A Guide to Surviving as a Vampire in the Summer

Umbrellas on Beach

Summer is here!  That means it’s time for barbecues, sandals and sundresses.  White pants make their seasonal return, or if you’re like me, black leggings continue their strong, year long presence.  Most importantly, it’s time for warm weather and the beach!  Every year a million articles are spawned reminding us of the dangers of the sun and proper sun-care techniques to employ so I’ve decided to get in on the action.

Me and my sister

This is an (old) picture of me and my sister. We actually do have the same parents except one of us got all the Italian genes in the family and the other walks among the un-dead at night.  Accordingly I have compiled my best sun-care advice.

Buy Sunscreen! J.k.! Begin College Level Research Into Which Sunscreen You Should Buy

You thought you could just walk in to your local drugstore and pluck the cheapest thing off the shelf, but nooo the Environmental Working Group(EWG) ruined it for all of us.

The EWG is a “non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.  They rate the sun protection and harmfulness of ingredients of 100’s of sunscreens.  They tend to rate most of the perennial favorites a bit low due to harmful ingredients, and favor organic mineral sunscreens a.k.a. the kind that turn you into Casper the mildly irate ghost whose bathing suit is now stained with zinc.   Not all are fans of their science, but since I’m prone to scare tactics and will probably use between 800 to 1000 gallons of sunscreen this summer, I tried to pay attention.

I began by googling my favorite: the 16 fl oz bottle of NO-AD. EWG rated it a 7/10 with 1 being good and 10 being the toxic waste dump from Wall-E.  So the good news is I’ve only been slathering NO-AD on my body for like, 4 years continuously.  I once even split it into little bottles to take to Europe with me.  Am I even alive right now? I’m not sure.

There doesn’t appear to be a search filter for cheapest and healthiest way to buy industrial size sunscreen, but I did my best and am going to order a sample of this one:

Rocky Mountain Sunscreen SPF 30 Rating 3/10

And maybe try this face stick which I got all the way up to a green(!) 2/10.

Goodbye sweet NO-AD, we had some swell times.

Have No Shame

These are the types of questions you will find yourself asking throughout the summer:

  • Is there room in your car for my beach umbrella?
  • Would you still hang out with me if I got a parasol for daily activities?
  • Can I borrow your sunscreen?
  • Can I borrow your sunscreen again?

Questions you will find yourself answering:

  • Are you really re-applying again?
  • Are you really wrapping the beach blanket around you?
  • Are you really cocooning inside of it?
  • You’re joking about the parasol right?
  • I have an umbrella for my dog but he’s not coming, want me to bring it for you Rachel?

Answers yes, yes, yes, dead serious about the parasol, yes.

Get a Sun Hat

One of my many genetic blessings is my giant head.  It means when I put one-size-fits-all hats on my head and think optimistically *maybe this time* the fibers in the hat start to cry. Instead I’m relegated to online shopping for hats that come in large.  For some reason, hats that come in sizes also tend to be what the Marines use to protect themselves when invading desert countries, but luckily I located one stylish one: Columbia’s Women’s Sun Ridge II Hat.  For the large-headed fashion maven within(unofficial slogan).

Get Sunglasses

The one cool looking part of sun protection, thanks Marilyn Monroe! If only you made a pasty zinc coating cool as well.  EWG hasn’t got around to rating sunglasses, but did issue this missive that includes advice such as getting wrap-around sunglasses.   I can say confidently everyone on earth would choose the risk of sun exposure before they settled for wrap-arounds. I’m a vampire, not a youth soccer coach.

You can go down a rabbit hole of research on this one too, but I went the home testing route instead.  Last week when my eyes burned after a day of wearing Best Damn Root Beer Sunglasses I got free at a bar, I decided they probably didn’t have 100% UV protection and retired them–it’s science.

I’d say get a beach coverup…

but to save money don’t be afraid to take any clothing, blanket, seaweed, driftwood or assorted beach debris and use them to build yourself shelter.

Be Territorial About Your Shade

Umbrella and Sun
The average beach umbrella creates enough shade for 1 or 2 people.  Then the shade moves throughout the day so you have to keep awkwardly shuffling.  Eventually the siren’s song of the ice cream truck will call you away or perhaps you’ll need to dunk in the water.   At this point someone in your party will look up and think: look at this conveniently located shade! I think I’ll sit here for a brief respite.

When you return simply grip your snow cone, breathe deeply and say  “hey bitch, last time I checked you didn’t read Good Housekeeping’s Best Beach Umbrella’s 2013, buy the best one for $80, lug it through the paved desert tundra of the parking lot, and drill it into the ground with your sand anchor.”  Then enjoy your hard earned spoils.

You may end a few friendships, but your skin will be looking fresh!

Suncare Advice


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