June 30, 2011

Jenny’s Notebook - Sunscreens

It’s officially been Summer for nine days now, and that means sunblock is on my mind. And on my face, arms, neck (front and back), and especially the back of my ears. Oh—and lips. Mustn’t forget the importance of SPF on the lips!

The big news is that, after four years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally provided new rules for how sunscreen products must be formulated and labeled (for one thing, it’s no longer called “sunblock). I also really liked Explaining Sunscreen and the New Rules, written by Jane Brody, of The New York Times.

Sure, I sunbathed when I was a vain teenager (in Texas, no less); we all did—applying handfuls of that coconut-scented tanning oil as though it were a life-saving potion in our endless quest for the dark tan. (A friend who also grew up in Austin once told me that she used to slather on Wesson cooking oil instead, because it was cheaper!)

Then came lupus, and overnight I became older and wiser. I still remember the children’s stares and comments the first time I swam in my health club’s outdoor pool after I was diagnosed: “Mommy, why is that lady swimming with all her clothes on and that giant hat?” Makes me laugh now to remember! I wasn’t fully dressed, but I did have on a long-sleeved shirt and a hat with a four-inch brim.

Happily, my local drugstore has its own brand of lotion with SPF 15, so that gets applied each morning, all year round. For my face, neck, and ears, I use dermatologist-tested lotion for sensitive skin that includes titanium and zinc, as well as protection against UVA and UVB, with SPF 40. And I never leave home without a hat; these days I favor a safari-style topper with a long front brim and a neck flap in back—because living in DC can be like a jungle safari sometimes!

Sun protection products are expensive, I admit, but well worth it to limit wrinkles, leathery brown skin, cracked lips and heels, and ugly sunspots on exposed skin. And in 15-20% of us with lupus, those same UV rays can lead to lupus flares. For me, the result is extreme exhaustion for the next two-three days. Not worth it—I have too much work to do here at the LFA.

I’ve considered trying the bronzers and lotions that give you that tanned look, but I keep thinking about that “Friends” episode when Ross went to get a sprayed-on tan and ended up really, really tan on just one side of his body (something about not knowing how to count to “five”!) So if any of my readers have tried these and have the successful tan to prove it, let me know!

Til then, I remain your faithful correspondent,
“Sunsafe in the City,”


~Erin~ said...

My Rheumatologist recommmended Neutrogena she said they came out with one that has 100spf... she said my spf15 was just not enough protection.

Susan said...

I've never found that any sunscreen, regardless of spf, that doesn't let the sun get in just a little bit, but I use at least spf 30, and tend toward the Coppertone sport sunscreens because I am one of those "lucky" people who sweat a lot (use regular sunscreen, and I get giant "freckles" on my face where I've sweat off the sunscreen). These also work fantastically in water. I was the only person in Maui to not get a sunburn! One tip I have is, especially when I'm in water for long periods of time, I use the sports stick around my eyes instead of the sports or other lotions, because I've found that the lotions do have residue that can make its way into your eyes, and the stick's thick consistency stays where you put it.

Ashlyn said...

Hi Jenny! Great tips! I'm writing to let you know about a new line we've launched called Patrick's Sunscreen towelettes. They're pocket-size & safe for faces - perfectly portable for easy reapplication anytime. Free shipping this week when you enter FREEDOM when you check out at www.patrickssunscreen.com
Stay safe! Best wishes!

Tammie Turner said...

When I was first digonsed last year with Lupus Nephritis, I used the Neutrogena 100 and I still tanned, but also last year I wasnt able to handle hardley any sun and NO humidty at all! This year I am better with the sun but the humidty still makes me tired but not as bad.
I would like to talk to someone else that has lupus nephritis cause I am still in the learning stages of it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny!

This is my first summer after being diagnosed with lupus so I am still getting used to be all careful with the sun (It's a pain to be all covered in sunscreen all day).
I am really white (I usually make jokes about it, saying that I am actually transparent!) so I went and buy "Faux Tan" from Bare Escentuals and it has been very effective: it is not orange and no streaks. The color last about 5 days. I just applied one layer, and another the next day so I didn't look that pail. It's good that you exfoliate good before applying it and that you wash your hands after it (some people use plastic gloves)
I have read that the best one is from clarins, called self tanning instant gel but I think it is very expensive.
Hope it helps :)
Take care!!!

lupoid said...

In Europe we don't get anything over SPF 50+ because of regulations but I use one called Uvistat with about 5% Titanium Dioxide and so far so good...