Today is the first day of the year that I can sit outside wearing a bikini top. Approximately three weeks ago it was snowing and in the 20s/30s because this is Michigan, and we don't really have seasons. This week it is in the 80s and sunny - a sign that spring finally decided to arrive at the party.
I love sitting outside in the sun and feeling the warmth of the rays on my skin - that is until my skin is bright red and I'm in pain. I never wore sunscreen outside until my mid-twenties; irresponsible and stupid, I know. I always dreamed of having a golden tan that would last for days. I used to be a sun worshiper who showed my loyalty to the sun gods by baking my skin in a tanning bed and laying outside in the sun for hours. As I've matured, the reality that I will likely have premature wrinkles and am at an increased risk for skin cancer hit me, I decided that I would stop cooking my skin in a tanning bed and start wearing sunscreen whenever I was planning on being outside for more than 15 minutes.
I've accepted the truth about myself: I will never achieve that golden tan because I am fair skinned and I am more susceptible to sunburns and at a higher risk for skin cancer.
I don't have as much melanin in my skin as someone with a darker skin tone does and will never achieve that golden tan I always wanted, a fact that I did not accept for a long time.
Whether you're fair skinned like me or have a darker skin tone, you should always wear sunscreen. Skin cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancers.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, skin cancer is now the most common of all cancers. As I sit outside sunbathing while I write this article, I made sure to apply SPF 30 sunscreen to my body and my face. Several of my fair skinned relatives developed skin cancer because they did not wear sunscreen or they were former sun worshipers such as myself. I do not want to develop skin cancer later on in life, but there's no telling that I won't because of the damage I did to my skin from tanning and not wearing sunscreen in my teens and early twenties.
While I don't achieve golden sun-kissed skin, I do tend to freckle and I've learned to love my freckles because I think they are cute and that's all that matters.
I now care much more about my skin and I'm aware of my risk for premature aging and skin cancer. As I inch closer and closer to my 30s, I've begun to take proper care of my skin to ensure I'll look my age - or maybe younger - for years to come.
Keep your skin safe and beautiful this coming summer by not forgetting to apply sunscreen. Your future self will thank you.