Recently, we took the kids to the waterslides and the beach. Despite a successful day without incident at the waterslides, the day at the beach left me very red. I was itchy and achey and wanted to hug a cactus or a violent kitten if only to itch myself. I was so uncomfortable. I reached out to my friends at Metrin Skin Care and asked them for some tips.
Here’s a summary of our conversation (the answers are me paraphrasing folks much smarter than I, which will become obvious as you read):
What is the deal with all of the sun related letters? UVA/UVB? What’s the difference what do I need to worry about? How do I know what kind of sunscreen to buy to not get burnt to a crisp in the summer sun?
The SPF in sunscreens is the protection against UVB rays that burn you. UVA rays are what gives you wrinkles, leathering, sagging, and photoaging. Basically, they are both bad. Pick a sunscreen that fights both UVB and UVA rays. Fancy words on labels for this are multi-spectrum or broad spectrum.
HALP! I’m already burnt. What now?
Hydrate yourself. The sun dehydrates you – like a raisin who is supervising a small child building sandcastles. You want to be a grape, essentially. Become more like a grape by drinking lots of water. Organs like water and your skin is an organ.
Slather on after sun lotion. You’ve hydrated your inside with water, hydrate the outside with after sun lotion or after sun cream. You want fat lotion (ok, technically they said lotions high in essential fatty acids, but you know what I mean.) It helps keep the moisture in and it makes your skin more stretchy (“elasticity” for those in fancy pants, who are not getting burnt because they are wearing pants and not showing their skin). Lotions “high in essential fatty acids” aka fat lotion, works really hard. It feeds, waters and fixes your sensitive skin. Make sure to moisturize your face.
Who is “Aloe vera” and why do I need to invite her to my sunburn party? Does she bring good snacks?
Aloe vera is “Mother Nature’s best medicine for healing a sunburn”, which I guess means it’s damage control in plant form. It’s insides are cool and squishy and they are moisturizing super stars. They used a big word called “humectant” which sounds like you’ve got something caught in your throat but it actually means it draws and binds moisture to the skin (but the word still makes me want to spit, I’m sorry, it’s a gross looking word). Skin people love letters, and they said this Aloe Vera stuff has Vitamins C and E which skin needs to rejuvenate aka fix itself after I’ve made a bad choice not to sunscreen often enough.
So apparently, we really do want to invite Aloe Vera to our sunburn party, and it won’t arrive in an Uber, it will more likely come in moisturizers, lotions, toners, but we want to make sure they have a lot of Aloe Vera in it and not just a little bit. You can tell by checking the label. The highest quantity ingredient comes first (they don’t make it wait in line). You don’t want a lotion or something that makes Aloe Vera wait at the back of the line to get into your sunburn party. It needs to be up front.
Last minute sunburn party hostess note: Just like my friend Glynis goes by Rose at “the coffee shop where they wear green aprons and write your name on the cup incorrectly”, Aloe Vera sometimes also goes by Aloe Barbadensis. Vera is way easier to say than barbedensis, so consider Aloe Vera to be it’s Starbucks cup name. Barbadensis is the scientific name, like the clunky moniker your mom figured you would grow into one day. Whatever you call her, invite Aloe Vera to your sunburn party.
Tell me more about sunscreen. Physical? Chemical? What’s the diff?
Physical sunscreens block the sun’s rays and has stuff like Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide in it. It can be streaky when you apply it but your skin will probably like it better.
Chemical sunscreens soak up the sun’s rays and have stuff like Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Oxybenzone and Homosalate. Your skin might not like it as much, but it protects against UVA better than physical. Basically, it’s like skin care broccoli. Your skin is like ick but you do actually need it.
The good news is most sunscreens have a combo of both.
Let’s talk about me for a minute. You know, the chick with the sunburn. How does my METRIN use relate to all of this?
Wear sunscreen daily – even if it doesn’t look sunny outside. This is the same principle that applies when you tell your kid to go to bed AND IT’S NOT DARK OUT YET WHAT THE HECK MOM? UV rays are undeterred by clouds, which is why you get a burn even when you didn’t enjoy a sunny day. It’s like broccoli having calories. Seems unfair, but life isn’t fair sometimes, not when it comes to broccoli and sunburns. 80% of UV rays can get through clouds, the other 20% are underachievers.
I struggle with sequencing sometimes. It took me three tries to get a tank top on the other day so I clearly need explicit instructions. In this case, my skin guru says METRIN skincare system first, THEN sunscreen. Then, at the end of the day, TAKE THE SUNSCREEN OFF.
Why? The zinc and titanium dioxide are like squatters, they will sit on your skin like a couch surfing cousin who swears he will get a job but never does. The best way to get that stuff that is to use an oil based cleanser, which is handy because METRIN has USDA certified organic, cold pressed sunflower oil in it. The omega-3 and omega-6 in the oil reduces inflammation which is a fancy way of saying “makes less puffy.” Puffy shirts on Seinfeld are funny, puffy skin on me, less so. As far as the cousin on your sofa, you are on your own, but METRIN will take the sunscreen stuff off.
METRIN also has organic Aloe Vera which makes stuff less puffy and is anti-bacterial (it cleans up after itself, what an awesome sunburn party guest!) METRIN also has something called Allantoin in it which heals wounds, burns and sunburns. It works really hard and is basically going to need a nap when it’s done fixing my chest. Other things that help are vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K. All of those letters, feed, hydrate and fix your skin, and keep it stretchy like my favourite yoga pants that go with everything (don’t even try to argue that point with me YOU WILL LOSE they do go with everything.)
To summarize: There are only 4 letters in BURN and it takes many more letters to fix it, so put sunscreen on, take it off after and invite Aloe Vera to your party if you screw up and burn yourself like I did.
While the nice folks at Metrin sponsored this post, all opinions, exaggerations, anecdotes and simplistic ways of explaining things are mine. I don’t imagine they would want to take credit for me referring to Aloe Vera as a plant’s Starbucks name even if it does make sense.