My Struggles with Sunscreen

After an Ottawa winter that seemingly never ended, there is no greater pleasure than the feeling of the sun’s warmth against our skin. But as some experts tell us, we can enjoy that feeling but we should be protecting that skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

I am no stranger to sunscreen. I have been wearing it pretty faithfully over the years, and stepping up the SPF number at the urging of my dermatologist. Because I am pretty fair-skinned and can burn pretty easily, it makes sense.

But much like I have described in other blog posts, shopping for a sunscreen is another never ending episode of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”.

A few years ago, I was introduced to a brand of sunscreen that I considered “just right”. It had a nice light fragrance, it didn’t feel sticky, and it held up well when I was out running. Basically, it felt like I wasn’t wearing sunscreen when I had it on. I could even reapply it throughout the day and not feel like an oil slick. To me, that was the gold standard.

But I wonder if they changed the recipe because it doesn’t feel “just right” anymore. By my schnoz, the pleasant scent now seems to present notes of chemicals (which makes me a little apprehensive about meetings in small boardrooms) and the texture seems stickier than before.

Even if I wrote to the company with my questions, would it change anything? Probably not. And there is a chance that it could be my body chemistry changing, as opposed to the product. Some colognes I wore a decade or two ago smell very differently on me now, so I wouldn’t rule out that a sunscreen that was once perfect, might not behave the same on my approaching-geriatric skin.

And so began the auditions for a new sunscreen.

Because sunscreens are so expensive, I was so appreciative to find travel sizes at the drugstore and at the department store, which I can use for testing purposes, without committing to a full bottle or tube.

When I went through the checkout, the clerk looked at me and smiled while asking “Going on a trip?” as she ran the collection of miniature tubes through the scanner. I replied “No, just trying to find another sunscreen I like”, to which her eyes lit up as she had a story to tell.

She was in the same boat, metaphorically speaking… a fair-skinned young lady who said she burns like toast and has a hard time finding a sunscreen that she likes. I was glad to hear I was not alone.

The first sunscreen I tried provided good coverage, didn’t feel too sticky and smelled nice. But after a run around the neighbourhood, I came back looking like a mummy as I had white streaks all over my phase. The sunscreen resurfaced through the sweaty activity.

The second one I tried, unfortunately, got washed off minutes after application as it felt like I had applied a coat of glue.

The third one was similar to the first, but it didn’t hold up in the running test as the sunscreen blended with the sweat, and dripped into my eyes. The irritation which made me look like a running zombie.

And then there was the brand that had such a strong fragrance I had to wash it off after an hour because the aroma didn’t fade and I just couldn’t put up with it anymore.

I thought back to a brand of sunscreen I used years ago that came in a powder. While I enjoyed the fact that it was unscented and truly felt like I wasn’t wearing sunscreen, my challenge with that one was knowing that I had covered all of the sensitive areas and that I had enough on to provide the protection I needed.

My most promising attempt has been with the “sport” version of a cosmetic brand, which seems to provide good coverage, has a light fresh scent, it doesn’t feel sticky and it seems to hold up well during a run on a humid day.

Plus I’ve been able to wear it and to forget that I was wearing sunscreen. So far so good. More thorough testing is required, but this may be the one I would categorize as “just right”… for now.

It would be so easy to heed experts’ warnings and to wear sunscreen every minute of every day. The challenge is finding the right one that doesn’t make a person feel greasy, sticky, self-conscious, or longing for a shower to wash it off.

More like this:
Goldilocks and the White Socks
The Clock Radio Journey
The Hunt for the Perfect Reading Light
The Hunt for the Perfect Lawn Chair

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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,

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Filed under 50+, Health and Wellness, Running

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