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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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July 19, 2011

8 Natural Ways to Prevent a Sunburn (And Sunscreen’s Not One of Them)

By Mark Sisson
265 Comments

As summer descends upon the world, a young Primal eater’s fancy turns to playful frolicking in the sunshine. And when you’re frolicking, the last thing you want to do is slather a bunch of horrible-smelling, greasy, overpriced sunblock all over your body. It makes you slippery and imbues your countenance with a deathly pallor that is very unbecoming. If you could, you’d love to avoid the nasty practice altogether. You’d love to use more alternative methods. Methods that may not have the support of the medical community, but for which supportive research does exist. Seeing as how a common refrain throughout the newly Primal is that sunburns seem fewer and further between than ever before, I’m guessing that there’s something to it. Dietary? Supplementary?

I’ve noticed the same thing in myself and my family, so I got to wondering: what about going Primal, exactly, might be having this effect? And if something is protecting us from the sun, and it’s not just in everyone’s heads, what else can we do to bolster our natural sunblock? What can we recommend to friends and family who aren’t quite on board with the whole deal but still want protection from the sun? Let’s take a look at some potential supplements and dietary strategies. I’ll reference research as often as possible, but I’ll also draw on anecdotal experience, both personal and from the community at large.

Eat Some Lycopene

Lycopene, that famous carotenoid found in tomatoes, has been shown in a recent in vivo RCT to protect humans against sun damage. Healthy women, aged 21-47, who ate 55 g of tomato paste containing 16 mg of lycopene every day for 12 weeks experienced significant protection against acute – and potentially long term – sun damage. Remember that cooked tomatoes, and tomato products like paste and sauce, offer far more bioavailable lycopene than raw tomatoes. If you’re counting, 55 grams of tomato paste is a hair over 3 tablespoons worth.

Get Some Astaxanthin

The super-antioxidant astaxanthin is found in algae, the organisms that eat it, and the organisms that eat those organisms (like salmon, shrimp, and pink flamingo – the pink/red color gives it away). It has been getting some attention as an “internal sunscreen.” Does it stack up? Well, here’s a study on isolated human skin cells, in which astaxanthin definitely protects against UVA damage. And here’s another study on isolated skin cells showing its protective effects. But those are limited. Does the effect persist in real life settings? In other words, does ingesting astaxanthin supplements or food that contains astaxanthin offer protection from UVA? This hairless mouse study suggests that it might; astaxanthin was more effective than even retinol. I’d say it looks promising, and I’m always interested in an excuse to dine on pink flamingo thigh.

Get Some Vitamin D

A common anecdotal report is that supplementing vitamin D increases sun tolerance and protection against sun damage, and a recent study seems to confirm this. Various forms of the vitamin D prohormone offered various protections against UV damage in a mouse model: reduced sunburn, lowered incidence of tumor development. Huh, imagine that! Getting sun gives you vitamin D, which in turn protects you from too much sun. It’s funny how these things work out. Nature can be very elegant.

Get Your Long-Chain Omega-3s and Ditch the Omega-6s

A recent study out of Australia found that adults with the highest serum concentrations of DHA and EPA had the least “cutaneous p53 expression.” What’s the significance of cutaneous p53 expression? When your skin is in danger of damage from the sun, p53 expression is upregulated to protect it, and high p53 immunoreactivity can lead to melanoma. The fact that high DHA/EPA meant low p53 immunoreactivity suggests that the omega-3s were protecting the skin. And although the study’s authors noted that high serum omega-6 content didn’t seem to correlate with high p53 activity, I think a likelier explanation is this: omega-6 is so prevalent in the modern Australian diet, that even “low” levels are still above the threshold for increased susceptibility to sunburn. Going higher than that threshold won’t make things any worse, and it won’t show up in the statistics. Drop that omega-6 intake to 2% of calories, though, while getting an equal amount of omega-3s? I bet you’d see some incredible UV-resistance.

Eat Plenty of Saturated Fat

This is slightly redundant in light of the last suggestion – after all, if you’re limiting PUFAs, you gotta eat some saturated fat – but I think it’s worth mentioning. I hear about people bumping up their saturated fat intake and improving their UV-resistance all over the place, and I’ve experienced the same thing myself, but I’d never seen it mentioned in the literature. Well, here’s a cool rodent study in which mice were either given a saturated fat-enriched diet or a PUFA-enriched diet. No word on the exact composition of the two diets. When both groups of mice were injected with melanoma cells, “the initiation time required for visible tumor growth in mice receiving the polyunsaturated fat diet was significantly less than that in mice receiving the saturated fat diet.” A higher-saturated fat diet was protective, while a higher-PUFA diet was not. If you’re gonna be out in the sun, better eat your butter, palm oil, and coconut oil, eh?

