Best things for staying cool in the sun at protests
June 4, 2020 3:20 PM   Subscribe

I’m in Phoenix AZ and I’m SUPER fair skinned and I overheat fairly easily. If I want to go protest (and I do!) I need A) the most kickass sunblock you know of that will NOT run into my eyes when I sweat. And B) the best cooling clothing/ice packs/whatever you can recommend. Best = stays cool for a long time. Complication: must be available via Amazon prime or other two-day delivery because I’m not going into a store with Covid happening. Thanks!

(I will drink lots of water, I promise. And follow all other best practices for protesting. This question is about which cooling products you recommend.)
posted by Weeping_angel to Shopping (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If you care more about being cool than about looking cool, you could try one of these cool jaw wraps. Get extra gel packs, fill up the sleeve with them, freeze them, then wear it as a headband (so, not touching your jaw). They come in black, but that color will absorb more heat.

You can also get the gel packs and make your own headband pocket holder out of a better fabric, or just make something so that you can wear it around your neck.

They are sold on Amazon also, but sometimes it's quicker (and usually better) to order directly from the manufacturer.
posted by amtho at 3:29 PM on June 4, 2020

I almost brought an umbrella with me to the memorial for George Floyd today in Brooklyn. There were others who followed through.

Bonus, if you write on it it doubles as a sign.

Double bonus, if you’ve followed HK protests you know they can be repurposed as shields (I believe I saw Seattle protestors sending umbrellas to police lines over the last few days).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 3:34 PM on June 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

This is my go to sunscreen for surfing and other exercise.
posted by doctord at 3:37 PM on June 4, 2020

You could travel to the sun with this stuff on. Make sure to use a lot more than you think you need and spend a few minutes rubbing it in. If while rubbing it in you don’t have a moment of panic where you think you’ve used way too much and will spend the day looking like Pennywise, you haven’t used enough. The white cast fades in 20-30 minutes, but it won’t look perfect. Because it’s all mineral, it won’t sting your eyes.

Don’t forget a hat with a brim that goes all the way around and maybe even something that covers the neck as well. Here’s one with a (surely non-medical grade) face mask built in.
posted by defreckled at 3:40 PM on June 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

I am as white as possible, and I took Blue Lizard with me to the Keys and I didn't burn. But I did reapply, so keep that in mind.
posted by Medieval Maven at 3:43 PM on June 4, 2020

It's possible to have this conversation without emphasizing how "white" or fair-skinned we are; talking about how extra lily white one's skin is just contributes to colorism as well as racism. You may think it's self deprecating, but it's not. It's possible to say "I sunburn easily" without humble-braggedly referencing skin color.

That being said, the best sunblock I have found is Supergoop (no relation to the notorious Goop, fortunately). Their "Unseen Sunscreen" is a gel that goes on clear and doesn't leave a residue. You can buy it from them directly or through Sephora.
posted by nightrecordings at 3:52 PM on June 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: My apologies. I only meant it to emphasize my need for high spf sunscreen. I did not intend it as a humbled brag or to be self deprecating. I won’t use that terminology any more. Please assume good intentions and I’ll do the same.
posted by Weeping_angel at 3:56 PM on June 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'd definitely suggest wearing (buying if you don't have it already) a long-sleeved, lightweight, light-colored cotton t-shirt or linen blouse. The advantage of a button up is that a collar will protect the back of your neck too. You should probably still wear sunscreen on your arms, but the sleeves will give you some extra SPF protection (and any cotton or linen shirt should do).

In addition to whatever mask you'll be wearing, you might bring extra in case it gets hot/soaked through with sweat (this is the part that seems like it will be the worst).

I have a neck cooler along these lines that's helpful. In theory a wet bandana around your neck should work the same way, but on a hot, dry day, it will dry too fast to be helpful. The neck coolers do stay wet a long time.

I also sunburn and overheat quite easily. I asked a question here a few years ago about keeping cool on summer bike rides, and you might find some of the suggestions helpful.

A few tips I've learned from that thread and other places:
Make sure you are well hydrated the day before.

Instead of bringing water to drink, bring water mixed with an electrolyte tab, and bring some extra tabs to add to water. A big part of overheating for me is dehydration, but I could drink a lot of water and still be dehydrated. Using electrolytes (via tabs or gatorade or whatever) has been a huge help.

Freeze a water bottle or two, preferably a squeeze one, the night before. You can then use the frozen water bottle as a cooling device. As the water melts, poor it on your head and neck and wrists (spots where the blood is close to the surface).

