Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap! – All You Need to Keep Your Skin Safe in the Sun

Beach hat and sunglasses on towel isolated on white background

On days when I plan to be at the beach or pool I’m sure to cover every inch of my body with sunscreen – several times a day.  I bring along the big Scarlett O’Hara hat, too, making sure my face has even more protection then the rest of my body – you can never be too cautions when it comes to preventing wrinkles.  On those days when I’m ultra-prepared, I know that I’m taking good care of my skin.

But there are those days when “I’m going to run to the market” turns into lunch with my friend on a café patio to catch up.  And, of course, catching up spills into a walk in the park and before I know it, I look like a lobster and I have tank top and flip flop tan lines!

Luckily, I have more days when I know I’m going to be in the sun and I’m prepared to battle UVA and UVB rays.  How can we make sure that we’re always prepared to stand in the sun instead of shriveling up with sunburn?

The American Cancer Society has some great tips for protection from UV rays.  The most obvious one is to stay in the shade and limit your UV exposure but I love their nifty catchphrase: “Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap!”

Slip on a shirt – Cover your skin as much as possible.

Slop on sunscreen – Use a broad spectrum sunscreen to fight both UVA and UVB rays and make sure that it has a SPF of 30 or higher. A morning application isn’t enough, so make sure you reapply throughout the day.  Be sure to check the expiration date on sunscreen, too!

Slap on a hat – A hat with a 2 to 3 inch brim is ideal because it protects your ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp. These are the areas that are exposed to intense sun and are most likely to burn.

Wrap on sunglasses to protect your eyes and the sensitive skin around them – UV blocking sunglasses are important! Make sure your shades block 99-100% of both UVA and UVB rays; labels on your sunglasses will let you know if they are meeting this standard.  Large Jackie-O glasses or wraparound glasses are more likely to prevent sun coming in at different angles.

It should go without saying that we should also avoid tanning beds and sun lamps.  If you are looking for a healthy summer glow, try a spray tan or self-tanning lotions.

“Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap!” That’s all I need to remember every day to make sure my skin stays healthy year round.

Hot Tips to Stay Cool

iStock_000017071673LargeNo doubt about it, summer is in full swing. With sunny days and sweltering heat waves all I want to do is stand in the frozen food section of my grocery store. Since that’s not usually the best option, here are some of my other favorite ways to stay cool when the mercury rises:

  • Limit sun time. It’s best to limit your sun exposure between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. each day. That can be hard to do when summer fun beckons, but you should try to avoid exercising, sitting, and walking around in the midday sun. When you’re outside during the midday heat, retreat to the shade as much as possible, and remember to drink plenty of water!
  • Stay loose. Wear loose-fitting, light-weight clothes to help stay cooler. If you’re out and about, shorts and short-sleeved tops are a great choice. If you’re going on a hike or working outdoors for a long period of time, light-weight, long-sleeved shirts and pants are best since they will protect you from UV rays. Steer clear of synthetic clothes and opt for cotton clothes unless the synthetic clothes were specifically made to reduce heat (check the labels to be sure).
  • Pack water. Remember in my first tip I told you to stay hydrated? I wasn’t kidding. Water is essential for keeping your cool when it’s hot. Carry water around with you everywhere you go this summer. Throw a water bottle in the freezer overnight, and the next day you’ll have refreshing ice water that you can refill it as the day goes on. You can also keep a spray bottle of water with you so you can spritz yourself to stay cool.
  • Chill out. Need to cool down, stat? Apply ice packs or run cool water over your pulse points at the wrists, neck, elbows, ankles, and behind the knees. You can even DIY a cold compress by filling a sock with rice, tie it off, and stick it in the freezer for an hour or so. The compress will stay chilly for about 30.

Stay cool, my friends.

Little Garden of Horrors

Sue is back, and it’s a good thing she goes on her daily walks – as her garden provides more stress than it should!


Pak Choy (AKA Audrey)

Early this year, I decided to tame the strawberry plants that had wandered out of their raised bed and filled the pathway. I dug out the bed, filled it with compost, added fertilizer, and replanted it with the biggest plants. The bed looked nice and neat, and I was very pleased with myself.

Later, when I weeded the bed, I left a few mystery sprouts “to see what they were.” In the blink of an eye (well, maybe a few weeks), the mystery sprouts were already growing much taller than the strawberry plants. When I finally had time to attend to the bed again, the mystery plants had grown into monsters, towering above the strawberries.

I named the biggest one Audrey 2 and slowly backed away, being careful not to make any sudden movements. I knew I needed to do some research and come back with the right arsenal. (If you’re a sci-fi fan like me, you know this is the correct strategy for dealing with a potential space alien invasion.)

Consulting last year’s seed packets, I found that Audrey and her seven sisters are not from outer space and are actually pak choi (AKA bok choy). It’s one of those veggies that are in a lot of Asian dishes — nondescript, but tasty. When I tried growing it before, it was scrawny and flowered right away, and so it went right into the compost pile. Ah-ha! The compost!

Audrey will go into the dinner pot tonight before she gets any bigger. Her sisters will soon follow. I guess the life lesson of the story is don’t be too quick to discard things that are unexpected and don’t fit the plan. Sometimes waiting to see what grows can provide you with tasty results.