We know that building your sun protection habits take time–we get that. Taking a proactive approach and working to develop a new relationship with the sun is something almost all of us have struggled with at one point in our lives including our employees here at Coolibar. This confessional was written by one of our employees who understands how important sun protection is and is working on how to be sun safe each and every day.
I have always loved the sun. There. I said it. Growing up with naturally olive skin (my mother is Australian, I used sunscreen daily. It was part of my regime as I prepared to soak up the warmth, the “rays,” and the bronzing effects of daily life in California. I grew up in the sun-kissed culture of the gold coast, where we enjoyed glorious days by our pool, sunny 72-degree days and year-round outdoor activities. I was one of those active kids, playing tennis, yard games, swimming, taking long bike rides in the heat of the day, while comforted knowing my skin tone and sunscreen was safeguarding me.
Feeling protected, I gave myself the freedom and permission to revel in the sun every chance I could get. If I’m really honest, I loved to tan and being tan. Bear in mind, with my heritage, it was easy for me to get dark, and I’ve never burned. Tan, for me, was not only natural, but I believed it was a definition of health and beauty. Tan was pretty. I loved how my skin looked, how I felt, and I somehow thought it made me look fit. As my hair took on the light blonde streaks of summer, I felt people could really see me as healthy; it was true confirmation of being an outdoorsy, fit, active person. This mindset, this feeling, and these behaviors are such a part of my life, such a deep part of my relationship with the sun, that when I came to Coolibar from the warm sunny spirit of California, I was flabbergasted. Talk about a game changer! I met with customers who needed total coverage from the sun, people with allergies, skin cancer, Lupus, those undergoing medical treatment and many, many people who wanted to prevent themselves from being in harm’s way. I learned about UVA rays and UVB rays and how much sunscreen to wear (1 oz., a shot glass full). I’ve learned about eye protection with the right sunglasses; I had no idea you could get eye cancer, cataracts and more from UV sun exposure. I’ve gone through my entire life blithely unaware, and candidly, thinking the sun was in my best friend circle.
Armed with all the facts, I know what it takes to take care of myself. I know better. Now, as I walk my sweet dog Frankie around my neighborhood lake, I stop to realize I need to “walk the talk.” I need to take to heart what Coolibar stands for, our mission to keep the world safe from the sun’s damage and represent our brand in its purest sense. I need to not get so tan. I need to change my friendship with the sun. We’re not breaking up, but we need to see a lot less of each other. On super sunny days, relaxing on the porch, I give myself 15 minutes of partial sun, while my arms and legs are slathered in sunscreen. (I actually use a timer.) I refrain from opening my sunroof in the car during early mornings and late afternoons. I hunt to find spots of shade when at the pool. At the beach, I use umbrella shade and hats. I remember long sleeves and long pants more often. I strap on a hat while I bike ride. For me, this is hard. It feels like I’m going against everything I thought to be right.
For some, making healthy food choices is hard, or being disciplined to get enough exercise or not drink too much. Those are easy steps for me. But, limiting my sun intake as recommended by Coolibar, that comes less easy. Some days are better than others. I know what my head says, and I know what my lifelong sun-kissed California girl heart wants…it’s conflicted and torn. I am in the process of redefining me, myself and my look. Fortunately, I work at Coolibar, the leader in UV clothing. Every day, I work with people committed to reshaping a healthy relationship with the sun, so we can all experience an active life, outside, looking good while staying safe. Minnesota summers are gorgeous, and I want to enjoy every minute of them before the winter cold takes over. Just know, for me, this is not easy. Old habits die hard, but I wake up every day invigorated by creating new ones and defining what is truly healthy.
We know that coming clean with this struggle is not easy. We applaud the effort and know that your new sun habits will become part of your life. It’s never too late to start something new! Share with us the sun habit that was hardest for you to break or that you are still working on in the comments below.