It's The Start of Summer! Now Stay (Sun) Safe With These Tips
by Lizzy Smith for Divorced Moms
May 28, 2016
I recently came across a shocking study from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology’s: most Americans do not know how to properly apply sunscreen. You can read it here. Even those with a history of skin cancer are not as savvy as one might think.
Ok, I guess I am a bit guilty of this, too. While I'm really committed to putting sunscreen on often, I sometimes forget about my children. When we were in Costa Rica and Nicaragua several weeks ago, my 16-year old wanted to get a good tan. I argued with her incessantly about putting on enough sunscreen. She did, but after awhile, I gave up and let her be responsible. She came home looking like a leper. She was peeling on her face and she looked frightening. She was self-conscious about it, too. Thank goodness we had three days before she had to return to school and the worst of it was over. Still, we both learned a lesson-- applying sunscreen properly and often was not debatable.
However you look at it, getting a sunburn is bad. It's bad for the skin, good for skin cancer, and it hurts. Avoid this at all cost.
A few summers ago, I went on vacation to Washington, DC and it was literally 105 degrees, sunny and humid. I never left my hotel room without a hat on my head and an umbrella. I also reapplied sunscreen multiple times throughout the day. I remember one afternoon standing an hour outside on a hot sidewalk under the blazing sun waiting to get into the National Archives. I purchased that small umbrella from a street vendor and it was a lifesaver! I carried it with me during the rest of the trip and, these days, if I know I'm going to be walking in the sun, an umbrella is in my backpack ready to be used at a moment's notice.
In summary, make sure you get outdoors and enjoy the weather (this is good for you!) but stay in the shade and perhaps do your outdoor activities in the mornings or evenings when the sun is at its weakest. Also, consider wearing protective clothing, like swimsuits with rash-guards, hats, sunglasses and tops with sleeves. And never leave the house or hotel room without properly sunscreening.
Benefits of sun exposure
There are numerous benefits to some sun exposure. First, we get fresh “real” vitamin D. The warmth and light of the sun is also a natural mood booster. (Got depression? Get outdoors, get some natural sunlight, and see if you don't feel a bit better "that fast.") Personally, I am a big fan of summer for these reasons. I love going for walks and hikes, hanging out poolside or at the beach with my kids, and reading a good book on my deck. But… I also use precautions. Gone are the days that I visit tanning salons (I cannot believe I used to do this regularly), use baby oil as a sun enhancer, and spend hours laying out during maximum sun intensity (typically between 11A-2P). I used to go on beach-type vacations and pretty much ruin them because my number one priority was making sure I went home with a Big Huge Impressive Tan instead of doing fun stuff. Dear Lord, how dumb. These days, I nearly always wear a hat, sit under an umbrella or in the shade, don sunglasses that block out UVA and UVB rays, and apply sunscreen liberally. I still manage to get tan but I can’t tell you the last time I burned (or even got pink). Hooray!