Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I was 16 years old and I needed a tan. All the cool kids were tanning. Their moms were even paying for it. My mom was the fuddy-duddy that stood her ground and refused to contribute to my premature aging and cell mutation.

My will was strong and I was determined to get my glow on. To my mother’s dismay, I found a tanning salon that agreed to hire me to clean their beds for 3 hours a week in exchange for 4 tanning sessions a week.  “Old people” told me that it was bad for my skin, but I knew they were just jealous. I was the invincible girl that soaked up every ounce of sunshine I could during my teens and early twenties. 

As Cher would say… if I could turn back time. 

Being in esthetics school has only brought me closer to the truth about my time in the sun. While it’s still a little bitter-sweet to give up, I can no longer deny my skin’s frailty to her glorious rays. So, I’ve made a list of a few things that I hate to admit about the sun. If you’re anything like me, you’ll hate reading these as well. If you’re not like me, well….. congratulations - you won’t have to work nearly as hard as I will to bargain with mother nature.   
5 Things I hate to admit about the sun:

1. A tan is a scar.  
Harsh… I know. I also hate to admit that beer-battered onion rings have 24 grams of fat per serving, but it doesn’t change the truth.

2. Fungus
Yes, there is a fungus among us. We all have a yeast present on our skin (malassezia furfur to be specific). Most people don’t have problems with it, but the yeast is sensitive to heat and humidity. Without “getting all clinical” - - I’ll give you the highlights. The fungus is called “tinea versicolor” and it shows itself as a blotchy rash. Most people dismiss it as their skin’s reaction to the sun, so it’s quite likely that you’ve seen someone hanging out at the beach with this fungi before. (Now you’ll be able to share your knowledge when you see it – “Dude, that’s a fungus”.) 
Exhibit A - Tinea versicolor

Exhibit B - More fungus...
 3. Hyperpigmentation
This is a fancy word for the brownish spots that are left behind from the sun, an old pimple you squeezed to hard, etc. Just like my teenage will for tanning, UV hyperpigmentation doesn’t give up easily. These spots look rather innocent, but if you’re wanting a smooth even skin tone, these guys have something else in mind. Even when people use chemical peels to help soften or blend hyperpigmentation, it can often get worse before it gets better.   
UV hyperpigmentation
 4. Extrinsic aging
So, intrinsic aging is the way that we naturally age – I guess you’d say it’s how God designed our aging process. Extrinsic aging accounts for our contributions to the aging process. It includes smoking, sun exposure, environmental factors, free radicals, etc. The good AND bad part? It’s estimated that about 80% of our aging is the result of extrinsic aging. You get to decide how much of this one plays out...  

5. Cancer
I listed this last, but it is certainly not the least important. Unfortunately, people typically pay more attention to the aesthetic negatives of the sun than than those that are more life threatening. More than 90% of skin cancers are associated with sun exposure.This is one I’ve dismissed over the years with my “it won’t happen to me” attitude.  
Malignant Melanoma
Until a year ago, I prided myself in being the chick that never had to wear sunscreen. Fast forward one year, I’m putting my face through a hole called a Wood’s Lamp, which ultimately reveals all the bad decisions I've made about my skin for the past 20 years. Needless to say, I’ve taken on a new philosophy about SPF.

Before I close, let me share this - - WE ALL NEED SOME SUNLIGHT – for Vitamin D production, to protect us from other diseases, heck…. sometimes we need it just to keep us from being depressed. So, don't be afraid of  your 15-20 minutes a day. Just be sure to reconsider any tendencies that seem similar to my teenage baby-oil sun-bathing habits. Your youth will thank you.    

Gettin’ Beauty Schooled,


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