Although some dermatologists would insist that sensible and sun do not belong in the same sentence, scientists have begun to ferret out the explanation for what many people – including myself! – have come to believe: a certain amount of sensible (non-burning) sun exposure is not only safe but crucial to health. Crucial to overall health, and skin health.
It turns out that a part of the vitamin D produced in the skin is reserved by the skin rather than released into the general circulation. Within the skin it acts to suppress cancer formation. That’s right! A safe amount of sun stimulates a mechanism that reduces skin cancer (non-melanoma) risk.
When sun exposure is prolonged, some protection is also sensible, starting with shading or covering with clothing, and extending to sunscreens. For the most current information on healthy sunscreens, I turn to the Environmental Working Group's online database.