Hey Sunscreen, You’re My Summertime, All The Time SPF-BFF

sunscreen

I reside here in the Arizona heat, where memes are made about this almost unbearable weather; where everyone unites on Twitter to bash other states for claiming to be so hot when the norm here is around 115 degrees; where going outside is not something we do unless it is to swim or run into the grocery store to stand by the freezer section. I know the temperature may not be as high where you are as it is here, but it does not mean that the sun is any less dangerous.

We all count down the days until summer, as it indicates less stress and more fun. 
Summer is the time for tanning, playing in the pool, lounging outside sipping smoothies, having lake days, and going to the beach. Yep, sounds like a blast to me. The commonality here? Being outside! I think partly why we love summer so much is because we want beautiful tan skin and freckles that pop. But this comes at a cost.

While you think that the sunshine may be your best friend, in the long run, it can be your enemy

The sun is harmful, and it is because of those darn ultraviolet (UV) rays. I’m sure you have heard by now that there’s a hole in the ozone layer, allowing an escape route for damaging rays. These rays can cause wrinkles, sunspots, and sunburns, possibly leading to skin cancer. So, while you think that the sunshine may be your best friend, in the long run, it can be your enemy. Be safe now and wear sunscreen. When you are in your 60s with skin that is not nearly as wrinkly as your friends’ you can say “I told you so”. Plus, who wants to have to worry about developing skin cancer?

I am what most people would call a “ginger”. This means my red hair and pale skin makes it nearly impossible for me to tan. I am more likely than most to develop skin cancer. I have to lather special sunscreen all over my body every hour or so and need to wear a swim shirt for pool days. While this is frustrating and not very fashionable, I know this is what is right for my skin. I have already had a pre skin cancerous mole removed, which is quite scary. I’m only 18!

I know. It may not be considered “cool” to have to run back to your stuff in the middle of the day at a water park to lather on more sunscreen, but you will thank yourself in the years to come. And yes, swim shirts cover up your adorable bikini top. Well, you will just have to find an equally cute swim shirt. From 10am to 4pm is when the sun’s rays are the strongest. So if you really want to show off that bikini top or just cannot stand the feeling of a swim shirt, it is a bit safer to disregard that extra article of clothing before or after those times.

We all know that sunscreen is important. SPF measures the ability to block UVB rays (UVB rays specifically cause sunburns), so really it determines the amount of protection from sunburns. Guess what? SPF 100 is really not that different from SPF 50. In theory, you would think that SPF 40 is twice as protective as SPF 20, but this is not true. Dermatologist James M. Spencer says that an “SPF 15 product blocks about 94% of UVB rays; an SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB rays; and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays.” And while going higher in SPF may slightly block more UVB rays, no sunscreen will hit that 100% mark. Sorry. So going any higher is quite silly and unnecessary.

sunscreen

Sunscreen should be reapplied about every two hours, especially after swimming or a good sweat because it is not going to stay on  like we so desire. Now that I have you thinking about sunscreen (because we all know that is what every girl should have on her mind and not boys, clothes, books, or food), it’s important to choose the right sunscreen. Well, I suck at making decisions. So how in the world would I choose a sunscreen to use, let alone a good, protective one? I found this website that lists the best and the worst for 2017, so I know that I can’t go wrong.

Sunscreen alone will not be enough protection from the brutal sun. I know, sigh. Top your look off with some stylish sunglasses or a hat, or even rock both! This part is fun, since there are hundreds of sunglasses and hats to choose from (not even an exaggeration), and these accessories protect your skin. Score!

Yes, it does seem like rubbing your whole body with sunscreen takes eons. Yes, it is not the most fun activity to do. But, it is vital to incorporate it into your routine before heading outside. Hey, maybe blast some jams next time or strike up a deep convo to pass the time. Trust me, when you look back in 30 years, you will be so happy you took the time to protect your skin.

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Also published on Medium.