The Great Sunscreen Awakening

My entire childhood I complained whenever my mother would tell me to put on sunscreen. I hated how it felt on my skin and my 8-year-old self generally considered sunscreen application a hassle when it meant five extra minutes of not jumping in the pool.

Despite my childish disdain for sunscreen, there was rarely a time growing up in Arizona’s 100-degree summer months that my mom would let us spend time in the sun without a liberal slathering of SPF.

Looking back, it’s not like she was that strict. We didn’t wear sunscreen every day and even when we did, we weren’t vigilant reappliers.

It wasn’t until last summer, that I started to understand why sunscreen is so important. Truthfully, I became an SPF nut.

I would feel an overwhelming sense of panic if I wound up outside for longer than 10 minutes and wasn’t wearing sunscreen. Gone were the days of hating the greasy, strong-scented sunscreen I begrudgingly applied. Now, I craved the assurance that I was protecting my skin from the unforgiving Arizona rays.

I realized that I should worry about what my skin will look like in a decade or two from now. These days, I worry about sun damage – not even purely for aesthetic reasons – because skin cancer is a real and dangerous issue.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year in the United States than all other cancers combined. This should be a wake-up call to all who think one or two days sunbathing without protection are harmless.

The Skin Cancer Foundation says a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns. Think about all of the times you’ve returned from vacation pinker than a flamingo. This is serious!

Don’t doubt the power of good ol’ SPF. Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent, and squamous cell carcinoma (nonmelanoma skin cancer) by about 40 percent.

Ladies, please protect your skin this summer and every day! A tan may seem nice in the moment, but I assure you that the longevity of your beautiful skin outweighs a temporary Bahama Mama glow. Wear a daily sunscreen, reapply every two hours if you’re in harsh sun and embrace fake tanning lotions if you can’t live without being a golden goddess.