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Sun Savvy

May 13, 2009

Call me pigment-challenged.  Being of Scandinavian, English and Scottish descent, I have never – not once  – experienced an actual tan. 

I burn. 

I fade to a piglet-y pink. 

I turn white again. 

Growing up, my fair skin was the bane of my existence.  I dreaded summer because it meant wearing shorts instead of my beloved (full length = no exposure) Levis.  I dreamed of living in a time and place where my pale skin would be celebrated as the hallmark of patrician beauty (a time and place in which I could also eat copious amounts of chocolate at every meal and then inspire classic artists with my plump, white, voluptuous body – where was Rubens when I needed him?  Oh, right…about 300 years dead.)   

Then came the advent of self-tanner (cue the celebratory angelic “Hallelujah” chorus).  No more frightening small children at the pool!  No more blindingly white legs causing a commotion at the beach!  No more glow-in-the-dark jokes!  I remain to this day a strong advocate of self-tanners.  Hey, I don’t want to look like I just got back from St. Tropez.  I just don’t want to look like a member of the albino mole rat family (sorry, sissies).

Naturally my children inherited a tendency towards pastiness.  That, coupled with the fact that skin cancer runs in both sides of my family and we recently moved to a very hot, sunny-year-round state, plus the fact that the sun begins to damage our skin when we’re still children, has turned me into an unabashed sunblock Nazi.  I try to remember to smother my kids with sunblock before they leave for school, and again before they go out to play.  I spray them with sunblock whether it’s 9:00 in the morning or 5:00 in the evening.   Although the sun is strongest between 10am and 4pm, every bit adds up and I’m determined to keep my kids as sun damage-free as I can.

Here are a few tips I gleaned off of various websites:

  • Sunblock should be used year round – every unprotected exposure to the sun adds up
  • Adults should use enough sunblock to fill a shot glass
  • Kids basically need to be slathered and then slathered some more, to the point that you need a bit of elbow grease to finish rubbing in the lotion
  • There is a difference between sunscreen and sunblock (go to http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/medicine_cabinet/sunblock.html to find out what it is)  
  • Don’t forget to repeat application after a couple of hours! 

Skin cancer is a killer.  It is also preventable.  Being the proactive, savvy parents that we are, it’s up to us to make sure our kids are protected from the sun each time they leave the house – even if it takes an extra minute or two.  It’s probably too late for us, but for our kids, an extra minute each day may add up to a lifetime of beautiful skin…no Botox necessary.

Please check my links page for more information.

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