The Post-Summer Sunscreen debacle, or why (most) Americans ignore sunscreen when Fall hits…

Start flipping channels in May and you’ll still come across at least a dozen sunscreen commercials each day. This momentum keeps going until the “back to school” sales start in earnest, and then we don’t hear about sunscreen for about 9 months.

That doesn’t make sense for Texas, though, or at least southeast Texas. Most years it starts getting hot in March and doesn’t cool down enough to stop griping until late September, but oh well. I’m sure you take a peek in anybody’s below-sink cabinet or garage and you have a bunch of half-used bottles of sunscreen that’ll just prop up cobwebs until the first beach day.

I’ve bumped into people from “desert states” when they’ve come to do tours and things at my favorite historical places. We had a group from Arizona, another from New Mexico, and one thing I noticed was every morning, the group would pass around the sunscreen.

They’d incorporated it into their daily lives. Get up, wash face, brush teeth, put on sunscreen, dress, and go.

I’ve never seen that except in the summer, when people know they’re going to be spending the day outside. Or maybe I just know the wrong people. Either way, nobody I’ve ever known in my family, friends, or anybody wears sunscreen year round. The closest thing is women who make sure to put moisturizer with sunscreen protection on their faces under their makeup. I have some of that stuff while I’m at it, but as far as arms and legs and such? No go.

If you’ve seen interviews with Hugh Jackman, who’s had skin cancer operations half a dozen times, he’s a huge proponent of sunscreen. Sunscreen is like wearing clothes–you gotta do it in Australia. It’s been a big deal.

Opposite hemispheres, opposite priorities, even though we share the same sun.

Funny enough, it seems some of that science is being flipped on its head. Suddenly, the U.S. is pushing for more people to wear sunscreen more often while Aussie-land is trying to get people to take it off once in a while and absorb the sun.

Though I gotta admit, other than a forgettable 30-second blurb here or there, I have yet to see any major campaigns about sunscreen in the news…have you?

This awesome article gives a helluva lot of good information about the changing view in science. It seems that we’re indoors far more often than our ancestors (no crap), but because when we do go out in the sun, it’s to be out there on some vacation or beach day getting the rays all at once. We weren’t quite meant for that. So, we’re more susceptible to skin cancers and needing to use sunscreen because we have to compensate for this uneven absorption pattern.

I can kinda see that. But it makes me wonder–should we be wearing sunscreen all the time, even in winter? I have to wonder, because unless it’s a super sunny day and hot, nobody even considers the sunscreen in my neck of the woods. But since I’m doing my best to take care of myself (outside as well as in) and clear up my skin, and protect it…I want to know more about this.

I put on sunscreen this morning and bug spray when I went outside to burn the burnable garbage. The sun was barely up, but it doesn’t take long to get hot, that’s for sure. One of the first things I tried to do was figure out do I need to put the sunscreen on first, or the bug spray.

Hell, even HERE there are conflicting views. When it comes to skin protection science, we’re kinda sucky at it in this country. So, I just put in the sunscreen, let it absorb for 10 minutes, then sprayed on the mosquito repellent before starting work.

First of all, I guess I hate the smell of sunscreen. I have a sensitive nose that can pick a lot out, and I guess I just don’t want to pollute the air with the smell of sunscreen when I’m around people. Maybe that self-consciousness made me avoid it, but honestly, as much as I’m trying to be outside and take care of myself, I should just learn to get over it.

I still smell it, over an hour later as I’m typing, but it’s not that bad. I just wonder if you can put something else on to disguise the smell and it won’t hurt (like a little body spray or scented lotion).

I’ll be looking into that.

But honestly, why don’t we hear more about protecting ourselves from the sun? I grew up (with most people I know) believing that if it was a cloudy day, we don’t have to worry about using sunblock. I’ve known better for a while, but it’s a hard mental block to break. And I kept moving my stash of sunblock around like an idiot. Now it’s all in two places–one in my locker at work, several under my sink at home.

Part of my “get ready for the day” routine, starting today.

But why are we so far behind in skin protection science? That’s what I can’t understand. And more than that, we’ve been foolish with our “teaching” kids about using sunblock (and most adults). We don’t account for skin tone at all, they just say “put it on.” But different skin tones need different help, and we’ve adopted a one-size-fits-all mode of protection.

It wouldn’t be a far leap to say that the science surrounding skin protection is a bit racist…hell, some doctors even admit it.

Yeah, safe to say we’ve dropped the ball on this side of the ocean…some need more sun than others, and some need very little.

I’d love to see more on the science involved, and for them to get their ducks in a row regarding skin protection. Sheesh, skin is the biggest organ of the body–we should know more about how to take care of it, wouldn’t you think?

The more used to it I get, the better off I think I’ll be. As someone who is a naturally darker white woman, but inside way too much, this is a must. I want to be able to incorporate more natural, outdoor exercise in my life.

And there are too many instances of cancer already in my family–I don’t want to add to the stats.

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