I have a new friend, Ozlem, who just moved to the US from China. She’s actually originally from Turkey, and this is her first time in America. Last weekend, when we were hanging out by the pool, I was talking about how I needed to get tan for this wedding I’m going to in a couple of weeks while putting on sunscreen. She said “wait, you think you’re going to get tan if you put on sunscreen? You need to use tanning oil and go to a tanning bed!”
I almost died!
To be fair, she does have a nice, dark, eastern european skin tone, while I’m only half, dark, eastern european skin tone (oh who am I kidding, its probably more like 1/8th. My Dad’s fair, freckly, scottish roots are definitely predominant in this girl), but still, if you’ve ever gotten a sunburn in your life, you should always wear sunscreen. Now, I love to lay out. (I’m sure my dermatologist would die if she read this) I know that skin cancer is not a joke, and I’m not trying to be insensitive to anyone who has suffered from skin cancer by writing this post. All I’m saying is that I know a LOT of people who like to lay in the sun, go to the beach, be outside in the summer, etc.
Let’s be realistic here people. My dermatologist told me I should never be exposed to direct sunlight, and if I am out at the beach I should wear a sun protective rash guard and sit under an umbrella. Not going to happen. Instead, I try to be safe, and still be realistic to my lifestyle. Living in Southern California is an entirely different sun situation than growing up in Illinois. Since I’ve been here, I’ve developed some “best sun practices” I’d like to share with you all. If you follow my advice, I’m sure you will avoid the day/evening ruining, itchy, peeling, sweaty sunburn we all despise, and you will not be dubbed an “amateur” by me and my friends.
1. Going outside sunscreen free the first day to get a “base tan” is a terrible idea. You’ll only get a nasty burn and wind up slathered in aloe and miserable. Once your burn peels off, you’ll be no tanner than when you started.
2. Apply your sunscreen BEFORE you leave the house, and better yet, before you put your bathing suit on. This will prevent you from missing the most commonly burned places (see below)
3. Never wear less than spf 15. Ok, maybe if you’re in like Canada and its April you’d be ok with less, but really, you should always wear 15 or higher. When I lived in IL I would wear spf 4 or 8. When I moved here I started on spf 15 and every year that goes by I need more and more protection (must be an ozone thing) I currently wear spf 50 on most my body and spf 30 on my legs and arms.
4. Sun exposure DOES cause wrinkles! Wear the highest spf possible on your face, unless you want to look 50 years old by age 25.
5. Rotate! The sun moves across the sky all day and you should rotate with it. Otherwise you’re going to wind up fried on one side of your body and pale on the other.
6. Reapply! I’ve had issues with this lately. I’m now aware one application will last about 2 hours on me. Its different for everyone so pay attention to how your body is reacting.
Now, onto the most commonly sunburned places. In other words, the places people most miss when applying sunscreen.
1. Tops of the feet. I have been a victim of foot sunburn, and I’m sure many of you have too. Don’t forget the tops of your feet!
2. Your lips. Always wear a chapstick with sunscreen. Your lips will burn, and they will peel.
3. The area below your eyebrows. It’s semi comical to see someone with this area sunburned, but I’m sure its painful nonetheless.
4. Along your hairline and in your part. Gosh, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve burned my part. I’m not a huge fan of the spray sunscreens (see below) but they are good for spraying in your part. I cake sunscreen along my hairline as well.
5. All along the edges of your bathing suit, especially on your ass. Just double up in these areas to be sure. Your suit could rub some of it off, or shift when you’re moving. All the more reason to apply sunscreen before putting on your bathing suit!
7. The armpit area and the side boob. This happened to The Hubs a couple weeks ago. He got a horrible burn around his armpit and was miserable.
I’d like to briefly talk about my favorite sunscreen. I prefer Coppertone Sport lotion (not the spray)
I usually have spf 30, 50 and 50 for faces laying around. I find that this goes on non greasy, and stays put while sweating and swimming. I have lot of other brands too, but Coppertone Sport is my fave. As I mentioned before, I’m not really a fan of the spray sunscreens. Sunscreen can be expensive, and I think you waste a lot with the spray kinds. Also, if its windy, you may not be applying sunscreen when you think you are because the wind is blowing it away from your body. If you do choose to use a spray, make sure you rub it in once you spray it to ensure even coverage. Unless you are a group of guys who are only using the spray to avoid having to rub sunscreen on each other. If that’s the case, then you are probably manly enough to endure a sunburn anyway.
Lastly, if you are freckly like me, be sure to see a doctor and have your moles checked yearly. The only thing worse than sunburn is skin cancer so don’t be a fool.
Now get out there an enjoy the summer!