Every single day I hear in my head the wise words of my grandmother, whom I own the honor of my name. “Don’t be out in the sun, it’s not good for your skin or why do you like to be so tanned all the time or your skin will be a dried prune in no time”. I can go on with all the different ways she tried to persuade me, her message was AVOID THE SUN. Of course, I did not listen, when you are a teenager you just don’t.
As a teen, I would regularly travel to the coast of Honduras for a weekend of fun with my school friends, we all enjoyed water skiing, swimming and of course “bake” ourselves out on the deck covered in coconut oil mixed with carrot juice for that extra gorgeous glow. Freshly hand extracted coconut oil, the fresher the better we thought. Oh my goodness, we must have been a sight, laying flat and turning every so minutes to get that perfect even tan. It was with pride that we would come back to school on Monday showing off our achieved tan over the weekend.
I grew up never hearing that you need to wear SPF everyday. Neither saw my mother or my grandmother or any other adult woman around me use it on a daily basis; they both avoided and still avoid the sun like a plague. Grandma would cross the street to be on the side of the shadow, despite always wearing a hat or an umbrella, she did that whenever she was running errands or babysitting my brother and I while we played outside.
Later on I got my Scuba Open Water Diver certification, oh the fun times and of course plenty of sun; by then I was wearing sun protection, you have to, otherwise you will burn so badly your skin in the Caribbean gorgeous scorching sun, it shines exactly 90 degrees on top of your head at 12 o’clock.
At some point I moved to Europe, first the UK and eventually Holland – if you live in the northern part of Europe you know that the sunshine is sparse and when it does shine, you practically drop anything you might be doing to be outside. As you can imagine, coming from the tropics missing the sunshine I found myself running outside to enjoy those precious rays of sun for a few minutes and feel the warmth on my skin after months of hiding under layers of clothing to avoid the cold. By then I was a daily sunscreen wearer, I was aware of the long term damage it can cause and the increase of developing skin cancer.
Yes, having a warm skin tone my skin reacts to the sun by producing melanin a natural skin reaction to protect you from the sun, and yes I do get a gorgeous caramel brown tan, however nowadays while I still have the urge to be out in the sun, I do take every possible precaution when out and exposed. 365 days a year, sunny or cloudy, hot or cold, dry or wet, all seasons SPF is a must in my skincare routine and other products that help to repair and prevent.
…..then one day sitting in my mother’s kitchen while visiting my family and enjoying breakfast all bare faced, my father asks “what are those brown spots on your nose and your cheeks? I had not seen them before”. A visit to the dermatologist and my face looked at under UV light the damage revealed itself. Not a pretty sight I must say. Diagnosis: Melasma! I don’t know exactly when they showed up, all I know is that ….unannounced and quietly my Melasma appeared.
I have accepted these brown spots as part of me, of who I am; I do not bother trying to hide them much, because when I look at them it brings back so many wonderful memories, living life and enjoying it. Hearing back my grandmother’s voice in my head is simply beautiful….I hope to see her soon and hear her telling me “See, you did not listen to me” and I will reply to her: I love you Grandma!