Drink Tea

Tea, especially green tea, offers a complex arsenal of antioxidant compounds. How it works and what’s doing it isn’t fully understood, but it’s generally accepted that drinking green tea is a smart move and a mainstay of many healthy traditional cultures. Unsurprisingly, there’s also evidence that dietary green tea, specifically its polyphenols, inhibit the development of skin tumors by controlling inflammation and preventing DNA damage. Topical green tea extracts applied directly to the skin also offer photoprotection.

Get Some Proanthocyanidins

Proanthocyanidins, which can be found in wine and grape seeds, berries like blueberries and chokeberries, nuts like hazelnuts and pistachios, and certain niche grains like sorghum and barley, have been efficacious in preventing UV damage in hairless rodents. Whether it works for hairless apes remains to be seen, but drinking wine and eating berries sound like fine ideas regardless of their photoprotective efficacy. Actually, score one for the hairless apes who quaff wine: a recent study found that people who supplemented with grape seed extract (high in anthocyanidins) had a significantly lower risk of skin cancer. It sounds promising.

Consider Resveratrol

Resveratrol gets a lot of publicity for its possible anti-cancer, cardioprotective, and lifespan enhancing qualities, but it’s also gaining steam as a potential photoprotective agent. This study found that once incorporated into skin cells, resveratrol protected them from UV damage. Topical resveratrol seems viable, too, but I can imagine rubbing resveratrol into your sun-exposed skin would get expensive rather quickly.

Well, that’s what I came up with. I think the first four appear to be the most effective, but if you have a real problem with burning, it might be worth checking out all the strategies I mentioned. I’m also interested in what’s worked for you. Have you tried the above methods? Did they work? Fill us in and thanks for reading!

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265 Comments on "8 Natural Ways to Prevent a Sunburn (And Sunscreen’s Not One of Them)"

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Nick
5 years 2 months ago

All great suggestions! Far better than having to lather up every couple of hours.

I’d always wondered about Vitamin D supplementation. It seemed logical that having Vitamin D already in your system would yield some protection from the sun. Nice to hear that this could be the case!

kameron
kameron
4 years 3 months ago
Heyy this is Kameron a big fann of the internet umm……seee i was reading your summer thing and i was wondering if you knew an other ways brecause umm…..like i am going to the pool a lot and like my mom makes me where sunscreen byt for sum reason sunscreen kind protects me but mainly i burn still.So what exactly do you know bout this um….if you can you can folllow me on ask or my space thanks kameron
katie
5 years 2 months ago

It’s funny that you mention this because I hadn’t put much thought into my sun tolerance being linked to my diet lately. But I haven’t used sunblock all summer and haven’t received much worse than a golden glow. I have spent plenty of time outdoors and I’m usually adamant about the block but this year I haven’t had to. Only changes- eating more primally.

George
5 years 2 months ago

Come to think of it neither have I?Been consuming lots of blueberries and SFAs while avoiding O6.Got to factor in the red wine as well…..(wink).

No real intention to not use sunscreen but it has just seemed unnecessary this season?

Interesting!
Geo

Wenderful
Wenderful
5 years 2 months ago

ME TOO. I just noticed last week that I’m often in the sun now, no sunscreen, and I’m not burning. I am white as a ghost and usually burn within 10-15 minutes.
I started eating paleo in February of this year, but still don’t get to eat a lot of everything Mark’s listed above.
(I can’t have tomatoes or the wine)…yet the absence of burning is undeniable. Wow, this is really intriguing.
;-p

Emily
Emily
4 years 2 months ago
Me N! I went paleo back in November. I’m one of the palest Irish freckled redheads you’ll ever meet and historically I can burn in 15-20 minutes of exposure to mid-Atlantic sun in a city. 45 minutes and I’m lobster-red and peeling for days. This summer, even when outside at a music festival for days on end, I skipped the sunblock. I followed the strategy of staying in the sun until I noticed my skin turning very light pink, and then tried to keep a light/breathable linen cover-up over my shoulders the rest of the time I was in the… Read more »
Ember
Ember
4 years 2 months ago

Fascinating article, perfect to share after a recent conversation I had with my boyfriend. I never wear sunblock at BM and haven’t burned there in 8 years of a weeks camping. They may call us Burners, but not in this sense of the word!

Hal
5 years 2 months ago
Very interesting post. My wife and I have stopped using sunscreen this year, as my son reacts to every type we’ve ever used on him. We use ourselves as a barometer to know when to cover both him and ourselves up. It’s worked well so far, despite not having a good solid summer up here in the Pacific NW to acclimate to the sun. No burns, despite a few sporadic solar exposures. We already do the extra Vitamin D and the saturated fat. Might well try some other things as well (my wife is fairly light complexioned, and is thus… Read more »
Primal Toad
5 years 2 months ago

Perfect timing Mark! I have to guess that you thought of this post because of the hottest heat wave in the US since 1988!

