I am rather fair-skinned with medium-dark brown hair and blue-green eyes (English-Northern Italian-German heritage). Looking back at childhood pictures, I tanned easily. I recall getting a few burns, too. In my early 20s, I burned EASILY. That's when I started using sunscreen and kept it up for about a decade.
Interesting to read about the nutrition link because my childhood wasn't exactly healthy, but was healthier than my 20s. I absolutely ate the worst of my life in my 20s. Starting in my late 20s, I slowly began eating healthier and healthier (first step was ditching soda in favor of plain water).
Slowly, I stopped wearing sunscreen all over my body and only wore it on my face every single day (mineral-based only, though). Eventually, I stopped even doing that.
Nowadays, I rarely wear sunscreen and I don't encourage my DD (10) to do so, either. We do cover up on high exposure days and/or stay inside during the hottest part of the day. We live 20 minutes from the beach and go often. We also have a pool in our HOA and go frequently. There is no shade at either place. We wear rash guards and hats most of the time, but also use mineral-based sunscreen on faces/necks/shoulders under some conditions.
Mostly, though, our ordinary days have ample outdoor time and we aim for maximum skin exposure to make vitamin D (no sunscreen, least skin covered up as possible with temperature comfort -- and nudity laws LOL -- in mind). We supplement vitamin D, too. I also walk outside without my glasses (no contacts, either) when I can for natural eye health. Since we walk to/from school every single day -- sometimes I walk to/from school 3 or more times a day -- our bodies have year-round sunlight exposure (year-round school calendar; we were just out for a month).
DD has never been sunburned. She tans easily. We walked to/from preschool, too, and that was farther away.
One of my biggest challenges regarding this topic is getting people to leave me/DD alone about sunscreen use. Depending on the situation, I gently educate when appropriate. Such as, "I wonder about all the sunscreen use and increase in skin cancer. The two seem to have gone hand-in-hand versus having an inverse relationship, like one would imagine. What do you think?" and then have a conversation about whatever comes up. I like it when the conversation gets around to vitamin D and fortifying milk, cereal, orange juice, etc. because most moms/people seem to take more notice at that point.
The school system is particularly vexing, though. There is media (posters/programs/incentives/etc) promoting prolific sunscreen use and parent volunteers are pushing sunscreen like drugs, esp on the playground and jogging track. My DD is becoming more secure in her views on issues like these and is slowly becoming comfortable saying, "No, thank you," to adults. Peer pressure is an interesting mix. With sunscreen, she adapts to the situation and uses her own good judgment most of the time.
I got to witness this in action this past weekend when we were on a Girl Scout camping adventure. When she was younger, she followed my lead...looking to me or at me first. Now, however, she decided for herself first and I didn't say a word. I was proud of her for making her own decision and sticking to it. Two days she opted for a hat and short sleeves. One day she opted for sunscreen and a tank top. Her decisions matched the weather more than anything else. We were camping on an island in the middle of a bay with very few shade opportunities during the daytime, so no coverage of any kind was a poor choice for anyone. Some girls/leaders did make that choice and suffered with sunburns.
Edited by sunnysandiegan - 5/3/11 at 9:23am