30 Days to 40—Lesson 1: Wear Sunscreen

In less than 30 days, I turn 40. There, I said it. Out loud. Holy. Crap.

I thought I’d be more reticent about it, but I’ve come to realize that I’m really not reticent about anything. I thought I’d take the whole “age is just a number” approach, but that’s not working for me either.

Despite the fact that I feel young, and most tell me I look younger than I am, the truth is I’m hitting an age that I’ve always considered, well, kind of old. As in, there’s no claiming youth as a justification for anything anymore. What I have, don’t have, have learned, or not all comes out in the wash right about now.

I had planned to take a little time off from the blog since I’m actually on holiday in Australia. But then I realized that the best way to own this milestone birthday is to celebrate it a little all month long. That does not mean 30 days of self-indulgence, especially as I am on a major health kick to transform my almost-40-year-old body into the kickin’ bod I had at 35-36, which was definitely superior to the bod I had at 25-26. Anyway.

This is a 30-day celebration of what I’ve learned in my 39 years.
A celebration of achievement and acknowledgement. Tidbits that I wish I had known in my 20s, or maybe a hunch that paid off. You may or may not be interested, but hey…this is my blog, right? So feel free to tune in—or not—as I meander through my mind for the next four weeks. Of course, I hope you’ll come back! 🙂

Now, let us commence.

Lesson 1: Wear Sunscreen

Seems trivial, the first lesson. But you know what? I swear it’s one of the reasons why I look younger than I am. My face has been under a daily veil of sunscreen for nearly 15 years! Of course, staying out of the sun and shielding yourself as much as possible is also key, not only to preventing premature aging, but skin cancer as well.

These are the products in my current arsenal. LOVE the Athleta tops, which I wear when walking outside in warm weather. As much as I am outside, if I didn’t wear long sleeves, it would be the equivalent of laying out almost daily for 45 minutes. That’s a lot of sun exposure and future freckles and spots I don’t need. So even in the dead heat of summer, when outside, I’m either sleeved and covered, or under an umbrella.

Wear Sunscreen

1. Aveeno Active Naturals Continous Protection Sunblock Face Lotion, SPF 100

2. Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer, SPF 30

3. Athleta Long Sleeve Tattoo Top by Yellowman with UPF50

4. Athleta Longsleeve Wick-It™ Run Reflective with UPF50

5. Banana Boat Baby Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100

6. Neutrogena Spectrum+ Sunblock Spray, SPF 100

Because I use so much sunscreen, I tend to opt for drugstore brands that are inexpensive and easily replaced. I know there has been a lot of controversy about chemicals in sunscreen potentially causing cancer (read up on that on your own), so I do try to opt for products less heavy on the chemicals. One way to do that is using sunscreen for babies. I love Banana Boat’s Baby sting-free sunscreen. It’s gentle, thick, and effective.

And hey…parade your untanned self with pride!
I’m so glad that during my lifetime, the tanning pendulum has finally swung the other direction. We’ve not only learned that a tan is not a sign of good health, but that teasing people who are “white,” or fair-skinned is just totally stupid. In my youth I was teased because I was fair and my skin—despite my ethnic heritage—did not tan easily or maintain color. Back then I wished that I had olive skin that would tan and hold that tan all summer long, not because I thought it was prettier, but because I felt so awkward—and WHITE— in a bathing suit.

Now that we know tanning isn’t just an age accelerator, but a cancer accelerator as well, people don’t bat an eye at a white girl by the pool or on the beach. Sure, a pretty, medium tan does wonders for one’s appearance, but no one should be made to feel uncomfortable about their natural skin color, in or out of clothes.

So slather on the sunscreen, loves! Trust me, youngsters, when you’re pushing 40, you’ll be so glad you did.

52 comments

    1. Great point, Birdie! I do occasionally use Nivea’s moisturizer with self-tanner in it. Totally forgot to include that!

