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

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!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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211 thoughts on “8 Natural Ways to Prevent a Sunburn (And Sunscreen’s Not One of Them)”

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  1. 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!

    1. 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

  2. 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.

    1. 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?


    2. 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.

    3. 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 sun. I was surprised to notice I was able to get quite a bit more than 15-20 minutes of sun each day, though I broke it up into short-duration exposure sessions, and I didn’t burn at all in four days of doing this! Amazing to think it’s probably all that nourishing food full of healthy fat and vitamins that is protecting me.

      Related, I also camp in the Nevada desert every summer. The desert is made up of a dust about 50% silica by weight and it seems to act as a natural sunblock. Even before going paleo, these camping trips were the one time of the year I could walk out into the sun next to naked and stay in it all day and never worry about burning! (Silica dust is pretty harmful to the lungs and a bitch to get in the eyes, requiring one to keep a dust mask and goggles on hand in case of sudden winds, but I’ll take a bandana and goggles around my neck over sunblock smeared all over my body several times a day, any day.)

      1. 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!

  3. 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 concerned about burning – for good reason).

  4. 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!

    1. 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 of you in the midwest!).

      Get some Vitamin D: This confirms that a nice looking dan is probably the world’s greatest sun block. Am I right?

      One more note: One lady in the MDA forum claimed that using coconut oil on her skin prevented skin damage. She used to fry like a red lobster. One summer she slathered on coconut oil and did not get burnt once.

      I used this once and did not get burnt but since Primal Con I have yet to get burnt at all and I have not put anything on my skin.

      I just live primal. It works.

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

        1. 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?

        2. 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…

        3. 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.

        4. 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.

      2. 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 in advance for your help! 🙂

        1. Hi Charlotte

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

      3. 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

      4. 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 sports outside – my skin can handle about 30-40minutes extreme sun and hours in the afternoon while my sister (same model 😉 ) gets a heavy sunburn after 10 minutes or so.
        Plus: I never use showergels or soap, water is enough. Even if I took a longer bath (swimming) I put on some oliveoil if the skin is dry – but I never use lotion on daily base.

        I just started with paleo, so the main part has to be exposure.

        sun is not evil – get used to it in spring, get small doses during summer and your skin will be fine if you need it to be. Keep your skin healthy and everything will be fine.

    2. 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 =)

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

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

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

  7. 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 any sunscreen on all day, so I wouldn’t recommend no sunscreen if you are outside all day in the sun, but there are non-chemical mineral sunscreen options that are much better (even though they do make you look kind of chalky). I try to find shade before I resort to these sunscreens though.

    1. 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!

        1. 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. UVA blasts right through those things. For years sunscreen manufactures sold us sunscreens that blocked UVB (the good stuff) and allowed UVA right through, so it blocked natures natural sunblock mechanisms and let us get the harmful UVA.

          So sit outside during between 11am and 1pm (earlier and later in mid summer, forget about it in the northern states during the winter months, all UVB is filtered by the atmosphere). Do not wear sunscreen, stay out until your skin starts to turn pink and then cover up. Get 30-40 minutes per day (mostly uncovered) during the summer (maybe 10 minutes in S. Florida, 60 minutes in northern Maine) to get your vitamin D. You can start to up that as you tan.

          I’ve followed most the articles suggestions and they do work wonderfully. Astaxanthin is GREAT at preventing burns but you need to also be on a low PUFA diet, eating saturated fats. I use to burn walking from the store to my car, now I can lay out all day at the beach (in Minnesota, half a day at the gulf). I go from pink to tan overnight! Its truly amazing.

      1. 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 the range regardless of my level of sun exposure(w/no supplementation.) And, sorry, researchers, I shower when I want!!

      2. 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…)

        1. 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 of UVB radiation pass through. It’s an ideal sunblock for optimizing vitamin d synthesis. Heading outside mid-day for about 15 minutes (for those with fitzpatrick type 1 skin) while wearing coconut oil when, as you noted, UVB radiation is most plentiful on the surface of the planet, is a great idea.

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

  9. 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 kid, I had several bad sunburns, which I’ve been told probably already determines my fate to get some form of skin cancer. I have light freckly skin.. hopefully living primally will make up for it (fingers crossed)

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

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

      That should minimise any damage.

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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 😉

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

      1. 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!

  13. 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 astaxanthin, my favorite antioxidant and one that evolved specifically to protect against UV. Now it is virtually impossible for me to burn. The only time in the past year that I have burned was when I deliberately spent all day, from dawn to dusk, at the beach wearing no shirt (thanks PrimalCon!) And that burn wasn’t even painful, despite looking alarming and prompting a certain paleo blogger to insist that I wear sunscreen. The burn vanished in a couple of days despite continued sun exposure.

    To reinforce what Primal Toad said, coconut oil has a mild SPF (5 I think) and is a great way of topically nourishing your skin, so it both protects and heals. Plus it makes your primal musculature look extra ripply. 🙂

    I can’t change my genetics; my body barely produces enough melanin for a smattering of freckles. My “tanned” complexion is red/orange from hemoglobin, carotenoids, and astaxanthin. But I’ll take that coloring any day over my natural pallor, which a friend once described as resembling “the upper, inner thigh of a piglet.”

    1. 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 years ago, I got a burn on my back when I sat outside with my back to the sun (to protect my face) for 20 minutes to eat lunch. I hadn’t realized that my shirt had lifted up above the top of my pants. I was not a little pink – I was RED and burned! The friend I was eating lunch with was stunned.

      I read a few years ago about how the chemicals in sunscreen might actually be worse for us than the sun exposure, so I’ve switched to mineral-based sunscreen and try to avoid using it as much as possible by wearing a hat and keeping my skin covered.

      I only discovered this “primal stuff” a few weeks ago, but I’ve been grain / sugar / soy / dairy / potato / legume free for 1.5 years because I follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (minus dairy, since I personally cannot tolerate it) to manage my IBS.

      I moved away from canola oil to olive oil years ago, and then in December, I read “Real Food: What to Eat and Why”, and as a result started cooking with coconut oil and just use EV olive oil for salad dressing. Memorial Day weekend (end of May, for you international folks), I was talking to a friend who told me that she uses coconut oil on her skin and even takes a spoonful or two every day to keep her insides healthy. I had just run out of my facial moisturizer (decent, non-chemical, organic, plant-based stuff but a little pricey), so I started using coconut oil instead. I love how it makes my skin feel, so that’s still what I use. Around that same time, I decided to eat more walnuts for their omega-3 content in place of the almonds, cashews, and pecans I usually snacked on.

      We had a long winter here in Salt Lake City, so I haven’t had too many long days in the sun yet, but I do take about a 20 minute walk everyday around 2pm – with no hat. My face hasn’t gotten pink AT ALL during my walks. Not even my nose. I’ve thought about it a couple times and have been surprised and wondered why I haven’t even gotten pink, but didn’t give it much thought. “Maybe the bad air we have here keeps the harmful rays away – who knows.”

