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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
This is a teddy-bear cholla. Not cuddly. Also known as jumping cholla.
This tall saguaro cactus lives on the extensive golf course at The Boulders.
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.)
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.
The spines on this cactus looked soft and bendy. They are not.
I'm not sure whether I was early here, or late.
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.)
Aren't these barrel cacti cute? They look like little pouffes or footstools. Don't sit on them.
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.
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:
- generously apply high-SPF sunscreen, then tuck that tube into your bag/pocket/Cool-It Caddy
- set cel phone alarm for two hours after application (or for every two hours if you'll be out all day)
- set at least two reminder alarms for five minutes after the main alarm; it's easy to get distracted if you're having fun
- 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.)