Fashion and Personal Style

The importance of sunscreen

Living in Australia, I believe most people are aware of the general importance of sunscreen to prevent sun damage, but are they aware that it causing your skin to also appear more aged? It is important to be mindful that different parts of Australia receive different amounts of UVA and UVB as I understand it.  Also, as I understand it, UVB causes a lot of sunburn and UVA is linked to aging (but both contribute to skin cancer)- please note, I am not a doctor.

Sunlight is necessary, however, for vitamin D production and maintaining healthy skin flora – and it makes us feel good. UVA can travel through glass windows. I’m still not a doctor – but I have been a science teacher since 1997!

So, we need a bit of sunlight; we tend to like a bit of a golden glow on our skin, but we (the collective we), invest a huge amount of our income trying to reverse the signs of aging and recovering from damage caused by years of sun ignorance or general complacency.

I was thoughtfully  raised with ‘slip, slop, slap’, my son had more helpful options which included the additions of ‘slide and shade’. I am hopeful that by the time he reaches my age, his skin is in better condition than mine was when I hit 40!

Why am I preaching about sunscreen on this platform? Well, it’s because your skin is part of your personal image and therefore, your personal style!

The confidence with which we hold ourselves, is often, whether we want to admit it or not, influenced by how we perceive ourselves visually. I hate, for example, that my ears are at slightly different heights! The bane of my teenage years was trying to find a pair of sunglasses that sat on my head level (or at least appeared to – thank God for over-sized sunglasses)! When your ears are crooked, you see, your eyebrows poke out the top of your sunnies differently – one more so than the other. It is blatantly obvious that something is just not right about it! The mini-glasses trend, unapologetically, passed me by without a second glance last year. 

Okay, so I am a bit offtrack… protect your skin (and eyes) with everything at your disposal! The younger you start, the less expensive it is to recover from the damage later. It is important that you know, that, on the most part, a lot can be recovered. Those age spots and fine lines caused by sun damage – can be fixed – if you want to fix them.

Some of us say that we are happy to grow old gracefully – and I was one of them – in my 20s (before my skin really started to show the damage of years in the sun). I was in my mid-late 30s when my neck and decolletage gave up and started to transmit to the world that I was ‘getting old’. I hated it – and as a result, there are not many photos showing my neck from then. It is ten years on, I’m now moving into my mid-late 40s, and I’m pleased to say that I am repairing the damage (I’ll tell you how in another post), except to say that, sunscreen has been a huge part of that process.

As seen in normal light
As seen under UV light

My blog portrait has no filters. I am wearing a little make-up on my face, but look at that neck and decolletage. Admittedly, it is still a work in progress, but it is there for the world to see now. It no longer represents a woman with skin older than her chronological age – in fact, it is better than it was in my 30s and I intend to keep improving it over time.

How did it get so bad in the first place?

I had one of those school uniforms that had a V-neck. I have always put at least a morning coat of sunscreen on my face (and hands), but I was in Year 11 before I realised that I needed to be covering the V-neck exposed skin on my throat and chest. After that, I was pretty good about it. 

I’m not a magician, I have been sunburnt a few times since then (because – well, I am Australian, and I’m still figuring out how to reapply sunscreen over makeup effectively). Despite my efforts, I still ended up with ‘old lady neck’ in my 30s.

My aim, now that I have the tools that I know are working, is to actually suffer from ‘young lady neck’ when I am old. How devastating would that be!

The advice: apply a broad spectrum sunscreen everyday (summer or winter).

Start now and keep it up.

Use the best products that you can afford to at any time in your life.

Re-apply every 2-2.5 hours, more often if you are swimming.

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