      But reading this post, it actually kind of makes sense. Thanks for sharing this information, and thanks to the other posters for sharing your experience too! I have even more reason to eat coconut oil and slather it on my body. Yay!

      1. 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!

  14. 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 idea.

    We play outside a lot and we all have nice light tans going and have yet to get sunburn, even on the 4th of July when we spent the whole day out in the sun…not one oz of sunscreen used!!

    I think its probably a combination of Vitamin D, saturated fat, proper clothing and spending some time in the shade that have prevented us from getting sun burns!!

    And I love having a tan!!! With sunscreen I was this pasty white girl walking around all summer…its nice to have some color!!

    Ditch the sunscreen and go Primal!!

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

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

      1. 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.

      2. 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 ingredients. The argan oil provides moisture, the zinc oxide really does protect, and it’s WAY less irritating if you sweat and it gets into your eyes. 🙂 Not cheap, tho.

  16. 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!!

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

    2. 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!

    3. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

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

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

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

  26. 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!

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

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

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

    This summer, I purposely did not use any sunscreen when going outside or mowing the yard. I wanted to know if the saturated fat was going to help. Sure enough, I was fine!

    Eventually, I got some pink on my neck once after being outside long enough, but it was limited to my neck only. Plus it really wasn’t a full sunburn (no peeling skin, just a little pink, not very painful at all).

    As a precaution, I purchased some SPF 8 sunscreen (lowest SPF I could find) and now put a small amount of that on my neck when I know I’ll get a lot of sun.

    Otherwise, I still don’t use any sunscreen. It’s amazing to discover that when eating right, the sun will not kill you. Even for guys like me of Norwegian descent. 😀

    1. 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.


  30. 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

  31. 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.

  32. 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 with my bacon and eggs today, as I do believe every little bit helps. I live in the Rockies at 7000 feet, so the sun is intense, though not that hot out. I’ve also had my fair share of actinic keratosis, etc, from sun exposure.

    Let me reinforce again…I am ALL FOR primal living…but certain areas of the lifestyle might, in my opinion, be worth heeding a little bit of good old CW.

    OK, as long as I posted something that even with my disclaimers will be construed by some as negative, let me add here to get it out of the way…does anyone else find it annoying when posters (other than those who link to their blogs/posts as part of their signature…which is fine) kind of ride Mark’s coat tails by referring to their own sites or blogs (especially when they are selling something there) within their posts? That’s an uncool shortcut to readership by trying to hijack a site that has been built organically by Mark and his team. Hell, Mark even gently asks people NOT to do that at the top of the comments section on every article.

    OK, I feel better now 🙂

    June 1: 240 lbs, 6′-2″.
    July 18: 219 lbs, (still 6′-2″)
    Goal: Sub 200 lbs, and more lean muscle.
    Amount of Cardio required: WAAAAAY Less!
    THANKS MARK for this amazing (and paradigm-shifting) knowledge!

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  33. 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.

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

  35. 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!

  36. 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.

  37. 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 on sunblock twice, on areas that were pretty exposed to the sun all day long (we had tied inflatable boats together and paddled/floated around the lake – so the only parts I was concerned about were my shoulders and legs)
    I’m a natural blonde with fair skin and what was interesting was that everyone burned except me and our friend that slathered on sunblock every hour.

    This is my first summer being primal, and not having to worry about sunblock is great!

  38. 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.

  39. 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 burnt when I was outside later at the beach and whatnot.
    I can’t remember using sunscreen in the last 7 years or so except for the odd time but I never use it anymore. I think it’s pointless and potentially toxic, which is the same reason I shun most cosmetic-type products. No facewash, no deoderant, only enough soap and shampoo to look clean and not be stinky. Often I don’t even use soap to wash my hands. When I do use it I prefer bar soap, which also seems to be just as good on hair as shampoo.

  40. 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 there’s a magic pill for everything!

    1. 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 to shower after sun bathing, or at least to minimize soaping to the crucial places only.

      Likewise, all lotions change the PH and long term they actually dry the skin. Other than coconut oil, or some avocado, it is best to allow the skin to build its protective layer unhindered.

      In addition: eating your meat and animal fats raw makes the skin amazingly resistant to sunburn. After seven years of raw paleo, I can barely get a tan. I spend hours in the sun and never get red, just slowly tan.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.”

  43. 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 picky thing…that opening line about summer coming to the world…that is true only in North America as it is now winter in many parts and many other parts have nothing but summer!! LOL… (or nothing but winter..but I digress)

  44. 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!

  45. 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? 😛

  46. 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?

  47. Fascinating. I’m another native Seattlite, but have lived most of my adult life in sunnier climates. My worst sunburns were in fact in Puget Sound (idyllic teenage summers falling asleep on the raft in the bay, the rare sun caressing, etc!). Since then I’ve spent most of my life in Southern Japan (hot & sunny), Micronesia (equatorial hotter and sunnier!) and now (shock) Great Britain (back to dark, cold and cloudy.

    In Japan when I was there, sun was The Enemy, up to the point where people used parasols to avoid it. Although the younger set would travel to various tropic climes, tanning was not the end goal.

    I was never badly sunburned in Micronesia, but the people who did suffer from sun there were the Capuchine Friars. Caucasian, many of fair, sandy-to-red-haired, freckled Irish descent. Covered up bodies (those cassocks, you know) and bare heads. Many cases of skin cancer, in fact, among that population. I did use sun block pretty religiously then. That, and staying in the shade as much as possible.

    Here in Britain there seem to be two extremes. People who are so sun-paranoid that they do not venture out without 50+spf factor sunblock, and those who are so sun-deprived that they load up at the tanning salon and/or over do it on holidays to Tenerife of similar and end up looking like “fine, Corinthian leather.”

    I’ve always pretty much bought into the “sun and tanning are evil” common wisdom. So my big post-primal step has been to skip my sun-block under-makeup moisturiser for the past couple of months. Here in England there’s not a lot to worry about but Mark has inspired me that what sun there is, if it reaches my skin for a short period each day during my daily walk, will probably not kill me. 🙂

    And after all that build up, a question: there’s a tanning salon that I walk past on my daily commute that has a sign outside saying “Get your Vitamin D here!” Ummmmm….what’s the current thinking amongst all of you? I wouldn’t go in a tanning salon because the places scare me witless but would you actually get any Vitamin D off the sunlamps? Or does it (as I have always thought?) have to be the real, actual, astronomical sun providing the rays?

    1. Vitamin D is synthesized by the skin using cholesterol and UVB (a particular wavelength of ultraviolet light). So the sunlamps will indeed produce Vitamin D, just as plants grow just fine under the right artificial lighting.