I am up here in Michigan where the avg. high is 83 for today. The heat index is going to be between 100 and 105 tomorrow and Thursday!!!

I am staying out of the sun. My body is NOT used to this much heat. It’s simple enough to just stay inside sometimes. I’ll be fine being out there for about fifteen minutes a day this week but no more!

Primal Toad
5 years 2 months ago
Wow! Really?! I love reading this: ” Healthy women, aged 21-47, who ate 55 g of tomato paste containing 16 mg of lycopene every day for 12 weeks experienced significant protection against acute – and potentially long term – sun damage.” I am a HUGE fan of tomato paste. In fact its one of the 22 emergency foods that I listed in the blog post I published about 5 minutes ago. Its full of nutrition, portable and extremely cheap if you buy a store brand. (39 cents at Meijer per 6 oz can which gives you 150 cals for those… Read more »
Trevor
Trevor
5 years 2 months ago

I think I rather put the coconut oil on my skin than sunscreen. It would smell better.

mina
mina
5 years 2 months ago

i was using coconut oil whenever i got out especially long hours in the pool. recently ii heard from friends that u get a lot more tan ans sun burn than otherwise. is this true…? i have observed it and think it does. any ideas?

Primal Toad
5 years 2 months ago

Are you saying you heard that you get more sun burn if you use coconut oil? I do not quite understand what you are saying…

Jen
Jen
5 years 2 months ago

Yes, I applied coconut oil all of last summer and I got a really nice tan. I don’t suggest leaving it on for a long period as I don’t think it protects you from UV rays.

Alley
Alley
3 years 1 month ago

Coconut oil protects your skin from the harmful effects of the sun, but it also allows you to get the vitamin D that sunblock keeps you from getting enough of. You can get a tan and the benefits of the sun without the burn and skin damage.

Charlotte
Charlotte
5 years 2 months ago
Hi Primal Toad, I was just reading about your fondness for tomato paste on your blog yesterday; was looking for ‘travel food’ ideas. Sorry if this sounds daft but in the UK we don’t have anything specifically called tomato paste. There’s tinned tomatoes and tomato passata (which I believe in the states is called ‘sieved’ tomatoes) but obviously these are not right. We also have tomato puree, or tomato concentrate which normally comes in a tube (like toothpaste) and is used to flavor and enrich sauces, gravies and stews. Does this sound like the right stuff to you? Many thanks… Read more »
Andy
Andy
5 years 2 months ago

Hi Charlotte

Yes, it’s the puree/concentrate that’s the same as ‘paste’ in the US.

kameron
kameron
4 years 3 months ago
Heyy this is Kameron a freak of the computer lol but umm……is there a way you could explain that ti me because i was reading i found it pretty interesting and im lways getting burnt at the pool abd this is really cool what you put up so ya you can follow me on facebook myspace or on ask thanks kameron
ratwoman
ratwoman
4 years 6 days ago
old post, but anyway: yes, it works, oil is a natural sunscreen – not a strong one, but yes it is. Besides that, oil keeps the skin healthy, especially when we use modern shower gels – that drie out the skin and the best weapon to sun is intact and healthy skin. The skin has mechanisms to avoid burns – but they have to develop. You need to expose yourself to the sun. I’m very pale but I almost never get a sunburn – I ride my bike every morning throughout the year, at least an hour and I do… Read more »
Sarah Due
Sarah Due
5 years 2 months ago

Man, you’re telling me! I’m in Michigan on vacation. I left Virginia to escape the heat, but it followed me here! A good jump in the lake always helps though =)

liberty_1776
5 years 2 months ago

I live near several beaches in the North East and I work a desk job- read pasty white form winter. My solution has been to get a few hours at the beach after work (weather permitting). I’ve been doing this since June and have yet to burn. On the weekends I am at the beach for 4-8 hours. I do use a beach shelter (primitive lean to) to avoid mid day sun.

skink531
5 years 2 months ago

It makes sense. Just following PB will cover most of the suggestions naturally. I live in South Florida, don’t wear sunscreen, and I don’t get burned. That being said, I also pay attention and cover up or seek shade when I know I’ve had enough.

Melissa
5 years 2 months ago

We are also in S. FL, and don’t wear sunscreen. We get a little sun – my 3 kids have beautiful tans – and then we cover up with hats and long sleeved rash guards. The kids can still get wet and play, but they are protected from sunburn.

Crunchy Pickle
5 years 2 months ago

My three have great tans too! It is so interesting to see the difference with the diet shift. I often forget to bring sunscreen places like the beach because we rarely need it so it doesn’t cross my mind anymore!

