While sunny skies in summer beg for a lake or shore day, a long hike or bike ride, it's very important to protect your skin. I know, I know, you've heard it all before. And maybe you think that sunscreen is more toxic than the sun (it's not, if you buy the right stuff), or maybe you want a nice dose of vitamin D (which you can get in a short period of time, and through supplements), or hey, you believe a healthy tan is possible if you use SPF to obtain it (it isn't). I've made every excuse in the book, eaten antioxidant rich foods, and laid out in the blazing sun to get any amount of color my skin could handle. It wasn't until my father was diagnosed with melanoma that I started to take sun damage (that's what I call a tan) seriously.
Melanoma commonly occurs in young people, unlike basal cell carcinoma, that tends to appear over the age of 40. It is possible to see basal cell in young people but it's more commonly not. Melanoma, however, spread to your internal organs, and if not caught quickly, it's deadly.
And if you get none of that in your lifetime, you are blessed, but your skin will probably look like wrinkled leather, and who wants that?
So, how can you keep yourself as safe and protected as possible? It's so easy. My dermatologist over at Sloan Kettering gave me some tips. When you wake up in the morning, brush your teeth, wash your face, and apply sunscreen to your exposed areas. Be sure to get your hairline, ears, and neck. If you keep your sun screen near your toothbrush, it will be easy to remember and become part of your daily habit. Many day creams have an SPF, which makes your routine even easier. Concealer is opaque, so that will help protect your face from the sun, too.
Always wear really good sunglasses, even on cloudy days. The sun's ultraviolet rays can harm your eyes, and cause things like macular degeneration, but it can also cause melanoma in the eye itself, which is a very tricky thing to discover and treat. See your eye doctor for an annual exam to increase your chances of finding issues early on. The more expensive the sunglasses, the better (for the most part). Look for glass lenses with a UV Category Filter 3, if possible. I just got the Chanel Pilot Summers and love them. Then lenses are super dark and very sturdy. Click here to read what the filter readings mean and why they are important.
|My Ray-Ban Aviators (blue mirrored), I have many pairs of shades, are also a Category Filter 3.|
With all this, you should be feeling pretty good. You'll putting SPF on all exposed areas (put it on before you get dressed so you don't miss the spot where your shorts meet your legs, or your sleeve meets your arm), including your ears and hairline. You'll have great sunglasses to protect your beautiful eyes and vision. Lastly, put a hat on! Your scalp can burn, too! There are great brush on dry sunscreens for your head; I use Colorescience Sunforgettable SPF 50. They come in different shades (mine: fair). You can find it cheaper on Amazon and Overstock (where I get mine for $33), amongst other shops, but use the Colorescience link here to read about it, first.
If you aren't sold on all this, click here to see what sun damage has done, in terms of aging, to a trucker whose left side got tons of sun exposure through his window (YES, wear sunscreen while driving!) And if you don't believe that skin cancer is a very dangerous thing, that happens to young people, watch this. (Or put your head in the sand and hope for the best.)
Look, I understand this is tough. I hate applying sunscreen, and I miss having a tan. I miss seeing the signs of summer on my body. It looks pretty (for a while, at least) and feels like something magical. But it's not. It's a big, fat, lying deceptive thing, that tan. Tans increase melanin production to protect your skin, which results in a tan. It's a defense mechanism for your skin. And, by the way, a tan doesn't protect your skin from sunburn.
Please share this blog out with the people that you love. Please do your part in helping them succeed. If you are a parent, buy your kids those really expensive sunglasses that they want, even if it means eating ramen noodles for a week (and kids, if your parents do that, be sure to take great care of them and wear them all the time). Please buy really good sunscreen. Please set a great example for those around you. Don't comment on what a great tan people have, because you are perpetuating the idea that tans are a good thing.