The Importance of Wearing Sunscreen

I grew up a tomboy. I never cared too much for makeup. I only wore sunscreen during the summer or long periods outside. I had oily skin and some blemishes but never enough to peak my interest in skincare, either.

I was lucky that during my teenage years my acne healed quickly. I knew the sun was dangerous and could cause serious illnesses but because my skin healed quickly I took it for granted. I was young and foolish and didn’t protect my skin nearly as often as I should have. Little did I know that UV rays caused inflammation and stamped a permanent shadow of previous skin woes. I quickly learned my lesson when I went to college in Colorado.

All of a sudden my years of hidden acne scars came to the surface and during my freshman year, I was plagued by hyperpigmentation (dark spots). My entire forehead was two shades darker than the rest of my face! Who knows what caused it, probably a variety of factors: I broke out more frequently, I was older and I was now a mile closer to the sun. Whatever the reason, or combination, I needed to do something about it.

I started wearing sunscreen because of cosmetic reasons. I didn’t want those dark patches all over my forehead. I soon found out sunscreen was not just important in beauty but in health as well.

The skin has two major jobs: protecting the body and repairing itself. I helped my skin by applying sunscreen. I decreased its workload and protected it so it focused on repair. My hyperpigmentation faded faster, I had less acne and healthier-looking skin.

Being more diligent about skin protection

When I was diagnosed I became even more diligent about UVA/UVB protection. I was still concerned about my complexion but health became my bigger priority. I lived in a city so on top of the harmful sun; I had to contend with pollution and other grime. My skin was my largest organ and I was absorbing all sorts of nasty things that caused a lot more inflammation.

Each day I wore sunscreen and covered every exposed bit of skin I felt healthier and alert. Maybe that was the placebo effect. All I know for sure is that if I weren’t chronically ill I definitely would not be able to notice any difference.

I don’t get fancy or expensive with body sunscreen because I slather it on like a layer of seal blubber. A tried and true from the drugstore is just as effective as those high-end ones. I opt for a heavy cream one so I can see it before it absorbs into the skin and I can be sure I do not miss a spot.

Sunscreen gets a little tricky when it comes to the face. Since everyone has different levels of sensitivity, you may have to test different ones. My absolute favorite is from a luxury brand but I generally also opt for a drugstore oil-free made for the face version (I would recommend oil-free sunscreen to anyone since it is so thick).

However, there are days rubbing lotion into my skin is just bad news bears. On those days (and most others, because it’s so darn convenient) I use a simple spray sunscreen that I can easily run over my arms and legs without any extra application. On rough days, I use the same spray on my face (just a smaller amount so I don’t get too oily) but

Do you wear sunscreen regularly? Have you noticed a difference? Let me know down in the comments!

 

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Comments

View Comments (7)
  • pugpen
    8 months ago

    Definitely do….now that it’s too late (but of course it’s preventing further damage). I’ve had over a hundred actenic keratosis (precancerous) lesions frozen off, as well as 10 basal cell cancers and 3 squamous cell cancers surgically removed. I’m supposed to have done the chemo several months ago, but this would be my 3rd go around with that, and I just can’t make myself go thru it again. All those years of ‘laying out’in the sun with baby oil on (!) and many tanning booth session’s have caught up with me now. If I had only known then what I know now.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    8 months ago

    Hey pugpen, thank you so much for sharing and I’m so sorry you are going through this. My family and I are no strangers to cancer and chemo so I completely understand your hesitation in going through another round of chemo.

    Have you spoken to your doctor about it? Is it necessary to go through the 3rd round?

    I think what scares me the most about RA and the sun is that even with massive amounts of protection I still see sun damage in freckles and tanning. I guess sunscreen isn’t the be all end all.

    Thanks for commenting on my article!! Please keep me updated on how you are doing. ~Monica

  • rockcandi
    8 months ago

    Thank you for posting this Monica! I don’t know why I haven’t been more concerned about using sunscreen. Growing up in Florida, a mile from the beach meant we were tree every day during the summers and sometimes after school during the rest of the year. My mom slathered us with sunscreen upon arrivals to the beach but that was it, no more applications the rest of the day. I was burnt red as a lobster more times than I can count. Now I have dark spots all over my face, including a cluster of small ones that cover the space above my upper lip making it appear as though I have a mustache! I also have at least 100 moles, just on one arm! I read years ago that if you have over a hundred moles you’re chances for skin cancer increases by 50%. I put sunscreen on my son every time we go outside to play. From now on I’ll be putting it on myself too!

  • 26qafcc
    8 months ago

    As a Tom boy like yourself Monica and living and growing up in Arizona and all our sunny warm days, boy do I have major sun damage. I daily wear sunscreen, also wear SPF shirts outside and car rides even to the grocery store. I recently after many biopsies on my hands and squamas cell cancers I bought SPF gloves for my hands. Skin cancer is no fun had MOHS done on my nose and lower lip both within the last 6 months. Actually went to my Dermatologist yesterday and got so many spots on both arms and hands frozen with liquid nitrogen I lost count on them. Very, very important to wear and apply sunscreen my skin is very damaged from being outdoors and not applying. I know exactly what Lawrence is posting having 3 red headed sisters and me the only brunette but still that fair Irish skin. I wish I would of been more careful and 2 of my siblings have had melanoma already. I am way more cautious and see my dermatologist every 2-3 months.

  • pugpen
    8 months ago

    Wow, we are almost identical in respect to all the sun damage and treatment’s! Have you had to use Efudex?

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    8 months ago

    I seldom stay out in the sun I used to be a Red Head. (I mean when I had hair it was red, now it would be gray if I had hair, which I do not really so the whole hair thing is not a good way to decide if I need sun screen).

    Anyway I have been staying out of the sun for several years. However Sheryl works hard to make sure I use sun screen. Everyone needs a Sheryl.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    8 months ago

    I need a Sheryl!! I have to admit I forget to put on sunscreen on my hands since I usually wash them before I leave the house. I keep extra tubes almost everywhere which drives everyone mad!

    Thank you for staying out of the sun. I worked with a red-head who never wore sunscreen and it gave me so much anxiety!

    Thanks for commenting, Rick! ~Monica

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