Dasbutch
Dasbutch
5 years 2 months ago

west central florida. plenty of sun, no problem no sun screen. just right eating.

kameron
kameron
4 years 3 months ago

wow interesting!!!!!!!!!

kameron
kameron
4 years 3 months ago

wow that is really cool umm…and like where did you find this out??

Jaime
Jaime
5 years 2 months ago
I’m not 100% primal, but I have noticed since decreasing my grains and increasing the amounts of fish I eat as well as taking Vitamin D and an Omega 3 supplement that I burn less frequently. I still burn, as I am very fair skinned (Irish/German blonde, blue eyed with freckles). I try to stay out of the sun between the hours of 11-3 and find that I can go out anytime prior to or after that without sunscreen, even when I was in Mexico, without burning at all. I did get fried earlier this summer when I didn’t put… Read more »
Alisa Fleming
5 years 2 months ago

I read a book about Vitamin D and it actually debunked the 11-3 notion as a myth. According to the author, the “good” rays are the ones out mid-day, with higher “bad” rays at the later daylight hours (sorry, I always get my UVA & UVB confused!). I’d be curious if anyone else has read about this or has insight on if this is true.

Thanks for the awesome post, so informative!

Paleophil
Paleophil
5 years 2 months ago

What’s the name of the book or the author?

MN_John
MN_John
3 years 5 months ago
The author was probably Dr. Holick, he is the one that came up with the D3 version of vitamin D, he’s a research scientist at Univ of Wisconsin, Madison. His most recent book (2011) “The Vitamin D Solution: A 3-Step Strategy to Cure Our Most Common Health Problems” is a very good read. In short… UVA causes skin Aging (and the worst cancers), UVB causes Burns (note the first letter after UV, this will help you remember). UVB is what our skin uses to make vitamin D. UVB is easily filtered, by the atmosphere, window glass, haze, the cheapest sunscreens.… Read more »
AmyC
AmyC
4 years 3 months ago
I’ve also read similar info that the best time for sun exposure to promote Vit. D production is lunchtime (11-1). One place I know I’ve seen this is on Dr Mercola’s website. The new thing now is that you’re not supposed to shower w/soap after getting the sun exposure – apparently, research indicates that it takes up to 48-hrs to get the full synthesis (Vit D starts w/our natural skin oils then converts, which takes time.) Fortunately, this Phoenix girl has never been afraid of the sun and my Vit D lab results are always at the high end of… Read more »
Ember
Ember
4 years 2 months ago

I’ve come across this somewhere too. Between 10-2 both UVA and UVB rays come through the atmosphere and balance each other. Before and after that time, the “good” rays bounce off the atmosphere when they come in at more of a slant, while the “bad” rays still get through and can do their damage. So yeah, what we were told growing up, to avoid the sun between 10-2, was apparently exactly wrong. (Of course, I tend to believe anything that is simplified — even my explanation above — doesn’t get it all right. Nature is complex…)

Morilinde
Morilinde
9 months 22 days ago
UVA and UVB don’t “balance” each other. They radiate with different frequencies. Think about them like swimmers in different pool lanes. UVA radiation has a longer wave length and penetrates deeper into the skin, causing more damage that is invisible to us. It damages DNA and is in no way healthy for us to be exposed to. UVB radiation has a shorter wavelength and is only able to penetrate the upper layers of the skin; just enough to cause superficial burns and support vitamin d synthesis. Coconut oil is great because it absorbs UVA radiation but lets a good deal… Read more »
Brooke
Brooke
5 years 2 months ago

I am so fair and have always had to use sunblock… thanks for all the suggestions! I just started taking 1200mg omega3 fish oil plus 1000iu vitamin d3. We’ll see how I make out at the beach in two weeks.

Jo-Anne
Jo-Anne
4 years 2 months ago

It can take over a year of going primal to get the sugar out of the system and then you shouldn’t burn so much.

Do a test….check it out when you marinate a steak….the sweet marinades burn the meat black…the others not so much.

We are the same if we are “marinated” in sugar.

primalpal
primalpal
5 years 2 months ago
Thanks for all of the tips Mark…I have been wondering about this, as I burn very easily. I have been using my lunch break to go home and layout for 30 minutes…15 minutes of direct sunlight on each side…about 3 – 4 times a week, and I have started to build up a light tan…slowly increasing my exposure during other parts of the day, and I haven’t been burnt yet 🙂 Do you know of any studies conducted on people who have already been badly burnt several times in their lives…this is what I’m really worried about, because as a… Read more »
Timothy
5 years 2 months ago

Primalpal, there was one study in Australia that demonstrated that office workers had much higher skin cancer rates than lifeguards. So sun exposure is not the primary culprit. (Google for more details.)

