“Wow, you’re burned,’ my husband eyes my shoulders, “we were only out for twenty minutes.”
“I know, I’ve told you, my skin is special.”
You know when you go to buy foundation and you’re looking at all those colors of beige (and three browns, I always thought that would make me angry if I wasn’t white)? Go all the way to the left. There. That’s my color. The shade I use now is called ‘Translucent Light.’ I like to think it’s because it gives a translucent effect not because I AM translucent.
But I am.
It’s true. Any tan that you see on my skin is from years of beating my skin into submission. My skin is pretty much only good for keeping my internal organs from falling out.
So because I am from a place where tanning is a sport and I love being outdoors (and wearing a burka in 90 degree heat isn’t an option) I know all sorts of ways to keep sunburn at bay. In moving to the east coast I’ve noticed a lot of people don’t really know what to do with their skin in the summer weather. Here’s a few tips.
1. Apply sunscreen before you leave the house. The cream needs time to bond with your skin. So take a minute and slather you and your kids right after you put on your bathing suit and before you leave the house. Your children will probably be more cooperative as well because you aren’t standing at the park or beach and holding them back so you can put sunscreen on.
2. For your first application you should put at least an ounce of sunscreen on your skin, that’s the size of a shot glass. Just butter yourself up.
3. Reapply after swimming. You may not need to do this at the end of the summer when you have a tan, but it helps a lot in the beginning of the summer months.
4. When you get home and suspect you have a burn take a cool shower or throw your kids in a cool bath. This will take the heat out of your skin and keep it from continuing to burn. (Ever notice that I sunburn develops over a few hours? For example: you get home and you look fine and then when you get in your pajamas you discover crazy lines on your back.) I used this tip to keep from burning while camping on Lake Superior. I had given all my sunscreen away to my campers, so in the afternoon I would jump in the lake and soak until I was shivering, then I would get out and put a long sleeve top on and I didn’t get burned.
5. If you don’t have time for a shower rub ice cubes on your skin. If you don’t want to do that you can put cold water on your skin, and then don’t dry it off. Just let the air dry you the conduction will cool you off. A shower really works, but water and ice seem to help; at the worst it will just feel good.
6. Drink a lot of water. This may not prevent the burn but it will keep you from feeling sick. Yes, I have been so sunburned that I was sick.
7. Any SPF over 45 is just advertising. I often use SPF 15 because it lets a little color in, keeping your skin from remaining completely vulnerable to the sun’s rays.
8. Sunscreen prevents vitamin D from getting into your skin. I’ve read that about twenty minutes of sun exposure with no sunscreen on will allow you to get that vitamin.
9. You know those blue and green bottles of aloe gel? Buy one. Put it on the burned or suspected burned area at least twice, once when you get home, and once before bed. Keep doing that until the burn fades.
I have to admit that I used to tan a lot. After getting pregnant with my first child my commitment to tanning and desire to be tan dropped way down on my priority list. Now I mostly just don’t want to burn, because it’s annoying and quite frankly I think about skin cancer every time it happens. I think that means I'm getting old....