HAPPY 100TH POST TO ME! Thank y'all for reading my ramblings and making this blog such a success for me (in that I'm writing more often than I have in years and actually look forward to it). Wouldn't be the same without my wonderful readers. Mwah!
Fair warning: I'm about to get all soapboxy and naggy on you. You'd think I would do something fun for my 100th post, but, well, you'd be wrong. I am, by nature, a Lil Missy Bossy (I get it from my sassy, hand-on-hip-while-shaking-her-finger mama), so really this isn't too out of character. Moving on.
It's that time of year again: the sun is shining, temperatures are rising, and flip flops and sundresses are back in full effect! Lovely, right? Yes, yes it is lovely.
However, one item that a lot of people forget to throw in the mix once spring and summer hit: sun protection! "But, Natalie," you say, "that's not fun in the sun. Sunscreen is greasy and smelly and makes me sweat like a piggy." To you I say, "All good points. But you're wrong. And I love you."
Sunscreen isn't what it used to be, y'all. There are many awesome, effective formulations you can get over-the-counter that will do the trick. But, even better, there are many fantastic sunscreens you can get from your local dermatologist, family practitioner, plastic surgeon, etc. that are reasonably priced and don't have any of the typical sunscreen pitfalls: they're cosmetically elegant, they don't smell terrible, they're oil-free (so you don't feel like you're about to be sauteed post-application), and you won't even cringe to apply these gems to your face...which you must.
Few quick tips for getting through these sunny months without hating life...now, and ten years from now:
~ Make sure your sunscreen is at least an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher. I know some of y'all complain about using an SPF this high because you do want to get some color, but regardless of your natural skin tone, damaging sun rays penetrate your skin and mess with your skin cells' DNA. Not cool.
~ Double check that your sunscreen has both UVA and UVB protection. Even if you're not running amuck on the beach, damaging UVA rays are present every day (regardless of weather), so you might as well get an all-in-one sunscreen that protects you from all the ultraviolet badness out there.
~ Get a mole check from a dermatologist every year. It's a simple office visit. (I joke about it, but it really is a necessity.) Just friggin' go. This is a great time of year to go, by the way! If your doc needs to freeze or biopsy any spots, you still have plenty of time for it to heal before swimsuit/bridesmaid/strapless/reunion season hits.
~ Don't forget your ears, yo! This also goes for your neck, chest, hands, eyelids, and lips. Basically, don't be stingy! Make sure you cover any surface of your skin that is in the first line of attack. And why not shell out an extra $2 for chapstick that also contains an SPF? Plus, there are many great beauty/makeup products that provide additional sun protection assistance. (You can check out some of my faves here and here.)
~ Wear it EVERY DAY. Don't skimp just because you're "only going to work and back" or because "it's cloudy." (Did you not see my note earlier about UVA rays?! And yes, I'm yelling.) The sun's rays are present every day; ergo, you must protect your skin every day. You should definitely change your plan of attack depending on what fun-in-the-sun activities in which you plan on participating (i.e. higher SPF and water-resistant protection if you're going to the beach, plus a sassy, floppy hat), but sunscreen should never be a summer-only product.
Quick little anecdote: for years I worked for a plastic surgeon who did Mohs reconstructions for patients with skin cancer. We're talking folks who lost half their noses, lips, ears, etc. The majority of them were older and grew up in a time when they just didn't look at sun damage the way we do now. However, a growing percentage of our patients were men and women in their late-20s and early-30s who simply spent summers in the sun sans SPF. (Did you catch that alliteration? Zing!) Can you imagine how devastating it would be to be going through a painful, expensive, mildly disfiguring process just to save yourself from the further damage that this cancer would cause if left to proliferate?
Now I'm not advocating becoming a hermit or investing in mumus instead of swimsuits; in fact, I love me some basking in the sun like a fat, fuzzy house cat. But just be smart about it. There are too many affordable, effective sunscreens and sunless tanning alternatives available to not be smart about it. Don't be cavalier about your health. I mean, I used to hop into tanning beds on a regular basis (which, for this naturally uber-pale lil lady, is one of the more idiotic moves I've made), figuring I'd just deal with the consequences "later on." Well, I'm 28 years old and have barnacled, freckly skin that is forever having to be excised or burned because of another new pre-cancerous spot. Let me just tell you, those years of being a tan little college chick? Sooooo not worth the trade off.
Happy smart sunning, y'all!