I too had several horrific sunburns as a child and your complexion sounds pretty similar to my own. In my case, living primally provided total sun protection. At age 35 my skin is healthier than ever before, despite my blasting it with UV at every opportunity.

Blake
Blake
2 years 2 days ago

There is a postulated “hardening” effect of some UV-induced tolerance against melanoma. More research needed to corroborate this. This has led to more of a “weekend warrior” mentality toward melanoma risk (intense, less frequent burns vs daily low-grade damage). Be careful, however, as total life cumulative sun exposure is definitively linked with risk of squamous cell carcinoma development. While it ain’t melanoma, SCC has very real metastatic potential.

Jo-Anne
Jo-Anne
4 years 2 months ago

Primalpal, I agree with Timothy and be 100% compliant about avoiding sugar……as it feeds cancer. Google sugar+cancer……

That should minimise any damage.

freqz
freqz
5 years 2 months ago

Proanthocyanidins and resveratrol eh? Sounds like a good time for some more nice red wine.

Wendy
Wendy
5 years 2 months ago

I was thinking the same thing…

Peggy The Primal Parent
5 years 2 months ago

I’ve noticed that if I eat a lot of omega 6s I will burn a little even being primal. Otherwise, since going primal I’m just tan. I don’t have to bother with the extra resveratol, lycopene, etc. Just eating primal foods seems to work wonders.

cTo
cTo
5 years 2 months ago

It’s probably also worth adding that behavioral adaptations to sun are just as important. This summer I have been avoiding unprotected exposure between like noon and 2ish. After that, especially after 3, is when I go to the pool.

Also, does anyone know of any good supplements that collect some of these nifty nutrients (specifically things like the lycopene and astaxanthin) in one place? Cause I’m somewhat less than thrilled at the idea of eating cooked-tomato-and-seaweed-salads all summer 😉

zj
zj
5 years 2 months ago

Aloha,
BioAstin is an awesome astaxanthin supplement, produced on the Big Island of Hawaii where sun is king!

Remco
Remco
3 years 9 months ago

I know it’s a late reply, but I wanna say this about BioAstin Astaxathin, it contains corn starch, sorbitol and bad oils, god knows why, but it does.
Jarrow Formulas has a better one.

Greetings from the Netherlands!

Timothy
5 years 2 months ago
With my northern european skin and an innate revulsion to sunscreen, I used to burn all the time before going Primal. I mean really heinous burns; after just one hour I would be unable to stand the feeling of anything on my skin except lukewarm water for days on end. One of the first effects I noticed after going primal was that I could spend hours under the sun without burning. I credit this to rebalancing my O3-O6 ratio and eating saturated fats, which are the only things on the above list that I did at first. Later, I added… Read more »
Jen
5 years 2 months ago
Hahahaha. “The upper, inner thigh of a piglet” is a great visual. I have been told that I’m so white I glow. And my (unwelcome) nickname in grade school was “mayo legs”. Of course, at the time, I didn’t think it was funny. I have Nordic/German/Irish ancestry with pale, freckly skin and blue eyes that are so sensitive to the sun. This is an interesting post. In the past, I often wished I had a sunscreen dunk tank because my skin is so pale and I’ve always burned so fast, and covering my whole body takes SO LONG. About 15… Read more »
Robin
Robin
5 years 1 month ago

I’m so pale I’m transparent! You can count my veins! But this summer I actually got a little bit of golden coloring, no burns, and NO sunscreen at all! Primal FTW!

The Real Food Mama
5 years 2 months ago
I have to say that my body’s natural skin protection has been one of the most surprising affects of going Primal. Both in my husband, myself and the kids. We are very fair skin folk and all our lives we have been caking on the sun screen and still getting the two or three time a year peeling skin sunburns…..since going Primal….not one sunburn for any of us!! And we don’t us sunscreen, not even on the kids. I also think that wearing light clothing that covers well and hats when being outside for extend time periods is a good… Read more »
LaP
LaP
5 years 2 months ago

I just want to point out: just because you’re tanning rather than burning doesn’t mean your skin isn’t being damaged.

Shari
Shari
5 years 2 months ago

I agree. I find this “sunscreen is stupid” mentality very disturbing.

Eileen
Eileen
5 years 2 months ago

It’s not that “sunscreen is stupid”, it is that sunscreen is full of toxic chemicals. That is a huge motivator to avoid the stuff. I use sunscreen w/ zinc oxide and no harmful chemicals, or no sunscreen at all.

