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Should You Use Sunscreen?

Deciding whether or not to use sunscreen, or which sunscreen to use, is a hot topic among the health conscious community these days. After all, most varieties are full of toxic chemicals, so why would you want to use sunscreen liberally on your skin? To address this, many “all-natural” alternatives have sprung up on the market. Consumers can still use sunscreen without feeling guilty!

Or can they?

Should You Use Sunscreen?

It’s been drilled into us from childhood: “You better use sunscreen or you’ll get a terrible burn, get skin cancer, and die!” With such a significant push to use sunscreen coming from doctors, parents, teachers, and even peers, it’s truly amazing that anyone would question whether or not it’s safe to use sunscreen, particularly the “all-natural” products.

But I do.

Why? First and foremost, it has to do with Vitamin D. Vitamin D is synthesized in your skin when the skin is exposed sunlight, and the vast majority of us are deficient in Vitamin D. What does that matter? Well, insufficient levels of vitamin D can result in all kinds of maladies, including osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, birth complications, depression, low libido, and (shockingly!) even cancer!

What’s that? Vitamin D helps prevent cancer? Yet, when you use sunscreen, you block your skin’s ability to synthesize Vitamin D. So, does it follow that if you use sunscreen, you’re increasing your risk of cancer?

It has been known for several years that sun exposure might have a beneficial effect on certain cancers. A 1999 publication of the National Institute of Health (NIH) entitled Atlas of Cancer Mortality in the United States revealed that among caucasians in the United States, cancer mortality for several prominent cancers, including cancer of the breast, prostate and colon, shows a striking latitudinal gradient. Specifically, people living in northern states have much higher rates of these cancers than those residing in the southern states.

The reason for this? Northern states get a whole lot less sunshine than southern states.

As early as 1990 it was proposed that vitamin D, which is synthesized in the skin upon exposure to UV light, might be the agent that accounts for these geographical patterns. (Garland et al. 1990) Less exposure to sunshine means less production of vitamin D. It is known that calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D3, has multiple cellular affects that could confer protection against cancer. The ability to convert the precursor to vitamin D to the active form of D3 (calcitriol) is greatly reduced at northern latitudes, and populations living far from the equator are at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency during the winter months. (Tangpricha et al. 2002)

Even more significant may be the observation that patients with malignant melanoma exhibit low levels of vitamin D3 in their blood, and that others have a problem with the receptor for vitamin D. (Hutchinson et al. 2000; Green et al. 1983) The incidence of melanoma of the skin on sites of the body intermittently exposed to sunlight is reduced among outdoor workers compared with indoor workers. (Elwood et al. 1985)

All of this points to a protective role for vitamin D against cancer in general, and melanoma in particular. But the final nail in the coffin of the “sunlight causes melanoma” hypothesis is this:

A comprehensive review of research studies from 1966 through 2003 failed to show any association between melanoma and sunscreen use! (Dennis et al. 2003)

Say what? Sunscreen doesn’t prevent skin cancer, that’s what.

(source)

(For more on this, read: Does Sunscreen Prevent Skin Cancer?)

But, you ask, can’t you get Vitamin D from your food? Is it really necessary to expose your skin to the sun’s harmful UV rays to get sufficient levels of Vitamin D?

Well, let’s think about that for a moment. Vitamin D is only present in large amounts in certain kinds of seafood, and the highest sources for Vitamin D in food are anglerfish liver, cow’s blood, and fermented cod liver oil. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been eating large amounts of anglerfish liver or cow’s blood recently.

Next, I would like to question whether the sun’s UV rays are actually all that “harmful.” UVB, for example, is responsible for interacting with the cholesterol in our skin to produce Vitamin D. Sounds super beneficial to me! And while it’s true that excessive exposure to UVA rays can cause sunburns or premature “aging,” even those effects can be mitigated by a proper diet.

Let me tell you a story.

It’s my own story. I am fair-skinned, and I grew up knowing that a sunburn was just a half hour away if I didn’t use sunscreen. It has always been true. True, at least, until I changed my diet to Real Foods: only eating wild/pastured/grass-fed animals, drinking raw milk from grass-fed cows, and switching to healthier, more traditional fats. I even started taking daily doses of fermented cod liver oil.

Then I noticed a change. I’d go out in the sun, get flushed pink, and be certain that a bad burn would soon follow. It never did. Instead, the pink flush would calmly turn into a light tan.

How can food do this? How can it help prevent sunburns?

Well, remember how UVB interacts with the cholesterol and fats in your skin’s cells to help create Vitamin D? I’m no scientist, but this seems like a worthy hypothesis to test: If that balance of fats in your skin is off, then does it follow that the sun’s UV rays will interact differently with your skin’s cells?

One of the primary benefits of switching to a diet of Real Foods is that you also return to a much more traditional balance of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats. In traditional cultures, that ratio was anywhere between 1:1 and 3:1, and studies have shown that when it goes above 4:1 we start to experience negative consequences to our health. Thanks to corn-based industrialized agriculture and food products (corn has an Omega 6:3 ratio of 46:1), the average American is eating a ratio between 17:1 and 30:1!

And, according to a study published in The American Health Foundation Journal:

Epidemiological, experimental, and mechanistic data implicate omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) as stimulator’s and long-chain omega-3 PUFAs as inhibitors of development and progression of a range of human cancers, including melanoma.

(source)

In other words, a diet based on Real Food (a diet rich in Omega-3s and with considerably less Omega-6s) can help prevent a range of human cancers, including deadly skin cancers like melanoma.

To Use Sunscreen Or Not To Use Sunscreen

For myself and my family, we haven’t used sunscreen in years. We prevent sunburns by getting a diet rich in the proper fats and supplementing with extra fermented cod liver oil (FCLO) when we know we’re going to have prolonged sun exposure. (We also take extra FCLO during the winter months, when we know our sun exposure will be limited and that we need an extra good source of Vitamin D to make up for the lack of sunshine.) If we know we’ll be spending all day in the sun, we’re sure to wear hats. But that’s about it.

If you’re interested in starting to take fermented cod liver oil, check out the listings on my Resources page for some smokin’ good deals. FLCO comes in a variety of flavors and forms, including capsules for those who don’t think they could just swallow straight oil.

What about you? Do you use sunscreen? Have you experimented with taking extra fermented cod liver oil, or having a more traditional balance of fats in your diet? How’s that working out for you?

(photo by kevinomara)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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269 Responses to Should You Use Sunscreen?
  1. Rosie_Kate
    May 13, 2010 | 11:20 am

    I have noticed the same phenomenon. Since I started using CLO (and more recently, FCLO), and eating lots and lots of good fats, I don’t burn easily or badly at all. I used to get terrible burns over and over every summer. Now I might get a very light burn, but never enough to bother me. The only time I’m really careful is if I’m going to be in the sun all day without any cover. I’m more likely to burn then and may use some sunscreen in that case.
    .-= Rosie_Kate´s last blog post …Sometimes I Forget… =-.

    • KristenM
      May 13, 2010 | 4:34 pm

      Rosie,

      I, like you, get perhaps one super-light burn each year. And it’s usually not painful. AND it’s usually when I’ve been:

      ~ out in the sun all day with no cover at all, and
      ~ eating crap foods (yes, even I eat crap foods when they’re convenient on vacations, etc.)

  2. Rachael
    May 13, 2010 | 11:52 am

    I use sunscreen, b/c I only need to think about the sun and I burn. But that does require some qualification. I have always lived in the south (think sunny days 340 in a year), love the outdoors, worked as a lifeguard and swim teacher for 7 years and have an abundance of freckles. However, I rarely/never use any over SPF 15, and once I’ve used that for a week or two in the sun, I can switch to SPF 4 to stave off sunburns while getting a light tan (of course, a tan for me is the not-been-in-the-sun-for-years coloring for my sister). I don’t put sunscreen on every day, though, only on days I’m going to be in the sun, in the heat of the day, for 30 minutes or more. I always wear a hat, even for short times out, and try for long sleeves (but sometimes just too hot). A side note: I’ve burned through clothes before, too.

    I love the sun; I’d worship it if I didn’t know better. I’m only 32 and I’ve already got a few freckles I’m keeping an eye on or I’ve asked the doctor about. But I try to be reasonable and not fear the sun. I love its effect on me, on my beloved plants and my darling cat. I figure a balance is what is needed, a little sunscreen, a little caution, a lot of water to drink, a schmear of sunscreen occasionally.
    .-= Rachael´s last blog post …The End Cometh =-.

    • KristenM
      May 13, 2010 | 4:36 pm

      Rachael,

      So, do you eat a traditional/healthy balance of fats or supplement with FCLO?

  3. Jessie
    May 13, 2010 | 11:59 am

    My husband and I don’t bother with anything but hats and sensible clothing. I have found that as we’ve been eating better, as you said, I’ll get some pink, but it never hurts, and it fades within a day.

    For our one-year-old, we do hats, but we don’t usually spend long stretches of time outdoors. I’m going to start giving her FCLO because we’re going to the lake next month. I also bought some mineral sunscreen, but I think we’ll use it sparingly. (Probably just if we’ll be on the water for a long time.) I don’t know how easily she’ll burn, and if the baby ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
    .-= Jessie´s last blog post …Good Thing I’ve Got a Big Garage =-.

    • KristenM
      May 13, 2010 | 4:38 pm

      Sounds like a plan to me!

      One thing to note: my kids are 5 and 3, don’t use sunscreen, and neither’s gotten a burn — even after spending ALL DAY in the sun, at the water, etc. Of course, they have better tans than me, too, since they play outside for several hours a day.

  4. Christy
    May 13, 2010 | 1:04 pm

    Interesting. Most of my children are very fair, like me. I have rarely put sunscreen on them or myself. When I go to my parents’ who have a pool I get all sorts of flack “they are going to burn if you don’t slather them in SPF 50″. My mom scared my youngest, she thought her flushed skin from running around was a sunburn and she came in crying “I’m burnt, I’m burnt….I MUST.HAVE.SUNSCREEN!” It took awhile to calm her down. Thanks Mom!
    Will have to share this information.
    .-= Christy´s last blog post …Q is for Q-Tips =-.

    • KristenM
      May 13, 2010 | 4:38 pm

      I so identify! But my mysterious nay-sayers shall remain publicly nameless. :)

  5. Erin L.
    May 13, 2010 | 1:55 pm

    I’m wondering about all the info I’ve heard stating sun exposure causes premature aging of the skin. I don’t really want that either. Thoughts, anyone?

    • KristenM
      May 13, 2010 | 4:45 pm

      It’s the UVA rays that cause premature aging. Dr. Mercola’s said on a number of occasions that when you get that healthy pink flush, it’s good to cover up or go inside because after that’s the “tipping point” — the point where you’re not able to synthesize any more Vitamin D and all that UVA simply works to age the skin. I also remember that for a good long while (assuming that you’ve got the right balance of fats/cholesterol in your skin cells) the UVA and UVB kind of balance each other out — each countering the others’ effects. So, that further confirms the idea that for a while at least, those UVBs help you synthesize Vitamin D and they ALSO counter the action of the UVAs.

      Knowing this, if you care about premature aging, perhaps you could just make sure you go out in the sun — uncovered and in the middle of the day — until you reach that “tipping point” and THEN put on the all-natural sunscreen, extra clothes, or seek out shade.

      • Fruitypuds
        May 15, 2010 | 7:43 am

        Mercola also claims that most sunscreens are largely UVB blockers, which let a disproportionate amount of UVA through and can have a detrimental effect on vitamin D absorption. http://tinyurl.com/6ylhl5

  6. Jo
    May 13, 2010 | 2:06 pm

    Great post..
    I’m a right now working on a blog post about “eating” your sunscreen instead…..People think I am nuts for not using sunscreen..

