I read an article recently and it prompted me to do something funny at my desk: I held my right arm out to the side, twisted it as far as it would go, and had a good look at my skin on the underside. Yep, it was several shades paler than the topside, it was nice and smooth (working on the “toned” – Michelle Obama I’m not – yet) and there wasn’t a single freckle.
As a 40-year old woman who has been a Florida resident for over half my life, I am pretty typical as far as skin goes: I have the beginnings of lines around my eyes and mouth (character lines, right?) and I have a smattering of freckles on my arms, chest and shoulders. I’ll admit that it’s only within the past three years that I’ve begun to pay attention to using sunscreen – at all. Sure, I’d slather it all over my kids until they were glistening with SPF 50 from top to bottom, but I’d be content with a half-hearted spray for myself.
It’s only this time in my life that I’m truly aware of what the sun can do. It was really brought home by – of all people – my ophthalmologist during my last eye exam. “Your contacts bothering you?” he politely asked. “No, not really” I responded. “Oh, because they’re just touching the yellow areas on your eyes. But just barely.” “What?!” I tried not to scream back. Yellow spots on my eyes? I peered into the mirror and he calmed me slightly by saying he could only see them with his scope, but the yellow spots are from sun damage. And they’ll become more noticeable with continued sun exposure. Love-ly.
Here’s the short of it: sun damage is irreversible. The sunburns you may have had as a child can potentially cause serious health issues for you as an adult. If it’s just vanity that spurs you to spread on the sunscreen (on yourself – repeatedly), wear the sunhat or
grab the sunglasses – do it! And yes, the “time machine” reference in the title does refer to an episode from the Oprah show from several years back where a dermatologist exclaimed there is no makeup product as effective at keeping skin young and radiant as boring old sunscreen. Imagine having your 20-year-old complexion at 40! Even if that’s not possible now, I can at least set the example for my 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son.
We at Florida Blue are so committed to the idea of keeping Floridians healthy in the sun that we’re offering free skin screenings at our Florida Blue Center health fair this Saturday, June 9. The entire event is devoted to sun safety, with area experts on hand to advise you on having fun (safely!) in the sun. There you have it—no excuses not to check that funny freckle you’ve always wondered about.
Make this the summer you make sun protection your friend. And know your 75-year-old complexion thanks you. See you Saturday!
PS – Active on Pinterest? Visit our board devoted to stylish sun protection–sunhats, glasses, flirty cover-ups (and some facts for good measure.)
Note on the Author: Kate Warnock is a member of the Florida Blue social media team. She moved from Philadelphia to Florida in 1989 and always has her sunglasses handy. Find her on Twitter @mkatewarnock.