sun protection (2)

And now for the less doomy and gloomy stuff. No pain this time, but specially for fans of 50 Shades of Grey in case that’s disappointing: there will be slapping.*

The usual recommendation is that you shouldn’t rely exclusively on sunscreen for sun protection: cover up (clothes), wear a hat, seek shade, wear sunglasses. That is:

  • slip
  • slap
  • slop
  • seek
  • and slide

I usually do the slopping first, that way I’ve got a layer of sunscreen that goes beyond the edges of clothes. If you put on sunscreen after clothing, you run a greater risk of missing those border regions. And, depending on the sunscreen you’re using, of getting sunscreen on your clothes. If using an avobenzone/Parsol one, that can mean staining.

But anyway.

Meet Sid the Seagull c/o the original (I think?) Australian “slip slap slop” ad, from Cancer Council Victoria:

And from their successor/current incarnation SunSmart, the more recent version with the addition of “seek and slide”:

* Adding: for the record, I am not a fan. For an alternative, more intellectually sophisticated, and saner approach to issues of freedom, see Thor and assorted superheroes, Übermenschen, and/or Menschen (cos a Mensch is über anyway) vs. Loki in The Avengers.


  1. anna3101

    I have a question (sorry I comment so much, but you seem to know a lot of things) What do you do to get your vitamin D? I don’t like supplements but it looks like any filter blocks its production. Probably nothing will happen to me if I go out without the sunscreen for 15-20 minutes, except I have a lot of birthmarks and don’t want to get even more. Then there’s also the winter issue – what to do when the sun is scarce? My doctor just says – eat your pills, but maybe there is some other way? I already have to take pills for my chronic disease and really don’t want to have any more as they are all probably tested on animals 😦

    • gingerama

      I take vitamin D pills. And I wear sunscreen whenever I’m outside.
      1. for much of the year, where I live, the getting-lots-of-sun-on-skin thing is impracticable: little light and too cold to wander around naked
      2. for the portions of the year when there’s enough direct sunlight, or in other sunnier areas: I’d have to spend so much time in the sun unprotected that I’d burn.

      I’m very pale (the skin that goes with being a redhead). It looks like a plus, that my skin is genetically well-adapted to vitamin D business. But even though I’m blessed with the skin that’s the best adapted in existence for D absorption & synthesis etc., that’s no use because that genetic side of my skin has a huge negative: IT BURNS and is massively high risk for skin cancer (and I’ve already had a thing removed, and after that episode, the risk is now even higher).

      Doctor’s orders, wear sunscreen and otherwise protect myself for life.

      Sorry, but skin cancer is very very real.

      The vitamin D brigade prey on people who for whatever weird (non-)reason don’t want to take pills and think Mother Nature should take her course with everything. Roll on the Palaeo diet nincumpoops too.

      In a state of nature, someone like me lives in the north in the dark and dies gored by sabre-toothed tigers before I’m 40. Or of heart disease, malnutrition, alcoholism, starvation, or disease by 45. Or of childbirth by about 20. All of them simple easily curable conditions now. From my other genetic heritage, killed off in pogroms by about then. If living in sunnier climes and forced to stay outdoors sunning myself: dead of skin cancer by then.

      Again, living in a civilised world: all avoidable.

      We live in the modern world. It has many benefits.

    • gingerama

      On pills vs. other ways: eat foods rich in vitamin D. But it makes no difference, food or pill form, the pathway by which the vitamin D is ingested is identical. Sure, eating actual food you have other benefits too: other nutrients, plus more from food combining, and it tastes nice and it’s good to eat a proper meal with other human beings (and pets). Those last two–taste and company–provide additional psychological benefits. And sitting down to eat and eating slowly aids digestion.

      But: the best source for vitamin D these days is in supplement form. Best as in concentrated, enough needed. Because you’d need to eat an awful lot of liver and dairy products and so on to get the recommended 2,000 IU per day (and more in winter). There’s other forms of supplement available too, not just pills but liquids too. I know some people have genuine physiological problems swallowing pills, so just saying.

      There was some stuff running around the net a year or so ago, D capsules/tablets vs. liquid, and in either case, possible benefits of letting the stuff melt on your tongue and in your mouth rather than just swallowing it (for alleged faster absorption). But experimental data suggests zero difference–that is, once you look at blood test results to see how much D is running around a body.

