What Are You Doing About Sunscreen?

It's all fine and good to have fun in the sun. In fact, I recommend it. Those of you who know me know I've been on a major push to get my fellas out of the house this Summer. But if you're going to step into the sun's rays PLEASE don't forget the sunscreen - for the kids and for yourself. Pediatricians say lots of parents still haven't gotten the message about safe sun exposure. Sure, we hardly used any sunscreen at all back in the day (no, my darlings, cocoa butter doesn't count - I wish I did). But with global warming and the dwindling ozone layer the sun is a whole different thing right now. You can enjoy it, but you've got to play it safe.

Despite what you've heard, African-Americans can indeed develop skin cancer. VERY dark skin can have a natural SPF of about 13. (Don't be fooled, most of us do not have SPF 13 skin.) But dermatologists say you need an SPF of at least 15 to be protected. They recommend wearing sunscreen daily. But if you're going to spend any significant time outdoors, it's important to not only slather on sunscreen before you leave the house, but also to reapply it after a couple of hours.

So what should you look for when you're ready to buy a sunscreen? First of all, not all sunscreens are created equal. In fact, some barely live up to the name. But here's one thing all the experts agree on - an effective sunscreen must protect against both UVA and UVB rays. That's because while UVB rays get most of the blame for sunburn, both kinds of rays contribute to skin cancer.

I won't lie, we had to go through quite a few tubes of sunscreen before we found ones that didn't mess with our skin - we're all considered "sensitive" in my household - or make us look like the white shadow. Much could be written about the challenge of finding an effective sunscreen for non-pale skin.

Our personal experience is that anyone with sensitive skin should avoid most sunscreens with the ingredients avobenzone or oxybenzone. I wore a sunscreen with these ingredients during a trip to the zoo on Father's Day and I'm still scratching. If you're a Sensitive Sally like me, don't do it. Unfortunately avobenzone and oxybenzone are in most of the broad-spectrum sunscreens found in your neighborhood drugstores. They are damned difficult to avoid unless you're willing to hunt around or purchase your sunscreens online. That's why I'm doing the leg work for you.

Now if you're going to avoid chemical suncreen ingredients like we do, that leaves you with natural/mineral sunscreens. Natural suncreen contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (or both), which used to leave a slight white cast to the skin. But now many companies have discovered ways to get those particles very small - not nano sized, but- small enough to wipe-out or dramatically cut down on the ghastly tinge. For now we like and use:

Jason Mineral Based Sun Block SPF 30+
All Terrain KidSport SPF30 Oxybenzone-Free Natural Sunscreen
Trukid Sunny Days SPF 30+ Natural Sunscreen
Aubrey Organics SPF 15 Saving Face

You can find more options on the EWG list and on similar sites on the internet.

But now it's your turn. Please sound off. What is YOUR experience with sun exposure and suncreen? Or lack of??

Life's Luscious Little Luxuries

It's true that the best things in life are free. But sometimes it's the little things that can keep you encouraged and on the right track. I'm not the only one who thinks so. We've all heard that stopping for a cup of coffee at your favorite java bar EVERY DAY can be a drain on your wallet, especially if you're struggling to save. But every now and then, leaving the coffee-making up to someone else could be just what you need to save time and experience a morning treat. Again, I said a treat. Without making a habit of it, this is something small that can feel like a tiny luxury. Or if you get up early enough, brew your own and be that much more fabulous and on-the-ball. Here's something that costs little to nothing but can change the entire course of your day: Having lunch or a walk in the park. This is truly one of those things that makes the most of a work break. In this day and time, spending a few minutes among the trees and breathing fresh(er) air is very much a luxury. I recommend doing it as often as possible. When you take the time to think about life's little luxuries, you might realize that some of them go all the back to childhood. This is the case for me when it comes to cool cotton sheets. There's just nothing like them at this time of year. Satin and all those other trendy fabrics just won't cut it. But the good news is that you don't have to spend a mint or buy those whatever-hundred-count sheets to get the same effect. Simple cotton sheets costing just a few dollars at your local discount store can have the same effect. I know it for a fact. What about you? What are your little luxuries?

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Fifth Third Bank via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Fifth Third Bank.
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