Monday, April 5, 2010

Woes of a Sunblock Snob

Spring is in full bloom, and summer approaches quickly from behind. What does this mean? Well it means us summer brides and grooms are getting married soon! But it also means we'll be needing more of this:

Ug, from Nickelodeon's Salute Your Shorts

Sunscreen. Sure, to protect my skin, I am supposed to wear it anytime I'm outdoors - but on a (hopefully) bright day, in a reflective white dress, closer to the equator than usual - I say sun-guard is required rather than recommended.

The only problem? I hate sunscreen. The smell, the oil, the chalky color. You know what I'm talking about, childhood tormentors:

Mom or Dad would slap ten gallons of the white, greasy stuff to your face and arms, leaving your pores suffocating in the chemical bath. Then you'd jump into the pool, only to have it wash off and invade your eyes, a mixture of sunscreen and chlorine to burn out your retinas.

After complaining about the standard stock, Mom took pity on you and bought you some of the fancy spray-on kind.

Only it burned like the plague after you applied it to your newly-shaved, 13 year old legs. And it left you looking like a well-oiled body builder, minus the muscles. And it still smelled.

So you went without. And ten minutes later, you transformed into a grade-A, boiled lobster.

You were burnt so badly that boils started appearing on your shoulders, chest and back - depriving you of sleep since even breathing was an excruciating task.

I think it's safe to assume I will need some protection. But do I have to live with the sunblock smell in order to stay rare and not well-done?

First, what is needed to protect against sun damage? You can find a lot of information online, like this article from UCSF.

Basically, you want a sunblock that blocks both UV-A and UV-B rays, with a fairly high SPF. The SPF number isn't the number of minutes you can stay in the sun, however. Rather, it's a rough multiplier. If it takes you ten minutes to burn without sunblock, using an SPF 40 sunblock will increase the time it takes you to burn to 400 minutes. Roughly, I say. Because if you splash around in the pool or rub it off, obviously you will need to re-apply before 400 minutes. But generally speaking, the higher the SPF, the better. And in my case, it should be over 9,000!

I've tried a number of different lotions in order to find one that meets both the protection requirements as well as my own no-stinky-sunscreen wish. So far, my favorite has been Neutrogena's dry-touch sunblock.

The smell isn't so bad, and it does a good job. It still gives my face the pallor of the undead, though, so I'm always on the look-out for something new.

What's your sun-guard of choice? Any recommendations of non-smelly types I could try?


  1. Um... LOVE the Ug reference! Ironic though that you love neutrogena's sun block, it leaves an odd dry feeling on my hands and I can't stand it. After 6 years of lifeguarding I love bull frog for outdoors-y activities and Mary Kay has some amazing face sunblocks that work great on the face!

    Make sure that sunblock is in your daily routine, I know it sounds funny but your face sees a lot more sun than you realize! Getting a morning face lotion or make up with SPF can do the trick! (Also, make sure to get your hands to... they can age really easily and they see a lot of sun too :) )

  2. haha..maybe thats why i like it? cause it doesnt feel slimy like some other kinds of sunblock?

    and yeah, you are probably right about needing it daily! though sitting in the fog everyday makes it feel like you don't..crazy sun rays..

  3. Love the photos you used here, such good advice. I try to use sunblock as often as I can!