Where do I begin to tell the story of how strong the sun can be? The sweet love story of my sunburn by the sea. The simple truth about the harms it brings to me. Where do I start?
I spent my childhood playing in the sand and sun — catching waves at Will Rogers State Beach on red-and-blue inflatable canvas mats was a thrill. In our early teens, my girlfriends and I would compete all summer long to see who could get the best tan. Our concoction of mercurochrome, an orange/brown colored iodine with baby oil was the magical recipe to literally baste and burn our pre-pubescent bods, like chicks in a frying pan. Sunblock was not cool, unless you didn’t mind sporting a white zinc oxide stripe down the middle of your nose and across your cheeks warrior-style like the surfers and volleyball players. It was all we could do to achieve the exotic,
“Bain de Soliel for the St.Tropez tan” coveted at the time.
I’ll never forget the day I came home and had to peel off my bikini ever so gently because I’d burned my skin so badly. My father literally threw me in the shower and doused me with vinegar to get the sting out. I screamed and then spent the next weeks molting like a reptile shedding its skin. Not a pretty sight.
Fortunately I’ve come a long way from those irrational, beauty faux pas. I started my modeling career at 14, spending time in big cities, far away from the sand and the sun. I began my own skin-care practice where daily cleansing, moisturizing, and make-up foundation was the new regime that protected my face from the sun. I’ve been faithful to this practice ever since, and I believe I’ve managed to age as gracefully as possible, though much of the damage was done long before any of us knew any better.
Even though I’ve been loyal to my skin ever since, a few years ago, my dermatologist, Dr. Bradley J. Friedman, had to remove basal and squamous cell carcinomas, from the top of my ear ever so delicately. We continue to monitor my ear regularly as cancers grow and those UV rays will continue to wreak havoc in the most unassuming places!
Message for Men: Wear Sunscreen. Statistics show nearly twice as many American men have died from melanoma as women. Surveys show that 34 percent of men wear sunscreens, compared to 78 percent of women.. I can’t count the times I‘ve urged my beloved to wear sunscreen. At the risk of acting like his mother, I am adamant about it…but it’s really up to him to take care of his skin. Recently, I noticed a pale freckle, the size of a dime appear on the end of his nose. I encouraged him to make an appointment with his doctor then and there. Sure enough, his doctor took a biopsy that resulted in two stitches on the end of his nose. Three appointments later, melanoma has been ruled out.
Sun Care Tips:
1.) Use Nontoxic, Organic, Sunblock! Apply sunblock daily when you brush your teeth. Use SPF of at least 15-50 with mineral-based ingredients. Avoid Parabens and use Unscented Lotion Based and Water Resistant for the body. Best choices are: Non-nano or Broad Spectrum w/ UVA and UVB protection.
* Ladies, double your dollars and use tinted sunblock instead of foundation.
2.) Cover up! Wear wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and sun-protective UBPF clothing (Ultraviolet Protection Factor).Try UBPF brands like Coolibar, Solumbra, or Columbia, and in the surf always wear and use Rash Guards.
3.) Stay in the Shade! Use umbrellas, canopies or child tents to avoid the sun.
4.) Keep sun exposure to a minimum. Humans are exposed to more UV radiation during longer summer days, but on a sunny, winter day you can still sunburn. Temperature does not dictate the amount of UV radiation being emitted.
Note: Between 11 am and 4 pm is when most ultraviolet radiation is strongest during the summer months. Head to the beach before or after peak hours when the sun is weaker to minimize exposure and avoid the hordes.
5.) Check your Skin! There are some simple ways that you can detect the early signs of a cancerous skin tumor; look to make sure your mole (a small brown growth on the skin) is not a danger by using the “ABCD” rule:
A = Asymmetry. Does one half of the mole look like the other?
B = Border Irregularity. Are the edges smooth and regular or are they crooked?
C = Color. Is the color uneven?
D = Diameter. Is it larger than one centimeter?
If your mole has any of the above irregularities, seek advice from a dermatologist.
For more information on
Chemical-free sunscreens: ewg.org
Sun-protective clothing: skincancer.org
Dermatologist: Los Angeles: gr8skin.com
Tinted sunblocks: PRESCRIBEDsolutions or falleneskincare.com
Lorelei Shellist, author of “Runway RunAway: A Backstage Pass to Fashion, Romance and Rock ‘n Roll,” is a Speaker, Host, Model, and “Fashion Icon & Beauty Expert Stylist™. University of Santa Monica: MA Spiritual Psychology, and Consciousness Health & Healing. Lorelei coaches Women, At-Risk Teens, and Women in Prison. For more fashion facts and info visit: loreleishellist.com