Confessions of a sun-worshipper

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By Cyndie Reichert, BA, RN

I have a confession: I was a sun-worshipper. My high school best friend is half Greek. We went to Florida together. She used SPF 0 and looked like a Greek goddess. I thought my skin could handle SPF 2 and ended up looking like a cooked lobster. It’s not that I can’t tan, but I learned that I can’t tan with SPF 2 in the intense Florida sun. Think I learned a lesson? No, I continued on my life-long desire to be tan, because – hey, a tan makes you look thinner.

Thankfully, I’m much wiser about my skin these days. But the damage is there and sadly, my family has a high risk of skin cancer. When I saw the dermatologist this year I was overjoyed to learn I have a minimal amount of sun damage. So I’m here to let you know – if you follow good skin care, you can help reverse some of the damage done during your sunbathing days.

Last week we talked about hydration. In addition to all the wonderful benefits I mentioned, hydration is also one of the biggest parts of skin care, year-round. Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do to prevent aging. When I was in my late 20s, people asked what my skin care regimen was. I would simply say I drank a lot of water. I was on to something! Now dermatologists tell you to HYDRATE your skin for summer skin care.

Removing excess layers of dull skin also helps keep your skin healthy. It is recommended that you exfoliate 2 times a week with either a scrub, wash, skin brush, or special lotion or serum. Different products are available online and you should research what’s best for your skin type. If twice a week is too much, try just once a week – it really helps to remove dead, dull layers of skin.

Switch up your skin cleansers to a lighter one for the summer. Gel cleansers are a great option. Also try to be sure to wash your face at night because you are spending more time outside, so more pollutants are getting onto your skin. You may also find that since you’re washing your face more frequently, you want a more gentle cleanser.  Lighten up the lotion while you are there too, try serums or hydrating gels instead of heavy creams.

Consider a wide brimmed hat, longer lengthened, light weight clothes. Try to avoid being in the sun during its prime hours.

And last, but certainly not least, USE SUNSCREEN! Make it SPF 30 and reapply it every 2 hours if you are outside.  Even if you wear makeup. The American Academy of Dermatology website offers excellent resources on decoding sunscreen labels, brands they endorse, application frequency suggestions for all ages, and other summer sunscreen and skin care health links to check out.  Find them at www.aad.org.  

Please note that certain medications or health conditions may make you more sensitive to sunlight or skin care products.

Now go out and enjoy the sun – the healthy way!

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