Who doesn’t love the feeling of a little sun on their skin? That intuitive appreciation might have some basis in science. There are plenty of benefits to getting a dose of sunlight, and we often don’t get enough of it in our modern lives. We spend so much of our day (and nights) in front of cold, blue screens and definitely aren’t outside as often as our ancient ancestors.
So, what’s the benefit of sunlight? And can you safely get sunlight without using suntan lotion? We’ve got sunny details for you.
Benefits of Sunlight
The main benefit of getting sunlight that most of us think about is Vitamin D. Your body uses sunlight to synthesize Vitamin D. Unless you’re supplementing with it in vitamins or food, that’s how your body obtains it. Sunlight causes a reaction in your body, which leads to the synthesis of this vitamin. This is a key to health because Vitamin D is powerful and acts like a hormone in the body. The science is a bit complex, but the takeaway isn’t. You need Vitamin D to stay healthy.
Vitamin D isn’t the only benefit to sunlight, though. If you struggle with going to sleep and waking up at the same time, your internal body clock, or circadian rhythms, might be off. Again, the science can be complicated, but basically, sunlight entering your body signals to your brain to stop producing chemicals that make you sleepy.
Sunlight also controls other chemicals in your body. Less sunlight can cause lower serotonin levels in the brain. This is why people in very dark climates are often given light therapy to prevent seasonal depression.
Want more sunny goodness? Sunlight can also help prevent and treat acne and other skin conditions. That’s good enough reason to step outside for a little sun on our lunch breaks.
Too Much and Not Enough of a Good Thing
You can safely get sunlight without the use of suntan lotion within a range of times. This could be as little as 5-15 minutes if you’re incredibly light-skinned and prone to sunburn.
There are many suntan lotions on the market that contain potentially toxic chemicals like oxybenzone, in particular. Oxybenzone goes by many names, so check the ingredient labels on your sunscreen. There are also plenty of safe and natural suntan lotions on the market now.
A little bit of sunlight without suntan lotion should be safe. Of course, please don’t spend hours in direct sunlight without some protection. Too much sunlight could lead to health problems like skin cancer, skin conditions, and sunburn. Plus, too much sun is a skincare catastrophe from early aging to discoloration—everything in moderation, even the sun itself.