    Jo

  7. Cara @ Health Home and Happiness
    May 13, 2010 | 2:42 pm

    I’ve only used sunscreen on my 3-1/2 year old once, when we were on a long hike and she was on my back. I didn’t even know about CLO back then, that might have worked too. I keep sunscreen in the diaper bag just in case, but I haven’t had to use it in the past couple years.
    .-= Cara @ Health Home and Happiness´s last blog post …Fried Chicken- Homemade and Kid Friendly =-.

  8. Beauty_Editor
    May 13, 2010 | 2:57 pm

    Great article on the truth about sunscreens. RT @realfoodmedia New post: Should You Use Sunscreen? http://bit.ly/9b13YY

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  9. Lovelyn
    May 13, 2010 | 4:48 pm

    Good article. My husband and I were just talking about this the other day. He’s extremely pale and used to burn very easily, but he hasn’t gotten a burn in a long time. He stopped wearing sunscreen a year ago because of all the junk in it. I thought he wasn’t getting burned because he’s been using the lotion I make with coconut oil and shea butter. I remember reading somewhere that they both provide some natural sun protection. I never thought of diet playing a part though. Thanks for the information.
    .-= Lovelyn´s last blog post …Crazy Busy =-.

    • KristenM
      May 13, 2010 | 6:33 pm

      I sometimes use coconut oil for sun protection, too. Its SPF is 5, I think?

    • Aly
      June 18, 2010 | 4:13 pm

      Just curious… Does anyone think that the oils/fats in the coconut and shea butter absorbing into your skin could help prevent sunburns also? Are they also “good fats”?

      Very interesting article. I haven’t heard of this before now…

  10. aurelia
    May 13, 2010 | 5:01 pm

    I haven’t used sunscreen in years. I work long days outside in July and August so I spend time sunning myself in the spring to build up a tan.

    In the summer I always have a hat and long sleeves available if I start to pink up.

  11. Lori
    May 13, 2010 | 5:19 pm

    Very interesting post! I’ve always questioned the overuse of sunscreen because of the connection with decreased vitamin D production. This is the first I’ve ready about all the connections with the omega 3s and diet. I’m really enjoying learning from everyone’s comments and experiences going without it. Once again, modern food seems to be the problem as it is with most health issues these days.
    .-= Lori´s last blog post …The Benefits of Food Blogging =-.

    • KristenM
      May 13, 2010 | 6:34 pm

      It’s amazing how many things come back to diet, isn’t it?

  12. Nicole D
    May 13, 2010 | 6:18 pm

    My kids and I don’t ever use sunscreen, and we never get burnt. I used to get very burnt in college when I was existing on coffee and fake-cheese fries, but now that my diet is better I never have a problem. My kids are little too: a toddler and a baby. Supposedly babies burn, but that hasn’t been my experience at all. Sometimes we use a hat to keep the sun off our head, but that’s it…. and mostly so we don’t walk around squinting at the zoo.
    .-= Nicole D´s last blog post …No, I’m not pregnant… =-.

    • Nicole D
      May 13, 2010 | 6:19 pm

      well, that’s weird. I didn’t intend for it to add that little last blurb about my blog. sorry.

      • KristenM
        May 13, 2010 | 6:22 pm

        Not weird at all. It’s the CommentLuv feature I’ve got enabled at this site. So, if you enter a web address, it’ll automatically share your last blog post title unless you tell it not to. :) I’m sure you’ve noticed it at the end of others’ comments!

    • KristenM
      May 13, 2010 | 6:35 pm

      Fake cheese fries! WOW. That brings me back. My kids never burned when babies, either — even when I let them lay around naked in the sun while I did stuff in the yard.

  13. taryn kae wilson
    May 13, 2010 | 6:48 pm

    I am so glad that you wrote about this!
    My husband and I changed our diet to real foods and we don’t get burned anymore. (We both grew up getting burned a lot.) Last summer we began laying out in the earlier morning or later afternoon sun for about 20 minutes a day for as often as we could, to get our daily Vitamin D. Since we were laying out when the sun was not so intense, we slowly built up tans and didn’t need to worry about burning. It was great.
    I don’t feel good about sunscreen. If I am going to be out in the middle of the day, I might wear a hat. And I completely agree with you about the effect of diet on sunburns. I had a feeling that healthy fats would protect us against this, glad for the affirmation.
    Thanks for posting!

  14. mwidner
    May 13, 2010 | 7:01 pm

    Is there a connection between diet & sunburns? RT @FoodRenegade: I *knew* I wasn’t alone in saying goodbye to sunscreen: http://su.pr/1FQDdY

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  15. Virginia
    May 13, 2010 | 7:55 pm

    Since I got my kids on the real food bandwagon just a little late, they don’t eat the best well rounded real food diet. It’s hit or miss. I also can’t get them to take FCLO, even the Green Pastures flavors, but they will take Carlson’s Lemon flavored. I hope that’s better than nothing!

    Sooo….I rely on the EWG’s sunscreen guide (http://www.ewg.org/whichsunscreensarebest/2009report) and use Badger’s SPF w/bug repellent. It’s all natural, local to me, and uses zinc. So far we like it!
    .-= Virginia´s last blog post …New Roots Farm Open Greenhouse =-.

  16. cherapple
    May 13, 2010 | 7:59 pm

    Should You Use Sunscreen? | Food Renegade http://bit.ly/9jyF5k An interesting take on the effects of one’s diet on sun burns.

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  17. Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE
    May 13, 2010 | 8:04 pm

    We have noticed the same thing. Since we started taking cod liver oil and eating meat and dairy from grass-fed animals, we don’t burn (or if we do it’s very slight and it takes a long time for it to happen) — and we never use sunscreen.

    When we went to Palm Springs for Spring Break this year, my 3-year-old didn’t use any sunscreen and she didn’t burn. Like you said, she turned pink but it turned into a tan. I love her little bathing suit tan lines now!
    .-= Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE´s last blog post …New Podcast: Finding Safe Organic Beauty Products with Joanna Runciman =-.

  18. Jenn
    May 13, 2010 | 8:25 pm

    This is a hard one for me as my mom was diagnosed with Melanoma and I’m somewhat vain.
    I’ve thought about not using it for years and most of the time I don’t except when I’m going to be in the sun for an extended period which I consider an hour or longer. I don’t know about the cancer but I will say that I have very few fine lines and not even one wrinkle (and I live in southern CA). I’ve seen girls 10 years plus younger than me who have much deeper lines. It’s vain, I know, but I’m not perfect and it’s one of my hangups. I don’t want to look 20 forever but I want to look damn good for my age. ;-) I definitely attribute my smooth skin to hats, long sleeves, and yes sunscreen on occasion. I do agree about the vitamin d but since we rarely have a cloudy day I’m pretty certain I get enough.
    .-= Jenn´s last blog post …Strong Man. =-.

    • Dana
      August 10, 2010 | 6:10 pm

      This is coming in way late, but I have pillow creases around my eyes and fine laugh lines showing up around them too. I’m 36 and I don’t get much sun; I’m indoors 90 percent of the time or more.

      I really think what you eat has more effect on how you age than how much sun you get.

  19. Heather
    May 13, 2010 | 8:28 pm

    I am so interested in this information. I’ve always had very fair skin and have always burned easily…however, since I switched my diet, I didn’t notice (until I read this article) that I haven’t gotten burned. I simply hadn’t made the connection yet! I even bike to work most days, spending at least an hour in the hot, Texas sun, and still, no sunburn. I will definitely start adding FCLO to my diet and to my family’s!

  20. Amy
    May 13, 2010 | 9:00 pm

    In addition to a similar diet, I also do make a point to be inside, or in the shade during the hours of 11:30am to about 1pm. I find that being outside, in full sun during that time when the sun is highest, puts me over the edge for a burn. It does tan out over the next couple days, but I still feel hot and a bit off that night, if I’m not careful during those times of the day.

    I didn’t know why I was not as prone to sunburns, so I appreciate your explanation and sharing of research. Thank you!

  21. Robin
    May 13, 2010 | 9:37 pm

    Grew up in S. FL and had many childhood burns. First skin cancer at 33 and used sunscreen daily afterwards, hats, avoid 10-2 sun time etc. For 10 years paid my dermatologist for half a mercedes…lol. But after that I didn’t have a problem. I have drank raw goats milk for 25 years, organic veggies and grass fed goat, beef long before typical, grind my own wheat. Yes, I did end up with a vitamin D deficiency and tried for 6 months going bare skinned, but using all my other safe skin management, 3 areas removed, I’ll risk the sunscreen!! I’ve used neutrogena products. It’s been 21 years since that first cancer. Each persons body is unique.

    • Dana
      August 10, 2010 | 6:12 pm

      It isn’t that unique. Maybe you’re like those people she described whose vitamin D receptors are not quite up to normal levels/activity. This is something they’re still studying.

      Anyway, not all skin cancers are melanomas. If it’s not a melanoma chances are very good you’ll survive it–to the tune of 90 percent chance or better, most of the time. And unlike melanomas, other skin cancers are not as strictly linked to UVA exposure.

  22. JadeSylver
    May 13, 2010 | 9:54 pm

    My family has been taking D3 supplements and when we went to Disney World last fall, even though we were out in the sun all day walking on pavement, none of us burned. I also used coconut oil on my face daily all last summer. It helped to keep the burning down and keep the wrinkles away. I have always hated the “slimy” feeling sunscreen had, so didn’t really use it in the first place.
    .-= JadeSylver´s last blog post …Potato Soup =-.

  23. CCW_wellness
    May 14, 2010 | 6:18 am

    Should You Use Sunscreen? http://shar.es/m42hN
    Another take on this controversy

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  24. Danielle
    May 14, 2010 | 8:50 am

    I am very fair – blond, light eyes – I think I was born with freckles! I LOVE being outside in the sun and am a stay at home farmer. I use a zinc oxide sunblock on my face only and manage the rest of my skin by covering up with long sleeve shirts and long pants when I think I am starting to burn. I start at the beginning of the summer with only 15 minutes of exposure and by the end of the summer I am able to do something like mow our entire pasture without getting burned. I also use EWG’s sunscreen guide (for my facial sun block) and hope I am doing the right thing! I follow The WAPF food guidelines so FCO is the rule :)

  25. Primal Toad
    May 14, 2010 | 9:03 am

    Thanks for this article! My father always did what he thought was best for me as I was growing up. Unforunately, he was listening to conventional wisdom like most. All of us kids had to slather on sunscreen – as much as possible. And, we had to apply it at least 30 minutes prior to going outside if we want it to be used right away.

    We all hated doing this and would most of the time fail to listen properly – kids….

    But, with that said, we also did not have the best diets. We certainly ate healthier than most Americans and I am incredibly grateful for that. But, we still ate tons of grains, and our omega fatty acid ratio was waaay off – but probably closer to 17:1.

    Luckily, I have gained an interested in overall health starting about 1 year ago and it has certainly picked up over the past few months, even more so the past few weeks since I went Primal and started my new blog.

    I have learned that your diet has a HUGE effect on the possible skin damage and this story is one example of proof of that. Since I live in GR, MI I can’t say my much improved diet has had an effect since it has not consistently been warm. But, I am almost certain that I will get burnt much less frequently then any summers in the past AND I will be spending more time in the sun compared to any summers in the past!

    Long comment… but, I love this topic to death. Get out in the sun people! Just make sure you have an awesome real food diet too!
    .-= Primal Toad´s last blog post …My First Time Intermittent Fasting – Easy =-.

