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Well Loved: My trusty Surface and Coola sunscreen, D’Blanc sunnies, and Roxy hat have really protected my skin over three different continents these past four months.
While of course we have to be cautious of the sun in sunny California, the rays are even harsher in Australia, thanks to that pesky old hole in our dear friend, the ozone layer. While I have always been more of a tanner than a burner, I’ve definitely had some close run-ins with Mr. Sun. As I’ve gotten older, I have become more aware of sun damage and skin cancer risk. I’ve really started to pay closer attention to my skin, making sure that I always have some form of SPF on hand, especially when at the beach for long periods of time.
When I arrived in Australia, I already had a deep base tan going from my time spent in Asia. I was super careful with sunscreen in the tropics, but the springtime weather was a little bit brisk in Sydney back in October, so I sort of forgot that the sun was actually much stronger here than most of the world. The further up I got on the East Coast, the more I noticed the intensity of the UV here. I was wearing plenty of sunscreen and reapplied regularly, but when the surf was on fire during my first week in Byron, my skin also started to feel like it was on fire. I was surfing far past the 80 minute period my sunscreen was meant to last, and although my tan prevented me from turning red, I definitely got Burnt with a capital B. The exhausting effects of the sun were so bad that I actually had to take a day off surfing and sun exposure to recover.
Many of you surfers may also be familiar with pterygiums, these yucky growths that start to form on the eyes of individuals who spend lots of time outdoors. The reflection of the sun on the water is a large contributor to surfers’ pterygiums, and if the growths reach the pupil, or become too irritating, they must be removed surgically. I always thought they affected people with light eyes more, so I thought my chocolate browns were safe, but a couple years ago, I began to notice that my eyes felt dry and looked very red after long surf sessions. Now, there are blood vessels visible all the time, and after most surfs, my eyes feel super scratchy. I don’t think I will be needing the surgery anytime soon, but I have a lot of friends who have gone in for consultations and procedures recently.
I find that after surfing, I have a hard time even keeping my eyes open in bright conditions. I have always been a big fan of wearing sunglasses for fashion, but I now understand the importance of high quality, UV blocking sunnies. I never leave the house without a hat and sunglasses, and I try to wear them whenever I am outside for over an hour. When surfing, I make sure to wear zinc on my face and cover all of my body with SPF. I try to take breaks during sessions to reapply sunscreen and drink water, rock a baseball cap when the waves are small, and am strongly considering investing in a proper surf hat. My naturally darker complexion has always kept me from burning too bad at home, but it can’t stand up to the extreme strength of the Australian sun.
Although it's wintertime for you folks back home, the sun is always out in California, and sunscreen is still important to wear every day. There are so many different options for sunscreen, including SPF moisturizer or makeup for less active days - I personally love the entire Coola range. Be careful out there my friends, skin cancer is no joke!