I spent last week in Sandbridge Beach, Virginia, and as I mentioned I am not a real beach guy. While I did make the most of the beach, the pool, long hikes, a few runs, and enough volleyball to bruise my arms, I realized what I really hated about the beach...chemically gooey stuff all over me!
Basically, I hate sunscreen and bug spray. I was lathered in both for a week, and I was a little dismayed to find out that heat indices back home were at all time highs. No escape!
Disclaimer: I make no claims that the advice/prevention below will work for you. Everyone has different tolerances for chemicals and different skin tones. Consult with your doctor before even going outside. The following is just what has worked for me so far. Skin cancer is nothing to joke about, so taking prevention seriously and getting checked regularly is the best advice I can give.
Yesterday, we talked about going out at the right time of day, but today we are going to tackle going out in the sun. Maybe it is a race, a ride with friends, or just the only time you can get out. How can you be smart in the sun? First off, use the weather app to see the UV index for when you will be out. Dark Sky shows this pretty nicely. This page will tell you what the UV index means and what precautions you need to take.
Most dermatologists recommend that you use at least 50 SPF, and some have said that 50 or 70 is about all you need. It blocks out 97% of the UV. You also want to look at whether the sunblock is broad spectrum or not. I am told it makes a difference and that the FDA closely monitors claims on sunblocks. This is good to know. That said, they no longer allow products to say they are sweat proof or waterproof. They simply aren't. If you are out for more than two hours, you need to reapply.
Be especially aware of exposed areas and make sure you apply fully and reapply after two hours. I use a basic 50 SPF for my neck, legs, hands, and arms (see option 2 below), but I use a 70 SPF for my face and nose. I like cream sunblocks as opposed to sprays, but your mileage may vary. I find that sport or baby sunblock seems to work really well. These usual don't get runny and are less likely to get in your eyes. I like the cream because I know where it is going on and can keep it out of the eyes and mouth unlike the spray variety.
I buy whatever sport or baby sunblock is cheapest, but I would buy Blue Lizard or Neutrogena if I had my choice. I recently used a stick sunscreen on my face while at the beach, and it was pretty cool. Stayed in place really well.
If you have thin hair, are bald, or light haired, make sure you get some sunscreen on that skin. Not only is your scalp going to look stupid with your helmet's vent pattern burned into it, but your scalp is very sensitive. Be careful. I have two plans of attack for my balding dome, use the highest SPF block you have or wear a cap (or skull cap) under your helmet. I hate the idea of sunscreen in the eyes, so I opt for the cap most of the time.
While a cap may block UV on your head, using material in place of sunblock is also a good approach. Sun blocking arm sleeves are readily available on Amazon, and they do a great job. I have yet to buy a pair that hasn't done the job, and I prefer them to using sunblock. I find them to be cooling as well, and yesterday on a 85 degree midday ride, I felt cool all ride, with only a little sunblock on my legs and face. The sleeves and cap keep me protected and much more comfortable. When my sleeves are clean, I usually opt to use them instead of sunblock on my arms. I just ordered 5 more pairs for less than $15 on Amazon.
Here is a quick video to show you how to wrap these up nicely to take with you before sunrise or to pack away once the sun goes down.
Another clothing tip I utilize is to wear light colored jerseys with a white base layer. I made a really conscious effort to wear team (Campus) or BBC (local club) kit this year. In fact, I have a bag of barely used jerseys in the closet. Hit me up if you want some.... However, the problem is that these kits are either black or navy blue!
I keep three jerseys for really hot days. All are white or light green Pearl Izumi jerseys. When it is really smoking hot outside, I wear one of these, and I feel they make a difference. Be careful as some summer weight jerseys require a little sunblock underneath them. Several of those fancy climber's jersey wearing folks have come back from rides pretty burned up.
A base layer also helps wick moisture away from the skin and will cool you in hot temperatures. I know that many people shed their base layers in the summer, but I for one wear one almost religiously. I picked up a handful of short sleeve Adidas Climacool layers at the outlet for about $7 a piece, and I would have bought five more had I been smarter. If money were no option, I would be clad in Craft USA's new base layers. They make great stuff.
It seems obvious, but your eyes are pretty important. In the summer, always wear a quality lens that is appropriate for the time of day and UV Index. I have a pair of Oakley Road Prizm Lenses that I like a lot, but also run a few pairs of fake Oakleys. I had my optometrist check the lenses after reading about some problems with cheap shades. These were fine. Make sure your sunglasses are blocking UV effectively in addition to protecting your eyes from debris.
So, make sure you are covered when the sun is beating down on you this summer.