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Thought-tober: Our Skin

There seems to be this popular belief that, in essence, our skin doesn’t really work well, particularly when it comes to sun exposure and germs. Sunscreen and soap are staples in almost every household and are thought of as necessities for health. Does our skin not work?…

Two questions I’ve pondered about our skin:

1. Does sunscreen block our sun intuition?

Ever notice how when you’re in the sun there will be a point when you sense you should get out of the sun? This is your intuitive sun knowledge. The one that stems from the feedback your skin is giving you. The body knows when enough sun is enough. We can be exposed to the sun until our skin starts to get close to burning or has made enough vitamin D, at which point we feel the feedback signal coming from the skin and our sense is to stop the sun exposure. A very simple equation.

Does using sunscreen disconnect us from our natural ability to know when we’ve had enough sun? And does doing this constantly un-develop this skill? Bodily systems operate on use it or lose it- does it also hinder our ability to make vitamin D when we are exposed to sunlight, since we are literally out of practice?

2. Does using soap ruin our skin’s ability to protect us?

We use soap to get dirt and germs off our skin. What if this interferes with its mechanisms that keep us healthy? Our skin has several ways it protects and helps us manage the environment, particularly sun exposure. Two of the most important are the microbes (germs/bacteria) that live on our skin and oils the skin produces for a barrier and sun interaction. Sunlight gets transformed on the surface of the skin into vitamin D (which is a oily hormone) that then gets slowly absorbed into the skin and body. Using soap sterilizes the microbes and strips off the oils (including vitamin D) which, in effect, removes the natural barrier our body relies upon for protection and the benefit we get from sun exposure. We might be cleaning germs and dirt off but are we doing ourselves more harm than good by washing ourselves with soap all the time?

I trust the body and our skin. I don’t think the world has gotten that crazy that our skin needs so much help to work properly. I do wonder, in our giant fear of germs and sun, how much collateral damage or unintended consequences we suffer from by not letting it just do it’s job most of the time.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

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