  26. Motherhen68
    May 14, 2010 | 9:29 am

    I hate to use sunscreen. For myself, I can get away with it. I”m dark haired. My boys are red-haired and they burn. I don’t use sunscreen on them unless it’s an all day afair at the ball park. This is weekly during the summer. They never do build up a “tan” but rather a reddish skin area farmer’s “tan” type of thing. When we go swimming, they wear the long sleeved swim shirts. It works best for us as they whine and complain not to wear sunscreen!

    Since switching to real foods, I’ve noticed that they’ll pink up, but they won’t burn. They don’t peel either. Same for me. I actually used coconut oil a few weeks ago on my face but didn’t use anything elsewhere on my skin. My legs and arms burned (for like a day, then faded to tan), but face didn’t even change color, just a bit more tan. So coconut oil on the face and neck for me this summer.
    .-= Motherhen68´s last blog post …131/365 Chipolte & Apple Pie =-.

  27. tina
    May 14, 2010 | 9:44 am

    My son was playing outside about a month ago shirtless, all day. We live in Colorado so we get some really warm days in April. His back looked burnt. I freaked out. I put apple cider vinegar and coconut oil on him for a few days after that. He never peeled. It simply tanned. Whew!

    We eat a diet high in good fats and grass-fed meat – pastured pig lard is suppose to have vitamin D. We take FCLO when I remember.

    I won’t be putting sunscreen on myself or kids but it’s hard since my husband believes in sunscreen. Skin is the largest organ and putting lots of sunscreen is just bad.

  28. tina
    May 14, 2010 | 9:45 am

    What about sunglasses?

    • jessica
      June 21, 2010 | 12:39 am

      I read somewhere that when you wear sunglasses, your eyes tell your brain to tell your skin that the sun isn’t as bright and therefore you are more likely to get burned. I love my sunglasses, but because of that, I try not to wear them when I am outside with the kids; just when I am driving and inside a car anyways. (can sun burn through car windows? hmmm) Love to have that story backed up, though…

      • Kelsey
        August 18, 2010 | 9:25 pm

        I read the same thing from the book, Survival of the Sickest… Great book! So yes, if his research is correct, this is true. Weird, huh?

  29. Christina
    May 14, 2010 | 12:40 pm

    Finally someone who believes what i believe, i am from Canada but now live in Mexico with my husband and i have not used sunscreen for over 10 years i believe it’s worse than not using any at all and i dont believe in very many moisturizer creams either. Your skin is your biggest organ that absorbs everything you put on it, think what your absorbing before you put it on your skin.
    Peace

  30. matt4melis
    May 14, 2010 | 6:55 pm

    Should You Use Sunscreen? http://shar.es/m44Vf

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  31. Stephanie
    May 14, 2010 | 7:20 pm

    As a very white-skinned girl growing up in Arizona, I always covered up and slathered on the sunscreen or without fail would end up with 2nd degree burns. Last summer, I noticed I was not getting burned like I used to and it is wonderful! I attribute it to my diet changes over the last several years, and also to using coconut oil as a lotion. I accidentally discovered the benefits of using coconut oil when I had spent a long day in direct sun without covering up or using sunscreen and KNEW I would end up with a terrible burn. But after the heat exhaustion wore off, I was so surprised to see…nothing! No burns! No way! I am excited to try it again this summer, but on my kids as well.

  32. BeckusMaximus
    May 14, 2010 | 8:28 pm

    super interesting article about sunburn and diet: http://www.foodrenegade.com/should-you-use-sunscreen/

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  33. Christina
    May 14, 2010 | 9:22 pm

    We do not use sunscreen at all unless we are going to be at the beach ALL DAY LONG. That is the only exception, and even then I use it sparingly — only on the kid’s faces usually and only one coat. That is maybe twice a year that we pull it out. The reason I’ve pulled it out then is because I’ve thought that in that case only that the risk of an intense burn might exceed the risk of the absorbed sunscreen toxins. Even Mercola has said that he does use sunscreen on his trips to Hawaii when he’s surfing all day, interestingly enough.

    I have thought about trying coconut oil instead on long beach days, but wasn’t sure if it would be strong enough to do the trick.

    I have had friends that spend excessive amounts of time outdoors daily. These same friends were tested for Vit. D levels and were found to be quite low. They said they didn’t understand why they would have low Vit D levels considering the fact that they’re outdoors for hours on end. I asked them if they wear sunscreen daily. They replied that they were — thus, the low Vit. D level mystery solved!

    I also wonder if sunscreen toxins are a contributing cause of melanoma? It would be interesting to see a study showing whether melanoma rates have increased in proportion to the campaign for daily sunscreen use over the years.

  34. Evelyn
    May 14, 2010 | 10:30 pm

    We have noticed this same phenomenon as well. Because I eat better than my husband (he cheats more often) there are times when he will pink up or lightly “burn” worse than me with the same sun exposure even though he has slightly darker skin that always tanned well from a Lebanese background when most of my ancestors are German, Scottish, Irish (all very fair skinned) :) And that was even mostly after just adding Cod Liver Oil. Only recently have we started researching Weston Price recommendations more and adding them into our diets.

  35. mj
    May 16, 2010 | 5:10 pm

    There’s a time and a place for sunscreen and it’s AFTER some initial exposure (esp face, arms, abdomen) without sunscreen.

    Vitamin D is hugely important for not only immune health, but also anticancer (the big ones, Breast, Prostate, Lung, Colon), is imperative to adequate calcium absorption, many mood-related disorders… and has many more benefits yet to be discovered I’m sure.

    The UV index was put into existence to give an idea of how long the “average” person (in the geographical area) can be exposed to sun without burning. This should give you an idea of your maximum exposure WITHOUT sunscreen. After this, it should be applied, and reapplied hourly-2 hours and after swimming, sweating, etc.

    And for everyone’s sake, buy the organic hippie crap and save your skin from all kinds of unpronounceable and non-biodegradable chemicals (many of which are toxic) in your “store brand” sunscreens!

  36. jgbanks
    May 17, 2010 | 1:14 pm

    Should You Use Sunscreen? | Food Renegade http://su.pr/1BqN5y

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  37. samtraffanstedt
    May 18, 2010 | 12:33 am

    to use or not to use… that is the sunscreen question.
    http://ping.fm/GybvX

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  38. Savory Tv
    May 18, 2010 | 3:04 am

    We are big followers of Dr Baumann, who just recent changed her sun protection advice. She now recommends 15 minutes of sun per day, with the sunscreen protection of your choice on hands, face, and neck.

    Great supplements with proven spf include: lycopene, lutien, and Polypodium leucotomos which is a fern extract.

    We use natural sunscreens with zinc for everyday, in addition to our supplements. That said, for big hiking or skiing days at high altitude in the rocky mountains, we cover up with La Roche Posay chemicals. The sun is very strong here, and we have a huge population with skin cancer.
    .-= Savory Tv´s last blog post …Roasted Stuffed Pears With Cheddar, Walnuts, Raisins and Cherries =-.

  39. Carrie
    May 18, 2010 | 10:17 am

    considering the history of skin cancer in my family and that i’ll be at additional risk of skin cancer due to the radiation therapy from my lymphoma i will definitely be using sunscreen no matter what the other side effects.
    .-= Carrie´s last blog post …Greenest Deals of the Week 5/16 =-.

  40. Kate
    May 18, 2010 | 4:25 pm

    We don’t use sunscreen.

    When I was a kid, I was the blonde (now red-head, naturally) with super fair skin and freckles who always burned. Badly. But I ate SAD.

    Now, we eat WAP. And we don’t burn. My kids have never had sunscreen on at all. I’m frequently at playdates where parents are constantly applying and re-applying sunscreen to make sure their kids don’t burn. I never do it and mine don’t burn either. They also stopped getting so many little colds once we started being able to get outside more this spring.

    I told my friends this once — about eating saturated fat protecting you and how I don’t burn — and they said “Well, that’s because your skin is more olive.” Umm, no! No one has ever said that to me before! I am the whitest white person ever! But now I tend to tan, and if I do burn a little I rub on CO and it quickly goes to a tan. Of course, I’m trying to detox from years of eating SAD. My kids, who never ate SAD (they are 2 and 10 months) just simply don’t burn. They get flushed pink from heat, but…no burn.
    .-= Kate´s last blog post …Do Your Research!: Antibiotics =-.

  41. TexMo
    May 18, 2010 | 10:11 pm

    Thanks for this informative post! I will have to try and do away with the sunscreen since I have been eating better the past couple of years. Old habits can be hard to break. I have noticed that I have not burned this spring despite spending way more time outdoors than in previous years. If I think I might have spent too much time in the sun, I always apply aloe gel and that always seems to keep me from peeling or feeling any pain.

  42. John
    May 18, 2010 | 11:34 pm

    I can’t believe some of the comments I’m reading, especially where kids are concerned. Clearly you don’t live in the southern hemisphere. If ultraviolet is used to disinfect medical equipment, what do you think it can do to your skin? Sure sunscreen is toxic, but so is just about everything else we use from shampoo to toothpaste. I think if you’re lacking vitamin D in your diet, you are probably lacking in other things as well. Eat healthy, dress sensibly, avoid days of high UV and apply sunscreen when necessary. Common sense.

  43. Herbwifemama
    May 19, 2010 | 11:12 am

    I’ve found this to be true as well. I was shocked when I started taking my CLO that I didn’t burn anymore, but I didn’t, and I wasn’t wearing sunscreen either. I don’t ever stop the CLO anymore.

  44. Monica
    May 22, 2010 | 9:09 pm

    sounds logical, if i think at fishermen by the ocean. they do'[t have problems with too much sun, as they eat a lot of fish. interesting!

  45. wendy
    May 22, 2010 | 9:10 pm

    For you who take the cod liver oil–how do you stand the taste? “Fermented cod liver oil” sounds like it would make me absolutely GAG, disgusting!!

    • KristenM
      May 22, 2010 | 11:08 pm

      Have you checked out the listings for the FCLO on my resources page? They actually come in really tasty flavors these days (my favorite is cinnamon). And for those who *still* can’t handle the taste, even flavored, you can take it in capsules.

    • MoonFlower
      July 22, 2010 | 10:26 am

      I gag at cod liver oil, too (actually, i quite throw up) BUT they have it in pill form (walgreens, walmart, HEB and I’m sure many other places) and if you put the pill in your mouth and drink orange juice or another thicker drink (I use a yogurt heath shot) you do not tase the cod liver oil at all.

  46. Chasmodai
    May 22, 2010 | 11:02 pm

    My parents never put sunscreen on me, and I got maybe one or two burns a year my entire childhood in the American southwest. I’m Irish, too. We burn like potatoes.

    I’m stuck in the unfortunate “college student” phase of my life, so my diet is terrible. Luckily there’s not a lot of sun where I live and the fish here is pretty cheap.

    I’m curious about how those who take CLO/FCLO handle the taste. That definitely kept me from incorporating it into my daily routine.
    .-= Chasmodai´s last blog post …To Katie Holmes =-.

    • KristenM
      May 22, 2010 | 11:08 pm

      See the comment I wrote to Wendy above!

  47. Liz Snyder
    May 22, 2010 | 11:53 pm

    We eat pretty well here – and I take CLO (tho not fermented) and eat grassfed. But I’m pretty sure my newfound sunburn-proof skin is from ditching one product:
    SOAP!

    I am very, very fair and have always burned easily and wore lots of sunscreen. Then I started reading Dr. Mercola’s writing about vitD absorption – did you know that it takes 1-2 WEEKS for the oils in your skin to convert vitD into a useable form? And if you lather up 1-2 weeks after that sun exposure, you’re just washing that vitD all away?

