Hello friends! Can I just tell you how excited I am that warm weather and sunny days have arrived in the Northeast U.S.? Sometimes I seriously question why I don’t just live in a location where it’s sunny and warm on most days , but I always come back to my love of the seasons (particularly spring and summer).
My body tends to run cold, like icy cold, regardless of what time of year it is. Not only do I love the sun for its warming properties, I know just how important it is to soak up some natural Vitamin D from a natural source.
Humankind has been exposed to sunlight for all of time, so it’s not that we shouldn’t have any exposure, but we do have to be cautious not to overexpose ourselves. Right?
When Skin Cancer Arises
I have had a few bouts of skin cancer which started surfacing in my late 20s. As a child and as a teenager, I would try to get tan. Despite having very fair skin, I was able to achieve an acceptable “glow” but only after burning first. Oy. Bad news.
Looking back on my young self’s priorities and behavior, I see how ridiculous and meaningless it all was. I strived for that “summer glow” only to have it disappear pretty quickly. At the time, however, it was a lifestyle that somehow was acceptable.
I applied sunscreen, but certainly not all the time. The result? Many years of burned skin, peeling, and deep damage.
Today, I still value the sun’s healing powers and allow myself to have unprotected exposure in very small doses (no more than 10-15 minutes if I can help it). Then, it’s all about lathering on the sunscreen (a non-toxic one, of course), wearing a hat, sunglasses, and finding shade.
I am writing today’s post to encourage you to protect your skin and your family’s skin each and every day. Below are my tips for protecting your skin this summer.
The Sensitive Soul’s Tips for Nourishing & Protecting Your Skin
1. Choose a non-toxic sunscreen.
I use two different sunscreens: one for my face and one for the rest of my body. Currently, I am using ThinkSport Daily for my face and ThinkSport for my body. They are zinc based and approved by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep program. While I haven’t tried it yet, many people really seem to like Beautycounter sunscreen as well.
For children, I really like the ThinkBaby sunscreen.
2. Wear a hat, preferably a large rimmed hat.
Covering the top of your head is important and is often neglected in people’s efforts to reduce sun exposure. Visors with open crowns simply will not due. At the very minimum, choose a baseball hat. For better coverage, select a large rimmed hat or one with a neck flap.
3. Visit a dermatologist.
Whether you have had a history of skin cancer or not, you should be visiting a dermatologist annually for a full body skin check. This is an opportunity for a trained professional to look over your entire body and note any spots, freckles, moles, or lesions that may be suspicious. It’s never too soon to schedule these appointments, so regardless of your age, make it a priority!
4. Seek out shade.
Wherever you’re going, hopefully there will be shade. If not, come equipped with your own beach umbrella, tent, or parasol. When I go to the beach, I am never without a beach umbrella. Now, this isn’t fully protective because there is such a thing called reflective sunrays that an umbrella simply cannot protect you from, but at least you’re protecting the top of your body from the sun’s intensity.
One of my favorite gifts that I received at my baby shower that we still use to this day for my toddler is the SunSense pop up sun tent. We take this to the beach with us every time and it has been incredible! Whether you’re in the market for a similar product or you’re looking for a unique idea to give to a friend with children, I highly recommend this one!
5. Wear sunscreen every day, even if it’s cloudy.
I’ve certainly made the mistake multiple times in my life of not applying sunscreen on cloudy days. Big mistake. It can be on cloudy days when you get the worst sunburns! So make it a daily routine to lather your skin and stay protected.
*Another tip: think about what parts of your body are being exposed while you’re driving and be sure to protect them!
6. Choose your clothing wisely.
Clothes made from tightly woven fabric offer the most protection. Likewise, while they may feel hotter, darker clothes offer more protection than light colored clothes. You may even be able to find certified UV Protection clothing to wear. The more covered you are, the better. So if you know you’re going to be out in the sun for quite a while, consider buying a breathable, UV protective long sleeve shirt or pants (or both!).
7. Wear sunglasses.
I can personally tell you that the skin under your eyes (where I have had two surgeries for skin cancer) is very tender and thin. Protect it at all costs! Full coverage sunglasses can help. Sunglasses that offer UVB and UVA protection are your best bet!
8. Reapply your sunscreen.
This is the action step that I tend to fall short on. Ideally, you want to apply your initial sunscreen 10-15 minutes before you go outside or get into water. Then, you’re supposed to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or immediately after getting out of water. To give you a visual, proper sunscreen application is about a shot glass worth of sunscreen each time you apply. Most of us don’t use that much.
9. Check your sunscreen expiration date.
I remember going to a popular drug store to buy sunscreen and I put my purchase on the counter to pay for it. The clerk lifted up the bottle of sunscreen, peered at the bottom of it then said to me, “Wait a minute. This is expired. You don’t want to buy this.” He then proceeded to go back to the sunscreen section of the store only to find that almost every bottle of sunscreen on the shelf had expired. Crazy, huh?!
Thank goodness for that clerk! Quite frankly, it wasn’t until that experience happened that I began checking expiration dates on my products. That was eye opening to me! I just figured that the sunscreen that was in my closet from last year was good for the following year. Not always the case! CHECK THE DATES!
10. Makeup with SPF isn’t good enough.
Believe it or not, most makeup that says it has SPF 15+ in it simply will not protect your skin by itself. Always combine your make up with actual sunscreen for best protection.
What to Do If You’ve Had Too Much Exposure
If you end up getting too much sun, be sure to apply natural aloe (not the alcohol-laden variety) preferably right from an aloe plant. Gently rub the aloe across the burned areas and keep your skin moist.
Also, it’s very important to stay hydrated. While you’re out in the sun and after, you need to focus on drinking clean water to replenish your body. If you find yourself burned, it’s even more important to increase your hydration.
With these precautions, you should be able to enjoy the outdoors without worry! Again, the sun is not something to be feared. You simply need to be knowledgeable and smart about how much exposure you are getting.
So get out there, enjoy the sunshine! And as always, be well!
*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase an item using one of the links, at no cost to you, I may earn a small commission. I only suggest products that I have tried and use. Thank you for your help supporting The Sensitive Soul blog!