Growing up, I did not wear sunscreen.
Suntan lotion, sure. SPF 4, I think, most of the time, when I was laying out or going to a theme park with absolutely zero shade for the day. Tanning oil, just as likely, because that stuff made you look all bronzey and sleek like you lived on the Riviera.
And yes, I am half Italian, but only half. I had a tendency to tan, but never get really dark, and I would burn on occasion, but generally just across the bridge of my nose, once or twice a summer. It was just no big deal.
Then sunscreen became CRUCIAL, according to everyone with any voice at all.
If we weren't using sunscreen we were CRAZY, right? We were going to get all wrinkly, and get skin cancer. Right? And God forbid you not slather your kids in the stuff every hour on the hour.
OK, so I did it. I became a sunscreen fanatic, just like everyone else.
Maybe 7 years ago, I noticed: I was burning EASY. At first I blamed it on a course of antibiotics I took. But then I wasn't on antibiotics anymore, and still burning to a crisp whenever I was in the sun for more than 20 minutes. I switched to SPF 30. No difference.
I blamed it on the famed hole in the ozone layer. I increased my SPF to 45. I continued to burn.
I blamed it on being Over Thirty-Five. I lost the ability to tan in any attractive fashion--any exposure to the sun for more than half an hour meant I would burn, no matter what, and probably get funky, irregular tan patches that looked more like dirt than the Bain de Soleil lady of my youthful memories.
Slather, slather, slather.
Then about 6 months ago my doctor discovered I have a severe Vitamin D deficiency.
Remember Vitamin D? The "sunshine vitamin"? Yeah, that one. My doctor said she is surprised to note that many of her patients are rather deficient.
She put me on prescription levels of Vitamin D. And I started ignoring the sunscreen, for the most part, and going out into the sun. On purpose. For an hour or two, in the middle of the day, with no sunscreen and no hat and no sleeeeeeeeves, even.
And I got a little sunburn, at first.
And then I started to tan. Kinda evenly, even. And I'm not really burning anymore, except, you know, at the edge of my clothes if I wear something closer-cut than usual.
I'm still on the prescription D, because even after all that AND a full course of the stuff I still test out as severely deficient. But I think I have pretty much given up sunscreen. And you know what? I feel better than I have in years.
Going out in the sun feels great. It makes me feel better physically and emotionally. I think I've been starving myself of Vitamin D and it has done me no good, only harm, all these years.
So, hey, maybe you should check your vitamin D levels.
Due dilligence: let me confess that there is no history of skin cancer in my family or hubby's, so I am not worried about any of that for me or the boys (who are thrilled that I no longer nag them to wear more sunscreen than they choose on their own). If I earn myself a few more wrinkles in my later years, I figure it is a worthwhile trade-off.