How Sun Affects Skin

How Sun Affects Skin

The sun often gets a bad rap, and most people think the only effects it has on the skin are bad ones. Sunlight effect on skin isn’t all bad though, and there are some things it does for us and other animals, as well as plants and the rest of nature.

We get important things like Vitamin D from the sun, but there’s a careful balance that we have to take to ensure it doesn’t do us any serious harm. Health experts now recommend spending no more than 10 minutes a day in direct sunlight to prevent this harm but also to reap the benefits, and when you can’t help but be outdoors then sun safety is key.

With a natural source of healing like the sun, harnessing its powers is one of the best approaches we can take for conditions like depression and eczema. On the flipside though, we need to grasp the reality of how harmful it can be, causing premature and dramatic aging and cancers, among others.

The more we can learn about being safe in the sun so we can reap its benefits without getting any of the adverse effects, the better, so that’s what we’re here to do. We’ll show you the positive and negative effects of the sun, and how you can find that perfect balance.

The Good Stuff

Family On The Beach

What does the sun do to your skin besides the bad stuff we always hear about? We know that prolonged periods of sun exposure lead to sunburn and skin cancer, but how is just a little bit of sun good for us? These are a few ways that it can be used for its powers of good rather than evil.

It Produces Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a very important nutrient that the body needs, and the sun is the easiest way to boost your production of it. This amazing vitamin does everything from strengthening bones to improving your immune system.

People who are deficient in vitamin D are often instructed to spend some time outdoors in sun safe conditions, as it can be easier to absorb than oral supplements. Spending just 10 minutes outside in direct sunlight, two or three times a week will be all that you need.

Can Boost Your Mood

Have you ever noticed how happy you feel when you’re out in the sun? Studies have shown that people without adequate sun exposure will have a drop in serotonin, which then leads to depression.

When we’re in the sun, the rays that go through the eyes will then trigger the production of serotonin, and we’ll feel it almost instantly in our body. People may also suffer from ‘seasonal depression’ in parts of the world where there’s minimal sunlight during winter, and the best treatment for this is light therapy.

Helps Heal Some Skin Conditions

The sun is often blamed as the number one cause of skin conditions, but according to the World Health Organization, it’s actually helpful for many of them. Light therapy can involve UV rays or controlled sun exposure, and it’s been shown to help a few common skin problems.

People with conditions like eczema, psoriasis, acne, and jaundice, have all found relief with light therapy, but it should only be used on a recommendation from a dermatologist. Otherwise, spending 10 minutes a day a few times a week in direct sunlight could offer some relief.

The Bad Stuff

Sunburns On Backs

Now we know the good stuff, we want to know how does the sun damage your skin. Just a little bit of time in the sun can have serious consequences, and the longer you spend in it without the right protection the worse these effects will be.

Premature Aging

It’s easy to tell when you’re looking at some who’s had far too much exposure to the sun. their skin will be discolored, wrinkled, and look sagging, and it’s not a look that you want to go for. Studies have shown that the sun can actually cause elastosis which is when your collagen and elastic tissue get destroyed, and it’s near impossible to get back.

While it might seem good in your youth to have a natural tan, the long-term effects are serious and permanent, so it’s not the wisest decision.

Cancerous And Non-Cancerous Skin Lesions

According to WebMD, skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in the US. When you have exposure to the sun, it can actually decrease the immune function of the skin, which leaves you open to developing lesions.

These can be either pre-cancerous or turn into serious cancers like melanoma and basal cell carcinoma. Melanomas are responsible for 75 percent of the deaths from skin cancer in the country, but they can be easily prevented with sun safety.


When you spend too long in the sun, your skin will start to burn. Anyone who’s spent a day at the beach without sunscreen will know how painful and red it can get, thanks to a pigment called melanin.

This pigment occurs when the UV rays penetrate the skin and it can occur within just 10 minutes of being in the sun. Melanin and sunlight occur as the skin tries to protect itself from being burned, which is why it turns a bright red color.

Being Careful In The Sun Is Key

Hands Making Heart Shape

As you can see, it’s not all bad news about the sun. We shouldn’t be avoiding it altogether but we certainly need to be careful about how much exposure we have to it. If you’re going in the sun between 10 am and 4 pm you need to be extra careful as this is when the sun’s UV rays are at their strongest.

Limit the time you spend outdoors but give your body a chance to soak up its healing powers. Wear a hat and sunscreen whenever you’re outside and find shade wherever possible. Avoid tanning beds as they can be extremely damaging to the skin, and always opt for natural but gentle sunlight.

All of these things will help you get the amazing benefits the sun has to offer and avoid the negative things like premature aging or skin cancer. By being sun smart and utilizing our time outdoors the right way, we’ll be keeping our skin in the best possible condition for years to come.

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