Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Daily Sunscreen

Tanning under an overpass: The NYC way.
Even though we had a cold snap today, this past weekend's weather was beautiful, and I spotted a few brave souls starting to work on their tans.

It reminded me that this is about the time of year the girls at my boarding school are starting to lay out towels in various places around campus after or between classes. When I was there, a favorite spot was the paddle tennis court, since unlike the tennis courts, it's used in the winter and empty in the spring. Girls would sometimes use baby oil to tan faster, but others would heed the advice of parents that using baby oil is basically the same thing as frying oneself in a frying pan.

As someone who burns unless she's careful, I spent years working on a base tan each spring, and one year I even leathered my skin enough to skip suntan lotion at the beach by August. Having finally conceded that a tan just isn't worth the effort or damage to my skin, more recently I've been found in wide brim hats throughout the summer. Well, at the beach, anyway.

I've also been more aware of sunscreen for my face for daily use. I used to use a Neutrogena moisturizer with SPF years ago before I started tanning, and recently I've gone back to it after a few years of a department store brand that went on beautifully, but only had SPF 15. The reason I like Neutrogena is because it doesn't make my skin too oily, it's inexpensive, and unlike many other moisturizing options, it has an SPF of 30 or 50, not 15 or lower.

As with other brands, the bottle warns that the only way the SPF really works is if one reapplies every 15 minutes, which is completely unpractical, but at least it starts out a bit stronger than other versions. I plan to use this only for daily use, not for days when I'll be in the sun for hours. Also, I know that BB creams are all the rage right now, but most of them only boast a SPF of 15, and Neutrogena makes a BB cream with a SFP of 30, for a drugstore brand price of $14.00.

Something I only learned last year, however, is that sunscreen goes bad really quickly. See the little symbol of an open container that says "24M" inside in the picture at right? That means this particular sunscreen is good for 24 months from the time the bottle is opened. A few others I've seen say "6M" or "18M." Since I don't use an entire bottle in one summer (I just tossed a half-used bottle from over four years ago!), this was an important fact to learn. It certainly would be useless to go through the trouble of protecting one's face with a product that had already lost its potency.

So here's to a summer of protecting our skin: Our doctors -- and parents -- would be proud.

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