My entire life, I have been "that girl" that always gets a sunburn that never turns tan. In Bobbi Brown makeup, I wear the second lightest shade they make. I have fair skin, and I have learned to love it. It may not be tan or "in vogue," but my fair skin is beautiful skin, and I have learned how to protect it and make it a priority to protect it.
After reading this informative and courageous post today about melanoma, I was inspired to write this post about how I protect my skin when I go on beach vacations. This might sound radical to you, and in fact, my friends make fun of me relentlessly for my complicated regimen. But, you know what? I don't care. In my short 22-year life span, I've already had a couple of questionable (but thankfully, benign) moles removed from my skin. Although nobody in my immediate family has seriously battled skin cancer, my dad has had some pre-cancerous lesions removed from his face and neck. And regardless of the cancer risk, sunburns hurt! I've had enough in my lifetime to tell you that. Here are my tips for doing the best I can to protect my skin, protect myself against cancer risks, and avoid the painful and unattractive sunburn.
1. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen.
My preferred brand is Neutrogena Age Shield Face. The Neutrogena Ultra Sheer is also really good. I prefer the Age Shield Face because I can easily find it in SPF 110. It is marketed for the face, but I use it for my body, too. A little goes a long way, and you need it to go a long way because this stuff is not cheap. It is about $12 or $13 a bottle, but it works so well. I've always been able to find these at Target, Walmart, Walgreens and even in the sunscreen section of the local beach grocery store.
The key thing is to look for a sunscreen with "helioplex." It protects against a larger spectrum of UV rays. If you are one of those people who thinks sunscreen doesn't make a difference over a certain SPF, please don't tell me. I hear that all the time, and maybe for certain people, it's true, but for me- I notice a difference. I really do. Since I started using SPF 100 & 110 a couple of years ago when I go to the beach, I have been sunburn-free. They just work better for me.
Also, just like your mom told you as a kid, reapply often.
2. Go in between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
I know this is limiting, but think of it as lunch/ nap/ reading time. You could even just go in between 11 and 1 or 12 and 2. Just try to get out of the sun when the rays are strongest!
3. Invest in an umbrella or umbrella service.
The condos we usually rent for the week have these nifty little things or something similar. There is usually a teenage boy who sets them up and you can get him to move the umbrella for you with the sun. The ones we've had in the past usually cost $100 per week, but it is worth it to me. Alternately, you can invest in a large umbrella and put it up over your own beach chair. I sit under the umbrella whenever I go out and it really helps me.
4. Cover up!
Invest in a couple of good swimsuit coverups- WITH SLEEVES! I would do this anyway since I don't exactly have a beach-ready body, but this doubles as being helpful in protecting your skin. Here are a couple I would recommend:
This one, from Old Navy, is great because it is a light-colored fabric, so you won't get as hot in it. Its also cheap enough that you won't have to get upset when you need to throw it out after it gets worn from a few beach trips. Since this is so sheer, though, you'd still be better off wearing sunscreen under it. But it will still help you out.
This shirt from Columbia is another great option. It is made for men and women and comes in all sizes. Lots of women also wear the men's shirts so they are bigger/ longer. The great thing about this shirt is that they are super durable AND have SPF 30 in the fabric. Hooray! The long or short sleeve option is also great.
5. Wear a hat!
This is a great option from Banana Republic.
Any kind of hat with a brim is great, but sunhats that protect your face and neck are best. My favorite hat has SPF in the fabric. I found it at Dillards a couple of years ago for $8 and it has been very durable! It also packs well since it's fabric.
Those are my tips for sun time skin care. I know they might seem extreme, but they really do help me!