun. I know Tim Ferris has does tests on this as he meantioned it in one of his videos.

      Would be interested in Chris’s opinion but my toughts are it can only help but still listen to you body to know when it is time to take shade.

      • Anonymous

        CJ has it right. Listen to your body and leave the sun well before your body starts to burn. Can antioxidants assist in your body’s response to oxidative damage? Yes, it would appear so. Would that help with protecting against oxidative damage from UVA rays? Probably. I would go for a wide range of antioxidants in your diet. Play with herbs, spices, and vegetable varieties. If you want to stay in the sun longer, steadily increasing your sun exposure without getting burned is the key. As you tan up gently, the increased melanin production will allow your body to stay in the sun longer. Flip side, is that beyond a certain point with this approach the extra sun time may age you faster. Your call. Just get out there in the sun, and don’t get burned!

  • Maggie

    Any comments on the use of coconut oil as a natural sunscreen? I believe I’ve read about it in an article a

    • Anonymous

      Sunscreen? No. Skin moisturizer yes.

    • http://www.supersavingsblog.blogspot.com/ Mara @ Super Savings

      I recently read that coconut oil has an SPF of 4, which I found very interesting. I can’t remember where I saw that though, so you’d have to do some research to see if that’s valid.

  • Mssuzanne

    This make perfect sence to me ! I have stopped using sunscreen for years. I am always tanner than my friends and I’m pretty happy too. I don’t lay out in the sun to tan but I do swim, bike, hike, and garden. I’m outside a lot and cover up when necessary. My Dad goes to the beach everyday and has for 20 years. He stays for two and a half hours. He is very dark, 75 years old, very happy, and no sign of skin cancer.

    • Anonymous

      Good stuff mate!

  • Donna

    I live in the northern US and do not get many days of sun, lots of cloudy/rainy days. Sometimes I go out on a cloudy day without sunscreen and end up sunburned. Did I get any vit D?
    We try to take vacations to sunny places to get more sunshine and either wear more sunscreen to avoid sunburn or end up sunburned. Any suggestions on a better strategy?

    • Anonymous

      Hey Donna. The short answer is that you chose to live that far north, so you are going to have to choose to work pretty hard on getting outdoors with a great deal of frequency. If you don’t get much sun, then suddenly go on holiday and over do it, you are at the HIGHEST RISK OF MELANOMA. So my strategy is the same for everyone. Don’t get burned, ever. Seek continual sun exposure throughout the year. Even in winter, get outside as often as you can. Our bodies can store Vitamin D for a period.

  • debny

    I am a pale white woman, who has been avoiding the sun for decades now. Prior to that, I sun-burned and had sun poisoning more times than I care to remember. So, I finally bought into the “Sun=bad” idea, and while I hate sun-screen, I resorted to using either like 50 block, or I just don’t go in the sun. Well, guess what? I recently was diagnosed as being vitamin D deficient. They discovered this, while testing for other stuff because I am suddenly having all kinds of other health issues. My weight is definitely a factor. Not saying anything other than the Vit D is related to my lack of sun… but then again, who knows? I do know that this article came at a perfect time for me because I was really confused by the whole, “sun is bad, but you need more vitamin D” concept. I should have known my father (who loved the sun and always made me jealous because he NEVER burned) was right. Sun is not bad. Just need to be smart about it. Duh.

    On a side not, I just recently started Isabel’s Beyond Diet program, and while I’m a little overwhelmed with all the info and new material – it’s all good! Really enjoying your e-book “Read This Or Die”, and articles like this. So thanks!

    • Anonymous

      Great stuff Debny!

      The sun is your friend, just be smart about it. You got it :)

  • Allen MacDiarmid

    I recently had my annual dermatology exam and when the primary doctor got done inspecting my body for basal cell carcinomas and other nasties (none found), his manager came in and instantly made a sarcastic comment that my tan was not healthy. I told her, “Sunburn causes cancer, sunscreen causes cancer, sunshine prevents cancer!” She was not amused. I was not impressed. I am afraid she gets her information from her sunscreen salesman but I didn’t ask.

  • harry

    Do you have any recommendations for surfers that want to spend around 2 hours at a time in the sun? covering the body is easy with a rashy or shirt though the face and legs are problem areas for me.

    • Anonymous

      Best option is a tie down hat, you see them a fair bit on the northern beaches in Sydney, where the sun is really strong.

      In terms of lotion, you are probably going to have to go a full block zinc. Even better, just don’t go out when the sun is at full strength, go earlier or later.

      • Max Houtzager

        so the zinc sunscreens that block uva and dont contain said toxic ingredients are the way to go for outdoor sorts?

        • Anonymous

          Hey Max. The way to go for outdoor sorts during the hottest summer months is: 1. try and do the bulk of your outdoor stuff earlier and later in the day when the sun is weaker. 2. If you still need to be outdoors, cover up with clothing once you have had your sun quota.

          Not even the Masai of Kenya who are black-skinned and grow up living in the sun bother to do much activity outside under the sun during the peak of the day. Nor do any other indigenous people with black skin that I am aware of in any kind of hot weather. It is common sense. I think it is pretty obvious that paler skinned folks should cover up or seek shade in the peak of the day BEFORE their skin has had enough.

          So try and train earlier or later mate. Shade or clothing when sun dose is done. That means head protection and long sleeved shirt. If you are going to play with some sort of sunscreen, then do so at your own risk. It would appear that zinc oxide is relatively non toxic. However, long term safety of the mineral based nano particles going directly on the skin is completely unknown. They thought the titanium dioxide was perfectly safe too until someone decided to experiment with mice.

          Your call mate. I would just get out of there, or go hat/long sleeved shirt. Let your sun tolerance build up naturally with incremental dosing. There is no real reason for you to be regularly training during the hottest part of the day in the sun either since you have the power to organize around it.

      • harry

        cheers Mr Kiwi,
        not so bad at home as its usually cold enough to wear a wetsuit though when I get the chance to go to indo again I will use zinc as the hats make me feel like I cant surface if I wipe out.
        any recommendations for good zinc to use?

        • christhekiwi

          Stay away from the nano ones, long term risk really unknown. Make sure you tan up with steadily increasing sun exposure before you go as much as you can to increase your UV tolerance time when you get there

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