Published on February 2nd, 2013 | by Karin Jenkins0
The Sun: A Love/Hate Relationship
I love the sun. I love laying out in the sun, swimming in the sun, walking in the sun and anything else I can think of to do in the sun. On the flip side, I hate the sun for what it can do to me: give me fine lines, wrinkles, skin diseases and hyperpigmentation (brown sun spots).
When I was a young, I wanted to be the little “Coppertone Girl” with the puppy tugging at her swimsuit bottoms to show off her tan and little white behind. Remember her? A tan made you beautiful. It was a way to show off your vacation or look extra healthy or “exotic.” Back when I was a kid, in the early 1800’s (just making sure you are paying attention), we thought the sun, and lots of it, was good for us.
I grew up in Northern Ohio where we really only had about three or four months of good tanning rays, if that. The women in myfamily seized every opportunity they had to get tan year round. Like everyone else at that time, we didn’t know any better.
I remember one winter my mom, my sister, Julie and I asked my dad to build us a large, three-person wooden box/wind block, wrapped in tin foil that we could lay out in even in the snow. We would cover ourselves in the ever popular concoction of Iodine and baby oil and literally roast! Yep, I came from a long line of hard-core sun-worshipers.
Those were the days…the days I wish I could do over.
I have lived permanently in Florida since 1987. I have watched thousands of people, year after year, come to our beautiful beaches and destroy their skin with over-exposure to the sun.
Our winter visitors, which Florida lovingly refers to as our “Snow Birds,” are probably our biggest abusers of the sun. I know this from watching them every day of their Florida winter vacations when my husband, David, and I managed a hotel on the beach.
For five years, we would watch the snow birds take their place on the poolside lounges by 10:00 a.m. and not leave the sun until 4:00 p.m. (then it was cocktail hour, of course). These are the magic hours when the dangerous UV rays are the strongest.
When they arrived from the North they were a bit pale, but their skin looked moist and healthy. By the first of April, when they headed back home, their skin looked like leather or beef jerky. It always made me sad to see this transformation take place year after year.
I think it is safe to assume almost everybody knows the dangers of the sun. Like anything else – too much of a good thing can turn out to be a bad thing. A limited amount of time in the sun can provide a healthy dose of Vitamin D. About 10 minutes is all that is really required. More time than that and we start to see skin damage.
As a skin care specialist, I see clients every day that come to me for help to reduce the effects of sun-damaged skin. Yes, there are lots of things we can do for a “quick fix.” There are products on the market to help fade “sun spots” or decrease fine lines and wrinkles caused by the sun.
You can get chemical peel services that peel layers of skin off your face, neck and throat area and help you to have healthier looking skin. The problem is that the real damage is deep and started long ago. You know what I am talking about – the possibility of skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the abnormal growth in skin cells. There are three types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamus cell carcinoma, and the “Queen Mother” of dangerous skin cancers, Melanoma.
Skin cancer is typically caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation and light, found in natural sunlight and commercial products such as tanning beds. Sometimes skin cancer is found in places not even exposed to sun. In this case, the causes are exposure to toxins or a weakened immune system.
Promise me you will get a full body check once a year and self “inspect” every day. Call your doctor if you see anything unusual developing on your skin. It may be nothing, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
I know that if you are up north and it is snowing and the wind is blowing, when you step outside or get in your car or on a snowmobile, skis or sled, the last thing you are probably thinking about is applying sunscreen first. I know I never did in the 25 years that I lived in Ohio. That was for summer time only, right? Wrong! So very wrong.
No matter where you live and what season you are in, you have to be aware of the damage of UV rays to your skin at all times. The sun can damage your skin through car windows, airplane windows or any other type of window for that matter.
Snow reflects an intense amount of sun onto your skin even if it is below zero outside. You need to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Several makeup foundations or moisturizers now include an SPF in their formulas. This will not only protect you from sun damage, but also against wind damage by acting as a shield against irritants.
Some people think they have found a safer and faster way of achieving a tan by going to tanning booths or tanning beds. Yes, I am especially talking to you, my baby sister! Not only do tanning units dry out your skin, causing your skin to prematurely age and your hair to become dry and brittle, but it is a fact that UV light from tanning booths can actually increase your risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Current estimates show that one person dies from melanoma about every hour. Don’t be one of them. Indoor tanning is out!
If you are like me, I need a compromise. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life looking pale with no hope of a healthy, bronzed glow. I also don’t want to spend my life all shriveled up and wrinkled like an old “Sea Hag” or worse yet – dead! So I am spray tanning.
Over the years I have tried all types of tanning sprays, but I finally found one that I love. It doesn’t make me smell weird and it doesn’t make me look orange or come off on my clothes. It’s a professional airbrush tanner called “So Bronze.” Ask your local salon if they can get it for you. You will love it. Let me change that, you will be in love with it!
Spray tanners are considered safer than both direct sunlight and booths. Without harmful UV rays, sprays produce desired effects without causing damage to the skin. But remember, you must still apply sun protection even when you look like a Sun God or Goddess.
If we all make a conscious effort to protect our skin every single day of our lives, we can make a difference and also set an example for generations to come. Teach your children and grandchildren how to properly care for the largest organ of the human body – the skin – every season, every day, every moment of your life. Your skin will thank you!