When it comes to sunburns, it’s easy to point fingers at the scorching sun or lack of adequate sun protection. 

We diligently apply sunscreen, wear hats and long sleeves, or even resort to hiding from the sun altogether. We strive to shield ourselves from the external factors that cause those painful, fiery red burns on our skin. 

But what if there’s more to sunburns than meets the eye?

Beneath the surface lies a hidden truth, a truth that might surprise you. Sunburns are not merely a consequence of sun exposure; they are often a manifestation of internal inflammation. Yes, you read that right! The very act of getting sunburned can be an indication of an underlying inflammatory state within our bodies.

In this blog, we’ll explore the intriguing connection between sunburns and internal inflammation, unveiling the main contributors to this inflammatory state. But fear not, for this knowledge will empower you to embrace the sun more wisely and take control of your overall health.



First, we need to shed some light on a concern among many Americans: the fear of the sun. In an era where indoor activities dominate our lives and sunscreen has become a daily skin care ritual, we’ve inadvertently disconnected ourselves from one of nature’s most vital sources of nourishment: sunlight. 

This cultural shift has led to widespread vitamin D deficiency and its associated health implications. Our bodies, intricately designed, crave the benefits of sun exposure.  Vitamin D, often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” plays a crucial role in supporting immune function, bone health, mood regulation, and more. 

We’ve been conditioned to fear the sun, lathering on sunscreen every time we step outside. But here’s the scoop: our bodies actually crave sunlight to produce that oh-so-important vitamin D. When we cover up or block those rays during short exposure times, like running errands, we’re depriving ourselves of the natural goodness our bodies need. Plus, let’s be honest, most of us aren’t basking in the sun long enough to even come close to a burn on a regular day.

The average time it takes to get sunburned varies depending on various factors such as your skin type, the UV index, and the intensity of the sun but in general, fair-skinned individuals can go 15-30 minutes of unprotected exposure to intense midday sun before burning.  So why load up on unnecessary chemicals that are found in most sunscreens? 

Read more about safer sunscreen here.

We can all agree that getting sunburned is far from healthy for our skin. While sunscreen can be an essential during tropical vacations, beach days, or extended sun exposure, most conventional sunscreens do more harm than good on your average day-to-day basis. This is what makes it equally important to consider the internal inflammatory factors that make our skin more prone to sunburn so we can withstand normal amounts of sun.

This blog aims to guide you in redefining your relationship with the sun, as we explore how your internal health can directly affect your propensity to burn and how you can promote your skin’s health from the inside out. 


In Chinese Medicine, we think of inflammation as internal heat. Think about a time you’ve had a cut, wound or fever — that’s the inflammatory process at work. It’s often warm, red, swollen and puffy as the blood vessels dilate and send white blood cells and other healing agents to the scene to take out any foreign invaders and repair damaged tissue. 


When you have high levels of inflammation, that internal heat builds up systemically, rather than being localized to a specific injured area. This internal heat can contribute to various symptoms, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Hot flashes
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat or fever
  • Excessive thirst or dry mouth
  • Acne, rashes or eczema
  • Constipation (all the fluids are dried up)
  • Red eyes
  • Food and chemical sensitivities
  • Restlessness,  irritability, or other signs of heightened reactivity
  • Joint pain

Now let me ask you, have you ever had a burn and then got close to something hot like an oven, sauna or hot tub? Or a more obvious example, you get sunburned on day 1 of your vacation and have to endure 5 more days of pool or beach as you try to hide yourself from the sun to avoid the discomfort of overheating? When you have internal heat or inflammation, it’s like your body is already nearing it’s breaking point of how much heat it can handle and a small amount of sun can easily push it over the edge.


When the body is in a state of inflammation, it undergoes various physiological changes that can increase the likelihood of getting sunburned. 

Inflammation is a natural immune response triggered by the body to protect itself from harmful stimuli such as infections or injuries. However, when inflammation becomes chronic or persists for an extended period, it can have negative effects on the body, including its response to sun exposure.


One main way that inflammation increases the risk of sunburn is due to the release of pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines. These cytokines can disrupt the normal functioning of the skin and compromise its protective barrier. They can cause blood vessels near the skin’s surface to dilate, resulting in increased blood flow and redness. Additionally, cytokines can make the skin more sensitive and susceptible to damage from UV radiation.


Inflammation also decreases the body’s antioxidants. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals, which are produced when our skin is exposed to UV radiation. These free radicals can cause stress and damage to our skin cells and when inflammation is present, it can lower the levels of antioxidants in our skin, making it harder for our skin to protect itself from the damage caused by UV rays. This means that our skin becomes more susceptible to sunburn and other harmful effects of UV exposure.


Furthermore, chronic inflammation can disrupt the skin’s natural repair mechanisms. Sunburn occurs when the DNA in skin cells is damaged by UV radiation. Under normal circumstances, the body initiates DNA repair processes to correct this damage. However, when inflammation is present, the body’s repair mechanisms may be compromised or overwhelmed, leading to inadequate repair of UV-induced DNA damage and a higher susceptibility to sunburn.

Basically, when you have high levels of internal inflammation, exposure to the sun pushes your body’s healing and repair abilities beyond their limits. It’s like adding one more burden that your body can’t handle. The sun becomes the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. With your body already grappling with the internal inflammatory state, the added stress from the sun leads to sunburn and cellular damage.

But here’s the good news, by taking steps to reduce internal inflammation, you’ll notice a significant decrease in sunburns. By decreasing that internal “heat” your body  can withstand and transform the suns rays into useful rays of vitamins and energy. 