    My daughter hated bathing as a babe – so I almost never washed her! I never made the correlation, but she also has incredible bone density… so much so her doctors have commented on it. She also never burns at all – or tans really, come to think of it. Now I wonder if it’s because of all the sunlight and lack of soap in her first years of life?

    About 3 months ago, I switched from bathing regularly with soap to just scrubbing with a washcloth and a little jojoba oil. Since then my skin’s capacity for sunlight has changed dramatically – I went out on the farm (FULL sun) for 4 hours, just a hat, sleeveless shirt — absolutely no burn. Considering I used to burn in ~15 mins, this is a seriously dramatic change.

    Also, my skin feels perfectly clean and is incredibly soft. And bonus? My fine wrinkles have disappeared! I seriously look LESS sun damaged, not more!

    Seriously, try ditching the soap. You’ll never go back!

    • KristenM
      May 23, 2010 | 12:13 am

      Liz — How interesting! I’ve never been a big fan of soap. In fact the only place I use it is under my arms, mostly because I ditched deodorants a few years back and this is the way I stay on top of any possible unseemly body odor.

      I think I can start to believe that going without soap also contributes to not being so vulnerable to sunburns. It makes sense, even based on the same logic I used in my post. Obviously, by not using soap, we’re not washing away all the good oils in our skin (which we’re getting from our good food and FCLO!).

      I wish SOMEONE would research this! (As of right now, I’m mostly just speculating based on experience and some related research. But there’s still no studies done about how UV rays interact with the fats/oils in our skin cells based on the different compositions of those fats.)

  48. Robin
    May 23, 2010 | 10:44 am

    Over the past year I’ve really been trying to rid my family of chemicals, eat greener, and live a more natural life. I never even stopped to think about sunscreen, but it makes sense! Thanks for the information!

  49. ForeverGreenn
    May 23, 2010 | 12:20 pm

    Should you use sunscreen? http://bit.ly/b9JHiM

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  50. jess
    May 23, 2010 | 10:14 pm

    while many of the effects you’ve personally observed after changing your diet may be real, UVA/UVB lights are still scientifically mutagens that can fundamentally damage the DNA in your cells. This is why sunburns are linked to skin cancer; the light damages the DNA in skin cells and causes them to experience uncontrolled growth. These types of light also damage tissues like collagen which are responsible for making your skin supple and tight as well as rapid in its regeneration. I would say that moderation is key; yes, vitamin D is essential but too much UVA and UVB can be very dangerous.

    • Dana
      August 10, 2010 | 6:20 pm

      Yes, but mutagens only do so much damage, and your immune system is adapted to deal with cells whose DNA are not up to snuff… if you aren’t doing things to damage that immune system, like not getting enough sunlight.

      How do you think we managed things when we were still tribal, living in huts, and working outside all the time? It’s been a LONG time since our body hair was thick.

  51. Cetanu
    May 24, 2010 | 10:21 pm

    Come to Australia… SPF 30+ sunscreen must be used here… and I’m mediterranean with olive skin…

  52. Ali
    May 31, 2010 | 6:40 pm

    My father ate a well balanced diet and was in excellent physical condition for the majority of his adult life, however he still died from skin cancer in 2006. He was only 50 years old. I would like to know if you have scientific evidence proving that even with out a burn, your skin is not being damaged?

    • KristenM
      June 2, 2010 | 10:31 am

      Ali — I suggest reading the studies listed in the quoted text in the middle of my article, as well as going to the source of that lengthy quotation and reading the complete article I quoted from. Basically, all the scientific evidence suggests that there is NO LINK between sun exposure and cancer, except perhaps a preventative one. This is particularly true of melanoma — which most often appears on patches of skin never exposed to sunlight.

  53. Sophine
    May 31, 2010 | 8:01 pm

    Considering that I am allergic to both sunscreen and sunburns, AND I burn easily (being a ginger), I don’t know what to do other than staying out of sunlight completely.

    I usually have to go to the hospital whenever I get a burn or put on sunscreen.

  54. Charles Moreland
    May 31, 2010 | 9:46 pm

    Nice post, Kristen.

    I’ve actually started to notice this more and more recently and I was going to start using my free time to research it further. Seems you did all the dirty work for me, so I’ll be reading all your sources listed!

    My diet consists largely of organic and grass-fed food which comes locally. My diet is typically 60% fat on any given day.

    Everyone in my family burns…except me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been burned before, but I’m the black sheep of an irish family. Since leaving and going to college, I’ve never purchased sun screen. I am extremely active and I will often times find myself outside training for several hours in the sunshine. I always take my shirt off ;)

    So far this Summer it’s been over 80 and sunny for the past couple weeks and I’ve been out for long periods of time with almost full exposure. I have yet to burn. I’m not even dark; just a simple light tan.

    To contribute a little more information, I believe it was Robb Wolf or Martin Berkhan who blogged a little bit about Vitamin D and how it both protects and causes aging. It was suspected that this reality was nature’s elegance at play here – that being something we all need to be healthy will also initiate our deaths. I feel that there remains a large amount of knowledge that can still be figured out regarding how our bodies and sunlight interact.
    .-= Charles Moreland´s last blog post …Rochester Parkour Becomes Official =-.

  55. kmillecam12
    June 1, 2010 | 12:18 am

    After 3 days in the sun, this helps: http://bit.ly/cAM4M8 #realfood #wapf

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  56. nukepencil
    June 1, 2010 | 5:22 am

    Should you use sunscreen? – http://bit.ly/b9JHiM

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  57. Walter Jeffries
    June 9, 2010 | 2:56 pm

    We don’t use sunscreen. The chemicals in them are frightening. What we do instead is limit our exposure during the high sun time of the day. We do our outdoor work starting early in the morning and then again in the late afternoon spending most of the mid-day indoors reading, researching, homeschooling and such. We also wear hats and more or less clothing depending on the time of year, day, cloud cover and such.

    I am fortunate to tan very easily and darkly. I have darker skin than my wife. She must be more careful to avoid burning. Our sons are between us and our daughter is like me, a little indian.

    We don’t take supplementary cod liver oil but we do eat the fat of pastured pigs. They’re eating a lot of grass, clovers and other forages, about 90% of their diet, so they’re probably high in the Omega-3 fatty acids and all those good things people look for in fish. We’re just too far from the ocean to eat a lot of seafood.

    Cheers

    -Walter
    Sugar Mountain Farm
    Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
    in the mountains of Vermont
    Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
    http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
    http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa

  58. Alison Murphy
    June 10, 2010 | 2:38 pm

    Perhaps the increased vitamin A in the diets of those who are using CLO or FCLO has a protective effect as well?

    http://drsherylwagner.blogspot.com/2008/05/carrot-juice-protects-against-sunburn.html

    Good to know about coconut oil having an actual SPF effect! I rarely use sunscreen for my kids- mostly keep it on hand for if the grandparents are taking them out somewhere. Even the natural brands react badly with my skin and cause a burning sensation upon application, why I always hated sunscreen as a kid, it hurt to put it on! But without it I would burn like a tomato. While all my kids are fair skinned, most are blonde, and have a lot of Irish genes, none of them burn when they are still nursing- protective effects of breastmilk? Still learning about vinegar to cure a burn, interesting stuff thanks for sharing

  59. Sarah Cain
    June 24, 2010 | 3:35 pm

    Thank you for warning people about the dangers of sunscreen, and the advantages of real, life-giving sunlight. People have been made terrified of the sun, and its evil death rays, unnecessarily. On a similar topic, spray tanning prevents the absorption of vitamin D for weeks at a time. See this article.
    .-= Sarah Cain´s last blog post …The W.H.O. Has Another Plan To Make Us Healthier Through Forced Medicating =-.

  60. Heidi
    June 25, 2010 | 4:12 pm

    How timely this post is! I haven’t read your blog in some months, though I confess that when I began my traditional foods journey, I was reading yours and similar blogs obsessively! Today I came by looking for your make-ahead meatballs and stayed to catch up on your recent posts. I would never have made the connection about sunburn and diet, but now reading your posts and the linked articles, it makes so much sense.

    Yesterday I was in the sun with much more skin exposed than usual–I was in the pool with my 3 year old and our friends for hours. I had a feeling that I might get burned, as I haven’t had my shoulders bared in the sun for a very long time, but I was hoping that the sun would help out with a spot that I thought might be potential ringworm. I haven’t worn sunscreen for many months now, nor has my daughter. We are fair-skinned and live in Southern California. This morning I was not looking forward to a shower as I like very warm water and I knew it would really sting. But it didn’t! As I say, I would never have made the connection before reading your post, but I am amazed that I didn’t burn more. And even today, it’s already turning to tan.

    And of course in hindsight, I see so many more connections to be made. As a child, we ate a lot of locally raised traditional foods–I LOVED liver and other organ meats, and nothing was low fat. It wasn’t until I was a young adult, and became vegetarian/sometimes vegan, that I had my first cavities and horrible sunburns, among other things. And it was only last fall, after being vegetarian for 20 years, that I started eating traditional foods. My daughter has never had a sunburn in her 3 and half years, though we did use sunscreen from the time she was about 9 months, to about a year and a half. She doesn’t eat as many traditional foods as I would like, but she does still nurse.

    Incidentally, I also don’t use soap on my face or body (just shampoo on the head, the pits and the bits!) and haven’t for about 6 years now. But I have had a few sunburns in that time. This mild burn from yesterday surprised me, because I think it would have a lot worse if this was last summer, when I wasn’t eating pastured lard!

    Well, clearly I could ramble on. Sorry for the long response. But I’m enjoying and learning from others’ comments above. Thank you for this timely post and the links!

  61. Teresa Ensslin
    July 5, 2010 | 10:17 pm

    We go camping every year in Northern CA at 7000 feet. Any special considerations for high elevations?

  62. Jeanmarie
    July 12, 2010 | 1:31 am

    Thanks for this, and I love the photo!
    I’ve had a similar experience, which I first noticed last summer. I eat lots more saturated fat (butter, ghee and coconut oil, plus meats) than I did as a kid, and I take FCLO, and Vit. D supplements, and I seem to tan easier and burn less, to the point that I probably am a little too casual about being out in the sun for a couple of hours. I got a little too much sun yesterday, but no pain, just slight tenderness and redness for a little while. I put on coconut oil and stayed more covered up today, and no problem.
    .-= Jeanmarie´s last blog post …Phone Your Blog =-.

  63. Tiffanie
    July 12, 2010 | 2:36 pm

    I have read this line of thinking several times lately and it makes sense. I got afraid of sunblocks when I was pregnant and haven’t worn them since. I am fair (tho not uber-fair) and try to build a base tan and use hat, scarves, shirts wisely. We eat a high-fat WAP diet w/ lots of FCLO. We are trying to apply this wisdom to our toddler (who loves the FCLO, btw), who is very fair w/strawberry hair. She plays outside in dappled shade and has developed a pink to her cheeks and arms which we think is her “tan”. We have hypothesized that early exposure actually helps skin prepare for a lifetime of sun, and that it might indeed be necessary for health. But of course we have no proof. It is a bold and courageous step for us to trust this wisdom, not only for our own skin, but for our dear daughter’s. I think it, just like WAP diet/lifestyle in general, just makes sense. I feel better when I am in the sunshine regularly. My toddler would much rather be nakey than have that old nasty sunblock rubbed on. And it has just been in the last few decades that we humans have spent so much time indoors without “having” to be outside. Better to do it the way we know it has been done for centuries.

