enlightened motherhood, among other things – thought-provoking things to think about… :)
I got schooled this weekend… After all this research and writing about sun protection, I finally had my day in the sun to try out my new-found knowledge, using brand-new sunscreens (with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the active ingredients!) and a cool, new beach umbrella. I got flanked. Blindsided. Mother Nature read my SPF article and decided to test my limits by removing all clouds from the sky, keeping the sun shining full-force, and on top of that, somehow I couldn’t get the damn beach umbrella to work. However, regardless of the elements working against us, my daughter and I were in the sun during the worst hours (10am – 2 pm), which, I admit, was my oversight. But I wasn’t about to let the sun get the best of me! And we couldn’t have used the dumb beach umbrella while “boogie boarding” in knee deep water anyways. My little girl is 5 years old and it was her first time catching waves, which is absolutely one of my favorite things to do, with or without a board! So I let her keep going, for as long as I could bear the sand scraping my knees and my muscles burning as I knelt in the ocean and pushed her into the tiny waves. I called it “boogie boarding” for a reason!
So now that the scene is set – blazing sun, high noon, shimmering ocean and white sand (which both reflect sunlight), vs. me and my daughter, and some sunscreen. She applied sunscreen on herself before we left, but insisted on doing it without help. I saw the white streaks of zinc on her body, felt reassured (shes been practicing her sunscreen application!) and told myself I would put more on her as soon as we got down to the beach. Stupid, stupid, stupid me. We walked downstairs, through the garage, over the boardwalk and arrived at the beach. By the time I had put down my bag to retrieve the sunscreen (it was so sunny I could feel myself burning already! We have fair skin), my daughter was already sitting in the effing sand. So I rinsed her off in the ocean. At that point, she was salty, wet, and still sandy. I patted her dry. Then I squirted a ridiculous amount of sunscreen into my hand and slathered it all over her, lifting her bathing suit to even apply it underneath, which she thought was silly. But guess who didn’t apply under their bathing suit and got about an inch-wide sunburn around her upper thighs? Yeah. Inconsistent me. My daughter complained about it hurting because the sand was gritty against her skin while I tried to apply evenly, without missing any spots. Instead of stopping this important application, I took it as a chance to explain to her how exfoliation works. 😉
I came out of this experience with new, humbler eyes. The sun really is dangerous. Our red patches of sunburn (at least I applied right in some areas!) are itchy, tight, warm to the touch, and downright painful. Keeping the area moisturized at all times is the best thing for a sunburn, and that’s what we’re doing. But if I let this happen again, our chances of suffering real consequences will rise. No one is immune to skin cancer… I am ashamed of the fact that my daughter and I got sunburned, but glad to be able to share my experience and hopefully shed some light (haha) on the importance of applying sunscreen CORRECTLY!
So now I know, or have been reminded of:
1. ALWAYS apply sunscreen first when NAKED. As in, before you go out in the sun- don’t arrive at the beach or pool, take your suit off, and lather up, unless you’ve already done so at home before entering the sunny zone.
2. Don’t trust your five year old to do her own first application without help. (Do tell her what you’re doing so she learns how to do it herself, and if she’s a boss and doesn’t want help, let her do her own reapplication between the ones you do.)
3. Don’t miss any spots. It’s okay to ask your five year old to rub your back, and it’s actually quite nice! Those yummy little hands!!!
4. Take pictures early, so if you get white streaks when reapplying, they won’t show up in photos. You should be using a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient(s), which will leave a white film on the skin (unless you buy a more expensive sunscreen with these ingredients “micronized”). While still on the sunny beach, I posted a photo without examining it, and later found a white streak of product on my forehead.
5. Get a good effing umbrella. The sun’s rays still seep through, but most do provide an SPF which will prevent against burning (but not aging! Read my previous article on sunscreen to find out why!)
6. Don’t assume the sand or water is protecting your feet from burning. It’s not. And you won’t want to wear shoes for days.
7. Treat your hands, wrists, and chest like your face and make sure these areas stay extra protected. Unless you want to look like you’re 53 when you’re really, um, 47.
8. Sorry FDA, but water resistant for up to 80 minutes is a load of crap. I purposely monitored a white streak of our AVEENO BABY SUNSCREEN on my leg while “boogie boarding”. It faded before we got out of the water after less than an hour (it was supposedly water resistant up to 80 minutes). I even tried not to rub. Lesson learned – REAPPLY BEFORE YOU THINK YOU SHOULD! If you see a pink tint, it’s too late. But reapply anyways, and slather it on good this time. Forget about trying to rub it all in. If you’re running around, no one cares. If you’re chilling out, you have time to rub yourself to your hearts content. You’re giving yourself a little massage every hour. Everyone will want to join you! And you already took the pictures, remember?!
9. Don’t assume you’ll be able to “feel yourself getting burned” and then know it’s time to reapply. This Esthetician right here was actually that “silly”.
10. Wear sunglasses and a hat if you can. But definitely sunglasses. And make your kids wear them too. They look like rock stars and their eyes are safe.
11. Be prepared to treat a sunburn, even if you’re not planning on letting it get that far! I applied facial cream to our burns until we got to the store for something with more soothing properties.
12. Put that shit on everything. Even your scalp, ears, and lips. Toes too! And don’t forget to get all up in there when reapplying.
13. Even if you’re sandy, reapply. Personally, I would rather look a little silly than develop skin cancer. Plus, you’ll get a free exfoliating treatment!
14. Buy a good sunscreen, damnit, but don’t assume just using the correct products will keep you protected. You have to apply enough, without missing any spots, and reapply often.
15. Re-read number 8 and don’t forget it.
And finally, don’t be like me and assume you know everything about something, because you don’t, and eventually you will get schooled.
Thanks for reading!