Sunburn/Suntan/Sunscreen and Faking It

I am sunburned.  Yes, I didn’t use enough sunscreen.  I know, I should have used more sunscreen, more often, and with a higher SPF.  But heck, if I came in today looking the same as I did last Friday, I would have felt like my time in the sun was wasted.  I’m not saying we should fry ourselves, but let’s be honest – if you go to the beach, or on a tropical vacation, people expect you to come back with some “color.”  And, more importantly, YOU expect to come back with some color.  For many of us it’s the true measure of a “successful” trip.

Now we all know that sunscreen prevents skin cancer and other ailments, but I don’t think we’ve totally bought into the idea that “no color equals the most fun.”  We still wrestle with the fact that while we should prevent sunburn and the effects of UVA and UVB rays, we also want some of those rays to sneak by our chemically-enhanced defenses and give us a touch of glow.  Just enough so that we don’t look the same as we did at Christmas, all pasty and sallow.  How do we reconcile our knowledge that getting too much sun is bad versus our desire to look tanned, healthy and desirable?

Moderation is the key.  Sunburn hurts and is a very real reminder that we’ve overbaked ourselves.  Suntanning may be worse – it provides us with the illusion that we look good, when in fact we may have caused more damage than we realize.  There are two ways to overcome these obstacles.  The first is faking it.  Bronzers, self-tanners, etc. are one of the fastest growing segments of the cosmetics market.  The second is finding a good sunscreen and using it religiously.  It’s interesting to note how appropriate the term “religiously” is in this context.  For sunscreen it means “using with total devotion, on a daily basis, without question.”  Isn’t that what religion is for most people?

I’m not expecting a conversion on anyone’s part, just a realignment with the heavens above so that we can all be laughing and cavorting together in another fifty years.  However, I do have a nagging feeling that George Hamilton will be joining the party.  So much for religion.

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