  64. Tiffanie
    July 12, 2010 | 2:39 pm

    Btw, I love the soap idea, too! I only use soap for the possibly stinky parts (no deoderant either!) and it just feels right that way. My skin worked hard to created that nice oil! Why wash it off? :-)
    .-= Tiffanie´s last blog post …another try at sourdough =-.

  65. tina
    July 25, 2010 | 9:00 am

    We live in Colorado and we do not use sunscreen. We eat tons of healthy fats. We get pink and than tan but never burn.

    I consider sunscreen to be a chemical and avoid it like the plague.

  66. tina
    July 25, 2010 | 9:02 am

    I make sure that my sons go outside every day w/o shirts on so they can get as much sun as possible.

  67. tina
    July 25, 2010 | 9:05 am

    Teresa – We live at an elevation of 5280 and we never burn. We went to the mountains (Winter Park Colorado)over the 4th of July and spent a couple of hours in the sun, swimming and never burned. Everyone warned me: you have to wear sunscreen in the mountains. But we didn’t and we were just fine.

  68. Sean Baker
    August 10, 2010 | 12:12 pm

    Fantastic article. Right on! I used to think I couldn’t tan, except for an Irish tan. No I have no trouble tanning, I never burn, and my vitamin D level is high.

  69. erika
    January 31, 2011 | 7:59 pm

    my family is vegan so we do not use FCLO. do you have another recommendation?
    we are now taking vitamins and a d3 supplement.

  70. Bobby Kessler via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 12:12 pm

    Only if you must. Obviously be picky on what you use, in those situations. The reality is, unless your swimming you need to cover your skin. Wear thin material that is long sleeved and a large brim hat with gloves. Stay hydrated and you’ll be just fine; also a lot less sunburned!

  71. Leah Stoltz via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 12:13 pm

    probably best article I’ve read on this topic.. thank you. I totally agree, completley opposed to sunscreen (hate that my son’s father puts it on him on weekends)

  72. Lisa Crawford via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 12:20 pm

    AMEN! I’m much more fearful of the toxicity I would voluntarily be applying to my skin. Was unaware of the EFA connection, though. Thanks for sharing.

  73. Amber Martinko via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 12:20 pm

    Thank you for posting!!!

  74. Elizabeth Thomas- Joiner via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 12:27 pm

    Make sure you have adequate Vitamin D levels and that will help protect you against burning. :)

  75. Erika Peterson via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 12:34 pm

    Since we went WAP and GF, my blond, Scandinavian-German family has had NO sunburns. Three summers and counting. OTOH, mosquitos still love us.

  76. Sharon Rose Miller via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 12:42 pm

    I agree with this for everyone except myself. We have been doing traditional foods for over a year, eating grass fed meats, eating high antioxidant foods, fermented cod liver oil, and I even take astaxanthin. So Monday I was out in the sun for about an hour, mostly covered except my hands and chest. I got slightly burned, but worse I got my usual sun poisoning rash. I’ve been applying coconut oil, but the worst part is that my energy has been zapped from me all week. Today is the first day I’ve really been up. I have researched and researched ways for me to be outside without sunscreen, but I think I may need it, in addition to my wide brimmed hat and light cotton clothing.. But my kids are also on the same diet and take astaxanthin, and are fine in the sun!

  77. Gina Rysdon via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 12:45 pm

    90 degrees?? We just cracked 60 here in MN and it feels glorious!!!

  78. Michelle Stock via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 12:52 pm

    Coconut oil. It equals to a spf of 25 but re apply often if you are out in sun all day.

    • KristenM
      June 24, 2011 | 5:36 pm

      Michelle — Where did you get that SPF number? According to all my research, coconut oil only has an SPF of 4 or 5.

  79. Goats-of Gilead-Nubians via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 12:56 pm

    I have a question, maybe someone can help me out here. I have always tanned very easily, olive skinned. I live in AZ in the high altitudes. I eat mostly all homegrown foods, including milk, meat and eggs. I get these little itchy bumps from being out in the sun. Well each year they get worse. This year so far we had a couple of nice days and the itching since then has been so severe that I can hardly stand it!! The only relief I get is when I put some of my homemade lotion on the area. The bumps are quite large this year and I am covered in them in the areas that were exposed to the sun. Does ANYONE have any help for this? I am quite miserable!! :0(

  80. Anna Caltagirone
    April 8, 2011 | 1:38 pm

    So interesting. I’ve been wondering about this for a while, but hadn’t looked into it much. So glad to be reading this just as summer’s coming up.

    I can only imagine the looks I’ll get from my mother-in-law. “No, I’m not going to put any sunscreen on the kids. Did you know sunscreen causes cancer?” lol

  81. Jenny
    April 8, 2011 | 2:10 pm

    Very interesting reading. I also have wavered back and forth on the benefits of sunscreen. I tend to not use it mostly because I forget about it. I’m going to check into FCLO a bit more.
    ~Jenny~

  82. Kristi Wilbanks via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 3:27 pm

    sounds like it could be a heat rash of some type?

  83. Deirdre E. Urrea via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 3:27 pm

    I get them too. I found a site a few years ago that related it to native american ancestery. I worked outdoors all my life and it usually goes away after a good base tan is in. And I’m not caucasian. Shea butter is a good sun screen too.

  84. Deirdre E. Urrea via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 3:28 pm

    Look up sun rash.

  85. Food Renegade via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 5:09 pm

    I’d read that those bumps are caused by too little REAL vitamin A in the diet. People who get them tend to be poor converters of plant-based cartenoids into vitamin A, so they need to eat more of it in its true animal-based form. I don’t know if that applies specifically to your situation, but maybe it’s worth a try.

  86. Nancy Jacques via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 5:21 pm

    a frien gets terrible itchy rash.after he had taken pharma drug naproxin. it’s still in his liver and causes this.

  87. Goats-of Gilead-Nubians via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 5:41 pm

    @Deirdre-I am native american descent. That is interesting. This has only started happening in the last six or seven years. Last year they stayed all season long. This is the first year that it has happened this badly and this quickly.

    @Food Renegade-What are some good vitamin A animal-based sources?

    @Nancy-I have never been one to take any kind of drugs. I have stayed pretty healthy my whole life (thank goodness!).

  88. Kathryn Richards via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 7:01 pm

    Currently I get a read itchy rash when I’m out in the sun. Hopefully by changing my diet it won’t happen any more.

  89. Deirdre E. Urrea via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 8:25 pm

    I will look into the diet. Thanks!

  90. Deirdre E. Urrea via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 8:30 pm

    @ Goats It started for me when I was almost 30. I got a very bad burn hiking the west coast and the next year it started… My driving arm usually is the main spot. I hardly take any drugs for anything few times a year at most.

  91. Kimberly Moorhouse via Facebook
    April 8, 2011 | 9:25 pm

    Very interesting read. Thanks.

  92. Mary
    April 8, 2011 | 9:29 pm

    Coconut oil has SPF 25, Shae butter is a natural sunblock, Zink oxide is a natural sunblock and healer, Aloe soothes and heals, Vinegar heals, Cod liver/fish oil enables the body to react to sun in a healthy way. Let your body have as much as it can handle safely but remember it takes three days to absorb VT D through the skin into the body so do not wash it away with soap. You all rock! Hope you have fun sun filled days.

  93. Marra Bennett via Facebook
    April 9, 2011 | 5:57 am

    im so glad someone is talking about the absurd notion that sunscreen is for the health conscious! i believed it for years until i started thinking about it rationally instead of just buying the propaganda.

  94. Lynn Rhodes
    April 9, 2011 | 8:06 am

    Thanks for the article! We’ve been taking FCLO in the Winter, but thought that we could back off a bit once Summer came around and just get lots of sunshine. Now I know not to do that!

    I’ve been wondering, however, is there a certain amount of time that we should wait before bathing after getting sun so that the body can properly absorb the Vitamin D? It seems like I’ve heard that it can be washed off…any thoughts?

    Thanks again!

  95. Goats-of Gilead-Nubians via Facebook
    April 9, 2011 | 12:33 pm

    @Deirdre-What do you do about it? Anything? Or just live with it? My driving arm gets it the worst too. Sometimes when I am driving and it is really bothering me, I put my arm across me to try and get it out of the sun. It is pretty difficult to drive that way. :0)

  96. Kelly Sly via Facebook
    April 14, 2011 | 10:57 am

    This is great – now do you have anything that will naturally deter mosquitos!? :)

  97. GinnyV
    May 10, 2011 | 11:48 am

    Great post! I’ve heard this before, but you put it in a very easily understandable article.

    I have a couple questions.

    1. For those that say that coconut oil has SPF 25, do you have any references for this? I have noticed that when I use CO, I burn less, but when I told someone that it had a SPF, they challenged me on it, and I can’t seem to find anything to support this online.

    2. Another question about the coconut oil. Since diet plays a huge roll in whether or not we get sunburned, and we need the vitamin D from the sun, why use anything with SPF, including CO? Are people using it after they feel like they will start burning or as an initial preventative measure?

    Thanks!! :)

    • KristenM
      June 24, 2011 | 5:41 pm

      Ginny — Good questions. I also wonder about the SPF 25 figure. The most I could actually verify was 4 or 5. As for me and my family, we apply coconut oil 30 minutes before we know we’ll be out in direct sun for more than an hour. If we come back inside and find we’ve got a pink flush to our skin, we apply it liberally every few hours to help our skin turn that into a tan instead of burn.

  98. Heather
    May 31, 2011 | 7:10 pm

    I always *forget* to use sunscreen. Now I realize I’m doing myself a favor. I am fair, but I’ll have to see how I do now that I eat more traditional fats.

  99. Marilyn
    June 3, 2011 | 1:18 pm

    Directly from the Cancer Foundation Website
    •Over the past 31 years, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined
    •About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun
    •One person dies of melanoma every hour (every 62 minutes).

    SO, EAT RIGHT BUT USE SUNSCREEN!! This should be a no brainer, and if you choose not to, at least protect your children.

    • KristenM
      June 24, 2011 | 5:45 pm

      In the past 31 years, we’ve seen a HUGE dietary shift to low-fat foods and replacing healthy saturated fats with polyunsaturated yellow, seed-based oils (like corn, soy, and canola oils). Doesn’t seem like a coincidence to me.

      And if you’d read the post, you would know that there is actually NO CONNECTION between melanoma and sun exposure. In fact, MOST cases of melanoma happen to skin that is almost NEVER exposed to the sun.

      • Laurie
        July 18, 2012 | 1:20 am

        Thanks for this Kristen!

  100. Karah
    August 11, 2011 | 7:16 am

    I haven’t used sunscreen in years. I Tend to burn more with sunscreen on then without (and yes I would reapply and reapply). I decided ti just ditch it after I realized that and I would turn pink then fade back to my normal color within a few days. After I started taking cod liver oil I noticed I wasn’t burning at all. Now I have three kids and when my oldest was born I put sunscreen on him when we went to the beach and he would break out in a horrible rash. Obviously he is allergic to sunscreen so I stopped using it. He hasn’t burned since I stopped and we have spent countless days at the beach. My daughter is very fair skinned with blue eyes and blond hair and she hasn’t ever had a burn. I can’t attest to my five month old yet because I dot keep him outside for long periods usually but at both busch gardens and the zoo we go to frequently he hasn’t even turned pink. I do use coconut oil (the real stuff) when we are going to be out for a long time and I’m wOrried about burning but mostly we use hats and tees to block the suns rays

  101. Debbie Raab
    March 12, 2012 | 2:30 pm

    My daughter forwarded this article to me and I have to say that it is certainly what I have experienced in my own life. I was a junk food junky until I became hypoglcemic at 19 and started learning about our bodies and nutrition. After I began eating real food with a vengence I did indeed notice that I could stay in the sun longer with out suffering the bad sunburns I had growing up. I should note that I am a redhead with blue eyes and fair skin which does take on a bit of a tan in the summer. While I did not use cod liver supplements for years, I do now and I really think this theory is grounded in fact. Our bodies, fed well, are amazing!

