A girl sunbathing on the beach on the Thai island of Koh Phangan, symbolising the blog post 'Natural Sun Protection'.

Natural Sun ProtectionNatural Sun Protection

Natural Sun Protection

Sunbathing, Swimming, Beach - Require Skin Protection

All the fun activities on the beach, such as sunbathing, swimming, beach volleyball, watching the sunset, etc., provide not only pleasure in a well-spent time, but also numerous health benefits.

However, the skin can be extremely vulnerable when it is exposed to a source of constant heat, i.e. radiation, for a long time. When the skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays for a long time, over time it can begin to show symptoms such as the appearance of dry skin that is prone to wrinkles, sun spots, flaking and peeling.

Fortunately, with the right skin care and protection, it is possible to preserve healthy and beautiful bronze tan skin. Learn how in this blog post!

Table of Content

What Are the Health Benefits of Sunbathing?

Sunbathing, whether passively relaxing on the beach, swimming outdoors, or any activity that involves exposing uncovered skin to the sun’s rays, is a pleasurable experience for most people. In addition to being a pleasurable experience, sunbathing offers many health benefits. Or better to say it this way: if the body does not get enough sunlight during the year, the body does NOT get all the nutrients it needs for the healthy and proper functioning of all organs.

However… there is another side to this coin: if the skin does not receive proper sun protection and after-sun care, the skin will show unwanted symptoms.

Now let’s see why sunbathing is healthy.

  • Vitamin D Synthesis

Did you know that sun’s UVB rays are the source of a very important vitamin? That’s right, it’s vitamin D. To be precise, the so-called vitamin D is technically a hormone.

The sun’s UVB rays do NOT contain vitamin D. The sun’s UVB rays contain a precursor (substance that turns into another substance) of vitamin D.

When the skin absorbs the sun’s rays, the body combines its cholesterol and vitamin D precursor from the sun’s UVB rays, creating a very important hormone called vitamin D.

Vitamin D is extremely important for maintaining bone health and improving mood.

  • Improving Mood

Have you ever felt a certain degree of depression that occurs during the long winter months, especially when the weather is grey, rainy and cold for a long time? And then spring comes along, the sun shows its lovely face again. Instantly, you feel as if the sun’s rays have melted your depression away, and replaced it with a feeling of happiness and joy?

Your feelings are correct! There is a physiological explanation for this connection between how your feel and the sunlight.

Exposing your uncovered skin to sunlight leads to the synthesis of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that causes the feelings of happiness and contentment. In this way, sunbathing helps to get rid of depression and improve mood.

  • Skin Health

Sunbathing, provided that it is done with adequate protection and skin care, can improve some unwanted skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and acne.

  • Bone Health

Did you know that bones can absorb and properly assimilate calcium from food only if the body has enough vitamin D? Having acknowledged this information, we can conclude that sunbathing is a source of the very nutrient that allows calcium to be properly used by the body, and thus the health of the entire bone system. Therefore, sunbathing is one of the important factors in the osteoporosis and bone fracture prevention.

  • Regulation of the Circadian Rhythm

The body’s circadian rhythm is the rhythm of the body’s waking and sleeping state. When the body is exposed to sunlight during the day, and to a dark environment after sunset, the body naturally shows the need to be active during the daytime hours and to rest during the night. Sunbathing in the morning has a particularly favorable effect on the regulation of the body’s circadian rhythm. Thus, it favorably affects hormonal and other physiological activities that depend on the body being in awake or sleeping state at the right times.

  • Disinfection of Blood and Lymph

The sun is the strongest disinfectant in nature. The sun’s rays have the ability to penetrate the skin and reach the bloodstream and lymph, cleansing the blood and lymph of potential toxic substances found in these important fluid tissues of the body.

The author of the blog post 'Natural Sun Protection' is sunbathing on one of the beaches of the Thai island of Phangan Koh Phangan, adding a personal touch to this blog post.

In the picture: Me sunbathing on one of the beaches on the Thai island Koh Phangan

What Are the Different Types of Sun Rays?

The spectrum of electromagnetic radiation from the Sun extends over a wide range of rays of different wavelengths. According to these wavelengths, the sun’s rays are divided into three main categories:

  • ultraviolet (UV) rays
  • visible light
  • infrared (IR) rays
Different types of the sun's rays shown in a pictorial graph.

