Sunscreen and Hats - Necessary Evils

the blazing sun  

Having been off the boat for so long and in cooler climates, we have to remember to use sunscreen and wear hats before we head out for a walk or work on deck. Conveniently placed on a salon shelf, we now have a liter jug of sunscreen with a pump and it's becoming a habit to slather some on before heading out. We also hang our hats on a hook near the ladder, so they're easy to grab.

I do not like sunscreen nor hats, but I've found that both are necessary evils. There's nothing worse than taking a shower and feeling squeaky clean, then smearing yourself with greasy, white sunscreen. Add a little bug repellent and you smell and feel as if you'd never taken a shower. Now, put on a hat to add sweaty hat hair to the mix and you've really got a look. The alternatives, however, are more unpleasant. Nothing like a good burn with bug bites to enhance your daily enjoyment quotient. If the burn happens to be your scalp, it's even worse.


liter jug of sunscreen


If you wear make-up, it's pretty nasty putting sunscreen on over it. I've found that some make-up has its own SPF (sun protection factor) component to it, but it's so low, it's pretty ineffective. Luckily, we cruiser girls usually opt not to wear make-up, so it's a non-issue. Instead, I've become inured to the greasy sheen provided by a thick layer of sunscreen all over my face, ears and extremities. I tend to think of it as my daily moisturizer.

Sunscreen in Boston, Massachusetts, though necessary at the beach or while hiking, is not half as important in the northern hemisphere as it is in the southern hemisphere where we tend to crisp up in minutes. Heading on a short walk to the supermarket on a sunny day, we sometimes feel as if we were burning within minutes after we've left the boat. We've learned to return to Cups to get bigger brimmed hats and more sunscreen if we start to experience that sizzling feeling.


australian schoolkids in hat


It's that “hole in the ozone”, closer-to-the-sun-in-summer down here that causes the problem. School kids in Australia are required to wear sun hats or they can't go outside for midday recess. In South Africa, I remember they announced a “burn factor” on the radio each day to remind folks that wearing sunscreen was so imperative. Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, with two in three Australians developing some form of skin cancer before they reach the age of 70. That's serious.

Australia health officials recommend:

Slip – on sun-protective clothing. Make sure it covers as much skin as possible.

Slop – on SPF (sun protection factor) 30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen. Apply 20 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two hours.

Slap – on a broad-brimmed hat that protects the face, head, neck and ears.

Seek – shade.

Slide – on wrap-around sunglasses that meet sun protection standards.


total block


Our Peruvian friend, Gonzalo, works for a company that manufactures an SPF 100 sunscreen that's non-greasy and doesn't smell. It is not currently available for sale in the States nor in Australia unfortunately. He sent us a supply before we left the States. We keep it in our backpack and we're finding it a godsend.