TIP: The Sun is Your Mortal Enemy

We are a tan obsessed society.  We forget in the midst of soaking up what feels like a healthy solar beauty boost that the sun isn’t really our friend.  In fact, I’d go as far as to say he is our worst enemy when it comes to anti-aging and cancer avoidance.  The glowing skin of our youth will turn into a lizard hide in old age if we sun ourselves irresponsibly, exposing us to all kinds of health dangers along the way.  So unless you have medical care funds to burn and want to look like a komodo dragon walking upright, here are some important tips to protect your skin from the relentlessly diabolical summer sun:

*Sunscreen.  If you are going to be outside longer than 15 minutes (less if you are extremely fair complected) PUT. IT. ON.  Please remember to put on sunscreen BEFORE going out into the sun.  Somewhere between 30 minutes to an hour before, and reapply every hour.  Also, the SPF number.  SPF 8 doesn’t mean 8 hours of sun protection, it means it will take you 8 times longer to burn than if you didn’t have sunscreen on.  To avoid a false sense of sun invincibility, don’t use higher than SPF 25.   You want a sunscreen that blocks UVA & UVB rays.  And quite possibly the most common sunscreen mistake: keep your sunscreen fresh, cool, and out of the sun. Heat and light break down the chemicals, rendering it less effective. Keep it in the cooler at the beach.  Don’t use that Panama Jack that you’ve had under the bathroom counter since 1987.  It won’t protect well.  As a good rule, buy new sunscreen each summer.

*Sun hat.  Some of the most vulnerable places for the sun to sizzle us are on our faces.  Ears, scalp, nose, and neck all burn quite easily and unpleasantly. A wide-brimmed hat can solve a lot of sun problems.

*Burning eyes and lips.  Now you are beginning to see just how E-vil Mr. Golden Sun can be.  Wear sunglasses, you can get sunburned on your eyeballs.  Wear Chapstick with SPF, sun burned lips are not fashion forward.

*Avoid going out in the sun.  I know, I know.  It’s easy for a Nordic cave dweller like me to say such things.  And I realize fun, all day sun extravaganzas are a rite of summer passage.  But, if you can avoid being out between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., so much the safer for your skin.  So much the less you will end up looking like a human pork rind later in life.

*Tanning beds.  Absolutely the worst idea you ever had.   Also, coincidentally shaped like coffins.  Get the picture?  You can’t avoid that 1.4 million kilometers in diameter of sheer ultra violet death staring down from the sky, but you can avoid paying senselessly to compromise, age, and damage your skin.

*Men and children at risk.  Guys are often too macho to need anything, least of all protection from the toxic, yet subtle, radiation of the sun.  Little children don’t understand the importance of sun care until they are lobsterfied.  Take care of the people you love and educate them about the effects of ignorant sun exposure.  Scare the crap out of them on Web MD.  Tell them the sun is a monster who will stop at nothing until he boils us all alive.  This is serious stuff here.

The sun really is that dastardly.  Protect yourself before you wreck yourself.


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