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We’ve been taught to believe that the sun is going to create cancer and kill us, and that sunscreen will protect us. But sunscreen can be loaded with toxins, and anything that you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body. Toxins interfere with proper bodily functions and build up over time, so the more exposure to toxins you have, the more likely you are to develop problems.

Sun exposure is vital for making the type of vitamin D that your body can store, and sunscreen blocks your body’s ability to make it. A fear of the sun, and living indoors more often than not, has created widespread vitamin D deficiency. This is cheating us of adequate levels of a nutrient that is essential to every function of our bodies.

While supplementing is helpful and important, it cannot replace the vitamin D production that you get from the sun. Supplementation should be in addition to sun exposure, which is why it’s called a supplement and not a replacement.

Given the sun’s role in creating adequate levels of vitamin D, I can’t encourage you enough to get some sun exposure without sunscreen. But do it in a safe way that avoids burning, and use a non-toxic sunscreen for times when you’ll be out in the sun longer.

The Guide to Healthy Sunscreens, published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) every spring, is a great resource to help you find a safe sunscreen. It’s something I always rely on, and their 2019 guide has just been released. I check my previous favorites against the guide every year and then order accordingly. I tend to purchase sunscreen online to access the wider variety of options available.

Vacations are often when my family needs sunscreen the most. We’re typically going to be outside a lot, and in a warmer environment than usual. We always plan for some sun exposure without sunscreen, which often means at the beginning or end of the day, or waiting a bit to apply sunscreen. And we always have plenty of non-toxic sunscreen on hand so we can use it as much and as often as needed to prevent sunburn.