The Importance of Sunscreen
For anyone who has been around me, they know I am adamant about wearing sunscreen. Not only for myself, but I am happy to also tell them all about why they should wear it, too! My husband likes to poke fun at my sunscreen obsession. “Did you put on sunscreen? Did you get your neck, too? What about your arms?” But, even he understands the importance of wearing sunscreen and hats.
Now, I like the sun, don’t get me wrong. This time of year, especially with Father’s Day landing this weekend, who’s not thinking about enjoying the weather and basking in its warmth? Ahhhh… Men as well as women know the feeling. The sun is fun; however, wear sunscreen, a nice hat, some cool sunglasses that are on the larger side around your eyes and skin, and find a little shade. Your skin is worth it. The sun is fun, but it’s not worth an increased risk for skin cancer or the aging it unleashes on your skin.
I wasn't always so particular about the “evils” of the sun ands its little UVA and UVB rays penetrating my skin. No. In fact, as a child and young woman, I was constantly out in the sun without any inkling that that awesome tan I always got every summer was pushing me towards risk of skin cancer, wrinkles, age spots, and degradation of my precious collagen! It was cool to have a swimsuit line! It was cool to have a golden tan! It was even somewhat cool to get a little “burn” – as that way you knew you would get a good tan afterwards. I liked being active outdoors. I played tennis and softball, swam at the pool, and was at the lake, all without any concern for my skin. But what did I know. I thought I was invincible. I think my mom had some sunscreen that she never wore nor applied on us. I can still see the brown Coppertone bottle (rectangular shape) that had an SPF of 4 listed on the front. I think my mom kept the same bottle for years, it lasting so long because it never got used.
I got smarter in my 20s after a few things happened: 1) I had my first suspicious mole removed from my back and 2) I saw my first age spot on my face and began noticing some little lines around my eyes when I smiled. Now, I figure if I cannot get people to wear sunscreen because it helps protect their skin from cancer, maybe I can get them to wear it because it helps delay the progression of an even worse thing in our society – aging!
I know I am not going to stop being in the sun, nor do I think I can get others to jump on that bandwagon immediately and permanently – it’s just not practical – but I do hope that I can get people to start using their brains when they do decide to enjoy the outdoors. Just be SMART about it!
S: Start. Start wearing sunscreen, and although it may sound silly – start USING it! Wear it when you’re mowing the lawn. Wear it when you’re grilling on the patio. Wear it when you’re golfing. It doesn’t work if it’s not applied. Aim for an SPF of 30 to 50. Look for paraben free on the label, and if possible, ones without oxybenzone. Look for sunscreens specifically made for the face if you want to minimize any breakouts. My office also carries some neat products that have other active ingredients in them, specifically for the face. There are some for those with acne, others for hyperpigmentation, some with hydrating moisturizers in them, and some with anti-oxidants and peptides, and some with a tint. Don’t limit yourself to what is always in the “sunscreen” aisle. But either way – start using something!
M: More. Apply more than you think you need. And apply it more often than you think you should. Apply it when it’s overcast. Apply it when you are driving in your car (yes, sun’s rays come through the windows, too!) Apply 15-20 minutes prior to sun exposure, and re-apply after getting in the water, excessive sweating, or every 2 hours.
A: Awareness. Be aware of the reasons to use sunscreen – it helps either reflect the UVA/UVB rays or break them down chemically. The UVA rays are typically the ones responsible for causing cancer. The UVB rays are more likely to create a “burn”. Any tan, truly, is simply your skin telling you it is damaged. Great, huh? And here we thought tans were pretty! I now look at tanned skin and think, “damaged.”
R: Respect. The skin is the largest body organ you posses – we need to start respecting it by taking steps to care for it and protect it. The risk of the sun is not worth the reward of tanned skin. (Ahem – see above and the word “damaged.”) When you’re careless with protecting your skin from the sun, your wrinkles are reckless damage, not a trophy of age. We focus on other body organs like our hearts, lungs, and joints – why not our skin?
T: Take. Take it with you! Take your sunscreen with you wherever you go – don’t leave it behind! I keep some in my car and in my travel bag. Men, you should carry sunscreen with you as well – put it in your gym bag and your glove compartment. And while you are at it, take your sunglasses and your hat with you also! ? Truly, though, take heart. We will fail to always have our sunscreen with us (that impromptu lunch outside on the patio or a pick-up game of golf, anyone?) We cannot always be perfect.
In any case, as you celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, whether you’re fishing, boating, spending time near a grill, or just spending time outdoors with your family and friends, remember to be SMART about protecting your skin from the sun.
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