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New Studies Say Sun Exposure Is Good For You: Our Advice for Redheads

Here's What We Know...

sun damage

We talk a lot about how bad the sun can be for redheads. The sun can be more challenging for people with fair skin and red hair because they often have less melanin, the pigment that helps protect against UV radiation. This can make redheads more susceptible to sunburns, skin damage, and an increased risk of skin cancer if exposed to the sun for prolonged periods without protection like sunscreen or clothing. We talk so much about the negative effects of the sun, but what about the positives? In a recent article from The Atlantic, they shed some light on how and why the sun is “healthy”. 

This might stop you in your tracks. Healthy? The sun? Let us elaborate a little. It mentions how public health groups were saying, “completely avoiding sun exposure is NOT optimal for health.” The reason behind this? Vitamin D levels. They claim that exposure to the sun triggers Vitamin D production in the body and this is healthy. According to the article, “Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with increased rates of stroke, heart attack, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, depression, osteoporosis, and many other diseases.”

Now you might be thinking a few things.

First, don’t redheads make their own Vitamin D anyways?

Yes, we can’t sufficiently absorb Vitamin D (it’s due to our lower melanin-concentration), but redheads internally produce their own Vitamin D when they’re exposed to low light conditions. Super cool.

And second, if someone is low on Vitamin D, can’t they just take supplements?

Yes, and while this is true, the article states that studies have been done showing that those supplements might not be as effective as we think. This information has caused other countries to follow Australia’s lead in discussing the benefits of sun exposure, but the U.S. is not one of them. 

With this information in mind, how should we proceed? The article states that in Australia there’s a complicated answer, based on skin tone and risk factors. Those with fair skin are still advised to use sunscreen at all times, while those with darker skin are advised to take a more “balanced approach to sun exposure, using sunscreen whenever the UV index is at least a 3.”

So, where does this leave us? Well, redheads will always fall into the at-risk category, which means sunscreen is still advised. Wearing sunscreen may lower the amount of Vitamin D your body absorbs, but it doesn’t mean you get zero. It’s safe to enjoy the sun with sunscreen on for short periods of time each day. If you’re concerned about your Vitamin D levels, have them checked by a doctor. 

What are your thoughts?

Rock it like a Redhead!


READ: Vitamin D: What To Know, Deficiencies and How to Tell If You Need Supplements

READ: The Best Vitamin Recommendations for a Redhead’s Skin