      However, there’s a lot to be said for being out in the actual full-spectrum sunshine, such as antifungal and mood-enhancing effects. Since humans have had their bare skin exposed to sunlight for many thousands of generations, who knows what other benefits remain undiscovered.

      Sunblock, on the other hand, has been around for less than 100 years and presents well-documented health risks. So you can take your chances with chemicals unfamiliar to your genome, or with a light source that’s been around for all of human existence. The choice seems easy to me.

  48. Doc said my vitamin D levels were very low so I began taking a D supplement with Resveratrol about 2 months ago. I’m a fair-skinned, very freckled, red-head and have always burned, plus I have other meds that make me sun-sensitive.

    however, on a trip to florida last week, me and some of my favorite brand of dry spray SPF45 made it a pain free week. Normally, sunscreen alone doesn’t cut it for me and I burn anyhow.

    I got color; I just had no pain even though I was out at noon. And dang it, color does look good on a ginger! 🙂

  49. Eating primal does indeed help, but it’s not a panacea for sun exposure. Hiking at high altitude all day, or laying out on the beach all day, will burn you no matter how much coconut oil you eat.

    Also keep in mind that you usually don’t have to slather sunblock on your entire body unless you’re “laying out”…put some on the top of your ears, your nose, and your shoulders, because those are the first places to burn, and you’ll avoid the worst while still soaking up some Vitamin D from the rest of your body.

  50. for those who choose to use sunscreen: chemical sunscreens (any popular brand is most assuredly chemical) are highly toxic. the chemicals used that provide the sunscreen effect become carcinogenic when exposed to sunlight. seriously nasty stuff – i wouldn’t touch it with rubber gloves, and i would never get it near my children!

    coconut oil is wonderful, with an spf of 4 most people can hang out for a good healthy dose of vitamin d. longer than an hour in midday sun, go for physical sunscreens that use zinc and titanium oxides.

    as was pointed out earlier, just because you’re not burning does not mean the sun is not (potentially) damaging your skin. uva rays are the same strength all year long, regardless of cloud cover, and though they won’t make your skin pink they sure as day will damage it.

  51. I’m in the UK too and have “caught the sun” even in February on my fair, mole-laden skin – I’ve burned in the past despite using factor 30 – this was before starting to transition into eating Primal. I’m afraid to risk further sunburn, what with my high risk of skin cancer. I always slather on factor 50 if I’m out hiking for the day or at the beach.

  52. I was just thinking about this as I was laying outside today. I have been adhering to a primal lifestyle for over 10 months or so, and have not gotten a single burn of any kind, despite laying outside quite frequently “unprotected.”

  53. I’ve found that eating blueberries everyday really helps. Of course if you live in Maine you also have to acclimate yourself gradually when summer finally gets here. The end of winter finds me looking a lot like the underbelly of a flounder. 🙂 I used to just burn and peel then repeat. Now I do get a little pink but it tans right up.

  54. Wow. I was just thinking how odd that I haven’t burned yet thus summer despite all the hours spent in the sun! Which is a first for me! Now it all makes sense…I had thought it might have something to do with going primal! Very cool!

  55. Awesome post, I have pretty fair skin and my job has me working in the sun for 7 hours, and I usually have some sunburn, maybe these tips will cut it down.

  56. As a girl with Irish heritage and pale skin, I used to slather on the SPF to keep from burning. Since going primal about 6 months ago, I rarely apply sunscreen anymore, and I live in sunny L.A.! I’ve gotten so out of the habit of using it, that I spent an entire day at the pool last Sunday and didn’t even turn pink. I even have a nice golden hue this summer instead of my usual milky white – which is amazing!

  57. Timely. I have been primal for three years, eat a lot of fat and vitamin D. I just got back from a hippy fest (it’s hard to eat primal among hippies) and went without a shirt for three days..the sun was brutal. However, I did not burn, I went gold. The last time I tanned was four years ago and I burned in about 30 minutes.

    1. TRUE, I burn, very, very easily, and use some sun block when long periods of exposure. SO, I looked for one without any toxic chemicals, only one I found is one from Dr. Mercola’s website. No toxic chemicals, all natural.

  58. Being a redhead, belonging to redheaded parents, you’d think I’d be doomed LOL but I think I can vouch personally for the “plenty of Vitamin D from sun exposure helps protect against sun damage” idea. Both my parents have always spent a lot of time outdoors through their whole lives and NEVER burn. Me, I’ve had a few bad burns (in my teens when I didn’t see daylight very often LOL) but I never burned as a child, and I’ve not had any for years, and can easily be out in the sun for hours at a time. I still go a lovely shade of crimson, and worry that maybe this time was too long, but there’s no pain and by the next day I just have an abundance of new freckles 😀 (Incidentally, I do eat a lot of tomato sauce, beetroot and saturated fats…)

  59. I did some research on green tea, and I found out that Kambucha Tea is higher in antioxidants and nutritional value vs regular green tea. It is also great for energy, I drink it before my workouts and I noticed a huge difference.

    Mulberries are a great source of resveratrol.

  60. This is so informative – thank you!

    It’s tricky enough to find sunblock that is not loaded with nasty chemicals and ingredients and is not ridiculously expensive but I didn’t realize you could naturally help boost your own skin protection!

    I recently bought Astaxanthin because I heard it was super for the eyes – I’m excited to see if this also helps with added skin protection!

  61. You know, now that you mention it, I have had a sunburn-free summer so far, though I’ve been lackadaisical with sunblock.

    The only changes I’ve made (compared to last summer) have been to my diet – eating primal / lower carb, and taking regular fish oil supplements.

    These days, I’ve taken to wearing a large sun hat when I’m out, so I won’t get too much sun on my face. It has less to do with a fear of burning, and more with my eyes being sensitive to the sun.

    Good post 🙂

    I will forward this to a friend of mine who is allergic to sunscreen. She’d love another excuse to drink a glass of wine!

  62. The best sunscreen you can get is your own.
    Start working on your tan BEFORE JUNE 30th every year. The earth shifts at the end of June and the rays change.

