Let me preface with this – Skincare isn’t something to take lightly and it’s one of those #adulting things I do take seriously. As we get older, especially women, we take great care of our hair and the skin on our face through moisturizing masks, cleansing, toning etc… so that we will continue looking great as we mature. We’re trying to look younger and do everything we can to avoid wrinkles, sun damage spots and any signs of aging. Yet why do so many of us forgo practicing responsible skincare? We go to tanning beds, we lay out in the sun without sunscreen, or we put sunscreen on once and assume we’re golden for the remainder of the day. Yeah, we’re golden all right – Golden brown and crispy burnt.
I write this post laying in bed, in Curaçao, feeling every inch of my back itch and burn in pain from, you guessed it, sunburn. Like every other vacation goer, I should be adventuring and exploring the island, or at least taking advantage of the all inclusive open bar scenario. And trust me, I AM! Nick and I are having a blast and haven’t stopped going, going, going since we got here, but neither has the sun.
I knew Curaçao was going to be hot. I also knew the heat index was going to be very very high. My Irish/German/Eastern European skin wasn’t going to be able to handle the heat (literally!) I packed my two bottles of 50 SPF lotion and a bottle of 30 SPF for Nick figuring I was going to be fine. Wrong! Our initial sunscreen supply is starting to dwindle and our backs (especially mine) is burned to a crisp.
So what happened? While we did apply sunscreen every 2-3 hours, we didn’t realize we would be snorkeling for hours each day, with the salt water not only removing our SPF 50 but also intensifying the sun’s rays through reflection. When the UV Heat Index is a 9-10 (which it is this week in Curaçao) your skin can burn in 15-20 minutes. Most lotions are water and sweat resistant for up to 80 minutes. As soon as that time frame is up, your skin is more susceptible to the damaging affects of the sun’s rays. (Note: Please know that your skin is always at risk of sun damage, even when wearing sunscreen.)
Listen, sunburn isn’t beautiful and it’s definitely not sexy. We all should have listened to our parents growing up and now I’m about to throw some important #adulting advice your way – it’s time we grow up and start taking better care of our skin. Trust me, your natural skin tone is a lot more beautiful than damaged skin, or worse, skin cancer. If you find yourself in the sun (or the shade – UV rays are still damaging when cloudy!), follow these simple tips and guidelines to practice sun safety.
1. Choose the right sunscreen. Wearing sunscreen is the first step, but choosing the right sunscreen and reapplying every 2 hours is just as important. Look for a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 that provides a broad spectrum protection from Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your ears, tops of your feet and your hairline part. Those areas are even more sensitive to the sun and are often forgotten until burned.
2. Wear a sun protective shirt when doing activities. This was my mistake. Knowing that we were laying on our stomachs snorkeling for hours with our backs exposed should have made me realize I was going to burn. Wearing a UPF sun shirt when doing outdoor activities for long periods of time is a great way to protect your skin from getting severely burned. These shirts are specifically designed to filter ultraviolet rays, keeping you safer in the sun. Are they cool? No. But is wearing a shirt for an hour or two as painful as days of sunburn and a lifetime of damage to your skin? Trust me, it’s not. Just put the damn shirt on.
3. Avoid prime UV index times. The sun is especially strong from 10am-4pm. I’m not suggesting you hermit yourself inside during the day, but try to plan your activities accordingly. We often try to book our excursions and outdoor activities first thing in the morning (8- 11am) or later in the afternoon (after 2pm if possible) so we can avoid being directly in the sun mid day. If you find yourself in the sun all day, wear a hat, sunglasses or find yourself some shade to limit intense sun exposure.
I realize my advice isn’t too credible right now as I’m the girl on vacation, laying in bed at 1am unable to sleep because of sunburn. But please take my advice and realize that sun safety is more important than you think and your 40, 50 and 60+ year old self will thank you in the future if you take these precautionary measures.
As a reminder to my future self at how damaging the sun can be, here’s my current sunburn state 3 days after the initial burn. Let me tell you, this isn’t fun or sexy so wear sunscreen.