  102. Rick
    April 21, 2012 | 11:17 pm

    What about for those of us that work outside? Here in the south it is sunny for most of the year, and the sun really beats down during the summer. I actually have a perament farmer’s tan from working outside for years. When I was younger I didn’t care about using sunscreen, and I can now see signs of sun damage. How can I confidently work in the sun without sunscreen for many hours every day? It’s too hot here to wear a lot of clothing, plus that defeats the purpose in relation to getting vitamin d.

  103. Robert
    April 23, 2012 | 6:42 pm

    A quality non-whitening zinc oxide sunscreen (Burnout, Devita, PurplePrairie) and vitamin D3 supplements, and a healthy diet and all of your bases are covered.

  104. Rick
    April 24, 2012 | 10:53 am

    What do you think about the studies showing that the nano-particles in physical sunscreens can be hazardous to our health?

  105. Laurie
    July 18, 2012 | 1:18 am

    I’m so happy to read of other moms who don’t put sunscreen on their kids. I’m from Seattle, and moms are slathering sunscreen on their children for a half hour swim lesson- in the morning! It’s ridiculous how we have been programmed to be so afraid of the sun. We haven’t been taking FCLO, but do take fish oil/eat fish on a fairly regular basis, and have a considerable amount of anti-oxidants & healthy fats in our diet. I think my daughter may have burned a little once a couple of years ago, before her skin had started to build a tolerance to the sun….I could really use some more hard evidence though against the scare tactics that have been ingraned into my husband and his family. Someone just told me the other day that your chances of getting skin cancer go up 15% after just one sunburn. Is this true? I’d also like to know the skin cancer rates in other countries. It’s hard to defend not using sunscreen to people (even my naturopathic doctor!) who have had skin cancer…..

  106. Billy
    September 3, 2012 | 3:05 pm

    Ray Peat says that the long wavelength detoxes us from the damage from uvb and blue light.

  107. runbei
    November 17, 2012 | 6:52 pm

    Wonderful article. Thank you for providing evidence to support my intuitive feeling that sunscreen blocks a healthy process in my skin.

    Haven’t used sunscreen in years except on tops of ears and nose during long outings, including 6- and 7-hour run/hikes before I retired from ultrarunning. Never had a sunburn in all that time – 20 years.

  108. Laura
    December 13, 2012 | 9:40 am

    This article is thought provoking, but I’m an esthetician and would never set foot outside without an SPF on. I eat a very healthy diet and take Vitamin D supplements.

  109. Kim
    January 31, 2013 | 5:28 pm

    I can’t wait til it’s warm and sunny out to find out if eating a healthy diet combined with adequate Vitamin D levels will change how easily I burn in the sun. I’m also looking forward to using coconut oil instead of sunscreen. Even if it does nothing, I bet I’ll smell nice!

  110. Brenda
    June 5, 2013 | 10:06 pm

    Interesting! I’ve always burned horribly, and must admit that I have a bit of a fear of going without sunscreen. My food philosophy has changed fairly recently and we are eating much better (good fats at the very least and organic produce plus almost all processed foods are gone). Even though our philosophy has changed, our budget has not and I can’t always afford grass fed meats (although we have cut out anything with nitrates). If we add FCLO to our diet should that be enough to keep us from burning even if we haven’t transitioned completely over to all natural?

  111. Anna
    June 6, 2013 | 9:14 am

    If you want to know a great supplement for sun burn and skin protection you Need ALA you can find it at almost any store its really inexpensive and will make your skin beautiful and help protect you form sun burn. Sun Screen is not the answer, its just another this that is loaded with chemicals that are not good for your skin or your health. READ Over the counter natural cures…

  112. Kim
    June 9, 2013 | 3:57 am

    I had always wanted to be an epidemiologist and I love to look at trends. Musing the other day when my daughter’s camp required sunscreen, I wondered why I never heard my parents or grandparents or those from that era complain about sunburns when they were outside so much more than the people are today. Eating real foods,not SAD, not using soap on their skin every day and higher level of Vit. D, all make sense to me. Thanks for the great information!

  113. Emil Eidt via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 7:14 pm

    I do not.
    One of the primary problems with sunscreen is that it ends up being washed off into reef areas. The corals don’t need sunscreen. It kills the symbiotic algae that live within them, thereby killing the corals themselves.

  114. Barbara O'Donnell via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 7:18 pm

    No

  115. Mica Marsh via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 7:18 pm

    Good research…thank you

  116. Trischa Tomaszewski Canter via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 7:25 pm

    interesting…

  117. Emily Buttrick via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 7:29 pm

    Ya, blisters are healthy. And wrinkled, weathered and sunspotted skin is sexy. I call bullshit. Wear sunscreen with EWG recommended ingredients.

  118. Tisha Moore via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 7:30 pm

    I try to avoid it, but I will when that is the only option to avoid a burn. A whole day at a water park with my kids, for instance.

  119. Chengwatana Farm via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 7:34 pm

    no; wear a hat and get plenty of antioxidantsin your diet.

  120. Simona Goldin-Borzouyeh via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 7:38 pm

    Seriously? There are so many natural non toxic sunscreen options that not wearing it is just ridiculous. I have family members who have skin cancer due to long term exposure to sun.

  121. Lauren Bryant Riley via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 7:39 pm

    Lisa Barner, Lauren West Gibson

  122. Jasmine Faith via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 7:39 pm

    We have the highest rate of skin cancer in the world here in Australia thanks to the hot sun and those of us with English/Irish/Scottish ancestry. I agree that diet can play a big part in protecting your skin. But we use zinc based sunscreen when needed. I wish I had used it yesterday while we were at the football for the afternoon – it’s Autumn here and the top of my back looks like that picture. My skin isn’t particularly fair either. We don’t wear sunscreen everyday as recommended here. I prefer to rely on hats and clothing and staying out of the sun in the middle of the day. But in the Australian climate, there definitely is a place for sunscreen – like on days that you’re outdoors for most of the day.

  123. Jane Elizabeth via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 7:41 pm

    Take a zinc supplement balanced with copper and wear a hat. I you’re really sensitive, there are options out there that aren’t toxic.

    I’m Native American and I really don’t burn. So I don’t worry about the sun.

  124. Kristi Dodson-Skinkis via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 7:42 pm

    I’m from WI. When we go to Florida or it is in the middle of summer and spend the day at the beach we absolutely wear sunscreen and lipbalm. I missed a little bit of my chest and completely forgot my ears a few years ago.. I wasn’t outside all day.. I had blisters. I can’t imagine being a child and having that amount of pain! I was absolutely miserable for more than a week.

  125. Walter Jeffries via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 7:43 pm

    Sunscreen is more chemicals applied to our biggest organ – our skin. Not good. Instead we cover up and we avoid the middle of the day when the sun is hottest or work in the shade then. We don’t get sunburns.

  126. Carly Van Hof Thomson via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 7:52 pm

    Yes, we wear sunscreen, and would often burn in minutes at thud altitude without it (7800 ft). We do chose as non-toxic as possible from the EWG recommendations.

  127. Glenys Raerino via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 8:00 pm

    We dont do sunscreen in our family. Summer is just finishing, and we have had no burns. We are a farming family, outdoors constantly at all times of the day. It just takes a bit of common sense. Start out with short periods in the sun, and gradually increase. Seek shade regularly. Even the baby has a beautiful tan. My personal belief is that most people are sun damaged by too much not often enough.

  128. Alexandra Erdely via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 8:07 pm

    I use coconut oil as sunscreen. Works great on my son, too.

  129. Valerie Marienau Wilson via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 8:08 pm

    I wish I had last weekend. 2nd degree burns after only 2 hours in the Florida sun.

  130. Shannon Kane via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 8:11 pm

    I used sunscreen daily on my face for 15+ years. Last year I stopped that and most chemical sunscreen use in favor of coconut oil. I thought I would would burn much more than I actually did.

  131. Joyanne Ludington via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 8:12 pm

    yes, your story sounds so much like mine! We got rid of all high Omega 6 oils last summer and drastically reduced our grain consumption and no one got burnt other than a little pink and then tan! I used to think I just burned easily since I’m fair (freckled blonde and hazel eyes) German, Dutch and English, but poor skin tolerance to UV==Poor Diet above everything else! I saw a similar post and decided to test it out. So glad I did! :)

  132. Maggie Lynne Sorgen via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 8:38 pm

    I use coconut oil now. Never really got on the SPF bandwagon, even though I have had three skin cancers removed.

  133. Nikki Ake via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 8:47 pm

    If I can’t help but be in the sun for long hours then yes. Otherwise, no.

  134. Toni Irwin Hearn via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 8:59 pm

    I live in Florida and eat a Plant Based diet, I eat Coconut butter in my smoothies everyday, cook with coconut oil and I do not use Sunscreen, nor do I burn anymore. I am of Scottish decent and used to burn very easily.

  135. Peggyann Veach via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 9:17 pm

    My husband uses SPF Flannel. Reason?? OCA-1 and living in coastal SC. He’s already had skin cancer twice.

  136. Amanda Houseal via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 9:33 pm

    This is fascinating… I am a red head and burn at the drop of a hat… I do take fermented cod liver oil daily but have only started over the winter. I am interested to see what happens this summer. I have used sunscreen pretty habitually just because I burn so easily. I would love to not slather myself with toxins though, particularly since I’ve worked so hard at cleansing my system an detoxing and nourishing this winter. We’ll see I guess!

  137. Shannon Rice via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 9:36 pm

    I make my own, but spend plenty of time in the sun without it, too.

  138. Tim Trammell via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 9:36 pm

    I have noticed that since I have started taking vitamin D I don’t burn near as much, and I’m a red headed white skinned ginger.

  139. Laura Neill via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 9:40 pm

    I laid out for 30 minutes a day for 2 weeks and conditioned my skin. I went to schlitterbahn with no sunscreen and no sunburn

  140. Jennifer Franklin-Kirkpatrick via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 9:53 pm

    I use California Baby you can get it at Target it’s all natural and great

  141. Devra Vest via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 10:33 pm

    I work with a mohs surgeon and if you saw what I see on a daily basis you would wear sunscreen. I don’t go crazy, we apply when we are out in The sun for longer periods of time. But it is important to remember that the damage that shows up is not from being in the sun last week, we see 60-80 year Olds with advanced skin damage and it is from when they were young. The article speaks about melanoma but neglects to talk about basal cell and squamous cell, both can wreak havoc on your body if ignored. Believe me the last thing you want is half your ear removed because of skin cancer or part of your nose or eye lid. I see it every day…

  142. Stephanie Montante Felix via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 10:42 pm

    Not unless you will be in the sun ALL DAY LONG with no other protection:)

  143. Brandis L Roush via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 10:45 pm

    I only ever sunscreen my family if we go significantly south before we’ve had time to gradually up our sun exposure. Besides that we eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, plenty of good fat and cholesterol, and daily coconut oil. My daughter and I never have any issues, we are more olive toned, but even my super pale white haired son, who theoretically should burn easily and quickly, has never had a sunburn in his life. And we don’t even avoid the sun during peak hours OR wear protective clothing.

  144. Laura Terrell via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 11:08 pm

    A good “kosher” sunscreen is one with zinc oxide and coconut oil. All the other ones have a lot of chemicals. Getting enough zinc and copper and l-tyrosine are also critical in processing sunlight.