In the picture: A picture graph showing different types of sun’s rays.

What Are UV Rays?

UV – ultraviolet – rays are the sun’s rays that have shorter wavelengths than rays in the visible light spectrum. UV rays are divided into three subtypes according to their wavelength.

  • UVA

UVA rays have the longest wavelength. Thanks to this characteristic, these rays make up most of the UV radiation that reaches the Earth’s surface.

  • UVB

UVB rays have shorter wavelengths than UVA rays. These rays are partially blocked by the ozone layer from reaching the Earth’s surface.

  • UVC

UVC rays have the shortest wavelengths of all UV rays. These rays are almost completely blocked by the ozone layer from reaching the Earth’s surface.

What Is Visible Light?

Visible light is the part of the electromagnetic spectrum of sunlight that can be seen by the human eye. This spectrum of sunlight consists of different colors and different wavelengths, ranging between 400 and 700 nanometers.

Visible light consists of those very sun’s rays thanks to which we can see the world in color. Also, it is this visible light that plays a role in maintaining the circadian rhythm.

What Are IR Rays?

IR – infrared – rays are the sun’s heat rays that have a wavelength that is longer than the wavelength of rays in the visible light spectrum. These rays are divided into three types of rays:

  1. Short waves
  2. Medium waves
  3. Long waves

Which Sun's Rays Are Harmful to the Skin?

Of the entire solar radiation spectrum, a certain part of the spectrum is problematic for the skin and health. Part of the sunlight sprectrum that can damage the skin is ultraviolet radiation, i.e. UV rays.

We already learnt in the section on UV rays that there are 3 different types of UV rays: UVA, UBV and UVC. We also learnt that UVC rays have the shortest wavelength, and are almost completely blocked by the ozone layer from reaching the Earth’s surface.

We can conclude that UVA and UBV are the rays that are problematic for the health of the skin and the whole body.

The graph is picturesquely showing that the sun's UVA and UVB rays affect the skin.

In the picture: A picture graph showing which sun’s rays affect the skin.

Layers of the Skin

The skin consists of three main layers:

  • Epidermis (the outer skin layer)

The outer layer of the skin consists of five sub-layers that are made up mostly of keratinocyte cells. Keratinocyte cells have the role of producing keratin. Keratin is a protein that gives the skin its strength and waterproof properties.

The epidermis also contains cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes produce melanin. Melanin is a pigment that gives the skin a certain color and protection from UV rays.

The fifth layer of the epidermis, i.e. the upper, outer layer, is called the stratum corneum of the skin. This layer of the epidermis consists of dead skin cells that are constantly shed and replaced by new cells.

The role of the epidermis is to provide a protective barrier for the body against external negative influences and factors such as chemicals, toxins and UV radiation.

  • Dermis (the middle skin layer)

The middle layer of the skin is located below the epidermis, and above the subcutaneous fat tissue. The dermis is a thick layer of skin that consists of 2 sub-layers.

This part of the skin contains blood vessels, nerves, hair follicles, sweat glands and sebaceous glands.

The dermis contains collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin are connective fibers that give firmness and elasticity to the skin.

  • Hypodermis (subcutaneous fatty tissue)

The deepest layer of the skin is located under the dermis. This layer of skin consists of connective tissue, fat tissue and blood vessels. The hypodermis, i.e. subcutaneous fatty tissue, has the role of providing the body with insulation from the external temperature, cushioning of mechanical shocks from the outside, stored fuel in the form of fat for generating the energy by the body, and support for both the upper layers of the skin (dermis and epidermis) and the structures that are located under the hypodermis.

The three main layers of the skin shown in a picturesque graph.

In the picture: A picture graph showing the three main layers of the skin.

How the Sun's UV Rays Can Damage the Skin?

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation can damage the skin in several ways:

  • Direct Damage to the DNA Material in Cells

The sun’s UVB rays have the potential to damage the DNA material in cells. These rays penetrate through the surface layers of the skin, which together form a part of the skin called the epidermis. In this way, these UVB rays affect the cells of the epidermis, potentially damaging the DNA material of those cells. If the DNA material of these cells happens to mutate, the result can be skin cancer.