  1. I look forward to reading these posts…in many ways, I’ve felt that the best and most stable part of my life began at age 40. There’s a photo circulating on American media that shows a trucker’s face. The side that was next to his window is markedly more aged than the right side. It is a graphic illustration of what the sun can do. I would expect that in Australia, sun screen would be on tap…just like water.

    1. Hi Terri, thank you! Sunscreen is on tap i Australia, but I think they’re under the hole in the ozone layer because the skin cancer rates are the highest in the world. I have truly never seen so much sun damaged skin in my life!

      Anyway, nice to know some of my readers are interested in some real-life posts vs. just fashion/style posts, which I’m kind of over at the moment. More coming soon!

  2. To prevent age spots and freckles from the sun, purchase a sunscreen that contains UVA/UVB in addition to a high SPF.

  3. I knew you were in your 30’s, but I had no idea that you were so close to 40. I am also 39 and I am not dreading the 40 thing. I feel really inspired by all of the “natural” (sans botox and plastic surgery) 40 and 50 somethings that I am seeing now. On Saturday I went to my friend’s 60th and she looked absolutely fab!!! I am looking forward to your 30-day posts (that’s some dedication right there).

    1. We’re the same age! Who knew! I think generally speaking, we’re all looking younger, longer these days. A comforting thought, right?! Glad this post resonated with you. More coming up soon!

  4. OMG – I am slapping on the factor 100 from now on!!! You do not look anywhere near 40!!! I wanna look as good as you 🙂

    Looking forward to the entire series of posts… And happy birthday in advance 🙂 xx

  5. I can assure you it’s not so bad at the other side of 40 🙂 (almost) welcome to the club! Very good first lesson. I too have been giving the message that white is beautiful. All the emphasis on tanning should stop. Nothing ages your skin faster and really most of us still have 40 years to go! Not too mention all the other risks of tanning…..

    1. Amen! And really, I’m glad to be turning 40 soon, as opposed to…not! A much better option, I think. Yes, here’s to the next 40 years!

  6. Indeed on the sunscreen. Even I sunburn very easily and since becoming pregnant I’ve been extra diligent with making sure I wear it.

    And let me say, I had NO idea you were turning 40 so bravo to you! 🙂

  7. Wow. Grit & Glamour is one of those blogs that I’ve heard of and has always been on my radar as “wow I need to check that out one of these days”. But after almost a year of style blogging, today is my first time reading. And this is the article I find–when I am also about to turn 40 on July 5th! Insta-bond! Then I got caught up in all the plagiarism scoop that I knew nothing about but suffice to say, you’ve got a new follower. : )
    I’ll be reading the 30 days to 40 with a particular enthusiasm!
    Thanks,
    Jennifer

  8. Honestly I didn’t know you were 39!!!! Ah-mazing skin!!! Congrats on God’s blessing you with 40 years of life. You are an incredible spirit and style expert and I hope you enjoy your vacation. I have recently begun to pay attention to ingredients in my skin /beauty products and hope to look as radiant as you when I turn 40.

    1. Aw, thank you! I think youthfulness is a combo of genes and a healthy lifestyle. And that sunscreen most definitely helps!

  9. I am happy for your positive outlook of life. You still look young and fresh at the age of 39. Your such a smart woman who always take care of your appearance. Having a beautiful appearance is really important and what you did for so many years putting sunscreen is really great.

  10. “That does not mean 30 days of self-indulgence, especially as I am on a major health kick to transform my almost-40-year-old body into the kickin’ bod I had at 35-36, which was definitely superior to the bod I had at 25-26. Anyway.”

    I appreciate this so much– because my body was at its best around 21-22, and then … I stopped taking care of it due to Katrina & depression. Now, at 28, I’m pushing myself for a superior bod, so it’s nice to know that I can peak in my 30s… it seems like a lot of men and women do, because it takes us that long to truly understand how our bodies work and learn how to treat them well.