  145. Linda Torgrimson via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 11:22 pm

    Never!

  146. Roxanne Elise via Facebook
    April 5, 2014 | 11:29 pm

    I haven’t used sunscreen in years. I have very light skin. I am German and Italian descent- I have a very light, freckly, olive-toned skin that doesn’t burn easily but doesn’t tan much either. I live in WI and I can be outdoors for several hours, no sunscreen, and maybe get slight pink just in certain areas. A few years ago I did go to FL and put some sunscreen on but was out on the beach for several hours and I did get kind of a bad burn. No blistering, some slight peeling, but mostly on my legs and stomach. I have been told a diet high in berries and nuts can help protect skin naturally. Sunscreen has a lot of terrible chemicals! Last year my dad had a cancerous lymph node removed from his neck. It was melanoma. Doctors looked over every inch of his body to find the source and never found it but said the location indicated it came from above his shoulders. He had a strange mouth sore before that and has had a lot of dental issues in the past and strongly believes the cancer originated in his mouth (inner lip/cheek area). He is cancer-free now and they even removed surrounding lymph nodes and found them to have no trace of cancer. He is all German with fair skin and used to burn somewhat from too long in the sun. My mom, who is half Italian, always became tan very easily. She got a mole on her leg that turned black several years ago and applied coconut oil a few times daily and it disappeared.

  147. Leanne Olsen via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 1:42 am

    No way in heck, that stuff is toxic. :( We do have a natural sunscreen that we use on occasion. I rarely sunburn anyway.

  148. Leanne Olsen via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 1:44 am

    I actually sunburn worse if I wear conventional sunscreen. :

  149. J.C. Hall via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 1:52 am

    The article nails it on the head, it’s the industrial toxic oils part of the SAD (Standard American Diet).

  150. Cheryl Hunter via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 2:41 am

    We need some sun exposure to actually prevent cancer, believe it or not. Also,I feel like I’ve been around people who raised their kids the last 20 years with the ‘we don’t worry about sunscreen attitude’ (and the parents tend to have the same), and none of those people have gotten skin cancer. What I do know is that tanning beds kill–I have a cousin and her best friend who shared a tanning bed membership as teenagers, and the friend died of skin cancer at 41, and the other had a serious melanoma removed in her late 30’s.

  151. Cheryl Hunter via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 2:41 am

    When I do use sunscreen, I use the safer brands from ewg.org’s list

  152. Sheila Coleman via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 2:57 am

    Anytime I used sunscreen I burned, but since I started using coconut oil, just tanned

  153. Donna Smith Girard via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 3:31 am

    Coconut oil and a long sleeve shirt if I’m out more than a couple of hours.

  154. Chris Johnson via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 3:49 am

    Don’t believe in it. Believe in good ole vitamin D. Don’t like being sunburnt either, though.

  155. Denise Ankersen via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 6:44 am

    Sunscreen is horrific. We live in the tropics; avoid mid-day sun and cover-up. I use it very sparingly on the rare occasion when we are outdoors midday with skin exposed.

  156. Christi Cox via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 7:54 am

    This is an example of magical thinking ( if I eat right, nothing bad will happen). Wrong. As someone who’s had melanoma despite a good diet,

  157. Megan Hakinsane via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 7:59 am

    I’ve found my kids don’t burn unless extreme sun with a more traditional diet. I thought it was just the coconut oil we ate, I didn’t consider the other fats.
    But so cool to read it’s not just us! I get looked at like I’m mad when I tell people lol.

  158. Katelyn
    April 6, 2014 | 8:20 am

    Perfect timing! The husband and I are going with my family to Florida next week. We’ve been eating a traditional foods diet for about 6 months now, and we’ve been on GAPS for a few weeks. I’m on board with no sunscreen- but I do LOVE to tan, and I’m quite prone to a good burn several times per year. You think a good slather of coconut oil will do the trick? I don’t want to give up my glorious hours of good old fashioned sun-napping, but I do have a slight fear of that Florida sun! Hopefully our dietary changes have been in place long enough to get our bodies balanced and ready for the summer sun! Thanks for the article!

  159. Molly Woodworth via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 8:41 am

    If you’re out more than 20min? Hell yes. Sun has UV radiation remember? I’ll keep my healthy, youthful skin.

  160. Carey Moore via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 8:43 am

    I mix apple cider vinegar (organic) and olive oil and keep that on when I’m in the sun for long periods, I don’t know.the science behind but it works.really well, I’m have very fair skin. I also use common sense and limit my exposure best I can. If I do get red I apply straight acv with a cotton ball and my sunburn will be gone by the next morning! Amazing stuff, I do the same for.my 2 yr old who is fair skinned like me ;-)

  161. Laura Norton via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 9:38 am

    I live in Florida. Yes!

  162. Sara Thompson Welch via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 2:48 pm

    I also live in Florida, and this is my first spring that I’ll be intentionally in the sun (hat in tow) AND having conditioned myself to a real-whole-raw food diet. I do look forward to the results and will be sharing them as the season progresses. We have too beautiful a climate here to stay indoors for fear of sunlight!

  163. Leona Liz Gonzagowski via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 3:13 pm

    I hate the chemicals but with our family history of skin cancer it is a must… :(

  164. Jass Olivia via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 6:37 pm

    No sunscreen, I just go out in the mornings and evenings. Midday UV is too strong for my skin. I’m 31 and my skin is great, often get complimented on it. I only use straight jojoba oil or a jojoba/organic beeswax mix. Always keep an eye on any moles just in case too, my skin is very fair.

  165. Jill Sharpe Pena via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 9:08 pm

    Never! Hat, sun glasses, long sleeves, limited exposure. Healthy skin does not get cancer.

  166. Michelle Ratti Libicer via Facebook
    April 6, 2014 | 10:08 pm

    I live in southern NM. Unless I want to sit in my house all day from April through September, it’s sunblock. Wearing long sleeves, a hat, long pants, etc. when it’s 95 degrees isn’t practical.

  167. Annie Rogers Fischer via Facebook
    April 7, 2014 | 9:27 am

    No chemicals for me! I use only coconut oil – it’s the BEST sun screen! And if I forget to put it on and get burned, it’s the best at soothing that burn into a lovely tan. I’m very fair skinned and never tanned when I laid out as a teen; I only burned.

  168. Jeannette Bush via Facebook
    April 7, 2014 | 9:47 am

    I do. I use the EWG website to help me decide which one I will buy. Myself and my kids are pasty white and burn within 40 minutes of being out in the sun. We live in Georgia and spend time outside throughout the whole year and if we are just going out to play for about 30 minutes I don’t worry about it. I don’t fear the sun, but having sunburn is not fun and I’d rather not have it.

  169. Rich Hurd via Facebook
    May 2, 2014 | 7:13 pm

    My sunscreen is a tee shirt and a one of those 10′ square canopies.

  170. Connie Nour Hinkle via Facebook
    May 2, 2014 | 7:17 pm

    I’m sorry but as someone who comes from the far northern regions of Europe if I did not wear sunscreen I would be one very large blister all summer. I am the one wearing long sleeves, hat and umbrella to stay blister free. This is why I never, ever have anything bad to say about winter, ever!
    ETA: it snowed 77″ this year and I loved every minute of it!

  171. Peggyann Veach via Facebook
    May 2, 2014 | 9:00 pm

    my husband is a person with Albinism. He’s had skin cancer twice, from not being careful with his skin, we’ll use the sunscreen.

  172. Sarah Stevenson Walker via Facebook
    May 2, 2014 | 9:07 pm

    Badger sunscreen is the best, says this fair skinned, freckled redhead!

    http://www.badgerbalm.com/c-24-natural-sunscreen.aspx

  173. Victoria Kelly via Facebook
    May 2, 2014 | 10:13 pm

    I live in South-Western Florida, if you don’t wear sunblock here your skin will blister, I have seen it happen to more than one person. I do make my own sunblock though, I refuse to wear the toxins they sell us. I found the recipe I use on the Mommy-Potamus website, and I love it.

  174. Denise Nothdurft Garretson via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:06 pm

    nope, haven’t for years!

  175. Sandi Chai Brown via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:11 pm

    I use carrot oil

  176. Linda Coburn via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:12 pm

    Yes I do. I accept the risks of sunscreen toxicity which are, for me personally, lower than my risks of getting skin cancer. Since I already had a malignant melanoma removed from my very fair skin when I was 40, I think it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  177. Tara Viet via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:12 pm

    Only if I plan to be out for hours with no shade. Even then I use coconut and carrot oil mixture for my kids and myself.

  178. Autumn Ison Michaelides via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:16 pm

    3 of us in my household have medium complexions, and dark hair and eyes. However, my daughter is fairer skinned with blond hair and blue eyes (yes, wacky). None of us wear sunscreen, but I am conscious of how much time we are in the sun. Regardless of nutrition, you can still get burned.

  179. Peg Danek via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:18 pm

    Haven’t needed since going Paleo. I used to burn to a crisp but I haven’t had a single burn in 2 years.

  180. Jenny Arnett Wagoner via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:21 pm

    I have 2 kids who are allergic to sunscreen. Everytime I put it on them they swell up and break out in hives. I too, have noticed that since I’ve changed my diet I don’t burn like I used to. This year we’re using just plain coconut oil. Thanks for the article!

  181. Ashley Lester via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:22 pm

    I’m very fair so are my kids. I’ve had moles removed for melanoma and I have rheumatoid arthritis so I try to find a balance getting sun with getting burnt. I will put on all natural sunscreen when I feel like I’m going to start burning and for my kids I give them about 30 mins without it because that’s all they can take without burning.

  182. Heatherlee Beck via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:25 pm

    I now burn no matter if I use it or not!

  183. Bobbi Golson Livnat via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:26 pm

    Hats, rash guard shirts for swimming, minimize exposure and sometimes, I make my own sunscreen for the fam. Great recipe on mommypotamus.

  184. Rachel Faralan-Mingo via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:35 pm

    Nope and rarely put it on my kids.

  185. Rachel Faralan-Mingo via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:35 pm

    But I don’t let anyone get burned either.

  186. Sara Lind via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:36 pm

    I never use it and never burn. So far the kids have been fine without it too. None of us has particularly non-fair skin, either. I never knew about the connection with diet, but it makes a lot of sense! Thanks for the info!!

  187. Emil Eidt via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:36 pm

    If you do use sunscreen, please try to use something organic at least.
    I get the need for it, but sunscreen is a known contributing factor in coral reef destruction. Corals have symbiotic algae living within them which need full strength sun. Sunscreen does the same to them that it does to us, except that they need the UV rays which it blocks.

  188. Jennifer Latham via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:40 pm

    Rarely.

  189. Katherine Kelley via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:41 pm

    Rarely, and only at the beginning of the season or on days I’ll be out in constant direct sun for more than a couple of hours.

  190. Sylvie Cormier-Arsenault via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:44 pm

    I do if we’re spending the day at the beach, and only use natural sunscreen. For everyday around the house, we use coconut oil. We don’t burn easily though.

  191. Sabrina Ballard via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:50 pm

    Yes I do. Coconut oil does not work. Im olive skinned and got burnt so bad. Do not want skin cancer

  192. Victoria Coghill via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:50 pm

    Not normally. I hate the stuff. I will if I’m going to be out for more than 3-4 hours in a row though. sunburns suck and while I don’t burn I don’t want to either.

  193. Annie Schwiderski via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 7:53 pm

    I’m the fairest of fair and burnnin about 3 mins so I do use sunscreen. Since I’m a redhead and a mutant, my body also adapts and makes some vit d all on it’s own. Funny how God knew I shouldn’t be in the sun and would have issues with Vit D so He made another way. Anyway, I do use the sunscreens recommended by EWG with lower toxicity. I am too chicken to use coconut oil. It’s been drilled in my head for so long that oil causes ya to burn.

