Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Shameful Day in the Sun

Ever since my equally fair-skinned father got a cancerous chunk of his nose cut out (that's always a happy, fun way to start a sentence), I've been borderline militant about sun protection. He's fine now, but the event made me realize that I never wanted to have little bits cut out of me (that's always a happy, fun way to end a sentence).

I remember when my 8th grade volleyball team went to a tournament in California, all of my teammates spread out their towels by the pool, sprayed themselves generously with PAM (well, maybe not PAM, exactly, but something close), and contentedly cooked (literally--I heard them sizzle) for a couple hours. Always the party animal, I opted to lather myself with gooey white Coppertone sunblock, sit under an umbrella and a hat, and chastise my fellow 14-year-olds for playing epidermal roulette.

But like a homophobic evangelist preacher sometimes accidentally has a little bit of meth and gay sex, even the most devout sun protection soldiers like myself sometimes accidentally go to the beach for three hours in a tank top without sunscreen. So yeah, I'm sunburned to hell right now (and probably going to hell, too)...what better time is there to preach about sun protection?

The Winners
(My Top Sunscreen Picks, in no particular order)

I've found that pretty much any form of sunblock by Neutrogena is fab. Their Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock is one of my favorites, because it dries quickly, isn't sticky, and it works:

Probably the best thing about Neutrogena, though, is their insanely high SPF numbers (the tube above is SPF 70). My scans of the sunscreen aisle at Walgreen's always go like this: "Hmm...SPF 15...30...10...45...SPF 15,000 SWEET JESUS NEUTROGENA HAS DONE IT AGAIN!" I'm not really sure how they do this. It may involve nuclear scientists or blatant lies. But I trust them.
$9.60, available here.

One of their products that doesn't make ostentatious, triple-digit SPF claims, but is still pretty rad, is the Oil-Free Sunblock Stick:

If you have yet to try a sunblock stick, especially this one, get your ass to the store and do it (that came out really harsh, I know, but I did warn you about my militant 'tude). They are so fun (seriously--I giggly reapply this like eighteen times a day) and you don't have to get any goop on your hands.
$5.99, available here.

Most affordable, high SPF, waterproof sunscreens suck a lot. This one only sucks a little:

A bit stickier than I'd like, but whaddya gonna do? (And wow, have you ever read a more enthusiastic review than that?)
$7.64, available here.

Finally, possibly my favorite, Clinique Sun-Care Face Cream:

This one doesn't dry as quickly as Neutrogena products, but it smells fantastic and makes my skin soft and creamy-beautiful (not to be confused with the film, Crazy/Beautiful, of course, because that movie sucked). I wear it under my makeup everyday (which includes another Clinique SPF layer). I think I'm in love.
$15.50, get it here.

The Sinners

Coppertone Sport Spray:

I feel bad for having to diss the brand that so protected me in 8th grade, but, well, their spray kind of sucks. This stuff left me sticky for approximately four years after application. Not fun. I will say that the last time I tried it was a while back, so it may have improved.

SPF 8? Pffftttt! This doesn't even count as sunscreen. This is wannabe sunscreen:

This is probably what she uses. I hope she won't miss her nose.

Please feel free to discuss your own sunscreen Winners and Sinners in the comments section. Especially if you know of a truly great, not-too-expensive, high SPF, non-sticky, waterproof sunblock (at least I'm not picky, right?), I'd love to hear about it!

Next Up: The Best (and Worst) Fake Tanners.


c said...

The Clinique body cream (SPF 50) is also quite excellent, I spent a week in the sun of Mexico and came back none the worse for wear. (I, too, am a skin cancer stickler.)

Deja Pseu said...

I like the Neutrogena 70 as well, but I'm also into Anthelios 60, which I find soaks into the skin a little better and is what I use under makeup. You can't buy OTC here in the states, but I order from Canada, (www.feelbest.com). It's a bit pricier, but the active ingredient, Meroxyl, is supposedly the platinum standard of sunscreens. My dad's had melanoma (twice) so I also take my sunscreen very seriously. Also, I don't want to look like an old baseball mitt. :-)

Anonymous said...

I, too, enjoy that translucent-blue British Isles skin, and also the Neutrogena 70. I wore it through two solid, consecutive Florida amusement park days this summer (one was a water park!!) with no burn. In my real life up north, I usually only use the SPF 55, but I certainly use it every day.

Anonymous said...

I like the Anthelios, too, and also order it from www.feelbest.com.

Claire said...

I'm all about sunscreen, but am fortunate not to have skin that recoils at the very hint of uv rays. I really like the idea of the Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Dry-Touch; after all, who doesn't want sunscreen that dries quickly and isn't sticky? What I'm wondering is whether it's available in a less drastic spf? Say 30, maybe? 35? I'd love to know about good, non-sticky sunscreens with mid-range spf levels.

