The following essay is part of a 5 part series to help you understand the sun and your interaction with it for optimal health. It is designed to empower you as a critical thinker and inspire you to practice sun smart habits. In this fifth and last part, part we will be learning how to have the most beneficial relationship with the sun.

This is the final part of our 5 part Sun Smart Series.

We have learned and reviewed how the UV index works, how our skin works and why it reacts to the sun, how the sun and sunscreens work, and why they have damaging effects on our bodies.

In this part 5 of the series, we summarize that information into a practical guide of two top 10 lists on how to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks, where the sun is concerned and how to enjoy the sun as safely as possible.

Part 5 – Summary: Maximize the Benefits, Minimize the Risks

To begin, let us first review the top 10 things learned about being sun smart, that we can be sure of today:

  1. We know that the sun is critical to our survival as our body needs it to carry out various reactions, one of them being synthesizing vitamin D.

  2. We know that vitamin D is necessary for proper bone and tooth formation and possibly can prevent breast, colon and ovarian cancers.

  3. We know that the UV index can tell us the relative strength of the sun’s radiation each day, in our own geographical area.

  4. We know that the sun produces UV-A, UV-B and UV-C radiation, which all have the potential to mutate our DNA.

  5. We know that the sun is stronger today due to factors that include its own chemical reactions as well as depletion of our protective atmospheric layers.

  6. We know that our skin produces a pigment called melanin, as a defense mechanism to help protect the skin from the sun.

  7. We know that with long term and extreme sun exposure, our DNA becomes mutated and may result in skin cancer.

  8. We know that skin cancer has been on the rise for at least the past 20 years and is today one of the leading cancers diagnosed in people worldwide.

  9. We know that sunscreens are made up of all sorts of chemicals, some of which have been proven as highly toxic to our bodies.

  10. We know that sunscreens do not block all of the UV rays and are often used incorrectly by people, providing a false sense of security.

So with all this information, how does one juggle the risks versus the benefits?

Here is the second top 10 list of how to be sun smart and maximize the benefits, while minimizing the risks:

  1. To get your necessary amount of sunlight and maximum health benefits, aim to spend around 15 minutes in the sun each day, with some freely exposed body parts to the sun.

  2. Check the UV scale daily if intending to spend time in the sun, and avoid sun exposure of any kind on days rated as very high or more.

  3. Choose to spend time in the sun whether to get vitamin D or for outdoor activities before the hours of 11am or after 4pm.

  4. If needing to be in the sun on a long term basis or between the hours of 11am to 4pm, wear light, loose and thin protective clothing to avoid a lot of the harmful UV rays and sunscreen.

  5. Wear a hat for any amount greater than 30 minutes spent in the sun. (On high UV index days, wear one all the time)

  6. Wear good quality sunglasses with a UV filters as much as possible while out in the sun, regardless of the UV index, time of day or year, to prevent eye damage.

  7. Avoid intentional sun tanning at all times! You do not need to give your skin and body any more stress than they already get.

  8. Get mole/skin checks done on a yearly basis if fair skinned and at least once every 2 years for all other skin types.

  9. Avoid daily use of sunscreen as many sunscreen companies suggest today. Your skin needs some unobstructed daily sun exposure and not the chemicals.

  10. If you need to or choose to use a sunscreen when the benefits outweigh the risks, buy sunscreens that are less toxic and more natural as per our sunscreen guide.


Remember, that most of us have been conditioned for the past 2 decades to rely on sunscreen when in the sun through various warnings and fear tactics. Hence the sunscreen industry is huge today and just like any other successful corporation; they are not going to back down quietly. So some of you may find it hard to believe that we should actually minimize sunscreen use.

Therefore, I urge to think for yourself and use common sense to get the most out of your time in the sun, but above all keep gathering information and educating yourself. The excuse of “I didn’t think I was going to get burned” is just too irresponsible to use today and doesn’t go far where your skin damage is concerned.

Yes there are times when the risks of sunscreen are outweighed by its benefits, like spending a day at the beach, but you will have to make those decisions for yourself. The safest thing to do would be to seek shade and cover up – but naturally most beach goers are there to do exactly the opposite. So always remember if needing to use sunscreen – you have choices where more natural and less toxic sunscreen products are concerned.

Finally, don’t forget to always stay well hydrated while in the sun!

So in conclusion, there are many ways we can safely enjoy the sun and get the most out of its benefits, but ultimately we have to be “smart” about it!

5 Part Sun Smart Series

Part 1 – Get to know the UV index

Part 2 – Get to know Your Skin

Part 3 – Get to know the Sun

Part 4 – Get to know Sunscreen

Part 5 – Summary: Maximize the Benefits, Minimize the Risks