AmyC
AmyC
4 years 3 months ago
I dunno, I’m leaning towards the sunscreen-is-stupid idea, with chemical sunscreens being really stupid. Humans NEED a degree of unprotected sun exposure for a multitude of health benefits. I’m not saying unlimited or unwise unprotected sun exposure, but at least some. (Same with sunglasses – limit their use because your eyes need some of the sun’s wavelengths for their health.) Sun exposure should not be viewed as an all-or-none proposition. However, a good sunscreen for your face (and, yes, I occasionally use it myself) is Josie Maran’s Argan Oil w/spf 50 – contains zinc oxide, not a bunch of chemical… Read more »
Desert Caveman
Desert Caveman
5 years 2 months ago

I live in Phoenix, AZ aka “The Valley of the Sun”. Since going Primal almost a year ago I haven’t had one sunburn and I’ve been spending A ALOT more time in the sun with no sunscreen. I’m a saturated fat junkee and take astaxanthin and everyday. Yesterday was 112 degrees (not the heat index either) and today will be “cooler” at 108. Bring it on!!

Desert Caveman
Desert Caveman
5 years 2 months ago

Of course, giant dust storms blocking out the sun doesn’t hurt either;)

Jen
Jen
5 years 2 months ago

I’ve been seeing articles and little personal stories around the net about astaxanthin just like yours. I just ordered some the other day and now I’m extra excited to get it!

Giftty
Giftty
5 years 2 months ago

heyy i live in phoenix too! 🙂 i never got sunburn in my life (genetics). I just always get nicely toasted, but i dont like being too dark–feel like my skin might get wrinkly before it should.

The Primal Recipe
5 years 2 months ago

I didn’t realize actually eating coconut oil would help protect the sun, but I have been wondering if actually applying it directly to the skin would act as a sort of sun screen.

I’ve been using the Vit D method – I try to get 10-30 mins of sun per day while I can – I’m in upstate NY and we don’t get much sun here after labor day. I find this amount does have a protective effect.

Anne
5 years 2 months ago

I have a complexion that doesn’t burn too easily, but I still spend a ton of time in the sun. This summer I’ve relied on big hats and a scuba-style swim shirt at the pool. I didn’t know my diet was providing protection!

This is a big issue for me in the summer, so I’ll be evaluating my omega 3s and 6s and added vit 6 for sure.

So, red wine and hazelnuts are good for my skin? Love MDA!

Chris Tamme
5 years 2 months ago

Since I have gone primal I know I have been far less prone to burning. I am a fair skinned individual that was always warned not to step outside into direct sunlight unless I was covered. Now I go out all the time without a shirt and I have not burned in the past 2 years.

Whatever I am doing works for me and keeps me from having to slather on greasy sunscreen.

Corinne Spiers
5 years 2 months ago

Seafood salad with tomatoes – sounds so much tastier than sunblock! Thanks Mark

Marktavious
Marktavious
5 years 2 months ago
Avoiding sunburn for me goes into the little bit a day scenario that applies to the vitamin D explination. In the beginning of summer I try to expose myself little by little every day or every other day extending the time period each time. Now in the middle of July I’m able to play for hours without worry of burnt skin, and only limited to the time I have to spend outside. Since I’ve gone primal I’ve almost completely eliminated dairy products so I’m in the category of needing my body to produce vitamin D from sun exposure.
john
5 years 2 months ago

Does vitamin D3 work through increased dopamine signaling and therefore increased melanin production? I think I read a few things that led me to that.

Serotonin receptor antagonists reverse UV damage and inhibit UV-induced immune suppression in hairless mice: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18483284.

dragonmamma
dragonmamma
5 years 2 months ago

I and my hubby have both noticed a huge difference since coconut oil became a staple in our diets.
My husband is a typical fair-skinned red-head, and besides getting easily sun-burned, his nose would actually look purple from his blood vessels being so inflamed.
After two years of consuming massive quantities of coconut oil, I can’t even remember the last time either of us has been sunburned.

WhatAboutJason
5 years 2 months ago

I wonder if these methods work just as well down here in South Florida. The sun is most unforgiving…but the beaches are awesome!

Laura
5 years 2 months ago

I’ve noticed that since I started eating Paleo/Primal and supplementing with Vitamin D and Fish Oil that I don’t really burn any more. I used to get sunburned within 15 minutes of being outside…the past 2 years I’ve noticed a dramatic difference in my sun tolerance and don’t get burned much anymore. My changed diet includes most of what you’ve listed here Mark as things to help prevent sunburn naturally.

Gary Deagle
5 years 2 months ago

Since I started eating coconut oil I have noticed I do not burn as easily. If I avoid being unprotected from 12-3 then I can be out in the sun with no sunscreen and no burn.

