When I entered my late twenties I became super vigilant about skin care–steps I’d normally skip in the past (like washing off my makeup) suddenly became very necessary. This new devotion was definitely fueled by my long term plan to stay looking young for as long as I can. However, the more I read up on skin care, the more I realized how proactive I needed to start being about sun protection. This is a topic that is sometimes ignored by Latinas because there is a myth that we’re not as affected by the sun.
One reason for our lack of awareness is due to the fact that many studies seem to exclude people of color and our susceptibilities to the sun aren’t as well known or at least they’re not always considered. This article discusses some of our difference and the lack of care available to women of color. Further, take this guide that Glamour magazine prints yearly:
It describes problem moles, but you can see how in each picture the person is white. It’s very likely that those problem moles could look different on different skin tones so even awareness advertisements fail to cover all bases.
Unfortunately, lack of knowledge may play a factor in the rising rate of skin cancer within the Latino community. Just like most Latinas, I was totally unaware for a long time—and my actions showed it. Confession time: In 2008, I spent an entire week-long visit in Panama without ever applying sunscreen. It didn’t even cross my mind (I’m horrified for my past self!).
But now that I know that my skin is just as vulnerable even if I “don’t burn,” I’m doing my best to keep the sun at bay. Of course, I love my skin tanned and I can’t promise I’ll never again go without protection, but I’m definitely making it a goal to up my sun protection game. And even if we didn’t have a concern about cancer, let’s remember that sun damage does lead to harsher signs of aging so if it’s between having nice tan skin now or more supple, wrinkle-free skin in the future—I’ll choose the future.
I may be easy to commit to using SPF during a beach vacation, the truth is that sun protection has to be an everyday thing. Here are the steps I take to be as protected from the small, but daily, doses of the sun:
One. SPF, all day, every day. I use an SPF moisturizer every day. It’s the first thing I apply before my makeup. On days, when I don’t put on foundation, I still use SPF moisturizer. I also apply the lotion to my neck, décolletage, hands. Yes, that’s mostly an anti-aging trick, but it also keeps me protected so win-win. Lips also have to be protected—I don’t exclusively use lipsticks with SPF, but when a lippie has that I always think that’s a great bonus.
Two. Protect your eyes. This is a pretty easy trick, but wearing the right glasses protects your eyes from sun damage and possible skin cancer on the lids. Plus, wearing shades reduces squinting, which (you guessed it) reduces wrinkles (yes, I’m obsessed with wrinkle prevention!).
Three. Embrace the shade. No I don’t wear hats on my commute (yet), but I make it a point to stay in the shade as much as possible. For me, this is super easy to do in the city. However, when I’m going to actual sunny destinations, I just haven’t been able to stop myself from tanning in the sun. I do wear SPF, but I need to be better about not laying out for long periods of time. I can’t say I’m there yet—in fact, I have a trip to Tampa in June where I know I’ll likely try to get a tan, but baby steps is still progress. I think with a little bit more time I’ll resign myself to “no tanning ever!” I hope everyone else will too!
What do you do to protect your skin from the sun?