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Nicely Pinked

This is not about sunburn.
This about sunscreen.

Unlike most of the internet audience - I remember a time when one couldn't purchase sunblock. You would walk into a drug store and there would be a HUGE display of tanning oils, tan accelerators, and tan enhancers. Things designed to make you look like a polynesian native. Somewhere in that pile of stuff was a handful of sunblock - usually not waterproof, with an SPF of 5 or lower (no kidding, you could buy SPF 1). The highest you could get at any time was 10. A good place would have SPF 15. We once found an SPF 30 and went nuts. 

I have the mixed fate of being born a Natural Red Head (NRH). This means I am incapable of being any other color than pasty pale ("five freckles short of albino") or Coke-can-red. Born at a time when the only thing to be was Blond and Tan, I can tell you horrible childhood stories of being ridiculed for being 1) pale, 2) the only person on the beach with sunscreen on, or 3) teased mightily for wearing sunscreen. And who would wear that stuff anyway? It smelled awful. Sand would get in it. We'd have to get out of the water and put it back on again. It left this awful greasy feel on you. Did I mention it smelled bad? And it never worked anyway - I'd end up just as red without it. (note to the wise, ice cold compresses applied immediately after getting out of the sun really helps stop the burn. But you have to do it as soon as you get out of the sun and until the heat is gone. It takes a good hour or more. Then moisturizer and aloe. It won't reverse any burning already done, but it will keep it from getting worse).

Suddenly, folks find out that skin cancer is caused by the sun. Almost overnight sunblock is cool. Gone are the walls of tanning oils. Replaced by sunblocks STARTING at SPF 15. You can get aloe, solarcaine, moisturizer - all in one place. You almost can't get a product without sunscreen in it. My foundation and chapstik has sunblock in it. Unfortunately, I was so traumatized as a child, I cannot bring myself to put the stuff on. It still smells bad, and feels bad. And you still have to reapply. Someone, at some point, will put the stuff in a can and I can just spray it on. And it won't smell like anything. Hey, if the powers that be can do it with self-tanners, they can do it with sunscreen.

Speaking of self tanners - I've tried them without success. They really aren't designed for the NRH. I think the Washington Post Express in a review of a sunless tanner described it the best : even the mildest self-tanner makes [the pale] look like a radioactive apricot. The product under discussion was Benefit's Jiffy Tan. Which I sampled. And yes, it does work. But there's GLITTER in it. I'm 32 years-old. I don't do glitter. Especially when it's going to end up all over. It's the kind of thing that would look good on a chest during prom, but not on all limbs and face at the office. But I digress.

So yesterday, while enjoying myself out at Eastern Market, I had the foresight to realize that since I was sans sunscreen (an oversight  on my part), I should bring a light jacket to keep the sun off. Which I wisely resorted to when I started to sweat while standing still in the middle of a sun drenched part of parking lot yakking on the phone. And not a moment too soon. I woke up this morning with tan lines where my watch was. I am, of course, not tan. I'm ever so lightly pink. Which for the NRH crowd IS a tan. My legs, however, are still the same shade of translucent (my legs haven't burned in close to 10 years).

We can put glitter in deodorant and turn armpits into underarms, but we can't put sunscreen into a can?


I'm not sure about the smell, but they now make spray-on sunblock. It's in one of those plastic spray bottles. Also, I don't know if you've ever tried it, but Bullfrog makes an awesome sunblock that dries quickly and doesn't leave you with that greasy, nasty feeling.
I know they have spritz - I've never actually seen it. But I know it exists. I'm talking full aerosol. Body spraypaint if you like.

I have to admit, I've also never heard of Bullfrog. Coppertone and Bananna Boat have pretty much cornered the market around here and there isn't much variety. But it SOUNDs exactly what I'm looking for.

I'll keep my eye out.

That I haven't seen. However, check out the Bullfrog site http://www.bullfrogsunscreen.com/about.asp. Down South they have quite a few sunblocks to choose from (hm, wonder why?). I have a friend who, while not a red-head, has the same problem you do: fish-belly pale skin that doesn't tan no matter how much sun she gets. She's the one who turned me on to the Bullfroggy-goodness.

June 2007

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