  63. Thanks so much for this post! I’m going to an all-day outdoor party this Saturday and was trying to think of ways to avoid sunblock

  64. I wasn’t going to say what I am going to say… but I can’t help myself. What exactly is the problem with sunscreen? I don’t ever recall a time when I used a product which was overly greasy or which made me look pale. If you find one that does, get another and move on. My moisturiser doesn’t make me look pasty and neither does my factor 30 sunscreen, unless you are saying that sunscreen stops the skin from tanning, which is inaccurate. It’ll stop you burning so if you have the type of skin which has to burn before you tan, yeah, it’ll take longer, but anyone who thinks burning in the name of vanity is OK has to be truly ignorant. Basically, without trying to make a scientific argument in which I would probably not convery my point very well, what I am trying to say is yeah, improving your natural defences with nutrition is a great idea (which I will try), but in my opinion no-one should ever go without sunscreen, especially if they are caucasian and /or not used to sun exposure. Who wants skin cancer or accelerated skin aging? I certainly don’t. Skin cancer is a terrible disease, just google sun related melanoma and make the decision for yourself. I have known two people with skin cancer and my poor old Texan step-mum has had peels and no end of other cosmetic treatments to remedy her sun damaged skin, a problem which could have been avoided if she had known what we know now about sun protection in the 60’s. And by the way, I am white, fair and I live in England so I am pale, and I don’t have a problem with that – it’s how I was born and my skin is still healthy 27 years later, even though I love frolicking in the sunshine, because I take care of it. I love you Mark, I honestly think you are brilliant, and I love MDA, but I think this article is a little bit irresponsible. I’m sure it might smack too much of CW to you to stick a line or two about using nutrition in conjuction with external sun protection but I wish you would.

    1. Most sunscreens block out UVB rays, which tan your skin and promote vitamin D production. They DON’T block UVA rays, which don’t tan, don’t promote vit D production, but ARE associated with melanoma. So using sunblock protects you from tanning and making vit D, but doesn’t protect you from melanoma (hence the increasing rates). Because you’re not burning, you don’t have that natural warning that you’ve had enough, so you get far too much UVA, increasing the risk of melanoma. And the vit D which would confer some protection from the UVA rays hasn’t been produced, so they’re even more potentially dangerous (increased rates of melanoma again).
      Less vit D and more melanoma, and then cinnamates are absorbed by the skin, processed through the kidneys and excreted in the urine. No one knows what they do on the way through the body.
      I could go on.

      I favour big sunhats, and I’m going to try to get rid of all omega 6 from the family diet and see how it goes without sunblock when the fierce Australian summer returns.

    2. It’s simple:
      increased sunscreen usage = increased rates of sun-related cancers.

  65. I think the reason why Primal people burn less is that they spend as much time as they can outdoors all year round.
    It is only when we spend all our time indoors and then suddenly expose ourselves to a day of full-on sun that we are likely to get burned.

  66. Another Seattleite weighing in here … Before going Primal about a month and a half ago, I burned a little during a rare day of sun here, and I wasn’t even out all that long. Over the 4th of July weekend, I didn’t use any sunscreen, stayed out in the sun quite a bit, and just turned a little darker than usual. It didn’t occur to me that going Primal was related to that!

    When I’m going to be out all day, or on the water, I use a little DeVita sunscreen – nontoxic, nonchemical, and not at all greasy or chalky-looking. They make face and body versions; I use the face version.

  67. I’m with you, Charlotte. I like pale skin. I also like MDA, too, but at times it does seem like a cult, an impression helped along by the fanaticism of the commenters. Discard everything you know! This is the One True Path!

  68. Ever see photographs of 19th century American Indians who spent their entire lives in the sun and didn’t consume vegetable seed oils and a most of what modern Americans eat? Their skin weathered at an early age. Yeah, enjoy the sun, avoid sunscreen but dress appropriately and don’t be stupid.

  69. This is a great article. I hate sunscreen and anything that smells that off shouldn’t be absorbed into your skin as far as I’m concerned.

    Id say most pale people should ease into there sun exposure too.

  70. I grew up getting sunburns every summer, but eventually even my pale skin would turn a soft, golden shade of brown. In my teens, it was because I didn’t know any better. In my 20s, it was because I didn’t care. In my 30s, I figured the damage had already been done so I’ll just keep doing it. In my 40s, I was diagnosed with melanoma. I love my paleo lifestyle and hope that it helps prevent a recurrence of skin cancer. But I will keep using my mineral-based sunblock, do outdoor activities in the early morning, wear a hat, enjoy the shade, and hope for a long, happy (cancer-free)Paleo life.

    1. Did you know that the rise in sun-related cancers rose with the increased use of sunblock? Think about it.

  71. I have been getting a rash like raised bumps from sun exposure for the last several years but this year it has been better but not completely gone. I am going to try using more coconut oil and butter and less olive oil for cooking, I have been using it more in the past year which has probably made the improvement, but I still tend to reach for the olive oil for certain things. Here in Las Vegas we get sun just about every day. I will have to see where I can sneak in some tomato paste, too I have to be careful of carbs to lose weight since I am very carb sensitive and tomato paste is pretty high in carbs.

  72. I take astaxanthin to help prevent macular degeneration, but it’s good to know that it may be helping with skin protection too.

    Mark – How about an article on eye health? Macular degeneration is on the increase and is one of the leading causes of blindness in old age.

  73. I’ve been using only coconut oil on my skin for about 4 years now. I’m very light in the complexion department, but the only time I’ve burned in 4 years has been when I haven’t slathered on the oil

    In fact, my husband and friends like to make fun of me, but a couple summers ago we all went camping. We all had the same exposure and everyo fried except me. Coconut oil helped them recover from their bad Burns quickly though. Ha…

  74. I would like to try coconut oil externally but I have read all over the net that it is comedogenic, so I’m nervous to use it on my face…

  75. I started taking vitamin D supplements 5 years ago after reading about it on a low carb forum, titled “The Great Vitamin D Experiment”. I have not had a sunburn since, stay slightly tanned all winter long. Besides that I have not had a cold or the flu either, even when the swine flu was around.

  76. I have all of my vitamins crushed and stored in a jar, part of the vitamins contain about 1800 IU’s of vitamin D. I take a small teaspoon of my vitamins and mix it in with a tablespoon of coconut oil. It makes it much more palatable to swallow. Sometimes I put a few drops of Steva in it.

  77. Lay off the carbohydrates as well because they will lower your tolerance to sunlight…The hormone Insulin is aweful stuff and it does lots of damage to the body. A good way to “darken” your tan after being in the sun…Eat a few eggs after sun exposure…The darker orange the yolk, the better. Trust me…It works!

      1. Insulin is what your body produces when there is a toxin ingested…Yeah…You can’t live without it. Insulin does damage to the body like turning cholesterol into plaque.

        1. People do not realize that Insulin is really bad for you and that you should NEVER consume poisons like carbohydrates, starches, and alcohol that kick off your Insulin production.

          Where do you get eggs with dark orange yoke in the USA? I have never been able to find them since I moved there from Europe. The eggs in the USA are just flavorless nothings.

  78. Charlotte, I whole-heartedly agree with you.
    Much of the advice and science on this website is brilliant and really interesting too, but this particular article is really irresponsible. Also there are people posting here saying that they went red in the sun but it died down the next day…that doesn’t make it OK, people! You still got sunburn and you have damaged your skin and potentially increased your chances of getting skin cancer in the future.
    One final point…our bodies might have evolved in a way which gave us *some* protection from the sun, but a) I doubt primeval man was busy lying on a sun lounger all day – he was probably running about in the shade of the forest, and b) How about the thinning of the ozone layer?
    Have some common sense, people.