Kim
Kim
5 years 2 months ago

I see coconut oil referenced a lot here and other places. Is there another oil that gives comparable benefits? I’m allergic to coconut.

kevin walker
kevin walker
5 years 2 months ago

Just wear a hat

Jenny
Jenny
5 years 2 months ago

A big culprit that you don’t specifically mention here, but that goes hand in hand with primal eating is sugar or the avoidance of it. Sugar creates inflammation which makes you prone to sunburn. That’s why it seems that the more margaritas we have, the more crispy we get. Going primal greatly limits this intake, especially in its refined forms and other sugar precursors like grains. I’ve been touting the avoiding sunburn thing for years, but only how it related to sugar and inflammation. All these other suggestions make perfect sense too!

cTo
cTo
5 years 2 months ago

Course more margaritas also increases the risk of passing out in the sun ;D

Jenny
Jenny
5 years 2 months ago

Yeah, there’s always that…… but of course I’m talking about ppl who can hold their liquor. 😉

chocolatechip69
chocolatechip69
5 years 2 months ago

Shoot, I wish I’d come upon this article 2 days ago. I burned quite a bit at the beach last weekend and am still licking my wounds.

Thank you for some great suggestions. Doing a lot of it already, so hopefully didn’t get too much damage from this recent burn.

alan
alan
5 years 2 months ago

Great article Mark!

My wife and I actually found through travelling through SE Asia that lathering coconut oil 1) kills sandflies and 2) prevents burning. It truly is amazing stuff.

Jon
Jon
5 years 2 months ago
I’m of Norwegian descent and have very fair skin. As a kid, I’d get one or two sunburns a summer and then I’d get a tan afterwards, but those sunburns sure did hurt! As an adult, I used sunscreen like I was told by everyone. Eventually I started using the spray on sunscreen. Up through last summer, I’d spray on the sunscreen before mowing the lawn, and would still get a little red on my neck and sometimes on my legs. Last Fall (around Thanksgiving), I went primal and started eating lots of saturated fats and supplementing with Vitamin D.… Read more »
Jon
Jon
5 years 2 months ago

I should also add that I live in South Dakota. That means I have the added disadvantage of only really getting out in the sun for about 3-4 months each year.

So this Norwegian decent, fair skinned, stuck inside all winter dude doesn’t sunburn when he eats right.

Awesome!

Sean Kelly
Sean Kelly
5 years 2 months ago

Another key point: After moving from the Mediterranean latitude of Cleveland OH to Seattle, WA, the frequency of sunburns to my pale Irish skin dropped substantially

PrimalGrandma
PrimalGrandma
5 years 2 months ago

Not that anyone following PB would need to take prescriptions meds, BUT if you do, be sure to read the flyer that you get with your meds because one of the common side effects listed could very well be “This medicine may cause increased sensitivity to the sun”.

I know that was the case when I took tamoxifen for 5 years after my bout with breast cancer back in 2002. That warning was in big, bold letters. I’ve seen that same issue stated with other meds also and it’s probably true of OTC meds as well.

Peter
Peter
5 years 2 months ago
Love everything primal. But be careful folks. The sun can be both deadly, and proven to add years to how old you look. Just look at many people in their 40s and 50s who look much older, and who have spent a lot of unprotected time in the sun. I know women who are 50 who were careful (sunscreen/hats and common sense) who look 35. Literally. This is one facet of primal living that could be regretted when its too late. Again…I love everything primal, in fact after reading this I threw a tomato in the bacon fat to have… Read more »
Average Joe
Average Joe
5 years 2 months ago

Yeah, I hate that too.

Visit my website at buy-supplements-for-less(dot)com to read more about how I hate that sort of thing.

Average Joe
Average Joe
5 years 2 months ago

joke by the way

Victor
Victor
5 years 2 months ago

When I lie in the sun, I cover my face with my t-shirt. My face gets enough sun anyway and in this way it does not age without chemicals.

If people link to relevant articles, that is fine by me. That is what the web is all about.

Katie J
Katie J
5 years 2 months ago

This reminds me of when my sister and I were kids. Our mother would mix up a homemade sunscreen of oil and vinegar and we’d rub that all over us and go to the pool smelling like salads:-) We’d spend the day there and never burned.

Emily
5 years 2 months ago

I always wondered why I didn’t seem to burn even though I have a fair complexion. Healthy lifestyle wins again!

PaleoMum
5 years 2 months ago

Don’t know what I’d do if I lived in the southern US, but here in Lancaster, UK (latitude: north of Edmonton) it amazes me the way that people slather their kids in sunscreen the moment the sun comes out. I was furious in March because on the first sunny day of the year the children were instructed to wear hats and sunscreen! In March! At Lat. 54N!

John D. Pilla
John D. Pilla
5 years 2 months ago

Yup, check, check, check – do all of those before having recently found this MDA website – all good information. My wife and I are in the sun a lot and do a lot paddling (kayaking) during our very, very short summers in New England, USA. We also found, at times, when additional protection is needed that Dr. Mercola has a completely natural, harmless lotion that adds to protection for very lengthy exposure days.

