BLOG: Put on your sunscreen

Katherine Ranzenberger
York Dispatch

Dear younger Katherine,

Young, pink Katherine, whose sunburned face almost matches the maroon track jacket for the Chippewa Marching Band uniform.

I know you're totally obsessed with boys and marching band right now. You're so adorable and naive and full of life! But I need to ask you one favor, and it's kind of a big one.

Please, for the love of everything that is good, PUT ON SOME SUNSCREEN.

Yes, your freckles are cute and they do make a statement when they get so dark in the summer.

But trust me, that cute pink face it isn't worth the potential risk of skin cancer.

At 20, you're going to get a spot removed from your right arm that shows some troublesome features. It's going to be a wake up call, but that isn't soon enough. You need to start wearing sunblock now, and you have to wear it every day, OK?

Here's the keys for finding the right sunblock for yourself:

  • Educate yourself on the difference between a physical and a chemical sunscreen. A physical sunscreen is a sunblock. It reflects the suns rays from reaching your skin, which isn't as effective as say something that would absorb those rays, like a chemical sunscreen. 
  • Find a solid chemical sunscreen. It sounds more dangerous than it actually is (go freak out about chemicals elsewhere, please), but your skin absorbs the chemicals better and it will make you look better as you get older. (Say hello to eye wrinkles at 24 if you aren't paying attention now.) Plus, it's organic. You're not using titanium dioxide which might make you break out or zinc oxide (hello, dry skin) to reflect rays, and you're still getting the Vitamin D you need!
  • Find the right SPF and PA for your tastes. SPF is your protection from UVB, the burning rays, and PA is your protection from UVA1/UVA2, the aging rays. For me, it's an SPF 30 and PA++. These factors help you determine how long you can stay outside without getting too sun-damaged. An SPF of 30 allows 600 minutes of UVB protection. A PA++ is great for everyday wear.
  • Once you find the right sunscreen, REAPPLY IT. Always. Forever. Your skin will thank you later by being less wrinkled and in pain! Use about a quarter teaspoon on your face alone and nearly two tablespoons or one ounce on the rest of your body. 

Now, this is not an endorsement for any particular company. I personally use Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Lotion sunscreen. It's a broad spectrum sunscreen which is SPF 30. It doesn't make me break out, and I like the texture. However, everyone is different. I have heard a lot of my friends use NO-AD sunscreens. Both of these are recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

If you want more information on skin cancer, visit

Now, go enjoy that sun and swim and spend your summers relaxing and practicing for color guard, young Katherine. You deserve to enjoy the happiness and relaxation before growing up.

But seriously.