It’s almost here……summer. I love summer. In New England it’s all too short a season, but I treasure every last moment. Food fresh off the grill, late sunsets, flowers in bloom, that smoky smell in my hair after sitting around our fire pit in the evening, and so much more. I love it all.

With summer, however, comes heat and stronger sun. While I adore the feeling of the warm sunshine, and I would gladly take a 100 degree day over one that’s 15 degrees, summer does require a level of preparedness if you want to protect that beautiful skin you’re working to maintain. Now it doesn’t have to be all-consuming, and you absolutely can enjoy every minute of the season. Being prepared is the magic key. Do you spend a lot of time in your car, or always have a certain bag with you? Pick a place to keep your “Sun Fun Essentials” that is readily accessible. You don’t want to be caught unprepared when your friend asks you to go for an impromptu paddle board or long leisurely walk one afternoon!

So what do you need? Here are the must haves: A hat, preferably with a wider brim than a baseball hat. Sunglasses. They don’t have to be your regular daily pair, and they don’t have to be designer. These are your “in a pinch” sunglasses. Sunscreen. This should NOT be a spray, but a good old-fashioned lotion. SPF 50 is preferable and I beg you not to go below SPF 30. A lip product with SPF. A light weight cotton shirt. A towel.

Now do you want to know why you need all of these things at the ready? Because we don’t always know what life has in store for us, we want the ability to protect our skin from sun damage, but we also want to live our lives and not think so much. Who wants their skin to look older than it is? Not me! And remember, even though we may be impeccably prepared for summer sun exposure, our scattered best friend isn’t, and we care about her skin too….I’m a good friend, aren’t you? We have our “Sun Fun Essentials” at hand because you just never know, and when you take care of your skin and want it to look its best, you need to protect your investment.

So what purpose does each of these items serve? Let’s lay it all out! A hat. Ok, this is shielding our face from the sun. While baseball hats will suffice now and then, a hat used for true sun protection needs a brim wide enough to shield the entire face. Baseball hats, while adorable, ignore the sides of the face. It is, however, possible to look totally cute AND protect your whole face. Bucket hats……super cute! Over sized, wide brim, tightly woven floppy hats… L.A.! I have faith in you….I know that you’ll find the perfect hat that also meets your fashion requirements. Next up are the sunglasses. I’ll be honest, I am not a lover of sunglasses. I really just don’t like how they feel on my face. I will, however, put them on for the sake of my vision and my crow’s feet! Prolonged, repeated exposure to strong sun can impact your sight over time and also significantly contributes to those pesky lines around our eyes. Simply putting the sunglasses on will check off this category of protection for you, and the glasses will look fab with your amazing new hat! Moving right along to sunscreen. Naturally you know that you need to wear sunscreen. Gone are the days of baby oil and reflectors…now we’re trying to fix some of that damage and prevent more! As far as sunscreen is concerned, you need at least an SPF 30. That’s right, not an SPF 15, but an SPF 30. Ideally you’ll wear an SPF 50, but at a minimum we’re looking for SPF 30. Note that applying once before you go to a cookout and not again all day is not sufficient. Sunscreen is meant to be applied about every 2 hours. You may have noticed, in years past, that your sunscreen seemed to work great at the beach in the morning, but you burned in the afternoon? That’s because it wasn’t really doing anything for you by the afternoon! Don’t forget the SPF for your lips too. We need to keep that pucker looking good! The last two items are a light weight cotton shirt and a towel. Why do you need these? Cover up, wipe down, you just never know! My experience has shown me that you need them, so just put them in the bag and thank me later. 😉

Alright, you’ve got it all in your bag! Now what? Have fun! Relax and enjoy the beautiful weather, toes in the sand, time spent making memories with people you love, and your beautiful skin!