Well, I'm sitting here in Costa Rica with some pretty red shoulders (and, a pretty patterned body overall). Conveniently, I saw a post on Instagram by the knowledgeable, practical and widely respected Megan Telpner on sun protection and vitamin D. It was info she was sharing from Living Libations. (I highly recommend following Megan on instagram for tons of tips: @MeganTelpner).

My father and I have often argued about sunscreen. Yes, I believe that baking for hours and hours is a terrible idea. But, I also don't love slathering myself in toxic sunscreen. What's a girl to do? When you know your body, you can sort of tell how much time you'll be okay with (again, my mistake from yesterday is excluded from this! My skin needed more time to adapt from our terrible Canadian winter - and frolicking around chasing animals in a bikini for hours on my first day was not the smartest choice I've ever made).

Here is some information that may interest you on the matter at hand (and shoulders, and knees, and forehead...)

"When exposed to sunshine, immunity of the skin is strengthened. Our skin has its own photosynthesis; it converts sunbeams into the regenerative substance, a steroidal hormone precursor, vitamin D. I like to think of vitamin D as golden drops of sun-fluid that we all need to function optimally.

Vitamin D courses through the body, responsible for many body functions and for halting disease processes. The sun, via vitamin D, lets the cells know when it is time to die; cancerous tumors result when cells stop dying when they are supposed to, and yet the cells keep dividing causing disorganization in the body. Also, vitamin D (along with K2) is essential for proper absorption of calcium and other minerals into the bones and teeth. It promotes efficient neuromuscular functioning and plays a role in anti-inflammatory processes.

Our skin's exposure to sun produces two types of essential sulfur: cholesterol sulfate and vitamin D3 sulfate. Sulfur, cholesterol and the vitamin D produced in our skin from sun exposure are necessary for optimal cellular health while protecting us from radiation damage. 'Both cholesterol and sulfur afford protection in the skin from radiation damage to the cell's DNA, the kind of damage that can lead to skin cancer. Cholesterol and sulfur become oxidized upon exposure to the high frequency rays in sunlight, thus acting as antioxidants to 'take the heat,' so to speak.' Vitamin D3 from oral supplements, which is unsulfured and fat-soluble, is helpful, but it is not bonded with sulfur to make D3 sulfate. Vitamin D3 sulfate is water soluble and moves freely in the bloodstream providing a healthy barrier against bacteria; it is 'synthesized in the skin, where it forms a crucial part of the barrier that keeps out harmful bacteria and other microorganisms such as funghi.'"

Read more here: Living Beauty - Let the Sunshine in (Part 2) And here: Living Libations: Wise Interaction with the Sun