The sunshine vitamin meets melanin-rich skin: what does this mean for our wellbeing?
Along with everything else in our solar system, melanin-rich skin needs sunshine to thrive. Not only for our skins’ wellbeing and clarity, but also for our overall health and wellness. A lack of sunlight disturbs normal cell growth, which can lead to skin dehydration and impaired cell metabolism—causing a seasonal vitamin D deficiency dilemma. We’ll be looking at everything you need to know about the ‘sunshine’ vitamin known as D3, and what this means for your melanin-rich skin this winter.
Getting to know the sunshine vitamin.
Produced in sunlight with a UV index of three or more, vitamin D3 is synthesized in the skin through the reaction of UVB radiation and 7-dehydrocholesterol. This process activates our healthy bio-cycles, while vitamin D influences the health of our bones, immune system, muscles, brain, and of course, our skin cells. Vitamin D also decreases harmful cell growth, as well as offering significant anti-inflammatory benefits.
Are we all deficient?
Our society's current ‘sun-fear’ contributes to the soaring rise of vitamin D deficiency within the melanin-rich skin community. A lack of sunlight disturbs normal cell growth, which can lead to a whole host of health issues, along with skin dehydration and impaired cell metabolism function. The sun is associated with skin conditions such as melasma, age spots, premature ageing, and skin cancer. And yes, it is important to interact wisely with the sun (mostly because we don’t want to be burned), but we do want to reap the benefits that the sunshine provides.
Along with the daily use of sunscreen, other lifestyle and environmental factors, such as pollution and colder climates, can reduce natural UVB exposure. These factors don’t bode well for darker skin tones, as we already require more sun exposure than those with lighter skin tones due to our ability to absorb more UVB rays.
We need the sun + sun protection is still important → the right balance for melanin-rich skin.
But how much more sun exposure do we need compared to those with lighter skin? The answer is, on average, three to five times more. Additionally, wearing a sunscreen of SPF30+ reduces vitamin D synthesis by more than 95%. Layer this with the Northern Hemisphere’s winter, and you’ve got a recipe for vitamin D deficiency on your hands. That’s why it’s important to have a limited amount of unprotected sun exposure per day, or, get your vitamin D from somewhere else.
If you can’t get it, supplement it.
Winter can make it even harder to get our recommended dose of sunshine, that’s why vitamin D supplements are a game-changer. We advise speaking with your GP about taking supplementation through the months of September to April, to make sure you don’t become deficient. There are a variety of options when taking vitamin D, including capsules, chewable tablets, liquids, and drops. Rest assured, your healthcare professional can advise you on the correct dosages for your needs.
Ramp up your sunshine vitamin intake with foods rich in vitamin D such as red meats, egg yolks, spinach, okra, white beans, kale, collard greens, and oily fish like salmon.
The final step to make sure you have ample amounts of vitamin D this winter, is to apply it topically with the help of skincare. Our wonderfully potent Sevenly Delight Brightening Concentrated Serum contains a “vitamin D-like” active ingredient known as Chicory Root Extract, which was added specifically with melanin-rich skin in mind. This power-house ingredient has been shown to improve skin barrier function and reduce transepidermal water loss, both of which are crucial for melanin-rich skin protection.
Keep your skin healthy this winter by making sure you have enough vitamin D, whether that be through supplementation, nutrient-rich foods, short bursts of exposed sunshine, or skincare (or a combination of all four!), the choice is yours. But remember, even though our melanin-rich skin provides us with natural sun protection, it’s still important to wear sunscreen, even through the colder months. And please seek the advice from your healthcare professional before taking new medication or supplementation. Other than that, get ready to live your best winter-skin life with the help of the sunshine vitamin, D3.