HOW TO AVOID VACATION SUNBURN: LESSON LEARNED IN SCOTTSDALE, AZ

How do you remember to re-apply your sunscreen every two hours when you're outside having fun? I never thought I'd have to find out. Then I went to The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, AZ.
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How do you remember to re-apply your sunscreen every two hours when you're outside having fun? I never thought I'd have to find out. Then I went to The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, AZ.
How to avoid vacation sunburn: Aveeno Active Naturals Protect + Hydrate SPF 30

How to avoid vacation sunburn: Aveeno Active Naturals Protect + Hydrate SPF 30

I am not an outdoorsy person, even in warm, sunny weather. I dislike the feeling of sun beating down on my skin. It's uncomfortable. So I use sunscreen to deflect that heating sensation, and I stick to the shade. That's how I usually avoid vacation sunburn, too. But on a recent trip to Arizona, at The Boulders Waldorf Astoria resort, I discovered what it's like to enjoy your sunny outside time so much that you forget to re-apply SPF. Oops. The visible damage was slight -- no need for this sunburn fix -- but I learned a lesson. The next day I implemented a new Avoid Vacation Sunburn plan.

How to avoid vacation sunburn: Aveeno Protect + Hydrate SPF 30 on the rocks.

How to avoid vacation sunburn: Aveeno Protect + Hydrate SPF 30 on the rocks.

For any Avoid Vacation Sunburn initiative, you need trustworthy sunscreen you can throw in your bag. My Avoid Vacation Sunburn plan also requires a cel phone. On this day in Scottsdale*, Arizona, at 7:30 am, I started with Aveeno Protect and Hydrate SPF 30 sunscreen ($17.99 at drugstores). Then I set my cel alarm to go off in about two hours. But that's not enough to ensure a timely SPF re-up, not even for me.

How to avoid vacation sunburn: Maybelline Baby Lips Lip Balm SPF 20

How to avoid vacation sunburn: Maybelline Baby Lips Lip Balm SPF 20

I can get so absorbed in picture-taking that I'll think, oh right, SPF -- after this next shot -- and five more hours might pass. So I set five alarms, to go off at five-minute intervals starting two hours after I first put on my SPF. By the last alarm, I figured I'd have re-applied. (Turns out I did it by the second.)

Frequent applications of Maybelline New York Baby Lips SPF 20 is already a habit; no alarm required. However, I did wish I'd taken the clear Maybelline New York Baby Lips SPF 20 ($4.49 at well.ca) with me. There's enough pigment in Cherry Me that no-mirror applications can look sloppy.

How to avoid vacation sunburn: I had to find out while on a desert photography tour at The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, Arizona

How to avoid vacation sunburn: I had to find out while on a desert photography tour at The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, Arizona

At The Boulders I met resident photographer Linda Covey, who takes guests on sunrise desert photography tours (hence the 7:30 am SPF application). Most of these are images I took with her camera -- it was so much better than one I'd borrowed at home for scenery shots.

Taken on the desert photography tour offered by The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, AZ

Taken on the desert photography tour offered by The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, AZ

Camera loans aren't usually part of Linda's tours, by the way. She happened to have a spare that day, and letting me use hers was more than kind. It was smart, too, because she knew the camera well, and we could maximize our tour time.

Taken on the desert photography tour offered by The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, AZ

Taken on the desert photography tour offered by The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, AZ

Cheery brittlebush flowers among the cholla. And check out those cholla spines. According to Linda, in the old, old days, Sonoran Desert Indians used spines from big cholla cacti as tattoo needles. "They'd dip them into the dye then draw on the skin."

Taken on the desert photography tour offered by The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, AZ

Taken on the desert photography tour offered by The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, AZ

This is a teddy-bear cholla. Not cuddly. Also known as jumping cholla.

Taken on the desert photography tour offered by The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, AZ

Taken on the desert photography tour offered by The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, AZ

This tall saguaro cactus lives on the extensive golf course at The Boulders.

This poor golfer fell into a patch of teddy-bear cholla. Yeeowww!

This poor golfer fell into a patch of teddy-bear cholla. Yeeowww!

Speaking of golf, this dude at another Scottsdale course fell into a teddy-bear cholla while trying to retrieve a golf ball. Linda sent me this jpeg from a story that went viral a couple of years ago. Apparently it took the EMS guys more than three hours to remove enough cholla to get the poor man to hospital. (Follow that "viral" link for video on how tricky it is to get cholla out.)

How to avoid vacation sunburn: Ombrelle Face Ultra Fluid SPF 60 on the rocks.

How to avoid vacation sunburn: Ombrelle Face Ultra Fluid SPF 60 on the rocks.

Although I'd started the day with Aveeno, I decided last-minute to leave my bag in my room when I realized I could slip this Ombrelle Face Ultra Fluid SPF 60 ($19.99 at well.ca) bottle into my back pocket, along with my lip balm. Temperatures in Scottsdale were mild, so I didn't have to worry about the SPF overheating. In the height of summer and its blistering heat, the Cool-It Caddy (a Scottsdale invention!) would be handy.

How to avoid vacation sunburn: not all Maybelline Baby Lips lip balms have SPF; read the packaging carefully.

How to avoid vacation sunburn: not all Maybelline Baby Lips lip balms have SPF; read the packaging carefully.

The spines on this cactus looked soft and bendy. They are not.

How to avoid vacation sunburn: wear lots of SPF for your daytime trek to Sunset Point at The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, AZ.

How to avoid vacation sunburn: wear lots of SPF for your daytime trek to Sunset Point at The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, AZ.

I'm not sure whether I was early here, or late.

How to avoid vacation sunburn: put your sunscreen in your Instagram photos.

How to avoid vacation sunburn: put your sunscreen in your Instagram photos.

Avoid Vacation Sunburn tip: sticking sunscreen in photos garden-gnome style is a good way to remind yourself to re-apply. (A clever sunscreen company should sponsor an annual contest for best vacation SPF Instagram series.)

Desert photography tour later that same day with Linda Covey at The Boulders resort in Arizona.

Desert photography tour later that same day with Linda Covey at The Boulders resort in Arizona.

Aren't these barrel cacti cute? They look like little pouffes or footstools. Don't sit on them.

Sunset at The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, AZ.

Sunset at The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, AZ.

Back at one of the sunset vantage points at The Boulders. Different camera, the one I should have taken with me on the photo tour.

Sunset at The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, AZ

Sunset at The Boulders resort in Scottsdale, AZ

It's the end of the day, and I've been successful in my sunburn-avoidance objectives. No more stupid sun damage for me.

how to avoid vacation sunburn

So, to recap this simple Avoid Vacation Sunburn plan:

  1. generously apply high-SPF sunscreen, then tuck that tube into your bag/pocket/Cool-It Caddy
  2. set cel phone alarm for two hours after application (or for every two hours if you'll be out all day)
  3. set at least two reminder alarms for five minutes after the main alarm; it's easy to get distracted if you're having fun
  4. throughout the day, pop your sunscreen into a couple of fun photos garden-gnome style and Instagram them

Do you have an Avoid Vacation Sunburn plan?

*The Boulders resort is, according to its mailing address, located in the little town of Carefree (how lovely is that?) on the edge of the city of Scottsdale. However, the resort's 1,300 acres spill into Scottsdale, so referring to The Boulders as a Scottsdale destination is also correct. (Seriously, isn't the town's name charming? Carefree -- sounds like the setting of breezy western or an historical romance novel.)