The nineties was a very different time from now. Contrary to the obsession for fairer skin in the past two decades, tans and tan lines were de rigueur then. And I, as an impressionable kid, was made fun of for being so fair that I look "transparent like a ghost". I kid you not; classic classroom bullying led me to seek a darker skin tone even though I was barely eight.
And no thanks to my fair genes (thanks, mum!), I remember two bouts of painful sunburn episodes growing up. One was when my parents brought us to the beach. I probably had a field day, playing in the waters and picnicking with the extended family. But what I remembered more was the pain and skin peeling that followed. When school started the next day, I used tissue paper to shield my face while the teachers conducted their classes. If only I had access to face masks then!
Being tanned was still very ‘in’ when the 17-year-old me attended a three-day canoeing course. Well, it appears I never learnt from the previous episode. True to my adventurous spirit, I scoffed at the seniors who wore long-sleeves, wide-brimmed fishermen hats and long pants. I also bravely declined well-meaning friends who wanted to share their sunscreen with me. And when the day was up, after a good eight hours out in the rocky seas, I was heartbroken when I came down with a high fever and could not complete the course.
That fever made me stay in bed running a high fever for the next two weeks. Plus, the exposed parts of my body – and the arms, back, thighs developed into large areas of blisters! It took months for the blisters to subside and the new skin to reveal itself. After recovery, I had to live with the newfound moles and pigmentation on the sunburnt areas of my body. It was then that I became a fervent advocate of the beloved sunscreen. And thus began my love affair with sunscreen.
You may think that skipping sunscreen on a cloudy or rainy day is no big deal. I have no intention of coercing you into taking better care of your skin with statistics on skin cancer. However, if my personal story has inspired you to do so, do take note of the following five suncare pointers:
1. Never skimp on suncare: Even on cloudy days, and when you are indoors
UV rays are present throughout the day and can penetrate through the clouds and windows. That’s one reason why drivers tend to find one side of their arm and face darker than the other. The same for those who work beside a clear window. Be it a sunny or rainy day; suncare should be part of our skincare routine, applied after your moisturiser and before your make-up. Most sunscreens also perform the double function as a make-up base.
2. Give sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes to start working
Doing so allows the active ingredients to absorb into the skin and work from within.
3. Layer up rather than mixing sunscreen with skincare
Mixing your skincare with sunscreen may dilute the active ingredients and lower the efficacy of both products. It is better to apply them in layers.
4. As with skincare, sunscreen has an expiry date
Active ingredients can break down over time. Using sunscreens past the expiry date means you are leaving the skin unprotected.
5. Always remove sunscreen with makeup remover
A clean face provides the foundation for good skin. Because the active ingredients in sunscreen are oil-soluble (hence the sweatproof and water-resistant properties), we need to give our skin a proper cleansing at the end of the day with a makeup remover. As with leftover makeup, sunscreen residue can bring about clogged pores.
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Lotion for Children's Sensitive Skin, Tear-Free, Sweat-Resistant & Water-Resistant, Non-Greasy