Elle Macpherson says sitting in the sun daily 'works wonders' — but dermatologists disagree

Although most beauty gurus in 2018 promote wearing sunscreen to shield skin from the sun’s potentially harmful rays, Elle Macpherson takes a different tack.

In the most recent issue of New Beauty, the 54-year-old supermodel admitted that she “lives in the sun” every day. “Forget about the look of a tan — the immune system is very much boosted by sunshine,” Macpherson told the magazine. “I try to lie outside for 20 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon. I close my eyes and raise my face to the sun so that the pineal gland in the front of my head is toward the sun. That just works wonders for your immune system.”

Elle Macpherson tells fans that sitting in the sun ‘works wonders’ for her immune system, but experts have doubts. (Photo: Getty Images)

Although the idea of getting healthier by just sitting in the sun sounds alluring, experts say pushing that narrative may be dangerous. Michele Green, MD, a N.Y. dermatologist, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that Macpherson’s comments are misinformed. “If she’s sitting for five or 10 minutes, I don’t think it’s so awful. But if she’s condoning sitting for 30 minutes and saying that’s healthy, it’s a problem.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, affecting 5 million people per year. And according to the Skin Cancer Foundationan estimated 90 percent of these nonmelanoma skin cancers can be traced to exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation, exposure that occurs in the absence of sunscreen. 

It’s this information, says Green, that is missing from Macpherson’s glowing review. “She’s not saying she puts on sunscreen or noting that the sun is dangerous — especially for someone as fair as she is,” she says. “I’m sure she feels good, but it’s not healthy.”

Sun exposure (specifically ultraviolet rays) triggers the body to make Vitamin D, which helps strengthen bones, boost immunity, and slow cancer growth. Green does note that although the benefits of Vitamin D have been proven, even five minutes of sun on one patch of skin is enough.

“You can take oral vitamin D as well,” Green says. “That protects you from the risks associated with sun exposure, including skin cancer, age spots, and wrinkles.”

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