Preparing my skin for a jump from winter to summer

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 30, 2011 at 5:53 AM

I'm a pale skinned, strawberry blonde with blue eyes and freckles. I'm living in North Carolina- where it is pretty cold. For the last few months I haven't had much sun exposure. I'm about to move to a very sunny place where I'll be in the sun for the majority of the day for the next 3 months. I'll start working two days after I arrive- not enough time to ease into sun exposure. I can tan eventually, but I usually burn first. I'm taking three bottles of my go-to sunscreen, but would like to be better prepared than just relying on chemical laden sunscreen. I'm leaving January 13th. I would like to prepare my body so I'm less likely to burn.

How much vitamin D should I take per day to prepare? I have quality D3 at home. Should I even bother with spending a little time in a tanning bed?



on December 30, 2011
at 12:27 PM

I take 5000 IU D3 every day. When it starts to get warm out, I lay out in the sun on Saturdays and Sundays for five minutes front and five minutes back. I add one minute each week until I'm up to ten minutes, then keep it steady and lay out whenever I can. This prepares me for kayaking in hot weather, which I can do for up to three hours at a time. When I'm going to be out for more than two hours, I put Mercola's sunscreen (NAYY) on my shoulders.

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4 Answers



on December 30, 2011
at 10:55 PM

I feel your pain. I'm a pale-skinned blondie, and having tried the sunscreen and hat route versus preparing in a tanning bed, the tanning bed wins every time.

I've gone into more depth elsewhere on this site about it. The gist is that melanin in skin blocks both UVA and UVB rays, whereas sunscreens only block UVB, which prevents your vitD production and doesn't prevent damage from UVA. Plus, sunscreens are nasty and full of obnoxious ingredients. You could try a physical sunscreen, but they require more vigilance with reapplication. I like TerraSport's because it is less pasty and streaky.

I will no longer start a summer or warm weather vacation without getting a base tan any more. The goal is to prevent sunburn. Start out slowly and gradually, like 3 days a week at 5 minutes. Seriously. The temptation to go faster and longer is there, but for someone as fair as you, don't do it. Then start adding time in 2 minute increments. You should probably have at least 2 weeks worth.

Good luck!



on December 30, 2011
at 09:47 PM

It sounds like you are working outside mid-day? Not exactly sure what you are preparing for but when I go to central america in the middle of the winter this has worked for me. I live in Delaware and my skin isn't as fair as yours for reference. Getting as much outdoor stuff done early morning or right before the sun sets is huge. The sun comes up at 5am there. I go on surf trips and last time around I hardly wore any sunscreen outside of the first paranoid couple days. It sounds like you don't have as much flexibility, but a lot of surfers prepare by going to tanning booths to get a "base-tan". People do this a few weeks before leaving. You've got 14 days I bet if you went to the tanning booth every other day or every third day you could make decent progress. A rash guard could be helpful too I don't know if they breathe better than cotton but they are spf50 even the white ones.



on December 30, 2011
at 09:19 PM

You said it, it's too late for gradual preparation.

To the extent that you can, clothes and a wide-brim straw hat are good options. Otherwise, put your sunscreen on a little later each day until you have a light tan and then you can be more bold.

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on December 30, 2011
at 09:09 PM

Sun exposure creates vitamin D. Likewise vitamin D supplement can satisfy vitamin D needs. I am unaware of using vitamin D to "prepare" skin for sun exposure, in the sense of doing so to minimize burning potential. Say you've got optimal vitamin D levels, whether from sun or supplementation. That fact will not protect skin from intense sun exposure, will it?

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