    1. People who use the word “irresponsibe” are usually just indoctrinated twits. Anyone talking about an ozone layer IS an indoctrinated twit. there is no ozone layer.

      1. There is no ozone layer? Which planet do you live on? Mine has an ozone layer!

        1. Do you even know what Ozone is?
          LOL! Geeezzzz people! Study physics and chemistry and stop listening to what scum like Al Gore and MSM tell you.

  79. If your’re a grok, you’ve gone barefoot all your life and thus have 1″ callouses on your feet and need no shoes. You also have a nice fur coat and are thus impervious to sunburn, nor to you need clothing – maybe just penis gourd. You also have perfect teeth because you don’t eat wheat or anything made from it.

    Grok is a crock.

  80. (Had to fix the errors.)

    If your’re a grok, you’ve gone barefoot all your life and thus have 1? callouses on your feet and need no shoes. You also have a nice fur coat and are thus impervious to sunburn, nor do you need clothing – maybe just a penis gourd. You also have perfect teeth because you don’t eat wheat or anything made from it.

    Grok is a crock.

  81. I have no research or anything scientific to back up what I say but I haven’t used anything in the sunscreen department in over a decade. I spend very long hours in the sun year ’round training on the bike in the hottest parts of the day. While I would suffer the occasional burn and peel I haven’t experienced that in the last few years as I accelerated my adherence to a diet that could be considered more “primal”.
    For the record I am about as fair skinned as they come. I eat as much fat as I can. Lots of avocado.

  82. What do you recommend for aomeone early 20’s with systemic lupus and alergic to the sub very light skin and hair?Thanks

  83. I take mushroom pills which are cheap at swanson .com, maybe cheaper elsewhere but don’t know. I think these are very good for immune system – haven’t gotten sick since taken them. Since excellent at improving immune system I think also very good anti-cancer supplement.

  84. This is incredible . . . For the first time in my life, I haven’t been sunburnt this summer (as I have very fair skin)I have been eating primal for the last three months and supplementing with 5000 units of vitamin D, Resveratrol — No sunburn at all this summer and I am out in the sun more than ever! I am actually tanning for once — I wondered what the deal was until I saw this article . . . Thanks Primal Blueprint!

  85. I live in phoenix and the sun here is strooong..
    I have been eating tomatoes every day, but I just got some sea vegetables yesterday. I love seaweed and need to add those into my regular diet! thanks for the post!

    anyway a quick question, i never get sunburn ever in my life. (i am thai so those melatonin under my skin works really well). But would eating these kinda food help preventing getting ‘too’ dark or just preventing sunburn– just curious 😉

  86. Some reasonable points regarding general dietary antioxidant protection, but it’s sensationally misleading to suggest as done in your headline that dietary antioxidants will prevent sunburn for the following reasons:

    1. All the studies you cite utilize much higher concentrations of antioxidants than are dietarily bioavailable to human skin. These studies’ real relevance to sunburn prevention is minimal. Some demonstrate antioxidant protection, which is only part of the sunburn story.

    2. The relative quanta of damage that occurs to skin during exposure to sunlight is a massively higher number than the protective effects of dietary anything. Even wearing a quality zinc oxide sunscreen can result in sunburn because sunscreens ‘screen’ or filter sunlight, they do not block it entirely.

    If you wished to be truly responsible in your recommendations about sunburn prevention, you should omit the sensationalism and incorporate other modes of protection. Using a quality petrochemical-free, zinc oxide sunscreen and staying in the shade should be on your list of ways to reduce the risk of sunburn and longer term UV damge.

    It’s good to keep in mind that correlation and cause are entirely different animals. Too few do.

    1. From a reputable Dr’s website:

      Few health recommendations have had as damaging an effect as the advice that you should never leave your house without sunscreen. Wearing sunscreen effectively blocks your body’s production of vitamin D, which happens naturally when your skin is exposed to sunlight. In fact, sunscreens reduce vitamin D production by as much as 97.5 to 99.9 percent.

      The widespread acceptance and adoption of this faulty doctrine has contributed to severe vitamin D deficiency on a grand scale, which in turn claims about one million lives a year from 16 different types of cancer and other common diseases such as:
      – Heart disease
      – Diabetes
      – Inflammatory bowel disease
      – Rheumatoid arthritis
      – Multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis

      However, that’s not to say that sunlight can’t be harmful. Of course it can be. Anyone who has ever gotten a sunburn knows that sunlight, at a high intensity over a long enough period, most certainly can damage your skin.

      But how can you protect yourself from overexposure SAFELY?

      From the research by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), we now have further proof that a very large portion of commercially available sunscreens are NOT safe to use, do NOT last as long as promised, and may NOT protect you from the most damaging rays of the sun.

      In fact, many of them give you a false sense of security that encourages excessive sun exposure and can lead to skin damage. They’re also likely carcinogens all by themselves!

      Wow. Triple health hazards for the price of one!

      Ultraviolet light from the sun comes in two main wavelengths – UVA and UVB. It’s important for you to understand the difference between them, and your risk factors from each.

      Consider UVB the ‘good guy’ that helps your skin produce vitamin D. UVA is considered the ‘bad guy’ because it penetrates your skin more deeply and causes more free radical damage. Not only that, but UVA rays are quite constant during ALL hours of daylight, throughout the entire year — unlike UVB, which are low in morning and evening, and high at midday.

      If you’ve ever gotten a scorching sunburn on a cloudy day, you now understand why; it’s from the deeply penetrating UVA!

      Since UVA’s are inherently more damaging, AND persistently high during all daylight hours, wearing a sunscreen that doesn’t protect you from UVA is going to give you virtually no benefit, and be detrimental to your overall health.

      Two non-toxic ingredients that scatter both UVB and the more damaging UVA rays are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. They’ve been used all over the world for over 75 years as safe sunscreens.

      A study in the April 2004 Journal of Chromatography found that there was significant penetration into the skin of all sunscreen agents they studied. And slathering a carcinogenic agent onto your skin may in fact be worse for your health than ingesting it, as it goes straight into your blood stream.

      By following experts’ recommendations to apply generous amounts of sunscreen every few hours to prevent skin cancer, you are likely absorbing a fair amount.

      Making matters worse, scientists are not even sure whether sunscreen prevents against melanoma in the first place. They’ve suggested that sunscreen may prevent sunburn, but may fail to actually protect against cancer because most sunscreens only screen out UVB, which makes vitamin D, not the UVA that causes most of the damage.

      Some studies have even found a link between melanoma and the use of commercial sunscreen! Additionally, potentially harmful chemicals such as dioxybenzone and oxybenzone are some of the most powerful free radical enerators known to man. And yet other studies have linked specific chemical UV filters with the transsexualization of male fish and coral reef degradation.

