Filipinos have a penchant for fair skin. We seem to associate it with wealth, stature, and beauty (even if the said fair-skinned person isn’t exactly good-looking). This may seem odd if you consider that most people in Hollywood pay hundreds of dollars to maintain the bronzed kind of tan that comes naturally to our morenos and morenas, and that Aussies love hitting the beach partly to get that sun-kissed look as well.
Then again, neither of them were subject to Spanish rule for three centuries, so they have no reason to associate superiority with how pasty your skin looks.
Wherever you stand on the pale vs. tanned skin debate, one thing is for sure: too much sun exposure is bad for you. If you are a Pinay or a Pinoy living in Australia, you may find that it’s all too easy to get toasty under the sun on this part of the globe. Just ask Hugh Jackman.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to prevent unhealthy skin darkening. You can always bring an umbrella along, but if you find it ungainly, here are some alternatives:
1. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen.
I can’t stress this enough. You can forego everything else on this list except this. Sun exposure is the leading cause of both aging and skin damage, so a healthy slathering of sunscreen is your first line of defense.
Look for a brand that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, and one that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Apply a generous amount (about a tablespoon for the whole face and a shot glass for the entire body) about 15-30 minutes before you leave the house so that it has enough time to take full effect.
It would also be a good idea to cultivate this habit as you can still get sun exposure indoors. Harsh sunlight can still penetrate through windows and bounce off them to harm your skin.
2. Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
If you’ve ever envisioned yourself walking along the beach in a long, flowy sundress and a matching hat (or in a Bruno Mars-esque ensemble), now would be the time to do that.
Hats are not only stylish, they are also great at keeping the sun out of your face and eyes. As a bonus, local lore says that wearing a hat also prevents you from getting head lice (or kuto, if you will). I have no idea if that’s true, but you’ve got nothing to lose by erring on the safe side.
3. Reach for your sunnies.
Speaking of keeping the sun out of your eyes, a good pair of UV-resistant sunglasses also adds to your sun protection arsenal. Harsh light can really do a number on your vision, and those on-trend, oversized sunglasses can certainly shield your eyes (along with the delicate skin surrounding them) from photo exposure.
4. Put on some lip balm.
Don’t forget your lips! The skin on them is much thinner than any other part of the body, and chapped lips aren’t just unsightly, they’re also painful. (Try laughing or eating a big mouth burger with chapped lips, and you’ll see what I mean.)
As with sunglasses, pick a tube that offers SPF or UVA/B protection. SPF 15 is sufficient for the lips, but you may want to keep your lip balm handy throughout the day: The American Academy of Dermatology recommends reapplying every two hours for best results.
5. Go for protective clothing.
You don’t have to wear coats or jackets (who wants to when it can get really hot outside?), but you may want to invest in a few lightweight coverings like cardigans or shawls for covering your arms and shoulders while you’re in the sun. Long, gossamer dresses or breathable cotton pants are also a great alternative to shorts if you want to keep your legs protected.
If you drive, you could also slip on a pair of driving gloves to prevent the sun from damaging the backs of your hands.