Last week I learned so much from Corinne’s awesome piece on sunscreen. Like, I’ve totally been perpetuating the myth that every SPF over 30 is the same and mocking my friend Nate for his SPF 50. Sorry, Nate. Anyway, reading Corinne’s piece about sunscreen got me thinking about sunburns. No matter how vigilant I am, I still end up with at least one horrifically painful my-body-is-going-to-explode sunburn each summer. It’s like a really crappy yearly tradition. Summer hasn’t fully arrived until I’ve endured a 2nd degree burn.
I dread sunburns and here are ten reasons why they make me nervous.
1. Splotchy Burns
I’m double jointed and don’t like to be touched, which translates to: “I can totally reach all the spots on my back by myself!” Sometimes I can, but mostly I can’t. This has resulted in some pretty ridiculous splotchy burns. Nothing says, “I’m an idiot,” like a giant white handprint in the middle of a burnt back.
2. Sunscreen Expires
I learned this lesson the hard way. In Australia, where there’s basically no ozone layer. I had been warned about the powerful Aussie UV rays, so I packed all the SPF I had in the States and brought it with me Down Under. During my first beach day abroad, I was paranoid and reapplied every half hour. I was so careful not to get burnt. Then, when I got back to my apartment, I was a tomato. I had no idea that SPF could expire! Even now, I worry that I’ll somehow end up with a bad batch and wind up medium-rare.
Up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds. So, unless I become one of those people who applies a full coating of Banana Boat every day (those people are going to look way better than me at 80), I constantly run the risk of getting sunshineburnt on even the cloudiest and coolest of days.
4. Forgetting To Put Sunscreen In Random Places
One time, during a middle school soccer tournament, I burnt my scalp. My hair was in two french braids and while my parents forced me to rigorously apply sunscreen everywhere else, no one thought about protecting my part. It got fried and for a week I cried any time a brush came within five feet of my head.
Sunstroke, for those of you who are fortunately unfamiliar, is when your body overheats in the sun, can’t cool itself down and basically starts to shut down. Symptoms include dizziness, headache and weakness. For me, sunburn and sunstroke go hand in hand. If I get burnt, I’m pretty much out of commission for at least a day with an awful headache and exhaustion. It’s super fun!
Our skin isn’t supposed to peel off in a full sheets like a snake’s. It’s just not right and it’s gross.
7. Having To Wear Normal Clothes
There’s nothing quite like the pure discomfort of putting on a bra after burning the crap out of your shoulders. Oh wait, I just remembered the time I burnt the tops of my feet how awful it was to wear any kind of shoes for a week. Brutal.
I’m all for aging gracefully, but it seems silly to speed up the process with sun damage. I know women in their 30s who spent their 20s in tanning beds and are now aging like they’re in their 40s. It’s not healthy and in the long run, a little tan just isn’t worth it. Speaking of things not being worth it…
UV radiation can damage skin cells, which can lead to mutations, which can cause skin cancer or melanoma, which can lead to death. So… that’s pretty terrifying.
10. Having To Wear My Burn Like A Badge of Stupidity
Having a visible sunburn is just like The Scarlet Letter, except instead of wearing a scarlet letter to alert the townsfolk of your adultery, you wear your scarlet skin to alert the them of your stupidity. When you’re burnt to a crisp and your skin is on fire, nothing is more obnoxious than some jerk staring at you and saying, “Somebody’s been in the sun.”
Featured image via ShutterStock