      In light of that, I believe it’s imperative to do your homework, and to ONLY use a natural sunscreen with safe, non-toxic ingredients, so as to not add to your toxic load, and perhaps still not be protected from damaging UVA.

      As you can see from this list, compiled from the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website, there are lots of potential dangers lurking in your sunscreens.

      Fortunately, there ARE all-natural ways to protect yourself from sunburn that you can use instead of resorting to the toxic infusions of commercial sunscreens. The most obvious and safest option is to put on a long sleeved shirt, pants and a hat once you’ve reached your limit of sun exposure (you can tell you’ve had enough right when your skin turns the lightest shade of pink).

      At this point, I’m sure you’d agree that commercial sunscreens are out of the question.

      Your next best bet is to find an all-natural, non-chemical sunscreen. There are several on the market.

      The only proven safe ingredients are the UVA/UVB-protecting titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Your choice of sunscreen might also include any or all of the following all-natural ingredients such as:
      – Sunflower oil
      – Vitamins A, D and E
      – Coconut oil
      – Jojoba oil
      – Shea butter
      – Eucalyptus oil

    1. You are correct, however … keep reading! Unfortunately, tea also contains high levels of two toxins, fluoride and aluminum. Studies have shown that little of the aluminum in tea is absorbed by the body because it is bound by catechins (flavonoids) in the tea. Yet, squeezing LEMON in tea dramatically increases aluminum absorption, somewhere close to 700 percent. If you must flavor your tea – use mint instead. The lowest levels of both of these toxins are found in white tea, the highest levels in black tea. Green Tea is in-between black and white tea. Same plant, different stages of being harvested.
      Brick tea, which is made from black tea using both the leaves and the stems, has tremendously high levels of fluoride, so high that it regularly causes luorosis, which can destroy the skeleton, teeth and can even damage organs, including the brain.
      Both toxins (Flouride and aluminum) are absorbed from the oil, and the tea plant has a unique ability to concentrate them within its leaves. High levels of these two toxins in the soil are a particular problem with tea grown in India and communist China. White tea, because it is harvested earlier than other forms of tea and is inimally processed, has a higher concentration of catechins, quercetin, and other nutrients. It also has far less fluoride and aluminum.

  87. Seriously??? Are you actually proposing that people try these things? If you want to avoid sunburn, keep out of the sun! It’s completely irresponsible to suggest that people can avoid the potentially fatal implications of too much sun exposure by these unproven anecdotal “preventatives”!

  88. Mark,
    The best way to avoid a sunburn is to take plenty of Vitamin C prior to sunning. You will just tan instead of burning. Try it!

  89. Obviously not from Australia where:
    Australia has the highest skin cancer incidence rate in the world.
    Australians are four times more likely to develop a skin cancer than any other form of cancer.
    Approximately two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70.

    To avoid skin cancer wear a shirt, sunscreen, hat, and avoid the sun. Suppliments may protect your urine from the sun but there is no evidence of this.

  90. I think you missed out ‘RICE’. In South East Asia, traditionally people use rice powder paste as their sunblock. It’s calming the skin and it has SPF (I have no idea how much). Ever since I move back to SEA 3 years ago, I only use rice powder mixed with water for my face daily, unless I go to fancy party then I use foundation and Western branded make up. I heard SK-II a branded skin prod. from Japan uses rice based too to fight aging. I think rice paste works for the aging too.. people thought my mom and I are at least 10 years younger.

  91. I can’t find the video, but I saw one a few years ago that showed topical vitamin C reduced sun damage by 30%. It’s also good for your skin in general. You can make it at home (must be fresh, only lasts a few days refrigerated) from vitamin C crystals.

    I used to burn badly but haven’t in years, including 2 months living in Mexico, trips to SE Asia and Europe in the summer. My main advice:

    – build up a base tan. Limit your time in the sun until you have
    – eat primal, supplement with vitamin D
    – coconut oil seemed to be effective sunscreen when I was in Mexico

  92. Resveratrol.
    I started taking a high quality one (the one that was used in the famous study) this past summer 2011.
    I didn’t suffer from sunburn when I did not use any sunscreen.
    And I’m talkin about sun exposure on the beach for 7 days straight- 6 hours a day from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m..
    Now that I read this article my thoughts were confirmed that it must have been the resveratrol.
    I wasn’t even looking for that benefit, but I noticed that no matter how much sun exposure I got- it never set in the next day like it always did the many years before.
    Almost like I was impervious to it.

  93. According to William Dufty in his book “Sugar Blues” avoiding sugar [and I assume he also means foods that convert to glucose quickly ie: grain based foods]decreases the incidents of sunburn…paleo/primal diet is low sugar/carb/starch…so I would suggest sunburn is a diagnostic tool telling you that you still are still having too much sugar/starch/carb.

  94. Hey all,

    Mark- Great article. I fully believe that diet is tied to sun tolerance, and since going Paleo I’ve noticed that it takes me much longer to burn, if at all.

    Just to add my 2 cents, I’ve found that using raw unrefined shea butter has helped my skin tremendously while in the sun. It has a natural SPF of 1-3, which just means that you have to reapply it more often – a common misconception about SPF is that it simply means stronger protection, whereas higher SPF actually means (supposedly) that one must reapply it less often. So, shea butter is a good all-natural sun protection, and it’s full of vitamin E and is a good fat to put on your skin in my opinion.

    1. That’s not exactly correct, you’ve misinterpreted the fact that a higher SPF means you can stay in the sun longer without burning…

      The reason you can stay in the sun longer with a higher SPF is that it filters a higher percentage of UVB.
      In general:
      SPF 2 blocks 50 percent of UVB rays
      SPF 4 blocks 75 percent of UVB rays
      SPF 8 blocks 87 percent of UVB rays
      SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays
      SPF 30 blocks 97 percent of UVB rays
      SPF 50 blocks 98 percent of UVB rays
      SPF 100 blocks 99 percent of UVB rays

      Sun exposure is cumulative so two hours at 50% sun is the same as one hour at 100% sun, so to speak.

      So, if you normally burn in 1 hour w/o sunscreen then if you wear SPF 2 you can go 2 hours before burning.

      It doesn’t matter you reapply every 30 minutes, if you use SPF 2 you are still only filtering 50% of the UVB and you will burn in twice the amount of time it takes you to burn w/o sunscreen.

      You have to reapply to keep the SPF at full strength, but it does not extend the amount of time you can stay in the sun beyond what the SPF factor itself allows.

      Hope that makes sense and helps! 🙂

      And of course this really says nothing about nasty UVA, which needs to be addressed separately from burning.

      1. It’s also important to note that the scale is logarithmic in nature. Is 99% really that much better than 93% or even 87%? No, not really, not unless you’re in a heated transparent dome in the arctic circle spending 24 hours a day nude baking in the full sun! 😛 Actually, the UV index is not very high at that lattitude, so no, not even then!

