7 Tips for Loving Your Skin
For 36 years, my skin was just something I covered with make-up, moisturizers, and clothing in my attempts to model current trends. I never reflected on how big a role my skin played in protecting my body. Now, I realize it plays a major role in keeping us healthy. Skin is the largest organ of our body, it’s our body’s first line of defense against infections, it’s linked to all major body systems, and it’s what holds our bodies together. Those important functions make me wonder why I ever took my skin for granted, so I decided to share some skincare tips after a skin cancer diagnosis.
Importance of good skincare habits
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. It scares me that a small bump on my head caused me to fight for my life. Since completing treatments, I always advise loved ones to make skin care, especially after skin cancer, a part of everyday life. I’ve learned that good skin habits are great for both lessening the risk of skin cancer and for improving overall health!
Here are seven skincare tips:
- Skin loves water
- Apply sunscreen daily
- Visit a dermatologist once per year
- Wear clothing that has superpowers against the sun
- Avoid tanning beds
- Protect your children
- Wear sunglasses
To help you understand the importance of water for your skin, think about a wilting plant’s reaction to a good ole dose of H₂O. Is it any surprise that your skin perks up in the same way? Most health professionals recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, which is approximately one half-gallon, or 2 Liters. Are you getting enough water?
Nowadays, lots of body lotions are loaded with sunscreen too. The bonus of using 2-for-1 products like these is that they multi-task by moisturizing the skin to create a barrier from nasty germs while also providing a shield from damaging rays. Some of the lotion-sunscreen combos I like are made by Eucerin, Aveeno, and Lubriderm.
Prior to melanoma, annual skin checks were never on my to-do list. Don’t make the same mistake! Dermatologists see spots you might miss. And if you do ever notice an odd spot on your body, don’t assume it’s a healthy one. You would never trust an accountant to replace the roof on your home, so why trust your untrained eye to diagnose a potentially life-threatening growth on your body?
Before melanoma, I always wore bikinis to fish on the boat. Since then, I’ve begun wearing UPF clothing, which controls how many of the sun’s rays sneak through the fabric. UPF clothing is great for gardeners, road crews, power line workers, and other outdoor professionals. There are lots of UPF brands out there, but two of my favorites are UV Skinz and Columbia.
Much like cigarettes, indoor tanning is a popular yet unhealthy habit. Most tanning beds release up to three times the amount of radiation that’s delivered by natural sunlight. That’s like cranking a skillet from medium heat to high heat even though medium was already hot enough to burn the meal!
Kids get skin cancer too. The earlier kids learn about sun safety, the better their chances of practicing it into adulthood. On my daughter’s fifth birthday, I scheduled her first annual visit with a dermatologist and it’s something I’ll continue until she turns eighteen. I also dress her in UPF clothing for long stints in the sun, slather her in sunscreen, and inspect her skin regularly for new or suspicious spots in hopes that she’ll continue these habits as an adult.
Yes, I know, our eyes are not flesh. As a skin cancer survivor though, I can’t help but share ways to lessen the risk of developing ocular melanoma, which is melanoma that grows in or around the eyeball. For the best protection, most eye doctors recommend sunglasses that shield at least 99% of UVB and UVA rays, so always check the label before buying.
If I knew back then what I know now about the importance of skincare and tips to taking prioritizing our skin, I would’ve done things a lot differently. Thankfully, I’ve gotten the chance to make lifestyle changes since my melanoma diagnosis. Please consider making healthy skin a priority in your life too. You'll be glad you did!
How well have your skin cancer diagnoses been explained to you?