Remember that Baz Luhrmann song that came out several years ago----called Sunscreen? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTJ7AzBIJoI
He was so right about that. Sunscreen is more important than we give it credit for---"we" being the lucky ones who live in this Rochester climate.
I was reading an article in Cosmo the other day (yes, there was an actual article tucked in with all those advertisements!), and it talked about sun exposure and long-term consequences. In places like Florida and California, people are almost obsessed with protecting their skin. They wouldn't dream of going outside without sunscreen and/or a hat. We, in the northeast, think differently. Since we live in the dim dingy darkness for most of the year, when the sun comes out we rationalize not protecting our skin because we have been so good and unexposed for the majority of the year!
We go out with no protection, and in fact, we love to have the sun beating down on our unprotected skin. When we were younger, we may even have baked ourselves to a bubbly crisp a few times or done things like use baby oil to get a better tan/burn. The article I read said that people doing this type of thing are actually putting themselves at higher risk for skin cancer than those who live in a sunny climate and have a moderate tan (a tan provides about SPF 12). Although this tan/SPF does not mean there is no underlying damage to the skin.
I recently went to a medical spa to check out what types of things they offer, and one of the things they do is assess the skin using a special camera. It rates your skin on many different categories, one of them being sun damage. The woman told me that how someone's skin looks is not necessarily the best indicator of what is going on underneath or what damage is there. However, the younger you are when you start caring appropriately for your skin, the better off you will be.
Do you wear sunscreen? Sometimes women have it a little easier in this category (is that possible?) because we can buy makeup and skin care products that have SPF 15 or so------It's not that men don't have the option in moisturizers, it's just less likely for men to use them. If you haven't, you should try :)
Here's a lesson on SPF:
Sun Protection Factor tells you how long you can stay in the sun. So an SPF 15 means you can stay in the sun for 15 minutes longer than with bare skin before you begin to get burned. SPF 50 means 50 minutes, etc. As we know, everyone is different, and this means the translation is not 100%---you may be able to tolerate a few minutes more than the person next to you.
The point is, don't mess around with the sun! When you're 40, 50, 60, 70, etc...you will be thankful if you cared well for your skin throughout your life....and it's never too late to start.