        This is why any SPF above about ~5 will prevent *most* people from burning during an average day at the beach, provided it’s reapplied frequently enough to keep it at full effectiveness.

  95. Whenever I go to the beach to play beach volleyball I always get burned even when I put sun screen on. Now that it is summer I will try out these tips and see if they work for me. Thanks.

  96. I think it probably has something to do with the higher antioxidant load in general that you get with a primal diet. All those synergistic compounds from vegies and fruits must have some protective effect against oxidative damage.
    Conversely the lower levels of proinflammatory chemicals from not eating grains, omega 6’s etc reduce the potential inflammatory effects from sun damage also.

  97. Homeopathically speaking, and without using a remedy, the fastest way to get rid of a burn is with heat. Like cures Like. Heat cures heat. So, for a sunburn or any other burn, bathe (under running water) the affected area in hot water, as hot as you can stand without causing further damage. You will notice almost instant relief. For an all-over burn, take a HOT shower.

  98. Dr. Mercola wrote a book about the sun. I was still getting his newsletter before the book came out. He put a lot of it in the newsletters including eating grain free, omega 6:3 balance, and saturated fat. Last year, I read a comment on a blog where a woman said she goes to her beach house every summer. When she added a few tablespoons a day of red palm oil as a supplement, she didn’t burn. I was inspired and bought some from wilderness family naturals. (I’m a sucker for testimonials…..) I googled what she said and I haven’t seen it anywhere. Thanks for writing about it!

    I read of a study a few years ago that said wearing sunglasses puts you at risk for more sunburn. Because the body is one whole unit, the light coming into the eyes warns the skin about the light it is receiving. If you are wearing sunglasses, your skin thinks it is in the shade and doesn’t protect itself. Skin also has light receptors but wearing shades makes a difference. Our eyes need full spectrum light as well. I try to limit sunglasses for driving. When I go out for the day I use a visor or a hat.

  99. Great post! I must add though, that green tea contains so much fluoride that it should be consumed with caution, if at all.

  100. So I’ve been doing the omega3, vit D and saturated fat for a while now, more so recently. I just added 10 mg lycopene and 4 mg astaxanthin and now not only do I not burn but I can’t seem to add any color either! It’s amazing. One hour per side lounging in full sun (UV Index ~7) and I can’t even tell the difference! Guess I need to cut back on the new supplements because I want to get a little more color. lol

    I am just completely shocked at how well this works!

    Now, to play devil’s advocate… and this may be a dumb question, but just because we don’t burn anymore or even tan that well, does that mean we are protected from all the harmful effects of UV and the skin cancer risks? Or are we just preventing the obvious symptoms that warn us of the damage?

  101. It’s also important to note that the scale is logarithmic in nature. Is 99% really that much better than 93% or even 87%? No, not really, not unless you’re in a heated transparent dome in the arctic circle spending 24 hours a day nude baking in the full sun! 😛 Actually, the UV index is not very high at that latitude, so no, not even then!

    This is why any SPF above about ~5 will prevent *most* people from burning during an average day at the beach, provided it’s reapplied frequently enough to keep it at full effectiveness.

  102. Number 9 – Sunbathe Naked ?

    Our family lives right on the beach in Sydney, but we mostly prefer to go to a nude beach about 30min away….What is really strange is that we have started to notice that when sunbathing nude we all seem to have more tolerance to sun.

    We first noticed this recently when one of our two daughters decided to keep her dress on, while the rest of us completely nude. The 3 nudies were fine while the one wearing the dress got quite sunburned much to our surprise.

    We’ve been watching more closely to see if there is a correlation and while it’s only been a few weeks, it seems quite a noticeable difference for all of us.

    We also started noticing that the worst burn always seems to be right next to bather lines. Given that we tan naked a lot and wear different bathers often, we don’t have much in the way of tan lines.

    We are wondering if our skin has a natural defense to the sun and bathers confuse the skins defense system.

    Wondering if anyone else has similar experience or observations ?

  103. I think this really depends on where you live – I am very fair skinned and where I live there is a 3-4min burn time. It is very dangerous to repeatedly go out in the sun without protection – whether that is shade or sunblock.
    Skin Cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in my country – because people go out without assessing the risk to their skin.

  104. I am fair skinned and I don’t want to get tan. I want to keep my light skin. Do you mean that eating these things protects the skin from tanning as well?

  105. I like this article and find it very interesting however I live in south florida and I just don’t feel it is safe to go out without protection. I go out without sunscreen for a 30 min. walk each morning but anything after 9:30 am that sun is brutal. I follow the guide on EWG.org and get the best sunscreen I can and I have a sun umbrella. There is no way I would go to the beach here unprotected and I do consume lots of coconuts and tomatoes and I have medium skin tone. I guess I feel like its too much of a risk. But I do think I will bump up the fats during the summer for added protection.

  106. I’m really fair and have always burned stupidly easily. My arms would seriously burn from driving with the windows down. But, I’ve noticed that this summer I’m not getting painful red burns anymore. Actually, for the first time EVER, I’m getting a tiny bit of a tan! In the last eight months, I’ve gone “primalish” (I still do some rice), started cooking everything in coconut oil and bacon fat, changed from a vegan to a meat eater, started supplementing vitamin D and taking cod liver oil. I have no idea if one of these things, or all of them, is responsible, but I’ll take it!

    I bet I could probably still get a sunburn if I worked really hard at it, but I’m not gonna try. Lol. I’ve been out hiking and swimming several times this summer with little to no sunscreen, and the worst that’s happened has been a pink flush around the shoulders. Pretty exciting…!

  107. We live in San Diego, and it has been a pretty mild summer so far. I think that explains my lack of sunburns this season. I only switched to paleo a couple of months ago. I’ve seen numerous health benefits already, but I never stopped to think about the effect of our diet on how our body reacts to the sun. “Food for thought.”

    I was diagnosed with a basal cell cariconoma (a non-malignant form of skin cancer) on my right cheek when I was only 29. It freaked me out, and I’ve used an SPF 15 skin lotion on my face every day since then (for the last 9 years). No other skin problems since then. I’m going to continue to use the lotion, but I’ll probably look for something with natural ingredients (I’m using Clinque M Lotion now.) I hope that the natural food I’m eating will be beneficial in the long run, too, even with the late start I’m getting. I love being outdoors, but I hate being sunburned. So when possible, I also use another extremely primal form of sunscreen… shade!

  108. I’m quite pale and burn SO easily – I got sunburnt once after only 10-15 minutes being in the sun! Because of this, whenever I know I’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors I simply have to put sunscreen on: I don’t have much choice.
    But I don’t use chemical sunscreens which have even given me a rash before. I recommend zinc/titanium sunscreens as these work as a physical barrier to the sun – much like your clothes but without the extra heat when you don’t want it.