  • Indirect Damage to the DNA Material in Cells

The sun’s UVA rays have the ability to penetrate even deeper into the skin than UVB rays. These rays penetrate through all layers of the epidermis and end up in the dermis, the part of the skin that is located below the surface epidermis. UVA rays cause the formation of free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable molecules that have a negative impact on cell structures, including the DNA material of cells. The consequence of the negative influence of these free radicals can be mutated and damaged dermis cells.

  • Collagen Breakdown

Both UVA and UVB rays from the sun can cause collagen to break down. Collagen is a protein in the skin that maintains the tightness and elastic structure of the skin. Due to the breakdown of collagen, the skin begins to look old, wrinkled, loose and without elasticity.

  • Increased Pigmentation

During suntanning, the skin is exposed to UV radiation. When the skin is exposed to Sun’s radiation, the body naturally produces a pigment called melanin, as a natural protective barrier against radiation. The formation of melanin in the skin gives a nice tan on one hand, but it can also result in uneven skin tone, sun spots and freckles.

  • Hydration

When the skin is exposed to the heat of the sun’s rays, the body naturally protects itself from excessive heat, and potential heat stroke, through the mechanism of thermoregulation. Thermoregulation happens through the water evaporation from the skin.

As the skin loses water due to sun exposure, the result can be the appearance of dry, wrinkle-prone skin. This is the reason why it is important to take care of the skin with products that nourish and hydrate the skin. Likewise, it is extremely important to maintain the hydration of the entire organism through a diet that consists of water-rich foods and through adequate water consumption.

In conclusion, when skin is exposed to UV radiation without any care and protection, it can begin to show the appearance of dry, wrinkled, old skin with sun spots. This appearance shows a skin that is not healthy.

All the information listed above indicates how important it is to properly protect and care for the skin during and after sunbathing.

A pictorial representation of UVA and UVC rays as they penetrate through the different layers of the skin.

In the picture: A picture graph showing how the sun’s UVA and UVB rays penetrate different skin layers.

Natural Sun Protection

Protecting the skin during sunbathing is an extremely important practice in order to preserve smooth and healthy skin while at the same time achieving an even bronze complexion. It is also crucial to choose a natural skin protection product that contains only natural, organic ingredients from plants that nourish, protect and hydrate the skin without harming the health of the body and the environment.

Harmful Ingredients in Conventional Sunscreens

Conventional sunscreens contain numerous chemical ingredients that are now known to be harmful to the health of the body and the environment. The most commonly found ingredients in sunscreens that are harmful are the following:

  • Chemical UV filters
  • Perfumes and fragrances
  • Colors
  • Preservatives

These substances not only have a harmful effect on the skin that absorbs them, but can also have a harmful effect on internal organs and glands.

To make matters worse, some of these substances end up in the water that people use for showering, or in the water that people swim in (seas, oceans, rivers, lakes). In this way, the aquatic ecosystem becomes polluted, which poses a risk to the underwater world.

Natural Sunscreen Oil

As I typically spend part of the year on a tropical island (usually the Thai island of Phangan), my skin is exposed to the sun’s rays a large part of the time. As such, it is extremely important for me to provide proper care and protection to my skin. I choose only the skin care and sun protection products that consist of natural plant ingredients. One such product is the Royal Balm organic natural sunscreen oil.

Click the red button below for more details about this sunscreen oil.*

*Affiliate Disclaimer

Organic natural sunscreen oil 'Royal Balm’.

In the picture: Organic natural sunscreen oil Royal Balm

1-minute Video On Using Organic Natural Sunscreen Oil

Natural Afte-Sun Skin Care

I make sure to protect my skin with organic, natural sunscreen oil while I am sunbathing. As for the after-sun skin care, I use the products that are composed of natural, plant-based ingredients that nourish and hydrate the skin.

In fact, when I’m in tropical conditions, I like to use the most natural after-sun care product. This all-natural product contains only one ingredient. In fact, it might be more technically correct to call this product simply a plant.

I am talking about the aloe vera plant. The aloe vera leaves are filled with a gel that can be used for skin care. Just cut the leaf with a knife, and massage the gel from the inside of the leaf into your skin.