      Taking too many pills? Let your doctor be the best judge of that. Seriously. But, whether it’s a psychological or a physiological hangup about the pill-format, some other format like a liquid might well be your answer?

      Tested on animals: well, ALL VITAMIN RESEARCH has involved animal research at some point. In the case of vitamin C, also human research on unconsenting subjects (18th c.: sailors not consulted beforehand and slaves). Vitamin D: part of the big nutrition research boom in the 1930s-50s. In the UK, this included animal research but also mass experimentation on the whole population, via vitamin-enriched rations (wartime through the 1950s); also to remedy the horrors of ill-health (inc. rickets) and early mortality in the general population from the 19th century through to the 1929 crash and general strike. Political and economical reason for supplementing food and improving population health: strong useful labour force for industry (mining, manufacturing, construction, engineering, armaments, etc.). Similarly elsewhere under (more) socialist régimes; you’re in Poland, you know all this all too well… I’m mainly just writing this here so that, say, American readers less familiar with international affairs and history can get the point.

      In North America today, milk and some other dairy products are almost always vitamin D enriched, the same for a lot of bread. This isn’t an official compulsory government programme any longer, though data is still collected especially in certain key poorer regions, to see if supplementing food helps general population health. Again: there’s consent issues. And as ever: reason to read packaging and all ingredient lists. These being countries where there’s sufficient compulsory basic education for most of the population to be presumed to be literate, and to be capable of spotting and cognizing “vitamin D” in ingredient lists. Though that might be assuming a lot, and consent and comprehension issues remain.

      The experiments have been done. No getting around that. It’s in the past: myself, I’d see this as a beautiful classic case of fixed cut-off dates being a sensible sane way to proceed. I don’t buy from a company that still tests, for something that’s cosmetic/decorative/ornamental or otherwise not necessary for continuing life. For vitamin D, and most other vitamins, there are many options out there. So of those, I’ll buy from a cruelty-free company. (Obviously, it’s a different case for a drug that is necessary to survival, without which you will die, and which is only made by one company. Entirely different situation: survival +no choice of different options.)

      Specific vitamin D supplements and animal-OK-ness (other than experimentation by other people in the past):
      The main thing to look out for would be the other ingredients. Most tablets are fine. Many capsules use gelatin in the coating. Most of that gelatin is animal. Unless it specifies that it’s not, I’d avoid (and ask). Liquids: all those I’d seen are vegan, but this was in Whole Foods (health-food eco store).

      Hope that helps!

      • anna3101

        I had no idea there were vegetarian options of vitamin D supplementation!! I’m not totally opposed to taking vitamins artificially if there’s a necessity, I wanted to avoid it because of the ongoing animal testing.Most of the vitamins produced here are by pharmaceutical companies and all of those test on animals extensively. Could you please give me a couple of cruelty-free brands of supplements?

        • gingerama

          I’ve found loads, but that’s not in Poland. I’ve used cruelty-free ones in the UK, Ireland, the US, and Canada. But almost all of these were local/national rather than multinational/international. In some cases, they were clearly vegetarian. In others, I checked with the manufacturer.

          Here in Canada, there’s lots of cheap ones: some supermarkets and pharmacies/drugstores, health-food/eco shops; I usually buy own-brand, but also specific brands like SISU (and Solgar in Europe, if I can’t find anything else similar and cheaper).

          I did what I usually do in a new place. Go into shops, see what’s available, read labels, and for brands I’ve never met before, note down the names and other information (enough to find them online). If anyone asks–sales assistants often do, or store detectives–just explain. They’ll often ask if they can help. ROFL though I’ll usually try very very very hard to be nice about it: but basically, “I’m reading labels. No, you can’t do that for me. Alas, this is one of the things that a different person CANNOT do for me.”

          Then go home, look up the websites of the companies noted, email them. Once you’ve got your list of locally-available companies, go forth and buy. Also check online to see if the same thing is cheaper elsewhere. And for more and others.

          So: as with me in shops pointing out home truths to well-meaning sales assistants: I can’t help you further on this one. You’re in Poland, I’m not but on the other side of the world. You’ll have to go and do your own research!

          • anna3101

            Thanks, will do my best and will also check out iherbs – I heard there are some worthwhile supplements there.

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