Inflammation, although essential for the body’s healing and repair processes, can become problematic when it lingers in a chronic state. Often referred to as the root of nearly all diseases, chronic inflammation is like running a car in the red zone for an extended period. While short bursts of inflammation are necessary for recovery but persistent, ongoing inflammation can lead to breakdown and detrimental effects on our health. 

What are the causes of internal inflammation, you ask? 

In a nutshell, our modern lives are at the root of the problem. The high levels of stress we endure, our dependence on convenience and unhealthy processed foods, the increased time we spend indoors, and our sedentary lifestyles all play a role. These aspects of modern living disrupt the body’s natural equilibrium, creating a perfect storm for chronic inflammation. But worry not, we’re about to delve into the specific factors that contribute to this inflammatory state. 

  • High Toxic Load: 

Exposure to environmental toxins, pollutants, and chemicals can overload our bodies’ detoxification systems. When our detoxification pathways become overwhelmed, inflammation can ensue, making us more vulnerable to sunburns. 

We absorb these toxins through our skin, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Each exposure may seem small, like adding a drop to a bucket, but over time, they accumulate. If we don’t take steps to empty that bucket, it eventually overflows. When our hardworking livers are bombarded with a barrage of chemicals, toxins, medications, and the rollercoaster ride of blood sugar fluctuations, it’s like a traffic jam in our detoxification system.  That bucket overflows, resulting in the emergence of symptoms. 

While we can’t escape toxins entirely in our manmade world, you can decrease your toxic load by:

      • Choosing non-toxic and organic beauty and cleaning products.
        • Living Libations – Skin care
        • Ilia – Makeup
        • Primally Pure – Deodorant
        • Dr Bronners – Hand, body and dish soap
        • Branch Basics or Force of Nature – All Purpose Cleaner
        • Aspen Clean – Laundry Detergent
      • Getting high quality air purifiers for your home and office
      • Drinking high quality water like spring or reverse osmosis with added minerals
        • Fridge and Brita filters are ineffective and only filter the bare minimum still leaving you exposed to heavy metals and other contaminants. Check your tap water quality here.
      • Choosing organic vegetables whenever possible to reduce GMO’s, pesticides and other chemicals
      • Purchasing grassfed, pasture raised, wild and organic meat to reduce hormones, antibiotics and other potential contaminants
      • Swap out plastic containers for glass to minimize exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) and its alternatives, especially for hot foods and drinks ( I see you takeout containers and Starbucks cups!)
      • Practicing daily stress management techniques and incorporate self-care activities into your daily routine to reduce the impact of chronic stress on the body.

Curious about your toxic load level? Find out by taking the quiz here!

  • Excess Weight: 
    • Being overweight or obese is associated with chronic low-grade inflammation throughout the body. This systemic inflammation can impair the skin’s natural defense mechanisms, making it easier to experience sunbu
  • Inflammatory Foods: 
    • Processed foods, sugar, and seed oils are notorious culprits of inflammation within our bodies. These pro-inflammatory foods can disrupt the delicate balance and compromise the skin’s resilience to UV damage.
  • Infections and Chronic Illnesses:
    • Bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic infections can trigger an immune response, leading to internal inflammation. Examples include pneumonia, urinary tract infections, sinusitis, and gastrointestinal infections. Additionally, certain chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory bowel disease can contribute to ongoing internal inflammation.
  • Chronic Stress:
    • Chronic stress plays a significant role in inflammation. It increases cortisol levels, which can suppress the immune system and disrupt the body’s ability to regulate the inflammatory process. Managing stress through various techniques like relaxation exercises, mindfulness, and self-care can help mitigate its impact on inflammation.

REDEFINING SUN CARE: Sun Smarter, Not Scarier:

Understanding the connection between internal inflammation and sunburns gives us the knowledge and ability to redefine our approach to sun care. Instead of fearing the sun outright, we can adopt a smarter and more mindful approach. 

Here’s how:0

1. Reduce Internal Inflammation: 

Prioritize a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet. Emphasize whole, unprocessed foods, rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Minimize sugar and seed oil consumption to quell systemic inflammation. “Paleo” is the easiest, most well-rounded diet to follow as it’s focus is on eating whole foods, found in nature. If you need guidance or inspiration simply google “Paleo ____” (lasagna, breakfast, dinner ideas, etc). If you’re looking to jumpstart your healing and retrain bad food habits I recommend doing Whole30 to dial yourself back in. 

2. Optimize Detoxification: 

Support your body’s natural detoxification processes by reducing exposure to toxins and embracing practices like regular exercise, adequate hydration, and stress reduction. This helps to lighten your body’s toxic load and promote a balanced inflammatory response. If you are ready to seriously change your health, I recommend starting the Cellcore protocols. You start with the Jumpstart Kit to open up your detox pathways and improve drainage. It also helps provide your mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell!) with energy to help give you energy from a cellular level for better overall functioning. From there you move on the the Para Kit to get rid of parasites, bacteria and other critters that may be microscopically sabotaging your efforts to get healthy and well again! Check out their products here and email me for my practitioner code and with any questions you have about getting started on these health-transforming protocols! 

3. Embrace Sun-Smart Habits: 

Rather than avoiding the sun altogether, be mindful of when and how you expose your skin. Seek shade during peak sun hours when UV radiation is strongest. Gradually build sun exposure, allowing your skin to acclimate and produce melanin, its natural sun-protective pigment. Supplement with smart sunscreens that offer mineral-based protection without harmful chemicals.

Read more here!

Now you know that sunburns aren’t just a surface-level consequence of overexposure to the sun’s fiery rays, you can take charge of your skin health and overall well-being from within! By addressing the root causes of inflammation, we can take better care of our skin and enjoy the sun’s warmth responsibly.