The Sunshine Dilemma

The Sunshine Dilemma

We are increasingly aware of the dangers of sun exposure and the need to protect our skin from the ageing and damaging effects of the sun. There is another side to this story however, as sun exposure isn’t all bad. In fact, it’s mostly good!

There is a complex relationship between sunlight, melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin is a hormone that controls sleep, and serotonin in a neurotransmitter that is tied to states of wakefulness and being in a “good mood.” Serotonin is the chemical targeted by a class of anti-depressants called SSRIs, which keep higher levels of serotonin in the bloodstream to help elevate mood.

The web connecting sunlight, melatonin and serotonin goes something like this: When the sun comes up, and sunlight hits the optic nerve, some of that light is sent to the gland in the brain in charge of melatonin. In response, melatonin secretion decreases. When the sun goes down, the body increases its secretion of melatonin.

At the same time, when the body perceives sunlight, serotonin levels increase. And the more sunlight the human body is exposed to, the more serotonin the brain produces There’s another factor involved in sunlight’s affect on mood, though: and it involves vitamin D. The body actually creates its supply of vitamin D from the sun’s ultraviolet rays hitting the skin, and high levels of vitamin D help the body maintain higher levels of serotonin [source: William Collinge, M.P.H., Ph.D.

Sunshine Lowers Blood Pressure, which prolongs Life

The latest research on the health benefits of sunshine was conducted by researchers from University of Edinburgh, in Scotland, who found that exposure of skin to the sun, cuts heart attack risks, by lowering blood pressure and adds years to your life. Study results showed that blood pressure levels decreased in people when they were exposed to UV radiation plus heat, but not when they were exposed to heat alone.


Dr. Richard Weller, Senior Lecturer in Dermatology at the University of Edinburgh says“We suspect that the benefits to heart health of sunlight, will outweigh the risk of skin cancer. The work we have done provides a mechanism that might account for this, and also explains why dietary vitamin D supplements alone will not be able to compensate for lack of sunlight,”

How the Cush’n Shade® might help

Our faces and heads are exposed to the sun more then any other part of our body, so we are strongly advised to give extra protection to this area. The Cush’n Shade® has been certified to provide the highest rating of 50 + UPF by ARPANSA (The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency) the Australian Government’s primary authority on radiation protection and nuclear safety.

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Are you drinking enough water?

A lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough water in your body to carry on normal functions. Even mild dehydration – as little as a 1 percent to 2 percent loss of your body weight – can drain your energy and leave you feeling tired. Dehydration poses a particular health risk for the very young and the very old. Signs and symptoms of dehydration include:
• Excessive thirst
• Fatigue
• Headache
• Dry mouth
• Little or no urination
• Muscle weakness
• Dizziness
• Light headedness

How do I know if I am hydrated enough?
To ensure you stay hydrated, drink water even when you don’t feel thirsty; by the time you feel thirsty your body has lost between 2 and 5 cups of water.
A handy way to check if you are drinking enough water is to pinch the back of your hand whilst resting it on a flat surface. When you release the pinch, the skin should snap back into place. If it is slow in doing this, you are probably dehydrated.
Another simple way to check that you are drinking enough fluid is to check the colour of your urine. The more transparent it is, the more hydrated you are. You should seek to produce urine that is ‘pale yellow’ or ‘straw coloured’.
People often confuse mild feelings of thirst with mild hunger. Have a glass of cold water when you start to feel hungry.
How can I Increase my daily water intake?
Hot water with a good squeeze of fresh lemon is a good way to start the day. This will give your digestive system a real boost.
Caffeine and alcohol act as diuretics and thus cause the body to lose water. Instead of caffeine and alcohol, drink water.
Throughout the day have water constantly available; keep a water bottle on your desk so you can top up your glass throughout the day and carry a bottle of water with you when you are on the go.
Create a daily schedule; drink a glass after breakfast, one before lunch etc. You may want to track your water intake.
Ask for a glass of water to go with your coffee and tea in Cafes.
Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables as these have high water content and will contribute to your daily water intake.
How much water do I need?
The amount of fluid we need depends on how active we are and how warm it is. To stay healthy we should drink about 8 glasses or 1.2 to 2 litres per day.

