You want sunshine? You’re in the right state. Colorado has more sunny days each year than even notorious beach blanket meccas like San Diego and Miami Beach. But bragging rights aside, that statistic brings heavy baggage: we also sit among the top three states for melanoma-related deaths. So, why the heck do we keep going to the golf course without sunscreen and to the beach with suntan oil? Why do we ever choose to sit in sun instead of shade?
First off, our bodies need sunshine. We need it for healthy bones. We need it for mental health. It’s a fact that sunlight stimulates happy stuff in our brains. As a culture, we also want sunshine. No matter how many statistics the CDC floats, intentional tanning has had the staying power of the Marlboro Man. This pleasurable thing in the now might give me cancer later? Fingers in ears—la, la, la, la.
The sun’s damage comes in many forms, from pigment irregularities to scaly patches to wrinkles and age spots and, of course, cancer. None of this damage looks quite as sexy as the tans that long ago stood in its place. We can protect ourselves from it by doing the obvious: staying out of the sun, wearing brimmed hats, and slathering on good sunscreen every day. Did you know you should reapply every few hours, no matter how high the SPF? Now you do. Zinc-containing sunscreens are the rock stars of sunscreens. And don’t forget your ears and in the crevasses around your nostrils when applying it!
Skin specialists offer some incredible treatments for undoing sun damage. Some of the magic they can work includes permanently zapping away much pre-cancerous damage using photodynamic therapy, erasing even deep skin creases for up to a year by using fillers, and fading away sunspots using retinoid creams. After they fix you up, why not get a skin-smoothing treatment? You know, to get your skin ready for a topical bronzing lotion? Of course, we know you’ll follow this all up with sunscreen the minute you’ve turned that nice, golden tan.