Sun protection goes further than finding the right sunscreen. Learn why protecting yourself from the inside out is smart from Emilia Javorsky, Ph.D., an expert who has done the research on a fern-based oral photoprotection.
This weekend I witnessed a most interesting phenomenon – a man in his 70s literally running from the sun to hide on a 50-degree day.
As much as I was trying to get INto the sun, craving it in every cell for its Vitamin D boost, mood balancing effect and the 5 degrees of warmth that helped make the outing much more pleasant, he was finding shade at every opportunity.
He visits his dermatologist a few times a year to have awful-sounding treatments for actinic keratosis, which he is told will happen in fair-skinned people who have had at least one bad sunburn in their life (he had many as a kid!).
I found it interesting that he didn’t wear a hat if he’s that afraid of the sun. It took some prodding for him to agree to put some excellent tinted facial sunscreen on his forehead – I had some in my pocket because, you know, we’ve reviewed over 100 brands of natural mineral sunscreen to find the best one!
I tried to explain about this fascinating interview with a skin expert, but I’m not sure he wants to listen to anyone other than his dermatologist. That’s fine with me, no skin off my nose, BUT if you happen to be the type of person who desires to learn about health from many avenues, I think you’ll find this interview fascinating as well.
The major lesson that I took from the conversation is that the sun is not evil-to-be-avoided. People say negative things to me about the sun all the time, especially this one: “All sun tans are skin damage! You shouldn’t have color at all or your skin is hurting!”
True. And false.
A suntan is potentially sun damage, but we have to imagine a balance scale:
On the left with sun exposure will be variables like:
- time of day of sun expsorue
- # of minutes in the sun
- latitude and altitude, both of which affect the sun’s intensity
- sunscreen used
On the right with your body, we have to include:
- natural skin tone (fair-skinned folks have less tolerance for the sun)
- antioxidants you consume in your diet
- quality of fats in your diet
- “base tan” which truly is protection from the sun!
I think of a tan as more like red wine (health benefits depend on exposure) than processed sugar (always, always bad for you with no health benefits beyond your tongue – even sucanat is not much healthier than white sugar):
- a glass of red wine = antioxidants, relaxation, for most people, no ill side effects
- 10 glasses of red wine = drunkenness, liver disease, hangover, etc.!
A well-placed tan that your body can recover from based on its natural protective qualities is helpful, not harmful. Too much sun exposure and/or a body composition that can’t recover is, of course, carcinogenic and causes a burn, neither of which is desirable.
You can improve anything on either side of the balance scale to make sun exposure healthier for your body, and we’ll dig into the details in the interview!
Expert Skin Care Interview: Sun Protection from the Inside Out
If you’re not a video watcher, use these notes to get the gist and check the video for anything you want more details about. 🙂
Intro: Dr. Javorsky is a dermatologist and a Harvard graduate. Dr. Javorsky researched a variety of sunscreens while attending college and found the shortcomings of traditional sunscreen. Her passion is to find natural, non-toxic solutions that also protect our skin. She is also launching a new product called Sundots, which we will dig deeper into later in the interview.
Be sure to use the coupon code PARTNER20 for 20% off your first order!!!
What’s your background in medicine and health? How did you get interested in sun protection? (2:35)
- 2:44 – Dr. Javorsky originally started out in public health doing research before pursuing her career in dermatology. Her interest in sun care started here as it was a huge public health problem.
- 3:12 – Upon entering medical school, Dr. Javorsky started doing research at Harvard, and developed a full passion for sun protection.
- 4:14 – Instead of becoming a practicing dermatologist, Dr. Javorsky, decided to pursue the path of research and to develop new healthy products to protect skin.
Let’s start with the skin – basic intro: what’s the job of our skin, and how does it protect us? (5:04)
- 5:28 – How our body interacts with the outside world.
1. Immune Function – protection against germs
2. Aides in body temperature regular
3. Surrogate to our overall health – things that show up on the skin are a good indicator of overall health.
- 6:58 – More skin cancer is being reported in the last 20-30 years. Eczema is also more of an issue than previously. Eczema, allergies and asthma are often found to have correlation.
- 7:15 – Theories on why eczema is on the rise. Environmental factors have played a role in this. They have not yet fully determined what is causing the rise in eczema.
- 9:28 – Try to use clean of products in our lives and on our bodies as much as possible to combat these skin conditions.
Advantages and disadvantages of sun in our lives
What exactly does the sun DO to our skin that is so damaging? (10:14)
- 10:44 – Bad side: skin cancer and aging. These are really the effects of the same kind of damage on your skin.“The single best anti-aging you can do is to protect yourself from the sun.”
- 11:34 – The UV rays (UVA – minor role in skin cancer and UVB-major driver in skin cancer as well as skin aging). It is suspected that light we see can also play a role in skin aging.
- 12:06 – Dr. Javorsky explains here how the sun affects our skin (scientifically via oxidated damage which damages our DNA).
- 12:48 – The benefits of the sun: Seasonal Affective Disorder and eficiency. Sunlight on your skin is the best way to generate Vitamin D (15-20 minutes of sun exposure to get what is needed for the body – a bit more for darker skin).
- 14:16 – Even when we apply sunscreen we often do not apply it correctly. Dr. Javorsky explains the right way to apply here. Are you applying enough, often enough?
