Sunscreen, yuck!! Very few things make my skin crawl like it, literally. I do not like it at all. Don’t get me wrong, it is better than it used to be. It used to be horrific. But let me digress.
As a child, I often put on suntan “oil” or “lotion”. I remember the days of lathering up in brown oil and getting mounds of sand stuck to me at the beach. Fun times. I think the point of that lubricant was to promote a deep, dark tan. This was ridiculous for me since I was very fair-skinned and a deep, dark tan was always out of my league. I normally lathered up and had sand stuck to me for hours and got burnt to a crisp. I am not quite sure what was fun about this? I did love the ocean and body surfing and I was willing to put up with the sand and blistering to catch a good wave.
Sunblock - yuck
After my melanoma diagnosis in 1988, I began to use what was known as sunblock. This was not a good product at the time. Most of the time it was chalk-like and did not rub on evenly. It burned my eyes and tasted nasty. Not sure how it got in my mouth. I am pretty sure that the SPF was maybe a 1.3 or 1.34. I think that I needed a scraping tool to get it off when I got home. Much has changed since then, thankfully.
Today, sun care products come in different sizes, bottles, applications, and SPF ranges. Some are marketed for children, for athletes, for just about anyone. It is now a huge industry. I still don’t like it, but hey it helps save my life so I am not complaining. I spray it on now and it makes my skin look shiny, like I have a layer of translucent skin. My kids know when I am ready to play outside. I am shiny. I appreciate the advancement in these products. My thought is that the easier they are to use, the more that people will use them. That’s the point.
It’s not my job to recommend one brand over another. I am just the messenger. I know that many brands have advantages and are preferable over others. I saw a segment on The Today Show this morning about different types of sunscreen and it led me to consider some research. Consumer Reports came out with their recommendations here.
There are quite a few interesting articles linked to this report. Here are some important tips noted in the lead article.
- Use SPF 40 or above.
- Shake the bottle before application as important ingredients may settle at the bottom and not actually get on your skin.
- Apply sunscreen well in advance of your actual sun exposure.
- Reapply often. They say every two hours and after swimming. I would add to reapply after exercise and sweating.
One personal recommendation is to remember your scalp, ears and lips. I don’t know how many times that I forgot to lather up my ears. This led to me using lip balm with SPF on my ears (Yes, I just admitted that and sometimes the lip balm was cherry flavored and I had reddish ears). That leads to the point that one’s lips are susceptible to sun damage and should be protected as well. In short, if it’s skin, I protect it. I keep sunscreen in my multiple places in the house and in the garage. I keep it in my vehicle. It has become a necessity.
How well was your skin cancer diagnosis explained to you?