Friday, August 22, 2014

Block Those Rays

I remember several years ago when I first realized that it was important to me to protect myself from the sun. I wigged out when I took a closer look at sunscreen ingredients:

After last week's jaunt into the desert and sunshine, it's obvious that my photosensitive skin that has been lulled into submission by the Pacific Northwest's cloudy winter is re-emerging and is cranky as heck. 
I need to get serious about using sunscreen. Every day. No excuses. Or I'll find myself dealing with a repeat of last summer's ridiculously difficult splotch/hive episode. 
So I'm on a quest to find a sunscreen that effectively blocks both UVA and UVB radiation, yet isn't laden with chemicals that could potentially create more problems than it prevents. As with most of my quests lately, this is proving to be a very complicated process. 
Nothing is simple in Julia Land.
Too true. It wasn't simple. Soon after writing this post, I embarked on a mission to find a safe, natural and effective sunscreen. After realizing what a difficult task that was, I gradually decided that I would use a commercially produced one but sparingly.

How times have changed.

These days, I buy gallons of this:

You can buy your very own here. Be sure to choose the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation as a charitable donation recipient on Amazon Smile. 

I apply it generously and often and on any part of my body that may have a chance of seeing sunlight. I swear if it were possible, I'd take a bath in this stuff.

It amazes me how incredibly sensitive my subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosis rash is to sunlight. A few days ago, I had meticulously applied lotion sunblock to my face and neck, but forgot to use the spray version to cover my arms and legs. I hopped into the car feeling smug and all UV protected, especially since I was wearing my hat and good sunglasses. But I let my left arm propped on the open window, which meant that where my 3/4 sleeve shirt left off, my unprotected skin began.

Later that day, I was irritated to see new lupus lesions beginning on my forearm. It took a minute or two to realize that I had forgotten a very important step this morning. Good grief. I think I was only in the car for about an hour, but what an effect that hour had on my arm.

I tend to use the Neutrogena products because they're unscented and seem to stick around on my skin longer than other products. (Wish I were reimbursed in some way for saying that, but dang. Nope.)

You can read more about sunscreens and photo protection here and here.

What's your favorite sunblock?


Nancy Joyce said...

Sunscreens irritate my skin- as soon as the heat of the sun hits my sunscreened skin it feels like pins pricking me, I end up with hives. I avoid sunscreen, but love warm vacations so the search for the "perfect for me" sunscreen continues. Does anyone else have this problem, have you found a product that works? Will Neutregena sunscreen not hurt my sensitive skin?

annie said...

This is the product I use as recommended to me by my dermatologist. A few years ago I had a melanoma removed from my arm ( a beauty spot that grew irregular, but was still small), and have been very diligent in using sunscreen when outdoors. I'm terrified of getting skin cancer.

I've asked my dermatologist if the melanoma was due to an immune problem or sjogren's, but he couldn't say. No one in my family has had skin cancer, and I have never been one to lie about in the sun to sunbathe, so how does one get melanoma?

Anonymous said...

This is not a very helpful comment--but might be worth a chuckle. When I asked my dermatologist which sunscreen to use, she tapped me roughly on the arm and replied, "You are very fair--you don't need to go outside". :-) Thanks so much!

LM said...

Every sunscreen I've ever tried breaks me out. I've tried 'natural' varieties, chemical laden varieties, it just doesn't seem to matter. So, I guess I have to live with the break-outs to prevent feeling terrible. I too use Neutrogena for sensitive skin on my face and I use Target UP&UP Sport spray screen on my legs, arms, etc. It was rated best sunscreen by Consumer Reports, so I tried it. It does work well. I've never had a sunburn while wearing it, though it is full of chemicals. I can tell you I am looking forward to fall. We've had a pretty nice Summer, but the heat and sun just drain me. Fall and Spring are much easier on me.

Anonymous said...

I've also had good luck with Neutrogena products, but my favorite sunscreen to use when I'm at the beach is Super Goop...I buy it on Amazon & it's expensive but it really works & doesn't aggravate my skin at all. I believe they sell sample sizes so you could try it & see if it works for you...good luck!

Christina said...

I use Vanicream. Typically used for people who can't use any others. My son who is allergic to sunscreen can use Vanicream. I use it because it has no scent and is the only one that doesn't make me itch.

Kelly said...

I like the Neutrogena and also CeraVe, but honestly, if I'm out in the intense hot sun it doesn't seem to matter if I've applied sunscreen or not, I get an ugly rash on my lower legs. In fact when I first got the rash I thought it was an allergy to sunscreen. So my preference is, like you, to do things early or late and avoid the worst of the sun in the middle of the day. Thank heavens for air-conditioning.