I recently saw a little robin redbreast hop, hop, hopping along. I was reminded that he is one of the harbingers of spring time along with the daffodils, forsythia and newness of life exploding all around us. Indeed it has been a very hard year with many heartaches, grief and sorrows, the likes of which we have never experienced. It has also been a time of learning, growing, thankfulness and adapting — God has made us so resilient!
I am ultra excited to be going outside again. Summer is made for outside activities like picnics, camping, swimming, gardening, etc. And we missed it all last year. Since we’ve been living like hermits in our houses, we need to refresh our skills for taking care of our skin in the summer sun.
First, I will say that the sun is good for us and without it we would not survive — living things need sunshine. The sun helps reduce stress, improve sleep, helps fight depression, strengthens the immune system, helps our mood and is a natural source of vitamin D for bone health.
Second, I will say that too much sun is bad for us. So what detriment can the sun cause me? The sun gives off ultraviolet radiation, which causes DNA changes in the skin that can lead to premature aging and skin cancer. We tend to think of wrinkles with aging only, but the sun plays a significant role in the wrinkling process. There are two kinds of UV light that affect us — UVA and UVB. UVA light damages the skin at all levels — from the surface layer down deep into the dermis degrading collagen and elastin, which results in wrinkles, sagging skin and overall damage.
All of the expensive lotions and potions we buy to address these issues will not be very effective if we neglect skin protection from the sun. The UVB rays make up less sun exposure, but are more intense.
If you are not concerned about premature aging, consider the possibility of skin cancer. Each year 4.3 million adults are treated for skin cancer at a cost of $4.8 billion. There are three types — basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. The most common are the first two with melanoma being the most lethal. As we resume our outdoor lives in the sun, let’s all practice healthy sun care and save ourselves immediate discomfort and the later penalties the sun can exact from us.
Follow these simple sun rules from the American Cancer Society:
- Wear sunscreen every day (broad spectrum UVA/UVB min 30 SPF)
- If possible, avoid mid-day sun 10 a.m.-3 p.m. This is when UV rays are at their strongest.
- Wear protective clothing: hats with brims covering ears, back of neck, wear sleeves, etc.
- Wear sunglasses that filter UV light (wrap arounds are best for long periods outdoors).
- Remember this slogan coined by the American Cancer Society: “Slip on a shirt, Slap on a hat, Slop on some sunscreen, Slide on those sunglasses and Seek shade when possible.”
It’s also important to remember that sunscreen has an expiration date, and the shelf life is shortened by exposure to high heat. You need to reapply every two hours when in the sun, and it should be amply applied. Additionally, UV rays are coming at you year round, even when it’s cloudy.
Thinking of tanning beds — DON’T. Science says there is no such thing as a safe tanning bed. There are lots of awesome self tanning lotions out there. No more orangey skin. Try one.
As you emerge from your cocoons and spread your butterfly wings in the warmth of the sunlight, remember the above tips and share with family members.
Have a safe and beautiful summer!