How my family avoided sunburns all summer long without a drop of sunscreen!
This is Part 2 in a 2-part series about the sun and our skin. Read Part 1 here.
This is the true story of how my family of four avoided sunburns all summer long without using sunscreen.
Not a drop of it.
If you’re skeptical about why in the world a health-conscious family (with a mom who is a former cancer dietitian, no less!) intentionally go out in the sun without sunscreen, be sure to read Part 1 of this series. In that post, we took a look at what the science really says about the sun, vitamin D, skin health, and cancer, and reviewed 5 ways to decrease cancer risk in the sun.
Now back to the story…
How My Family Avoided Sunburn All Summer Long without Sunscreen
As a family, we were always healthy eaters. But, after a personal health crisis in 2014, we began to incorporate more pastured animal fats, fermented foods, and high quality supplements for gut and hormone health. We didn’t eat very many processed foods to begin with, but our intake of packaged foods that used processed vegetable oils went down even further.
Fast forward to January of 2016, and we started the GAPS Diet for gut healing to address some symptoms we had seen in my youngest. He continued on GAPS for just over a year (with wonderful results, by the way!), while the rest of us returned to our healthy, real food diets after just a few months.
As we continued eating real foods over those couple of years, I noticed a gradual reduction in our need for sunscreen. But I never expected to not need it at all.
But that’s exactly what happened in the summer of 2016. The kids were in swim team every afternoon for the first six weeks, and we took weekly trips to the pool as a family for a few hours at a time, sometimes mid-morning through midday, and other times in the mid to late afternoon. And we never came home with a sunburn.
In fact, we didn’t even get “pink”!
I fully credit our sun resistance to the accumulated effects of the higher animal fat, gut healthy diet and supplements I mentioned we adopted nearly two years prior. Others have made the same connection – check out some great articles on the topic here and here.
Just to be clear, I’m not throwing away the sunscreen just yet, and I’m not suggesting you do that either. But, I’m happy to say we no longer have to worry about applying and reapplying sunscreen every time we go to the pool for a few hours!
Spending all day at a pool or water park is a different story – you better believe we’ll have our favorite nontoxic sunscreen on hand then! Badger sunscreens have worked well for us in the past.
I should also mention that no one in my family is blonde or red-headed, though one of us has more sensitive skin than the others and he seemed to avoid burning just like the rest of us. I can’t say with certainty that our experience would be repeated for fairer skinned individuals, but I fully believe at least some degree of sunburn protection would occur with a transition to a higher quality, real foods diet, regardless of hair color or skin tone.