May 212012

So now that you know how to decipher the puzzling label on the sunscreen bottle, how do you know which brand  will work for you?

Thankfully, sunscreen makers have gotten really good at refining their formulas, so the days of thick white goop are over.

I am extremely picky about the sunscreen formulas I use on my face, since my skin is sensitive and prone to redness.

Here are some of my top picks for facial sunscreen.


Solar Sense Clear Zinc

This convenient stick is genius for the lips, backs of ears, cheekbones, nose or anywhere else you want to use it.  It is mild and non-irritating.


 Oil of Olay Complete Daily Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin SPF 30

This moisturizer is great as an everyday treatment.  It is light and provides non-greasy moisture to the skin.  It does not sting or burn my sensitive skin.

I do not use this at the beach or while swimming, due to the fact that it is not waterproof.  I also prefer a higher SPF if I plan to be outdoors most of the day.


La Roche Posay Anthelios XL Fluid Extreme, SPF 50

This is one of my absolute favorite facial sunscreens for the beach or outdoor sports.  The new formula is SPF 60 (this is an older bottle) and water resistant.  It has a light, almost milky texture and absorbs nicely into the skin with no greasy feel.


Elta UV Physical SPF 41, tinted formula

I just discovered this amazing product, and I find myself reaching for it almost daily.  This sunscreen contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for great broad spectrum protection.  It is a water resistant formula that has a sheer tint to even the skin tone.  It has been really soothing for my sensitive skin, and is a great replacement for makeup.

Elta UV Shield SPF 45

This is a great all-around daily sunscreen with a light yet hydrating feel.  It is quite sheer and undetectable on the skin.

Here are some other tips:

-If I am doing a morning dive, I avoid facial sunscreen and keep my skin shielded with a hat until the dives are over.  I find facial sunscreen and a dive mask to be a poor mix.  There is nothing worse that an underwater eye sting from running sunscreen.

-I always wear a hat in addition to sunscreen.

-Don’t forget the tips of your ears.  I can’t tell you how many times I have burned this neglected area (now I know better).

-While those spray mist sunscreens are nice for the body, do not spray them on your face.

-I use a sunscreen daily, even in the winter or when I will be indoors.

-Reapply your facial sunscreen often, especially after swimming.

What are your favorite sunscreens?  Do you have any tips or tricks?

May 152012

Navigating the sunscreen aisle in the drugstore can be a daunting task (kind of like me navigating my way around a hardware store).  Bottles and bottles line the shelves – all of them bearing labels with multiple promises.

There are SPFs from 4 (eek) to 100.  There are “sport” versions and spray cans – oils, creams and waterproof gels.  Now that you are thoroughly confused by all of the options, how do you really know that this potion is doing its most important job – protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays?

Here are some basic facts about sunscreen and the sun’s rays.

-There are two main types of UV rays that can affect our skin – UVA and UVB.

-UVA rays are the most prevalent.  They penetrate deep into the skin and are the cause of premature aging and wrinkles.

-UVB rays are the main cause of sunburn.

-You need a sunscreen that protects from both types of rays.  Many sunscreens have adequate UVB protection but lack adequate UVA protection.

-To ensure that your sunscreen provides UVA protection, look for one or more of the following active ingredients (for US consumers):  Avobenzone, ecamsule (also known as Mexoryl), titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

For those who are still confused (probably most of us), the US FDA has instituted new regulations for sunscreen labeling which will go into effect in December 2012 (some companies have already changed their labels).  The major components of the new labeling requirements are:

-The words “waterproof”, “sweatproof” and “sunblock” may not be used.

-The words “water resistant” may be used, however, the label must state whether the product is water resistant for 40 minutes or 80 minutes of swimming.

-The words “broad spectrum” may be used for products that have passed the FDA’s test measuring the product’s effectiveness against both UVA and UVB rays.

-The only sunscreens that may claim to reduce the chances of skin cancer and premature aging are those that offer an SPF of 15 or higher and have passed the FDA’s broad spectrum test.

In my next post I’ll let you in on some of my sunscreen secrets.

Here are some helpful links for further reading.

Skin Cancer Foundation

Q&A on FDA Guidelines

May 122012


To all of the new moms, old moms, fun moms, fearless moms, cool moms, working moms, stay at home moms, traveling moms, step-moms, grand-moms & moms-in-law,

Happy Mother’s Day!

Thanks for being you.

My Fearless Mom, Ziplining in Costa Rica

My Mother-in-Law, Snorkeling at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

May 092012

So what in the world was going in the video shown in my last post?

It’s called dune bashing, and it happens in the sands of the Arabian dessert about 30 minutes outside of Dubai.

Dune Bashing is an element of a Dessert Safari Tour, offered by several different companies based in Dubai. We chose Arabian Adventures due to their superior reputation, and we weren’t disappointed.

Dune Bashing involves four wheeling through the desert sand dunes, in 4×4 SUVs with deflated tires (there are 6-7 people per SUV).  This activity is not for the faint of heart.  As you can see in the video, it was intense.

The dune bashing part of the safari lasts about 45 minutes to 1 hour (although it was fun, I was more than ready for it to end).

Is this over yet?

After the dune bashing ends, you are mercifully taken to a beautiful spot to relax and watch the desert sunset.

Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

By now, you’ve worked up quite and appetite.  After a short drive you arrive at your home for the remainder of the evening – an enchanting desert camp in the Arabian mountains.

The apple scented aroma of shisha smoke wafts through the air, as you are offered camel rides, henna tattoos, strong Arabian coffee, drinks and appetizers.

I got a beautiful henna

Finally, a buffet style dinner was served.  I am admittedly not a huge fan of buffets, but this food was fantastic. This wasn’t your typical low grade tourist fare.  The middle eastern specialties were fresh and prepared perfectly.  I mentioned that I was a vegetarian before the tour started, and our tour guide delivered an extra plate of freshly grilled vegetables to our table (even though there were ample vegetarian options at the buffet).

Midway through dinner, the belly dancing show started.

Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

Don’t try this at home

The dancer was quite skilled in her art.

Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

While I am normally not fond of organized tours, this was a good way to experience the Arabian desert and have a fantastic meal in the process.  If you find yourself in Dubai, check out the offerings from Arabian Adventures.