Last week I stopped at a red light on Sunset Blvd. In the lane next to me, a car full of teenaged girls opened the convertible rooftop of their car, eager to bask in the LA sunshine. It took every ounce of my being not to warn them about the dangers of UV exposure. (After all, I am a mother.) And it got me to thinking: if I could go back and talk to my teenage self, the girl that spent every summer slathered in coconut oil, I’d have done things much differently. But now– older, wiser, and somewhat sun-damaged–I’ve developed a different relationship with the sun. And if you want to be smart, you will too.

I can already hear you whining… “Do I really have to wear sunscreen every day, even in the winter? Do I really need to reapply every few hours if I’m outside? Do I really need to wear a hat if I’m just walking my dog for 30 minutes?”

Really ? Yes… really, really, really…. you DO. But only if you want beautiful, healthy skin. 😉

Nothing, I repeat, nothing, ages your skin like the sun. It’s responsible for 80% of the skin’s aging. So why do people continue to bask in its rays? Well, some of us would say it’s because when we are tan, we instantly look better, younger, and slimmer. No argument here. We do. But what may seem like a quick-fix to healthy looking skin, is actually a ticking time-bomb for skin cancer. People are aware of that; yet too many of us continue the habit. So if the potential threat of skin cancer doesn’t scare you, and all you care about is looking good… Then let’s talk! Because although your sun-kissed cheeks may look youthful and healthy today, those cheeks are going to be covered with sunspots, blotchiness, and wrinkles a lot sooner than you think.

Now I’m not saying you should avoid the sun like the plague, or that we should all be walking around with umbrellas 365 days a year. (After all, most umbrellas don’t block out all of the rays of the sun anyway.) But what I AM saying is that we need to be smart about the sun.


*Apply sunscreen even if you are not planning on being outside. Sunlight still pours in through the windows of your home and your car.

*If you know that you are going to be at the beach all day, then you need a UV Blocker Sun Umbrella with an SPF of 50+. Most umbrellas only block about 75% of the suns rays, and the large, poolside umbrellas block even less. The umbrella has to be of the “UV blocking” variety.

Darnell Cox-

I always have my mineral brush-on sunblock with me in case of emergency!

*Reapply sunscreen every few hours, if you are spending time outdoors. Even if you are going in and out during the day. I must admit that this practice has taken me awhile to get used to because, like many women, I don’t want to mess up my makeup. There are some great mineral sunscreen powders these days, products that allow you to add additional sunscreen without screwing up your foundation. (I keep one in my purse at all times.)

*Always keep a hat in your car. You never know when you will be stuck outdoors for longer than anticipated. It’s better to be prepared. And if, like my daughters– and my teenaged self– you think a hat is going to “ruin” your outfit – well, nothing ruins an outfit more than wrinkles, blotchy skin, sunspots, and skin cancer. 

*Keep a tube of sunscreen in your car’s glovebox. Every time you get in your car, slather sunscreen on the back of your hands. We wash our hands so often during the day, that we should always reapply before leaving the house. But if you forget, it’s best to keep sunscreen in your car.  You’d be surprised how much sun the back of your hands get while driving. And as Joan Rivers once said, “You can hide a lot of things, but the hands always give it away.”

*Worried about Vitamin D? Don’t be. Pop a Vitamin D pill daily. Although it’s estimated that 80% of Americans are Vitamin D deficient, it’s too damaging to your skin to get your daily Vitamin D from sun exposure. If you are lacking Vitamin D rich foods in your diet, then it’s better to take the pill and save your skin.

So there you have it. Let’s be smart about the sun. By foregoing the instant gratification of that sun-kissed look, you will not only lessen your chance of skin cancer, but you will look years younger in the long run. Still not ready to go the porcelain-skin, Snow White route? (This is me, raising my hand.) Then fake it! There are amazing self-tanners out there, and they are much easier to apply than ever before. My all-time favorite is Spray Di Solé (click to see video demo). This product is guaranteed to make you look like you’ve just spent the day at the beach…. even if your “day at the beach” consisted of sunless self-tanner, sunscreen, a hat, and a UV protection umbrella. Now THAT’S a really good way to Live Young. Hooray!

Live Young,

Darnell 🙂

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