Someone once got the idea that since the sun causes some observable skin changes, it might cause skin cancer. No matter that it is an important component of maintaining life on the planet. Or that its light and warmth bring relaxation and happiness. Or that no artificial light comes close to being as good for illuminating the visual field. Or that we know it helps us produce vitamin D. All of that is swept aside by the culture of sun paranoia without wondering what other good effects the sun has on our bodies that we haven’t learned about yet.
Like the marketing of shoes, the marketing of sunscreen or sunblocking lotions has convinced many people of unverifiable claims. Assumptions about causation have been made based on the same weak reasoning that brought us theories like
food rots due to spontaneous generation of organisms
a sick body should be drained of excess contaminated blood.
People come up with the strangest ideas: Let’s spread combinations of chemicals all over the skin and apply heat…. Sounds like an uncontrolled science experiment for genetic mutations!
Why not take the same approach that is used for drinking water or engaging in exercise? Why not try for 6-8 exposures a day? or aim for moderately more exposure over time to gain pigment? Why not assume that this life giving sunlight energizes the body in ways we haven’t discovered, instead of hypothesizing that it damages us in ways that can’t be proven?
An abundance of water is filtered by the kidneys. Over fatigued muscles send strong nerve messages that rest is needed. And time in the sun stimulates the skin to darken to avoid burning. All of these things are good, but the body regulates them. It is part of an integrated design that works better than anything man has put together.
I have decided to enjoy the regular application of sunbeams. Sometimes, I just incrementally increase my time outdoors after the short, dark winter days. Other times, I build up a base tan in the early spring by using a tanning bed. Instead of inhibiting my skin from reacting to sunlight, I carefully encourage it to do what it does well to guard against injury or burning.
The result is that I can enjoy the outdoors more, whether gardening or exercising or resting. No gooey mess and no worries that I am sweating my protective pigments off. I am not planning on turning into a raisin, but neither do I see the wisdom in striving for lily white hues. There is a reason for the term a healthy glow.