Vampire summer: A pale girl’s guide

OOTD: At the effing park with kids.  Gladiators, Banana Republic; dress, Forever21; hat, not quite sure… Coffee, never enough.

I don’t do well in heat.  Like rash/barf not well.  I burn in 10 minutes and no, it does not turn into a “base tan” whatever the fuck that is.  I burn, peel, freckle, and die.

But yet, in what appears to be some kind of cycle, summer is here again.  Yea.

It’s not that I hate the beach.  I love it.  I love the idea of gardening, barbecuing, all that shit.  But I seriously can’t have that much sun.  I’ve put together my summer suffering survival set (alliteration, niccccce) for you pale ladies.





You already know you gotta use SPF every day always always.  It’s not about the cancer it’s the WRINKLES people.  There are two kinds of SPF– chemical and physical.  Physical blockers like titanium dioxide literally sit on your skin like a roof and rays don’t make it to your skin. Chemical is just what it sounds like– there’s been a lot of improvement with these in the past decade but the smell  and feel of chemical sunscreen is unbearable to me. If you can handle smelling like a DuPont factory drainage pipe, go for it.

Physical block works.  It really really does.  And it smells like nothing.  And it’s not greasy. And won’t make you break out. Here are my go-to’s:

Everyday face– Arcona Reozone          

Available at Nordstrom

I’ve chased friends around with tubes of this trying to get them to understand how great it is.  I wear it every single day and can’t remember the last time I burnt my face. It’s odorless, absorbs like a second skin, and has a slight tint (because physical blockers can be chalky) that is light enough to work with my fish-belly coloring. I’m obsessed.  I buy it in bulk.

Big time sun requires another layer. If you’re going to be at altitude, by water, or out for more than a few hours casually, layer LaRoche Posay over the Arcona.  It’s good for the ears, back of neck and chest too– where skin in thin and gets extra mad about being burnt.

For covering my body, that vast expanse of mummy flesh, I will sometimes have to use a chemical sunscreen (because using an entire $50 bottle of sunscreen in one go is not economically feasible).  Neutrogena and L’Oreal make decent spray versions that are not overly stinky. I just found a physical blocker spray Bare.

Purchased at Target for like $15, br_6.0oz_sprays_sport_web_res-300x300so about twice what you pay for a bottle of L’Oreal, but the Bare smells like happiness and isn’t gloppy or gloopy.  I haven’t tested it at the beach yet, so I can’t tell you how it fares during a long day.  For gardening, it was fine.

Don’t forget side-boob, low back, and back of knees.  Those are the killers.


A big one.  Preferably one that can be smooshed into a bag.  Mine has a wire rim so I can mold it into shapes, which means I can lean my head back without dislodging.

A rashgard or sunshirt.

Okay okay, not the sexiest thing out there but being covered in heat rash is extra not sexy.  Recently the market has seen more fashionable options spring up so you can find one that’s more cool girl than grandma.  Old Navy, J.Crew, and Net-a-Porter are just a few places to find them, obvs with different price points…


Self tanner.

I will never have glorious golden legs.  I do however like to reduce the glare off my legs in the summer– just a little– so I don’t scare people. Self-tanners have their own pitfalls (one very fancy one turned my legs and hands swamp green for a week) but used in moderation, they will work for even the palest.  Jergens gradual tanner is popular for a good reason (the Target brand works just as well BTW).

If you going to Miami or something and willing to spend a stupid amount of money on self-tanning schemes, Kate Sommerville’s tanning toweletts are crazy good.  And crazy expensive.  But  people actually told me my legs looked– tan.  Not orange or swampy, not streaky or slimy or Dopey or Sneezy.  Tan. I spent a lot of time staring at my legs that week. It was like when I was nursing and finally had boobs– transitory, but all the more fascinating because of it.

Had I coordinated the arrival of temporary boobs and the tan legs, I would have been unstoppable!!!

See you on the beach (I’ll be under the umbrella with a beer and a magazine and hopefully these guys…).

Portlandia (with Danzig!)





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