    (Also, you’ve inspired me to be more liberal with my sunscreen use, which I am so, so bad at!)

    1. Hey Ashe!

      Yes, it’s true that you can peak in your 30s! I’m definitely been fitter, stronger, and smarter than I ever was in my 20s, so take heart that the best is yet to come!

      And yes, no more lobster red legs, girl! Slather on the sunscreen!

      1. You know, I applied sunblock 4 times that day. But we ran out of my good Neutrogena spray (the one above), and I was using some kids spray liquid… and later that day, someone noticed the oil trail it was leaving behind as we hit the water. So I picked up the Neutrogena wet– which has the same helioplex and SPF levels, but goes on through sweat, water, and humidity. PERFECT for this summer, and if I go tubing again? My legs won’t be lobster red! (Plus now they have a little base tan, which they haven’t had since I was 10.)

  11. Happy early birthday! I turned 40 in December and I am loving it. Who knew? It sounded old a few years ago, but I’m wearing this badge with pride. I agree 100% about sunscreen. I wear it all the time – never was a sun-lover. I appreciate all skin colors but won’t try to be someone I’m not. Have fun during your celebration month!

    1. Thanks, Jean, and welcome! I’m thinking I’ll be just fine with 40 too.

      I can tell you’ve not been a sun worshipper…your skin is so pretty and soft looking!

  12. I am 32 and for about 3 years have been taking my sunscreen and tanning time SERIOUSLY…I always wear 45 EVERYWHERE…I have naturally tan skin and am Italian so I get sun even with 45 on…..I wish I could tell my 25 year old self to do the same…save me a wrinkle or two…but fortunately I think I got myself in time…better late then never, right?

    40 is an amazing milestone…think of all you have done, achieved, loved, lost…don’t focus on the age, focus on all the amazing memories and the MANY more to come.
    Love this 30 days thing…will be tuning in for sure.
    Best
    C

  13. Welcome to the big 4-oh club. I’m glad that you seem as ambivalent about the number as I feel about being over 40. It’s weird being 40, on the other hand I’m happier and more confident than ever.
    Like you I’ve worn sunblock for years, each and every day. I take good care of my skin, wear hats and long sleeves in the summer. It has paid off. I think I look good for 42!
    Looking forward to al, your advice! Happy almost birthday.

  14. Have you seen the photo making the rounds of a man who worked as a truck driver for 30 years? As a result, the skin on his face received uneven sun exposure for much of his life.

    One side of his face looks normal (even good for someone pushing 70), but the other side–the side constantly exposed to direct sunlight streaming in through the driver’s-side window–is a mass of crags and deeply-etched wrinkles. It’s a stark illustration of what we already know, and the lesson is the same: WEAR SUNSCREEN!

    http://kottke.org/12/06/keep-on-truckin

  15. All the best as you turn 40. I always advise people to use sunscreen as I never leave mine behind. It has made me look younger than my age.

  16. I love this V! Welcome to the 40 club (I’ve had a 2 year membership so far, lol). I look forward to your life lessons, because I’m still learning myself. I wasn’t sure how to feel about 40 when I turned 40 because I definitely don’t feel like I’m supposed to be that age. However, I’ve come to love my age and realize that I don’t have to make anymore excuses for who I am, because this is what you get, you know?

    This first tip is so very fitting with the summer here, and now that I have a son and I slather him in sunscreen, I’m doing it more and more myself, which has saved me the pain of sunburn and early wrinkles!

    xoxo
    Cyrillynn

  17. I’m 42; sometimes it freaks me out, but mostly I’m OK with it. You will be, too. It helps to be fabulous and 40, right? 🙂

    And God yes, sunscreen. This is exactly *how* you remain as fabulous as possible in your 40s (and beyond).

  18. I tell every young woman i know to wear sunscreen – at least on your face. It definitely makes a difference. Congratulations on turning 40. May they be as fantastic as your 30s. Or even better!!

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