Sun Safety vs. Summer Fun: Finding the Balance

Here in the UK we’re in the midst of our hottest summer in decades. There are sun-bleached patches of grass in my backyard, iced coffee has become a necessity, and even my “thrifty” Scottish husband conceded it was time to buy a fan for the bedroom so we can actually sleep at night.

That may sound funny to you lovely North Americans with your proper summers, but over here a hot summer is a real novelty.

Worried about melanoma recurrence

Many Brits are rejoicing in this rare run of gorgeous weather... because who knows how long it will be before it happens again? I'm longing to celebrate with them. I want to go for long hikes or sit in the pub garden with an icy beverage. I want to hang out at long lazy barbecues with my friends, or head off to the beach.

But four years on from my melanoma, I’m wary of that big fiery ball in the sky. Or to be honest, I’m quite scared. I’ve had no further issues since I got the all-clear in 2014, yet with my red hair, ghostly skin, and galaxy of freckles and moles I worry about it happening again.

I’m determined to find a balance between caution and hermit life. Here’s what is helping for me so far:

Wear a large and glamorous sun hat

I invested in a very wide brimmed hat in a navy blue so it goes with pretty much everything. It’s huge, but pretty stylish so I actually enjoy wearing it. Just add gigantic sunglasses and I feel like an old Hollywood star hiding from the paparazzi. It folds up flat so I can easily tote it around. I feel safer going to social gatherings, knowing I can bust out my own supply of shade at any time!

Take a vampire walk

Like a Golden Retriever, I need to be walked daily. But it’s not a good idea to be out there for long when the sun is high. Instead, I’ve revived something I used to do when I lived in Australia: Vampire Walks. That's simply going out for a stroll very early in the morning or just on sunset. This way I can get my exercise and enjoy the scenery, instead of worrying if I've slathered on enough SPF. I'm a big fan of Vampire Swimming, too!

Get the nice sunscreen

I reckon if you actually like your sunscreen you’re more likely to use it properly (please tell me I'm not the old one with a drawer full of sunscreen rejects? Too gloopy! Too thick! Too stingy!) After much research I have settled on 1) a non-irritating facial sunscreen that goes well under makeup, and 2) a body sunscreen that absorbs quickly and easily. This means I’ll actually put on my SPF protection without fuss, then go out and join the human race!

Be open about your fears

It can be hard when everyone around you is all, "YAY SUN! Let's sit right in the middle of it!" while you're frantically looking for cover. It's not fun to be the party pooper! But I've found it's best to be honest about your fears and frankly, the needs of your epidermis! If I need to meet someone in the middle of the day I’ll ask if they mind if we sit in a shaded area, “So I don’t catch fire”. People are always kind and understanding.

How are you balancing sun safety with summer fun this year?

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