Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Worst Burn I Ever Had

When I was 18, I went to Water World with a friend. We spent the entire day in the sun on a hot July Colorado day. I never really spent a lot of time outside and, being young and stupid, I didn't wear any sunscreen. I am very fair skinned and I never really tanned, but I never had a bad burn up until that day.  By the time I got home that day I was beet red and felt a little sick. Within a few hours, I had blisters forming on my face and my eyes were swollen shut. My face was puffy and my lips were 3 times their normal size. It was awful. I looked like some hideous creature from a horror movie. I went to work and my bosses sent me home because I looked so frightening. It was quite a traumatic experience for a vain teenage girl. I was emotionally scarred. Ever since that day I was extra sensitive to the sun. I would burn and my face would get blotchy after only about 10 minutes in the sun. I soon became very aware of how much time I spent outdoors. I avoided it as much as possible. My face was the most sensitive, but any exposed skin would burn so I was always covered, or only out at night.

But I had a love hate relationship with the sun. Living in Colorado most of my life, I am used to sunshine almost every day. I clearly remember going to visit family on the east coast and it was overcast and cloudy every day of the visit not only one time, but every time I visited. I couldn't wait to get back to Colorado and see the sunshine. It was confusing to me, I was depressed without it, but I couldn't be IN it. That all changed for me this year.  

The reason I am telling you about this awful burn is to make a point. There is a way to tan properly and with a base tan, you have a natural protection against sunburn. It took me over 20 years to learn this nugget of information. I was fully on the sunblock/sun avoidance bandwagon because of my inability to tan and my super sensitivity to the sun. I was very skeptical that my experiment to tan in a salon would work at all. Remember, my main goal was to bring up my Vitamin D levels so I really had no idea how I could make this work without getting a nasty burn.  As I mentioned in my last blog post, the staff at Tan the Moon knew what they were doing and they helped make this possible. This year I have had several occasions in which I spent time outdoors for several hours, with no SPF or just SPF of 20 on my face, without even a hint of burn.  I know I've said this before, but it is worth repeating, this has changed my life for the better. Last year I could not to the pool with my daughters during the day. We always waited until night time to go swimming, which was fun, but many of their friends would go in the daytime and I couldn't be guaranteed that I could find a spot under some shade to go with them, so THEY missed out. My ability to go for a walk on the weekend or just sit outside while the girls play at the park is incredible to me. It is something I never want to take for granted. When I look back to what my life was like before l tanned, I feel like I was a hermit.  I don’t want to return to that lifestyle, and I don’t want other people to live like that if my story can help them. I feel like the constant message of wearing sunscreen all the time and avoiding the sun should be toned down. It is a dangerous message because so many people are taking that advice and now we have low Vitamin D levels. I know I don’t reach a big audience with my little blog, but I hope those that do read this will know there is good sunshine, good tanning, and good sun beds. Spread the word!

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