This aloe vera plant leaf is sometimes available for purchase from local vendors in tropical countries.

The author of the blog post 'Natural Sun Protection' showing how she uses gel from the aloe vera plant leaf for her after sun skin care.

In the picture: An aloe vera plant leaf I use for my after sun skin care.

1-minute Video On Using Aloe Vera Gel for After Sun Skin Care

Aloe Vera Gel After-Sun Skin Care

There are a couple of downsides to using aloe vera gel straight from the leaves of this plant:

  • A whole aloe vera plant leaf is not always and everywhere easily available. It can usually be purchased from local vendors on tropical islands who grow this plant in their backyards or gardens. But, it is not always available, nor, in my experience, can it be found so easily if you are new to a place, and thus you still do not the offer of local sellers.
  • A whole aloe vera plant leaf is very impractical to travel with due to its size.
  • A whole aloe vera plant leaf can spoil if not kept in the refrigerator.

The following is a logical thought for the solution to these issues:
You simply need to buy some aloe vera gel product.

Good thinking, but be careful with your choice!

I have reviewed the content of many products that have only the words Aloe Vera Gel in the name on their packaging. But the actual composition of most of these products reveals numerous ingredients, which I personally choose not to put on my skin.

Fortunately, there are a few aloe vera gel products that contain only a few harmless ingredients. One of those products is aloe vera gel from Aloderma.

Click the red button below to order this product and provide your skin with natural, and effective after-sun skin care.**

**Affiliate Disclaimer

How To Protect Your Face from the Sun?

Another very important, yet so simple, practice that effectively protects your face from UV radiation is simply hiding your face in the shade of a sun visor.

Collectively, I have spent many months in the tropics over the years. With this understanding of how UV radiation affects the skin that I have now, it is a mystery to me wjy I was not always protecting my face from the sun before. And it’s even more of a mystery to me that I still see that most people don’t wear any face protection even though they are exposed to the strong sun’s rays all day long.

The solution is very simple: hat / cap / sun visor

Personally, I cannot stand wearing any hats, caps, and similar items that cover the hair. So, I found an excellent solution for myself that I highly recommend. A simple sun visor, that provides shade to the entire face, thus protecting the face from UV radiation.

A sun visor is crownless hat that only has a brim that casts a shadow over the face, and a strap that goes around the head.

Personally, I always wear a sun visor when I’m out in the bright sun, and even when I’m swimming in the sea if I don’t intend to get my hair wet that day.

Order your sun visor through the red button below, and provide effective protection to your face from UV radiation!***

***Affiliate Disclaimer

The author of the blog post 'Natural Sun Protection' wears a hat-visor while in the sea to show how she protects her face from UV radiation.

In the picture: I am wearing a sun visor to protect my face from UV radiation.

My Personal Experience with Sunbathing

I have been spending European winters in tropical regions, most often in Thailand, since 2013, . And naturally, during the summer in Europe, I would again be exposed to the sun’s rays. I have to shamefully admit that for years I exposed my uncovered skin to the sun’s rays without any protection. This practice was an extremely big mistake that was brought to my attention by my own skin.

As soon as I noticed the first signs on my skin that indicated that it was a way too much exposed to the sun without any protection and care, I decided to start a new sunbathing chapter.

I thoroughly studied the effect of the sun’s rays on the skin (which I shared with you in this blog post), and then I tried my best to find the most natural sun protection products and after sun skin care products. I believe that I have succeeded in this and I hope that all the information you have received in this blog post is useful to you so that you can sunbathe safely and carefree.

The author of the blog post 'Natural Sun Protection' after sunbathing on the beach, on the Thai island Koh Phangan, adding a personal touch to this blog post.

In the picture: 
Me at one of the beaches on the Thai Island Koh Phangan, March 2024

Conclusion: Healthy Bronze Tan Skin

Exposing uncovered skin to the sun’s rays is an extremely important practice for maintaing the overall health of the body. However, special emphasis should be placed on skin protection during sunbathing and skin care after sunbathing in order to keep your skin smooth and healthy, and to get that beautiful bronze complexion at the same time. By using products that contain only natural ingredients, you can easily achieve this goal!

I hope this article was useful to you. Thank you for stepping by on my website. 

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