  194. Lane Hopper Lord via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 8:12 pm

    I have an admittedly crappy diet, but even as a kid I burned if I played in the water all day without some form of sunscreen. My mom was homemade everything and big about balanced diets, so I’m fairly sure diet wasn’t much of a factor. I don’t wear it now, unless I plan on being outside literally all day. My family has a history of skin cancers, so the every three or four years I have to put it on, I’m OK with that. I figure the sun I get making my rounds at the plant and working in the yard gradually tan me enough I have a decent line of protection built in.

  195. Susie Sampson via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 8:23 pm

    Too much melanoma around me not to, although i did find a brand where the active ingredient is zinc oxide, not some of the other stuff. I still burn, so sun hats have become a part of life. The upside is I still get carded in middle age.

  196. Heather W.
    June 2, 2014 | 8:25 pm

    This all sounds great, but we’ve been eating a clean WAPF diet for 8 years and STILL get burnt. I am very liberal with healthy fats (2lbs of butter, 1/2 gal of coconut oil, tallow, and bacon grease per week), 5 gal of raw milk per week, and FCLO daily.

  197. Kelly Kopicki Williams via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 8:27 pm

    Yes, sometimes. We live at the beach, we are active and I do put it on near the water/sand because of how reflective they are. I am very fair skinned and burn easily, my kids tan so typically for playing outside in the yard, no sunscreen for them (or just face and shoulders) but sports, camps, boating and swimming, always.

  198. Monique Rebekah via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 8:30 pm

    I live in Australia in Queensland which has the highest rate of melanoma in the world so I wear sunscreen when I’m outside for a while or at the beach as I am fair skinned. But I wear a rash vest, hat and generally cover up too.

  199. Paul Ewing via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 8:35 pm

    Sunscreen or a hat and long sleeves. Well actually a hat even with sunscreen.

  200. Monique Rebekah via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 8:35 pm

    Also there is no access to fermented cod liver oil in Australia. Just normal cod liver oil.

  201. Amanda McConaghy via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 8:41 pm

    No, I don’t. If I know I’m going to be out prime burn time for longer than safe I use some coconut oil. I also coconut oil up after a shower that night too.

  202. Natalie Arko via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 8:52 pm

    We use coconut oil, sun hats and shade for protection. Works great and I’m fair skinned

  203. Manic Mantis via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 9:00 pm

    Because before sunscreen, we were all wrinkly leather sacks of bones. Pffft. Get out of here with that B.S..

  204. Erica Jean Wiswell via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 9:07 pm

    We wear it if we are going to be in the sun for a very extended period of time, but that’s it. We only use sunscreens with a short list of natural/organic ingredients.

    Now that you mention it though, we were out berry picking last week, for about four hours at the peak time of day for sun damage. We didn’t wear sunscreen, and I noticed that night that my nose and cheeks were pink. I hadn’t thought about it before, but it was gone by the next day. We are pretty strictly TF, more so than ever before in the last seven years since discovering TF, so maybe it really is protecting our skin. Hooray!

  205. Ellen Bognar via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 9:08 pm

    “I’m not a scientist” sums up the entire post.

  206. Elaan Ani Thomas via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 9:11 pm

    What is TF

  207. Holly
    June 2, 2014 | 9:12 pm

    Let me know if you answered something similar to this above. Our family’s diet…grass fed beef, raw milk, fermented foods, coconut oil, lots of organic veggies and berries and fruit, FCLO (not consistent with it) going on year 5. I mean – we drink 5 gallons of grass fed raw milk kefir a week! And we all burn! Do you think there is some sort of malabsorption problem going on? Or is it just not enough FCLO?

  208. Kimberly M. Tracy via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 9:24 pm

    Haha…I look that same way after an all day affair in my garden. Lol.

  209. Sarah Kirkell via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 9:26 pm

    I too used to burn in minutes and now, after several years of a changed diet, I don’t and my vitamin D levels are better.

  210. Darcie Mayo via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 9:34 pm

    I am a red head that uses sunscreen everyday.. used to smoke and now drink still..im 39 but people think im 27

  211. Krista Maureen via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 9:46 pm

    I stopped using sun screen when I started label reading. They are full of so many toxins and carcinogens. We saturate our bodies and kids’ bodies with them. I say if you use sunscreen, investigate a safer one or make your own. This database has been a helpful tool for me: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ Thank you for your article! I use dr. mercola’s tanning oil sometimes and stay moisturized, and get out of the sun before I burn.

  212. Painted Ladyfingers via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 10:00 pm

    I put SPF 30 on my face and neck every day, even if the forecast is for a hurricane.

  213. Chris Johnson via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 10:10 pm

    Basically ….. this is how I feel about Vitamin D exposure:
    http://tv.naturalnews.com/v.asp?v=856DC1BF47CEE1AE7AABAD95D33EA89C

  214. Natalia Mîndru via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 11:15 pm

    Nope not using that on me nor on my child.

  215. Joshua Hafford via Facebook
    June 2, 2014 | 11:43 pm

    Jordan Rock Hafford

  216. Becky Geiger via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 12:15 am

    I HAVE to wear sunscreen even if I don’t like it. I moved to Guam and we will burn in 10 min out at the beach. We try to wear rash guards to minimize where we apply the sunscreen but if I’m out hiking in the sun, kayaking or snorkeling I will blister with no sunscreen. The sun is brutal here.

  217. Siobhan Trueman via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 1:51 am

    I’ve just bought raspberry seed oil for our summer sunscreen :)

  218. Brandi Shaw via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 3:37 am

    Didnt rates of skin cancer go UP as sunscreen use was going up.

  219. Boris Von Baconstein via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 4:10 am

    I don’t. I just apply some fresh lemon juice after.

  220. Lori Gemin-Gingrich via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 5:33 am

    I try to get gradual sun ..if I’m out all day I out on lotion without chemicals

  221. Mary Light via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 5:44 am

    In the Yucatan I do.

  222. Janie Little Upchurch via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 6:22 am

    I never use sunscreen. I get small amounts of direct sun beginning in the springtime and build up to being able to be out for hours and not be affected.

  223. Patty Depatie via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 7:25 am

    I do…and vicks vaporub if I burn anyway.

  224. Walter Jeffries via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 7:31 am

    No, we just avoid excessive exposure and high sun.

  225. Sonii Billings Nagel via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 7:50 am

    Don’t use it. I am very fair and work outside farming. Wear a big hat for my face and white t shirts so chest is covered. Last couple of summers used just zinc oxide on face but always my hat. I love my Vit D !

  226. Randy Naron via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 9:36 am

    Use sunscreen if you anticipate getting burned. No sunburn is good. Proper sun exposure takes a little knowledge. UVB rays, “the rays that produce vitamin D” are shallow penetrating rays that are easily deflected by the atmosphere and cloud cover. You should get your exposure when the sun is straight up in the sky and for short periods only. Check the sun azimuth scale for times when the number is over 50.

  227. Jenie Andersen VanCleef via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 10:16 am

    It is so hard to go against the mainstream.

  228. Frederica Huxley via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 11:19 am

    Astaxanthin, good vitamin D levels and a pure diet with lots of fat was the answer for me- previously, I would either burn or get a very nasty rash from sunscreens. I can now soak up all the goodness from the sun without fear.

  229. Terri Zerr via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 12:38 pm

    I do not wear sunscreen. The reason…….I don’t like to add more chemicals to my body.

  230. Tara Taylor via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 1:57 pm

    no, just coconut oil.

  231. Sherry Vanburen via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 2:46 pm

    I only use it if I know I’m going to be in the sun for a long time (like at the beach). But since I’ve only been to the beach twice in over 5 years, I could probably say I never use it.

  232. Kris Milochik via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 3:52 pm

    Rarely. I prefer to cover up and limit exposure. There are way too many chemicals in use, everywhere…..our clothes, furniture, food……our environment is chock full of them so I avoid as many as possible.

  233. Jaryn Finch via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 3:55 pm

    I use Badger’s baby sunscreen. No chemicals, all natural, just zinc oxide. I have fair skin and I did againg research for a while… sun is the number one cause of premature againg.

  234. Becky Nicklas via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 5:58 pm

    I typically do not. I seem to react badly to most…even the so called “natural” ones. I see some comments about carrot oil. I’ve been looking for a good one, but there’s always some ingredients I don’t like, or can’t do. Can any who use it, tell me which ones you use? Or do you make your own? I recently bought a small jar to do this, but haven’t yet..found a few recipes.

  235. Mari Morgan via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 7:07 pm

    Yes, unless I know exposure will be brief – walking from building to car to building, for example. I have ultra-fair skin with many moles and burn very quickly (seriously, with high sun I’ll start pinking up in 20 minutes, and had many 2nd degree sunburns in my youth that have left scars), and never, ever tan. I’ve also had several moles carved off me already, three of them were “caught just in time”. My father had similar very pale, mole-y skin and had skin cancer by the time he was 35, he never ever used any kind of sunscreen, while I started using it in my late teens when I started working and could buy my own (I’m 43 now) I still get a bad burn once every couple of years when I get involved in something and outstay my sunscreen. :( Coconut oil just seems to make me burn worse, guess it fries me just as well as it fries other meat!

  236. Valerie Smith via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 10:08 pm

    Because excessive sun exposure is a known cause of skin cancer. My father had at least 6 go arounds with skin cancer. You can skip it if you want but zinc oxide is my New Mexico outdoors companion.

  237. Graham
    July 19, 2014 | 4:41 pm

    Interesting that you should discover that.
    54 years ago as a child I got sun burnt Spending 10 hours in the sun swimming was too much. An elderly family friend told mum to bath the sun burnt area in malt vinegar several times and rub in olive oil afterwards.
    I never “Burnt” and went brown instead.
    We used to apply the solution as needed. I WAS VERY red. 3 days later I was as brown as a berry. Previous to that some time before I had also got burnt and not knowing of the vinegar treatment I had the skin peel off in big chunks.
    The biggest piece was about 8 sq inch’s.
    I have always used the Vinegar/Olive oil treatment since then and NEVER ever peeled or burnt again.I often apply it BEFORE i spend long hours in the sun, but not always.
    I spend a lot of time in the sun in summer as I have a very big garden and orchard to look after.
    It was interesting to read your solution as I know of no one else except our family that use the method described. Both of course are very similar. I have never bought sunscreen ever. Have no need too.
    Also because of the clean pure air here in New Zealand our sun is very much UV stronger than most other places. No pollution where I live to screen out any rays.
    Thank you for confirming something that I have always thought worked very well.
    And of course all the other “Know All’s”
    Will continue with their ridicules of how could something as so simple actual work.
    But it Does!!
    Kind Regards

  238. Denise Goodwin
    July 20, 2014 | 7:41 am

    Hi Kristen
    I have never thought about it until I read your article, but you are right. I no longer burn. I live in the sub-tropics of
    Queensland, Australia,, and spend most of my days in my large garden and looking after my chooks (hens to everyone but an Aussie). In summer, the heat and sun is excessive, however it does not stop me from getting out in my garden, and I NEVER use sunscreen, and I no longer burn. I, too, have fair skin, my forbears being English, but since being a food renegade, I no longer burn. After a long day in the garden, I prefer nothing else than to indulge in a long cool shower under my outdoor shower amongst the tree ferns and orchids. BLISS.
    As for ageing the skin, I recently had my 70th birthday, and people thought I was turning 60. I FEEL 18.
    Keep up the good work.
    Denise

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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