Nicky said...

I love the new Burt's Bees sunscreen. It's chemical free and is not greasy at all. It also is mosturizing so that's a nice bonus!

Laura V said...

I find the Clinique stuff stings my face, but ah well, such is life. So for my daily facial sunscreen, I use Olay Complete. It's only spf 15 but (a) you can reapply and (b) hey, spf 15 over a period of years STILL makes me look a lot younger than my actual age...

I carry the Neutrogena sun stick in my purse. That stuff, as near as I can tell, Does Not Melt. I've whipped it out to reapply on 95+ F days and had it be just fine. Great little item.

daddylikeyblog said...

Ooh I must try this Anthelios stuff...

You lucky girl, you, yes, the Dry Touch is available at quite a few different SPF levels, and it's easy to find at most drugstores.

kittenplan said...

I'm also a fan of Anthelios (and order from Canada). From what I've read about sunscreens, finding one with a good UVA blocker is the key to preventing wrinkles caused by sun exposure, and one problem is that a lot of the ingredients typically used to block UVAs tend to break down easily in the sun. Mexoryl in Athelios and Helioplex in Neutrogena make the anti-UVA agents photo-stable so that they won't break down in the sun as quickly.

Salsa Girl said...

I would love to think that being of the fair skinned redhead type I know a little about sunscreen myself. My favorite, after years of trying different brands is actually a one called NO-AD. It is inexpensive i think because it is not advertised, as the name suggests. I like it because it does not leave that sticky greasy feeling after being applied. i hate when i wash my hands like 10 times after lathering myself in sunscreen and my hands are still greasy feeling. Ewww. I have been using NO-AD for years now and I love it.

Lex said...

Ah, but all sunscreens aren't the same. I'm a 30 year old with a history of skin cancer, and I've had the little suckers removed. The SPF rating is nice, but the active ingredients should include ZINC OXIDE, or TITANIUM OXIDE, or the sunscreen doesn't block both UVA and UVB rays nor skin cancer nor protect adequately against wrinkles. A tip from my dermatologist! And most of the thick yukky sunscreens you hate, unfortunately, are the ones that contain the zinc or titanium oxide.

laila said...

remind me to tell you about my new handbag!!!!1111!

also, remind me to tell you about how someone broke into my car and stole my laptop.

MET said...

I had a "pre-cancerous spot" removed, so I now over protect also.
I like Coppertone Oil-free sunscreen. It's so much less greasy than other kinds. I have it in spf30.
Now that you are already burned, I highly suggest Banana Boat After Sun Lotion. It has aloe and vitamin E and does a wonderful job of moisturizing the burn without getting sticky like plain aloe. One bonus was that it also turned my burn to a tan...something that is unheard of for me.

SHOEGAL said...

Why do they even make factor 8? Or anything below factor 15 for that matter. I think you can still get factor 4 over here...

In the UK sunscreen is so much more expensive to buy too, around £7 (US$14?) a bottle. And I've never seen that stick one but I'll be looking for it now.

Eritia said...

Alas, I also went to the beach for 7 hours with minimal sun protection (although I borrowed my aunts neutrogena stick for my face) and burned at least the top layer of skin, could hardly sleep for two days, and peeled for a week following ( the arms I thought had just tanned still are flaking), this is helpful. The stick sunscreen really worked, and you could tell where I had missed at the top of my forehead.

Jnett said...

Horror story: I used the Neutrogena spray on sunscreen before snorkling on my honeymoon in St. John last year. I got completely TOASTED. Not as bad as the year I got sun poisoning in Myrtle Beach, but still very uncomfortable. The backs of my thighs, calves and, well, my back, were painful. TG for aloe. Anyway, I called the company and they sent me a check for the stuff. I used the Banana Boat Sunsport 50 after that, and was no more damaged.

I agree that NO-AD is also great stuff.

do dah said...

i'm a fan of ocean potion simply because it smells like orange creamsicles rather than sunscreen. it doesn't have zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, though -- although it does claim to protect against uvb, apparently with avobenzone -- so is probably only worth it for those days when you want to be protected from the sun but don't want everyone in a 50 mile radius to smell this. whatever days those are...

ashley churchill said...

my entire family is obsessed with No-Ad sunscreen, which works well and doesn''t spend red cent on (you guessed it!) advertising!

Anonymous said...

I have really sensitive skin. The best is Coppertone Water Babys. Haha... I love it! The worst is Banana Boat Sensitive Skin Plus: Mild as Water. It doesn't rub in no matter how hard you try... it basically leaves your skin streaky and white, and when it dries it becomes flaky. How gross.

Katie said...

"But like a homophobic evangelist preacher sometimes accidentally has a little bit of meth and gay sex.."

LOL! i love you for this.

i agree with no-ad. i used it while on vacation the other week and didn't burn at all! (and i always burn).

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