Sunday, 3 March 2013

Here comes the sun

The last week has been spectacularly sunny in LA. I'm not quite sure what I imagined when I moved out here, but we probably have sunshine 80% of the time. I get to properly enjoy this on our magical sun terrace in our apartment complex. If the sun is out at all, it is warm enough to sunbathe in a bikini. It's completely sheltered and gets so hot. It was grey this morning, so we decided to go to Home Depot to pick up some rawl plugs (lest you think life in LA is all glitz and glamour.) By the time we left the store the sun was out and it was warming up, so we made the drive to Santa Monica for some coffee. The sun was coming and going behind the clouds, but sitting in the beach front cafe with a coffee with our feet in the sand was still heavenly. 

Permanent exposure to gorgeous sun creates some problems as I am super pale and Scottish. My natural skin colour has a faint blue tinge underneath it. I have never had a tan in my entire life- even after spending 6 weeks in the Sahara Desert on a mission trip when I was 15. Skin cancer isn't just a pithy punchline for jokes about my freckled skin, but is pretty dangerous when you are as fair as I am. I take this 'not getting burnt' thing pretty seriously. You would think that people would congratulate me on having such a healthy attitude towards my skin and safety. They do not. Case in point, a quote from my mum yesterday- "You're still really pale, aren't you?"

On top of this, our courtyard is overlooked by about 50 apartment windows. It would be really easy to have skin like an elephant (grey, dry, kind of hairy) without a tiny bit of effort. This has become my essential daily kit: 
Aveeno face sunscreen, Vaseline moisturiser with Aloe, Phillips razor, Coppertone waterproof, sweatproof and towel proof spray sunscreen.
My essentials list is the result of trying lots of things that I didn't like or just didn't work for me. Firstly, I cannot believe it took me so long to buy an electric razor. I don't have particularly sensitive skin, but every single damn time I shave my legs I get a rash. This rash is nothing compared to the one I get when I try cream/wax/crystals/incantations or any other type of hair removal you could possibly dream of. The electric razor isn't quite as effective but I can use it every day without so much as a single red mark. It's actually changed my life.

I use SPF 30. This is because I never, ever get cocky about it. I reapply roughly every 20 minutes. I remember a doctor telling my mum that it was better to reapply a lower SPF often than get complacent about a higher SPF. When we first moved here, I used SPF 50 but I don't think that's quite so necessary any more. The spray sunscreen was also something of a revelation. When we first came over we were going to the beach a lot. Suncream and sand are a crappy combination, and for poor husband is was just a nightmare. We also swim a lot (since we have a pool right outside our window, would be rude not to) and waterproof creams are the consistency of treacle. The sun is too strong to take the chance when you are in the water (especially in the sea) so we were kind of stuck. Then we discovered waterproof spray, and life has been so much better. It is a bit more expensive, but it literally takes 30 seconds to apply, and perhaps most importantly I can do every awkward bit of my back when I am here by myself. No more burnt patches!

The downside of this awesome spray is that the waterproofing means it doesn't really wash off. We end up looking like we have dirty PVA glue stuck to us. The only real way to get it off is to scrub it. Since I was going through so much exfoliator, I've ended up making my own. It's basically just sugar, salt and olive oil. Super effective, leaves skin soft and costs about $1 a month to make.

The other downside of the spray is that you cannot use it on your face. Since we use it every single day, I splashed out a bit and got Aveeno face sunscreen. It smells heavenly, is super effective and stops us from getting hundreds of spots. Worth every penny.

I've never been very good with moisturiser. In Edinburgh it was generally far too cold to faff around after the shower, my skin isn't that dry really so it never really mattered that much. Obviously, it is another story here, and the Vaseline one with Aloe is my favourite thing ever. It's dirt cheap, so perfect for everyday use, and is the best consistency, smells really refreshing and is pretty much everything you could hope for. I love it. I do have fancier stuff for special occasions but the Aloe one is the first one I grab for if I've had a day in the sun and I'm feeling hot and bothered. I'm desperately hoping it's enough to stave off the 'leather' look sported by so many of the older people here 

So there you have it. My sun survival kit. Any top tips or sun essential recommendations for me?


  1. I am totally with you on the Vaseline Aloe Vera moisturiser. I keep that with me at all times and always take it on holiday to help cool down (also helps with any slight sunburn on missed spots).

    This means my #1 tip is already in your post so I have nothing more to add. I might check out that aveeno face sunscreen. At the moment I have one from sk:n but that will run out and I need to find a new one for then.

    1. My favourite thing about the Aveeno one is it just smells like summer. I'm instantly happier once I've used it. It's really not *that* expensive compared to moisturiser, when I think about it without my 'skint student' hat on.

  2. Ahhh you sound just like a California girl! Wait, no, not really. Because instead of tanning salons you are using sunscreen. Good girl! Much, much better :)

    1. I am always horrified that people here use tanning oil. One of my neighbours actually uses OLIVE OIL on her skin when out on the terrace. Her body is bronze but super wrinkly. Her face is tight as hell thanks to her (multiple) face lifts. If I start to look like that, shoot me!


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