Suncare Revisited

The UV-il that men woo lives after them

Suncare is the touchstone of skin care. With the snowy onset of spring (wait for my new post on decluttering and tidy-mindedness), I feel this pillar of skincare is woefully neglected. Suncare has secured its pivotal role in a beach vacation but it is far better thing to practice safe skin each day than merely on a beach day — why because it’s 350 days vs 15 days — that’s 23x — to practice safe sun on the beach and ignore it during the year is like eating well for 1 hour a day when you have company over and eat mindlessly for the other 23 hours — you may feel virtuous but it is not meaningful.

This is not altogether our fault — the UV index is a linear scale directly proportional to the intensity of UV radiation that causes sunburn on the skin and this is a totally non-obvious environmental aggressor. We can sense the scorching heat and intuitively understand this is suboptimal for the skin but the pleasure of being outside after being cooped up all winter is too tempting but let’s look at the consequences — skin cancer, cataracts, premature aging and suppressing the immune system.

  1. UVA — this is the longwave UV radiation that penetrates to the dermis the skin’s thickest layer and causes premature skin aging and suppression of immunity (long and short term hassles). This is what causes a tan and tanning beds usually have more UVA radiation than UVB.
  2. UVB — this is shortwave UV radiation that burns the superficial layers of the skin and causes sunburn. The intensity varies by season and time of day and I personally feel it’s the more honest of the UVs because at least there is an indication of its impact in the skin because a burn tends to have people seek shade even though UVB rays cause more of the skin cancers.
  3. UVC — this is the shortest and most powerful UV radiation and is absorbed by the earth’s ozone layer — obviously a greater consideration in Antipodean nations.

Outside of smoking this blithe sun-seeking is the worst thing one can do for the skin and it’s not intuitive that it’s bad since the emotional and physical appeal of the sun is evident in Seasonal Affective Disorders but alertness to UV radiation is fundamental to skincare. Were I to have a voice in education policy, I would immediately introduce skin-education before sex-ed because daily and comprehensive suncare is just something kids need to learn when they’re young and their habits are forming — like brushing teeth.

I have discussed different aspects of suncare before but with the spring weather it bears reiterating. See Raisin in the Sun , Take your hat. That said, let’s talk about the image that frames the backdrop of this post — it’s by Edward Hopper and I saw it at the Whitney — the old Breuer building on Madison when I needed a respite from the contrived Koons exhibition. It is a magnificent image of skintrospection captured by an incredibly seasoned hand but I chose it because it’s got all sorts of skin and body care aggressors galore — sunshine, cigarettes and super high-heels in the background.

A Woman in the Sun was painted in 1961 and the model for the painting was Hopper’s wife who was 78 at the time — it is the artist’s imagination of his wife’s youth that has always stayed with me with this painting — when we love someone as much as Hopper must have loved his wife who was an incredible manager of his career — her records of his canvasses are so beautifully detailed you understand so many things about companionate love. When you love someone the ravages of time melt away in the eye of a loving beholder — this image is only seems realistic but not real — the internal vision of the artist is the purest presentation of the loving eye. When I meet old friends of mine who I love, I don’t see them in their adult forms as much as I see them as the playful children they were when we met — there is no solution to aging as potent as lasting love that dwells on inner beauty.

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