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Suncream Facts

Suncream Application

You must apply sunscreen liberally on all parts of your body that are exposed. A recent dermatological study published said, “Sunscreen users are only applying 50 percent of the recommended amount, so they are only receiving 50 percent of the SPF protection.” Because of the need for liberal application, expensive sunscreens can be dangerous to your skin’s health. After all, how likely are you to liberally apply a really expensive sunscreen!

According to the US cosmetics cop and much respected beauty writer Paula Begoun “there are brilliantly formulated sunscreens in all price ranges, expensive definitely does not mean better when choosing sun protection creams”


Although some believe that sunblock and sunscreen are both the same, they are not. Although they have similar properties and are both important in caring of the skin, sunblock is opaque and is stronger than sunscreen since it’s able to block a majority of the UVA/UVB rays and radiation from the sun, thus not having to be reapplied several times a day. Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are two of the important ingredients in sunblock.


Sunscreen is more transparent once applied to the skin and also has the ability to protect against UVA/UVB rays as well. Although the sunscreen’s ingredients have the ability to break down at a faster rate once exposed to sunlight, and some of the radiation is able to penetrate to the skin. In order for sunscreen to be more effective you’ll have to consistently reapply and use a higher SPF


Sunscreens labeled as “waterproof” are not really waterproof (which is why the FDA is urging manufacturers to stop using this term). No sunscreen is “waterproof.” You need to reapply sunscreen after swimming, towelling yourself off or when perspiring a lot.

UVB radiation is the sun’s burning ray and has an immediate, harmful impact on skin.

UVA rays are the sun’s silent killers. You don’t feel them but they are the primary cause of skin cancer, wrinkles, and a weakened immune system.
Even on a cloudy or hazy day, the sun’s rays are present and impacting on the skin.

It is dangerous for your skin not to have UVA protection and many sunscreens do not have ingredients that can provide true full-spectrum (both UVA and UVB) coverage. In most countries, including the U.S. and Canada, there are no numbers to tell you about protection from UVA radiation. For that protection you have to check the active ingredient list to see if either zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone (which may also be listed as Parsol 1789 or butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane), Mexoryl SX, or Tinosorb (Tinosorb is only available in products sold outside the U.S.) If one of those isn’t part of the active ingredient list (it doesn’t count if it is just part of the regular or “other” ingredients) you are not applying adequate UVA protection and that is dangerous for your skin.
The SPF number does not tell you anything about a product’s quality. The SPF number is just a time limit number. A sunscreen rated SPF 2 blocks about 50% of UVB rays; an SPF 10 filters out about 85% of UVB rays; an SPF 15 stops about 95%; and an SPF 30 stops about 97%. An SPF that’s higher than 30 does not provide any more UV protection, it just offers more time that you can stay in the sun without burning.

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Hair Damage and the Sun

There is great awareness of the damage that over exposure to the sun causes our skin, however we are not always as conscious of how damaging unprotected sun exposure is to the hair. The sun’s ultra violet energy impacts on the cuticle (outer protective layer of hair) almost the same way as bleaching a hair. Repeated or prolonged sun exposure literally wears away the hair’s cuticle by breaking down its keratin protein composition. Depending on the amount of exposure and how damaged or porous your hair is, you end up with weakened, dry and brittle hair.

Besides the damage that the sun causes to the structure of the hair, it can also affect hair colour. Colour pigment in the hair is held in a group of molecules that are relatively fragile and unstable. That comes in handy if we want to change the colour of our hair because it means the pigment can be altered with the right chemical dyes. The bad news is that prolonged, unprotected sun exposure can have a similar effect by breaking down the pigment molecules inside the cortex, causing color loss. The destruction of hair colour in this way is another cause if damage to the cortex, the heart of the hair.

It is difficult to protect your hair with hair care products. The FDA do not allow hair– care products to have an SPF rating because sunscreen ingredients do not cling to hair very well. Leave – in conditioners or hair styling products with sunscreens have a better chance of staying on your hair but after the hair is styled with blow driers or flat irons these ingredients are more or less destroyed.

How can you protect your hair when out in the sun?

Two options:

1.Take a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher rating, which you normally apply to your skin and apply a generous amount evenly throughout your hair after it has been dried. This SPF 15 suncream must also contain UVA protective ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

2. Wear a hat and sunglasses when you are walking around and use the +50 UPF (Ultra Violet protection) Cush’n Shade® when you are sitting in the sun.

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