- 15:30 – Other sources of Vitamin D that you can get for your body (fortified foods and supplements). Here’s the Vitamin D supplement we use –
- 15:49 – Test your Vitamin D levels to ensure you are at the right level for your body. Vitamin D accumulates in the body so be wary of Vitamin D toxicity.
- 16:28 – Do fortified foods really help with the levels of Vitamin D in the body? It gives you some benefit but it will not meet your full Vitamin D requirements. Not all forms of Vitamin D are created equal.
- 17:21 – What is the right number to test for when testing your Vitamin D level? Not all recommended daily values are the same either. Dr. Javorsky explains why here.
- 19:32 -Testing for Vitamin D (ZRT labs has a home testing kit).
- 20:02 – Side effects of low Vitamin D: fatigue, bone health, skin and hair changes, the role of Vitamin D in many diseases.
More on how to get enough Vitamin D HERE, even when the sun isn’t sufficient (hello, Michigan!!).
Outside Protection: Mineral Sunscreen
How does sunscreen protect us from that damage? (23:03)
- 23:15 – Mineral sunscreens are the best. They keep the free radicals from even forming and start doing the bad chemistry to your body. It prevents the damage from happening in the first place.
Let’s talk mineral sunscreen vs. conventional creams – can you briefly explain the difference and if one is optimal over the other, and why? (24:13)
- 23:35 – Mineral sunscreen vs conventional creams – how they protect our bodies differently.
- 24:57 – Chemical sunscreens: absorb the light so the chemical reactions are all happening on the surface of your skin. Mineral sunscreens act as a shield and reflect it back.
- 25:39 – Why does conventional sunscreen need to be applied 20 minutes prior to sun exposure and does it still affect our skin? Damage can be done to the skin even without the sun when applying these products. Endocrine disruptors family.
- 27:13 – Being aware of the effects of our sunscreen on the environment. Hawaii is banning all sunscreens with oxybenzone to protect marine life and coral reefs. Read more about Hawaii’s awesome steps HERE.
Sunburn Recovery Strategies (& a Dose of Grace I Appreciate)
Sunscreen doesn’t always work perfectly, we have imperfect application, we wash it off and forget to reapply, or we just don’t think we’ll be out long enough – and then we get burned. What can we do when sunscreen fails to help our skin recover? (28:38)
- 29:42 – Many products listed to have SPF in them. Such as daily moisturizers, make-up, etc. It is important to remember that you need a lot of the product to actually get the SPF listed on the product.
- 30:18 – What to do if you do get burned?
1. Keep your skin cool and moist -use aloe vera.
2. If you are blistering do not pick at the skin.
3. If it is blistering also it is suggested that you see your doctor.
4. Stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids.
5. Don’t beat yourself up about it just try to remember next time.
- 31:53 – Sun damage is caused more by daily factors of exposure than that one day you burned at the beach. Focus on those daily exposures to help protect and prevent permanent damage.
- 34:49 – Should you apply sunscreen every time you go for a walk, even if it is short? Yes. Wear sunscreen every day to help protect your skin.
- Find a daily moisturizer with SPF – click the link for SAFE ones.
- 37:11 – Sun tans: are they skin damage or are they protective to your skin?
- 37:45 – Dr. Javorsky sees it as damage to the skin but a tan does help to protect your skin further later on. It is still better to protect your skin in the first place with a mineral sunscreen.
I’ve shared many natural ways to heal a sunburn before as well.
Internal Sun Protection: Sundots
Your new product, Sundots, is pretty fascinating. Tell us how it helps bolster our sun protection from the inside out. Is there anything else wise humans should do as part of their total sun protection repertoire? (39:35)
- 39:52 – Created from a fern extract which helps to protect the skin against UVA and UVB light. It has been used for over 30 years in Europe to help protect skin.
- 40:12 – How the fern extract works is the compound from the fern is rich in antioxidants. It protects your skin deal with the damages as the sun comes at it.
- 43:12 – Sundots come as a gummy so they are friendly for all ages. They are organic, vegan and have no artificial colors.
Be sure to use the coupon code PARTNER20 for 20% off your first order!!!
Internal Sun Protection: Foods we Eat
We know that foods have a huge impact on our health. I’ve recommended foods that fight cancer and foods that are good for women’s health before, but what about the skin? Beyond our skin, can we do anything via diet to give our bodies a boost in our sun protective ability? (43:32)
- 43:52 – Foods that will boost skin health include: lycopene (found in tomato paste), antioxidant-rich foods that possess carotene, broccoli extract. Studies have mainly looked at the extracts and not the consumption of the actual food.
- 45:05 – Research may not show via solid evidence that the consumption of the food will protect you from skin damage but these foods are also very good for our health so they should be in everyone’s diet.
- Find Sundots here.
- 49:28 – Are sunblock clothes good? Great idea for prolonged exposure to the sun. UPF – similar to SPF for rating clothing.
- 51:00 – Summary of the Sundots and the use of the fern. The fern was used mainly as a tea for inflammation.
Too much to look through right now?
I organized alllll the sunscreens we reviewed in their recommendation category – one page at-a-glance to find out what is safe to buy AND works! Print it or save to your phone for reference!
The guide also includes answers to questions people ask me all the time:
- Which brand rubs in the clearest?
- What’s the best for all day outdoor sports?
- How do I save money on natural sunscreens?
- What looks good on ladies’ faces?
- Is there an option that is FAST to apply to wiggly kids?
I’ll send a copy to your email so you can see it right away and find it again later!