My Wide Brimmed Sun Hat!
Forget Botox. The secret to keeping your face (and the rest of you) looking young is to stay out of the sun. I cringe at the thought of the endless hours I spent during my 20s wandering around flea markets with the summer sun blazing down on my totally unprotected face (and arms and legs). Then there were the teenage sun worshipping years when I fried my skin with (gasp) baby oil for the sake of the beloved 'tan' I'd been convinced is so beautiful. Not to mention countless childhood sunburns (including on my face) that were so bad my skin peeled off. There's nothing like growing up in sunny California.
I think you get the idea--I long ago soaked up my lifetime allotment of sunshine. Add in the fact that my mother had a brush with skin cancer a few years back, and, well, I'm just a teeny bit nervous. I've also become super-protective of my skin.
You won't catch me outdoors on the farm without my sunhat--even if I'm just running to the garden to snip some chives or snatch a tomato. And that's all year round, not just during the summer. I also keep my arms and legs covered up. It might be 98 degrees in the shade, but I'll still be wearing a long sleeve shirt around the farm. (Yes, for a heat-intolerant person like me, it's practically unbearable being outside in so much clothing this time of year, but it beats skin cancer any day.)
For me, the most important thing in a good sun hat is a wide brim. A hat that barely covers your face might make a chic fashion statement, but it's useless from a skin protection point of view. And while a baseball-style cap is certainly better than a bare head, it's doesn't completely cover your face and neck. My "lifeguard style" hat has a generous 5-inch brim that I absolutely love, but I do have to point out one drawback. A hat like this will not only block out the sun, but part of your line of sight as well. This means that you need to be very careful around things like low hanging branches, short-sided barns with stout wooden ceiling beams, and even forehead-level doorways attached to aging log cabins that are sinking into the earth. Yes, I've been bonked badly on the bean by all of the above while wearing my beloved hat. But don't let that keep you from wearing one--I'm sure you're not as absentminded as I am. (Joe has threatened to make me start wearing a hardhat, and I will as soon as he finds one with a wide enough brim.)
The other thing I require in a sun hat is an adjustable chin strap. Mine is a simple, shoestring-like affair that keeps my hat firmly planted on my head on even the most blustery of days. I bought two of these hats a couple of years ago after someone at the feed store obviously went on a springtime hat-buying frenzy. There were hats of all shapes and sizes and styles stacked and hanging everywhere. These were less than $8.00 apiece and will last for many more years. I even wear mine during light rains.
If you can't find a local source for a hat, there are literally hundreds of varieties of sun hats available online. A quick search at Amazon.com turned up this natural straw hat similar to mine for $10.50 and this lifeguard straw hat from Columbia Sportswear for $7.00. You can even buy sunhats for kids that are UPF 50+ rated and made from UV protective fabric that blocks 97.5% of UV rays.
Of course even the best hat and shirt do not provide complete protection from the sun. My second line of defense is sunblock, and I slather it on every single day of the year. Again, there are all kinds of sunblock to choose from. For several years I have been happily using Neutrogena UVA/UVB Sunblock Lotion with 45 SPF. It includes the ingredient Parsol 1789 which protects against the sun's skin-aging UVA rays and was recommended by my dermatologist. Once my current supply is used up, I'm probably going to switch to another Neutrogena product I recently discovered--Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock.
My face and neck receive a daily (and sometimes second) dose of Neutrogena Healthy Skin Face Lotion (SPF 15), and Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Eye Cream (SPF 30) goes on the delicate area around my eyes. (Short haired people--don't forget the back of your neck.)
If you aren't able to shop at a small, locally owned pharmacy, all of these products can be found in the new Grocery store at Amazon.com. You really can't beat the prices (not to mention the convenience), especially if you take advantage of the $10 instant rebate now being offered on purchases of $49 or more. (Click here for details.) And don't forget the free shipping on all purchases over $25--and no sales tax.
Don't need $49 worth of sunblock? I did a little poking around in the new Grocery section today and discovered that included in the 14,000+ items they offer are many from some of my favorite companies--such as Celestial Seasonings (91 items), Newman's Own Organics (47 items), and even Wild Oats (110 items). There are also 55 different Seventh Generation products available. I noticed that many items are sold in multiples (the sunblocks all came in 2-packs), which simply means that you'll be able to shop less often--and that will help save valuable natural resources.
So this pale-skinned Irish girl may no longer be the bronze beauty she once was, but since I'm pushing 40 and still getting asked for ID when buying wine at the supermarket, I figure I must be doing something right. I definitely don't see any Botox in my future.