  109. Fish belly white, all my life. The inner thigh of of piglet sounds
    Cute in comparison. Reading your findings, I can’t wait to study this paleo diet. Odd when life leads you thru experience,
    And you find others who have discovered what you found out over almost 70 years of trial and error. I’m a Sundancer. Four days you dance from sun up to down, with just a few breaks in
    The shade. No food, no water, no anything else. Sunscreen
    Would block your skin the heat buildup would be deadly. What
    Foods appeal during purification 4 days prior? Blueberries, tomatoes, real butter, boiled eggs, watermelon, grapes, bananas, green drink meal that has algae, boiled eggs, and tuna (until became a vegetarian. ) Now you have told me why this diet evolved and why each Dance there is no Sunburn. A
    Gift and I thank you! Will study your paleo diet….I Know it works! I’ve been told I look 20 years younger than I am, and
    Retinas are like a teenager tho Sundancers look directly into the Sun, while they dance, and pray. Thank you ! Gives hope

  110. My wife and I started taking Astaxanthin, Vitamin D (with K2 and magnesium), high saturated fat diet, low PUFA, high Omega 6 (krill oil) 3 years ago. We always drank a lot of tea and now kombucha. Before that I would burn BAD after 30 minutes of EARLY spring sun, Now we both go to the beach and lay in the direct mid-day sun for hours with no protection! The only draw back is our tans disappear pretty quickly come fall. But its worth it.

  111. What is the optimal level of vitamin D in the body. During a recent physical my doctor told me I have double the required amount of Vitamin D in my system and told me not to supplement any more. Recently I was diagnosed with melanoma and underwent surgery to remove the cancer. Should I start supplementing with vitamin D again?


  112. Noxzema. For when you burn… It stays on and cooools. Also seems to help heal. Not sure how primal it is, but love it, so not gonna look. 🙂

  113. But will any of this keep me from tanning? I don’t use the sunscreen because I’d burn. I never used sunscreen in childhood and as a teen, including at the pool and during the worst afternoon heat and never had sunburn in my life. I cannot ALWAYS stay out of the sun or wear long clothes in the worst heat.I enjoy nature. If I do not put on sunscreen, I will start turning darker minutes after of being in the sun and believe me when I say being as black as the darkest African doesn’t suit me.

    I really don’t use it the way they say you should though. It’s just too much of a hassle to reapply the crap every hour, do it 15 minutes before you leave, leave it on your hands (that stuff is oily! I’ll wash my hands thank you very much)

  114. Hi! I just came across this site and am a little overwhelmed but really excited to learn more! You have some really unique and interesting topics. I was wondering about getting lycopene from tomatoes. Would drinking tomato juice work as well as eating the paste? How much would be comparable to the three tablespoons?

    Thanks for all the great info!

  115. I ABSOLUTELY REFUSE to wear sun block. I have no intention of slathering myself in chemicals…now or ever. I put a dark blanket under my chair and I put my chair under an umbrella with the UV filter. I stay out of the sun between 10 & 3 and I wear a big sun hat and a cover-up. I do not get burned, I get a very very light tan by the end of the summer AND I am not vitamin D deficient like half the people I know who are saturated in moisturizer, body lotion, suntan lotions, & make up loaded in chemicals to block the NATURAL SUN! We are afraid of the sun but not of the chemicals that are being absorbed into our bodies through our skin. We won’t spray for mosquitoes anymore but it is recommended we spray ourselves in insecticide (DEET) What the hell is wrong with people that they would agree to any of that?

  116. I came across your article while searching for why I never get burned on my face without sunblock and I found this. My whole life my mother always protected herself and her kids from the dangers of the sun by lathering us with sunblock. As an adult I’ve always used moisturizer with SPF like my mom. My diet does consist of summer berries when in season and I always wondered if that could protect you because I’m not sure if I believe all the hype about sun danger since you do need natural vitamin d and if more people are using sunblock why is skin cancer so rampant? Lately I’ve just been using moisturizer w/out SPF and sunblock all together and not only do I not burn but I get no significant color change just a healthy glow. Due to my genetic make-up I rarely ever burn I tan a nice golden but I’m not a person who lays in the sun when I go to the beach I do wear a hat if it’s very hot. Sorry for the rambling but I was wondering if the fact that I eat allot of berries and have always worn sunblock could it be embedded in me like my body is immune to it?

  117. I have always been a bit of a sun junkie, I’m olive skinned but have had my fair share of sunburn too, since I hate sunscreen. A few years ago I developed Solar Urticaria, an allergy to sun exposure which gave me horrible hives and an incredibly itchy rash on exposure to the sun. Since changing to a primal way of diet and lifestyle I can spend all day in the sun and end up with a golden tan and no sunburn at all, it’s quite amazing! When I look back, the allergy came at the same time as other inflammatory issues I was developing, all cured thanks to my new primal diet.

  118. I have noticed even before reading up on any articles on it, that the last two years, since I ditched grains and most dairy, I have not burned and I have a history of it in my earlier days. Then I started reading about why. It’s awesome.

  119. I used PAPA about 2.5 grams before sun exposure and then another 2.5 grams every 3 to 4 hours.

    This was first trial but for spending 5 hours in the FL sun and having no tan at all, I came out of it being red and a little painful but not really burned like i have been in the past.

  120. In addition to your suggestions, it is important to allow the skin to build its natural layer of oil which helps absorb vitamin D and prevent burning. To protect the skin’s oil one should avoid over soaping, soap only where it is really needed which is not all over the body, avoid lotions other than coconut oil, and eat your fats and animal protein raw.

    I have been eating raw paleo for seven years and my skin stopped burning. I can stay in the sun for a long time and barely get a tan. It makes sense.

    Also, the vitamin D takes a full 24-48 hours for the skin to utilize and get into the body, another reason to soap only where needed and allow the skin to retain its natural health.

  121. Hi Mark

    Interesting article however Im not sure those would work for someone living in New Zealand. We have probably the harshest sun conditions in the world. Even more so than Australia. To go without sunscreen if the skin is prone to burn is just unthinkable here. For a couple of summers I did try astazanthan and while it helped a little it did not allow me to ditch sunscreen as i would still burn without it. I eventually stopped it figuring the benefit wasnt worth the cost. My dilema is finding a natural sunscreen that works. Ive tried many of the natural ones but still get burnt with them. I must have tried 10 different brands over the last 7 years or so. I think the main issue with them is not so much that they dont work cause they are basically a zinc oxide sunscreen but that they are generally think and or sticky so are so difficult to spread that you think youve covered yourself only to find later that many spots have been missed. And they make your face and skin very white. It is fustrating to say the least. Im at the point I just avoid going out in the sun for any length of time between 10 and 4. Tempted to go back to conventional sunscreen to enjoy the summer sun again. The natural ones are just no good.

  122. When my shadow is longer than me– soak up the rays! When my shadow is shorter– watch out for sunburn!