4½ ways to get a sunburn
There is no point of writing an article about how to avoid getting sunburned since you, dear reader, probably think you know what to do. That’s okay, I believe you. But… since Mr. Sunburn recently started being sly with me, I thought it might be nice of me to share with you my 4½ ways to get a sunburn. Hopefully, next time you go under the sun, you’ll keep in mind what I did that worked so successfully to get charred and you’ll try to do exactly the opposite so you don’t end up red as a lobster (and so painful you can’t deal with wearing clothes). Not that I speak from experience but, yeah, I sort of heard about that from a vague friend…
1. Put on a sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or less
I always thought that I was more than in business with a SPF 30 sunscreen lotion. When I was younger, I felt so overprotected each time I went to some summer group activity with this kind of lotion. All of my friends were putting on SPF 15 or less sunscreen (if putting some at all). When I left for my trip in Mexico, I told myself: “Yay! This SPF 30 might finally be useful!” I got very disappointed from the first day: my sunscreen was as useless as it had always been. But this time, it was not because of the overprotection it gave me; it was because it didn’t protect me at all. Mummy, you were right: there is a reason for the existence of SPF 50 sunscreen. I confess that I now buy nothing under SPF 45.
2. Arrive late when going at the beach
Unless you are going to a deserted beach lined with a bunch of healthy palm trees, arriving late is always a bad idea. Shaded spots are taken very early, especially those allowing you to sit in the sand. On popular beaches, there are not many places to sit unless you want to pay for a chair like the ones you can see on the picture above (this is a beach locals like a lot in Acapulco). On my first beach day in Mexico, I was in Tulum and the shuttle of my hostel dropped me in the morning with a German couple on a deserted portion of the beach. They were taking us back in late afternoon. We first looked for some shade because the sun was particularly strong that day. The only thing we found was a poor sick palm tree in the middle of the beach. I am glad I didn’t understand German because we had to sit very close under the tree, moving around as the sun was going on its daily trajectory.
I hate wearing hats. Deeply. I always try to avoid wearing one by any way I can imagine. Each time I feel dumb and ugly because I can’t help picturing myself wearing a propeller cap! However, my disapproval about hats taught me in a rough manner that I would not win against the need of covering my head. Each time I go to a sunny place for a long time, I always tell myself: “Oh, this time I’ll be good without my hat!” I always end up buying one after I get my yearly huge lip blister due to the sun. So, this year, I’m going to buy one before I leave. You should do the same.
4. Omit wearing a shirt when bathing
You just bought that awesome bikini you are proud and excited to show to the beach crowd? Show it back on the beach under your cherished palm tree. In sunny places, most locals (especially women) bath with a shirt on. They know more than us what is right, isn’t it? It is a little bit uncomfortable, but I prefer that disagreement to the one of being so burned and painful I can’t even sleep. Choose a shirt of a clear color if you don’t want that the inside of your shirt becomes a sauna…
4½. Get lost between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM
This is fatal. You put some sunscreen on (or maybe not). You tell yourself you are just going to some place for a few minutes. You don’t have water. You might not have money on you. You obviously have no map. You don’t speak the local language and there are no street names. The first thing you know is that you are burned.