Back in the Edwardian era of Downton Abbey, those with fair complexions went to great lengths to protect their skin from the sun. Pale, creamy skin, like that of the Crawley sisters, was a symbol of wealth, whereas a tan, leathery complexion was a demonstrable stigma of the laboring working class.
That all changed in 1923, the year fashion icon Coco Chanel was seen leaving the Duke of Wellington’s yacht with a deep suntan. Chanel inadvertently had gotten too much sun while cruising the French Riviera but the press assumed the influential designer was making a fashion statement. Her bronzed skin was deemed the new status symbol. Soon, women in Europe and America followed her lead, the suntan came into vogue … and the trend has never really faded.
While the sun provides warmth, light and life, it also can deliver blistering sunburns, premature aging and skin cancer. Studies show that as much as 80% of our facial aging is caused by our sun habits—not the passage of time—and that 90% of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure. Yet, fewer than 33% of us routinely use sun protection.
So before you head off for that afternoon hike, baseball game or spring break travel adventure, use your sunblock! It’s never too early, or too late, to begin protecting yourself from the sun’s rays. When it comes to preventing premature aging and the threats to your health and appearance posed by the sun, the power is in your hands.