Iconic French designer Coco Chanel skipped off a yacht on the Côte d’Azur, sporting bronzed skin in 1923 after mistakenly catching a few rays. Suddenly a tan was the “in thing,” and sun lovers were born.

As I’m writing this, I’m catching a few rays because let’s face it, I’m a sun lover. I don’t catch my rays on a yacht on the Côte d’Azur, but on my deck which is also my “outside” home office. I love the perks that come along with having your own business. Spending time in my outside office is one of my favorites. Since it’s summertime, I thought it might be interesting to share a few surprising truths I’ve learned about the sun and your skin.

       1.  The higher the SPF, the more protection you have. Truth. To a certain extent.

Truth is, it’s not an exact science. While it seems logical that SPF 50 would be almost twice the protection of SPF 30, that’s not the case. An SPF 6 filters out 75 percent of the sun’s rays and an SPF 15 filters out 93 percent. But above that, the added protection is small with SPF 30 filtering out 97 percent and SPF 50 filtering out 98 percent. It really depends on your skin type so find one that works best for you and keep in mind that very fair skin that burns easily needs every percentage point, so SPF 50 is where it’s at for you.

       2.  You can get your Vitamin D in 10 minutes if you do it right. Truth.

Sun is important for producing vitamin D, a super-nutrient believed to help prevent some cancers, heart disease and osteoporosis.  If you live in an area where you don’t get adequate rays during the winter, you should consider taking a Vitamin D supplement. Once the sun brings you out of the winter blues, you can limit your exposure to ten minutes two to three times a week without sunscreen (not between 11am and 3pm though), but any more than that, put on a hat and sunscreen.

       3.  Burn and peel is not the way to a healthy tan. Truth.

Studies now show that DNA damage is caused in the skin by sun exposure even before the skin has gone red.  Once you have gone red, deep DNA damage has been done and over time, this can lead to skin cancer and premature aging. 

       4.  You can burn when there is no direct sun. Sun lovers don’t typically believe this, but it’s the truth.

You see, there are two types of ultraviolet or UV light. UVB rays are most present in direct sunlight and are the rays that cause the skin to burn instead of tan. They also cause skin cancer. UVA rays get deeper into the skin and cause wrinkles. They’re present on both sunny and dull days and penetrate cloud as well as glass. Let’s call them the sun’s aging rays. Who wants that? A product’s SPF refers to how well it protects from UVB, but many products also have information on UVA effectiveness. That’s why I recommend using a sunscreen every day, no matter the time of year and regardless of whether or not the sun is shining on you.

       5.  The sun is stronger depending on where you are geographically. Truth.

The closer you get to the equator, the more intense the sun is. You get more UVB rays and that’s why you tend to burn more quickly in tropical places. But UVA rays are constant and that means the sun’s aging rays are present anywhere there’s natural light, even on a rainy, gray day.

       6.  Roasting once a year equals a greater risk of cancer. Truth.

There are two types of skin cancers.  Non-melanoma skin cancer is the cumulative result of little bits of unprotected exposure throughout your life. But melanoma skin cancer, the more dangerous form, is caused by intermittent, intense exposure to sunlight. So, if you’re the kind of sun worshiper who tries to get that bronzed skin look while on a two-week vacation every year, you’re putting yourself at greater risk of that dangerous form of cancer. And, if you did that as a child or teenager, your risk is even higher. Yep, that would be me.

So, there you have it. And, just in case you’re wondering, yes, I have been a sun worshiper all my life. I was very foolish when I was younger. I did the burn and peel more often than I want to admit. And, while I haven’t had to deal with skin cancer as a result (thank the Lord), I have had my share of premature aging.

Thank goodness I found skincare products that actually reversed some of that damage I did to myself. Now, I sell these products because I know they work. And, I also take much better care of my skin. I like to think it’s because I’m older and a bit wiser. So, if you have sun damage or premature aging you want to address or want to take better care of your skin from here on out, give me a shout (that’s what they say in the Caribbean, not sure about Côte d’Azur). I’m happy to share my secrets. And, if you want, you can find your other perfect skincare solutions recommended by practicing dermatologists at stallardconsultingllc.myrandf.com