Caleigh
Caleigh
5 years 2 months ago
A few weekends ago my bf and 3 of our friends spent a couple of days at the beach and it was kinda nifty to see everyone’s reaction to long hours in the sun. One slathered on sunblock every hour, another slathered on tanning oil as often as possible, one didn’t put hardly anything on (except aloe vera after he fried to a crisp) and my bf put sunblock on two or three times and burned pretty pink (but to be fair, it was the first time his legs saw the light of day in 5 years lol). I put… Read more »
Pasha
Pasha
5 years 2 months ago

Great stuff! I just wanted to add a Russian home remady that had worked for me and others who were not afraid to try it: sour cream. Topical application of sour cream on sun burn helps sooth the burning and prevents pealing. You have to do it the same day that you get burnt but I have found it helps far more than aloe Vera.

Animanarchy
5 years 2 months ago
This year I decided to protect myself from sunburns by going out and getting one on a hot, sunny day. I lied down by a lakeside with a friend and chilled (or rather, baked .. :P) and stayed there just relaxing and going in the water on occasion for around 6 hours, turning from side to side and on my back and sleeping on and off. I got a pretty bad burn that left me in some discomfort for a few days but then it went away, leaving me with a fairly dark tan, which then protected me from being… Read more »
Randi
5 years 2 months ago
I have a 1 year old, 2 year old, and 4 year old. We’ve been at the pool for a month straight for swimming lessons, and none of us has burned, but we eat a healthy diet. My husband on the other hand, hates healthy food and burned to a crisp while helping his friend install new windows. Even if I told him berries, tomatoes, beets, fish etc. would act as sunscreen, he’d still choose the chemical lotions. He’s so “mainstream”. Even with his health suffering (physically, emotionally, even spiritually) he just won’t convert to a healthy lifestyle. He thinks… Read more »
Naomi Aldort
1 year 1 month ago
I guide parents internationally and often hear from those in hot countries, about their attempt to keep children out of the sun. The sun is a health source and children and adults need it. One of our problems in addition to diet (best is raw paleo), is too much soaping and lotions. The skin must be allowed to build its natural layer of oil that protects it best and allows it to absorb vitamin D. It is crucial not to wash it off. It also take 24-48 hours to fully absorb the vitamin D and so it is best not… Read more »
IvyBlue
IvyBlue
5 years 2 months ago

I would also add: get some sun. This pasty white boy, since going primal, is tanning up nicely like I did when I was a kid. The tan is itself a protection.

I’ve still got to be careful if I’m at the beach all day but even then a bit of redness is gone the next day, no blistering or peeling. Another side benefit.

Duff
5 years 2 months ago

I do pretty much all of that and still burn easily. Scotch-Irish-German genetics, keyboard jockey desk job, and high altitude scorching sun make for a tough combo to go sans sunscreen.

To your tips I’d add “sun yourself/exercise outdoors for 10-20 minutes each day during peak hours (10am-2pm) if possible to slowly build up a tan without sunburn.”

Meg
Meg
5 years 2 months ago

Living in AZ… this is great information! Thanks! 🙂

Janine
Janine
5 years 2 months ago
I am soooo going to try the coconut oil! Being a red-head with fair skin, I used to live in sunscreen until last year when I attended Primal Con. I now use it sparingly and mostly if I am going out on water. I hated the way that sunscreen would get into my eyes and leave me with weepy eyes all day…and then the chemical smell..ick. So, have fairly ditched the sunscreen. But, amazingly, I find it really difficult to find a regular moisturizer that does NOT have sunscreen in it for a day cream…it’s become a cult! One more… Read more »
Chase
Chase
5 years 2 months ago

Great timing with this one Mark! I’m actually at the beach with my fiancé and her family right now and I know this post will come in handy!

Anna Barlowea
5 years 2 months ago

Hmm. I don’t think I’ll be giving up sunscreen any time soon, since I’m concerned with more than avoiding sunburn. I have the kind of skin that you really need to sleep in a coffin and avoid garlic to protect. But I’m all for the drinking of the tea. Oh yes.

One other tip – stay in the shade and wear clothing and hats! Or is that too obvious? 😛

Jess
Jess
5 years 2 months ago

I live in New Zealand where thanks to all the lovely pollution from the rest of the world we have a hole in the ozone layer that sits above us during Spring/Summer. The sun in New Zealand will burn you in 15 minutes, it can burn you through light clothing, you can even get burned during Winter. Seriously.

I work outside in Summer and cover myself as much as possible with clothing so I don’t have to wear as much sunscreen cause I hate the stuff. Will these things work even with these extreme conditions?

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