Even though I was bestowed one of the lightest skin shade most people come across only once in a life time, I wasn't really "worried" or fearful about the impact the sun had on my skin. I vaguely heard about the risks of skin cancer and the ageing effects. But I never thought it concerned me personally, and it wasn't until recently that I really started being more precocious about the long term effects the sun had on my delicate, aspirin-shade skin.
I've gotten severely burned on many occasions - either by lack of superior SPF, ill application, or lack of application all together. Getting burned was just an unavoidable phenomenon to a certain extent due to how easy getting burned was for me (or so I subconsciously believed). I accepted it, and carried on with my life, even though the pain of sleeping with a burnt everything, that felt like walking around with a turtle shell that covered my whole body.
Fast forward to recent events. I was at work one day, talking to a fellow co-worker in Paris who had recently returned from her trip to Bali, ad who seemed to have the same struggles as I in the skin department, and then some. She was in her mid 40s, had had 3 dangerous moles removed, burned easily (burns which translated into longterm suntans when the burn was severe enough - same as I), and had been wearing high SPF cream on her skin every single day since her twenties, no matter what the weather was like.
She recounted me how all her friends let themselves "toast" in the sun every summer with minimal SPF protection to get a yummy tan, during the entirety their twenties. However, fast forward twenty years later, most people believe she is the younger one of their group (even though she's got a half a decade over them), and they are left with duller, older looking skin.
I know this is anecdotal. This doesn't change the validity of the story: the sun is a source of vitamin D which is extremely good for your body, but it also has a long list of negative effects if not protected against.
I've recently gone on a 5 day trip to Croatia, where the sun hits at a hard 30+ degrees all day. Every time I've gone on vacation to Croatia, I've gotten quite badly burned. This year however, I came extremely prepared and ready to fight against getting burned - even though they meant I wouldn't even the slightest shade darker.
Armed with SPF 100 cream for my face (recommended by afore mentioned co-worker), and SPF 50 for my body, and even this nifty, amazing-smelling hair spray that claims to protect your hair from sun damage, and a recently purchased navy blue sporty cap that I didn't take off during the entirety of my stay there, I was ready for every sun ray to hit me with their best shot. Sorry fellas, you're not getting me this year!