Now that spring is here, if you haven’t already, it’s time to start acclimating to the sun and letting yourself develop a tan. I’ve been a fan of embracing the sun for a long time because I don’t think we should fear or avoid it and feel that if we allow our bodies and skin to adjust and develop a tan slowly we can enjoy the sun much more throughout the warmer months and have to rely on sunscreen or covering up a lot less. Connecting with the sun and creating a relationship with it is much more advantageous and health promoting than hiding from it or getting burned by it.
I’ve written on this concept before each of the last couple years (Does The Sun Cause Wrinkles? & Sensible Sun Exposure) but this year I decided to write it up a little earlier…
Spring Sun Program
Your body has the ability to make its own protective barrier and it is more effective and safer than sunscreen. They key is to allow your tolerance to develop slowly, not to ask the skin to protect you before it’s ready or without practice. This is best done by using what I call the Sun Season approach. This approach looks at the four seasons in a slightly different way and uses the sun’s intensity cycles to structure a sensible sun-skin adaptive approach.
Here’s a quick explanation of the above graphic…
The Sun Season approach allows for easy and gradual adaptation to gradually increasing sun intensity. Just like lifting weights- if you start lightly and slowly but methodically increase the challenge your muscles can develop the ability to get very strong without injury if you keep within your limits and work smartly.
You can think of sun exposure in the same way. Start off the spring sun season in Feb-Mar with some outdoor time when the sun is low on the horizon and less intense to challenge your skin very mildly and safely (like lifting very light weight). As the days and weeks go by keep exposing your skin to the sun regularly and the gradually increasing sun intensity will challenge your skin just a touch more each exposure. By mid spring sun season (around the vernal equinox on Mar 21st) you’ll be training your skin with medium intensity. As you continue building strength in your skin you’ll be able to adapt and handle the ever increasing sun intensity into the end of April and into the beginning of the summer sun season in early May. This slowly developing tan and skin resilience will continue to build and allow you to successfully be out in the sun throughout the peak sun intensity season without burning nearly as easily. Of course, if you overdo it you’ll probably get burned but it will be a lot less likely and will be less damaging if it does happen.
The whole point of looking at sun exposure this way is to maximize your benefit and minimize your risk. If you allow yourself to slowly adapt to the sun you can have a much better relationship with being outside that requires much less sunscreen and avoidance and provides much more vitamin D, freedom and enjoyment.
The best way to avoid sun burns in the summer is to train the skin in the spring.
Keep in mind the goal shouldn’t be outcome based: to get a tan. The goal should be to work the process well: train the skin to adapt to the seasonal sun intensity (which results in the nice outcome of a tan).
Thanks for reading, have a great day!
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