The umbrella suggestion is a good one and might help with social distancing.

Also, if there are cooling stations or spray areas, walk through them even if you don't feel super hot.

And, if you do start to feel warm, go ahead and find some sun and consider heading home because you're not helping anyone if you pass out from heat exhaustion in a protest.

(Also, in response to your comment about good intentions: I think the person did assume good intentions; they also were helpful in educating you - and me, to be honest! - about how that language might sound to others. Someone commenting on language that sounds insensitive doesn't mean they think you have bad intentions. Quite the contrary.)
posted by bluedaisy at 4:04 PM on June 4, 2020 [8 favorites]

Sometimes people sunburn easily because of antibiotics or other causes. It's possible that remedies could vary based on the cause. To my knowledge, they do not, but honestly I'm not sure and probably the OP wasn't sure. Explaining why one is asking a question is a good way to assure that one gets more helpful answers than unhelpful answers. This didn't sound like a humble-brag at all, just clarification; I'm having a hard time imagining how to express that clarification without using some word or phrase that either seems to make fun of, trivialize, or over-emphasize skin color differences. Not saying it can't be done, but maybe not succinctly.

Weeping_angel: if you don't already have an aloe plant, and if you have enough sun to grow one, I suggest getting a nice big one ASAP. The gel is great for healing any kind of mild burn, and hey, it's a plant, they're nice.
posted by amtho at 4:06 PM on June 4, 2020 [4 favorites]

I sunburn easily and I am from the southwest, so I’ve got a lot of experience with desert sun. This is my go-to sunscreen. It stays put and doesn’t feel slippery. It’s also cheap and easy to find online.
posted by heurtebise at 4:09 PM on June 4, 2020

Can I recommend an umbrella and/ or a big big floppy sunhat? I don't burn super easily but I definitely find physical shade on my face and shoulders can make a big difference. My brother is ginger, with all the sun-burning that comes with that, and always has his shoulders covered outside in the sun, even at the beach.

I use a mineral, physical sunscreen because it won't break down over time, although it can rub off. Plus it will hopefully do less damage to coral. I like Badger sunscreen, but it is pretty thick and possibly better for the body than the face if you have oily skin.
posted by stillnocturnal at 4:56 PM on June 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

This didn't sound like a humble-brag at all, just clarification

For added context, there's a trope in online skincare where white people roll in looking for foundation and other skin products, while bemoaning how INSANELY! IMPOSSIBLE!! it is to find a match for their EXTREMELY! PROFOUNDLY!! white skin. At best, those posts come across as tone-deaf ("pale" is hard? try "literally not white"), not to mention white-valorizing. Now, that's not what happened here. I didn't see OP as humblebragging, even subconsciously*. But any skin cream post that mentions paleness pings me.

(*People from white families/areas often assume "paleness talk" is actually self-deprecatory, since until recently, it was A Thing for white people to rag fellow whites who couldn't, or wouldn't, get a "healthy" tan. Thanks for pointing out why this kind of thing actually isn't great, nightrecordings.)

That's not to say skin tone is never relevant in discussions about sunscreen. If someone is brown/black, they may want sunscreen that won't look chalky on their skin. If someone is white, I also see nothing wrong with a note about their melanin situation; saves another poster coming in with their trusty Black Girl Sunscreen links, etc. (A company local to me! Consider supporting!) "SUPER fair" strikes me as overkill, and we need to consider how we phrase these things as white people. So as a fellow insta-burner, OP, I just wanted to share my experiences with cream/lotion talk vis-a-vis whiteness.

To your main point: I don't bother with sunscreen. It's no match for good clothing, or a parasol. (Try attaching your protest sign on top of the parasol for convenience.) I usually wear lightweight white/khaki camping clothes, with long sleeves and pantlegs, plus a hat with either enormous brims, or a desert hat a face brim and neck protection. I stay out of direct sun as much as possible, even if that means, "Awkwardly following a tall person." I continually apply sunscreen to the backs of my hands, but that's it.

Be sure to take electrolyte tablets for your water, too! If you'll be sweating a lot, it's always a good idea, but for the heat-sensitive they are special magic. I never go out in the beating sun without nuuns, etc.
posted by desert outpost at 5:37 PM on June 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

Physically blocking the sun with an umbrella/parasol, wide-brimmed hat, and clothing is definitely the best way to not get burned. And luckily being in a dry environment you have some latitude for wearing comfy clothes even in hot weather. But exposed skin can still burn from reflected light if you are outside for long enough, and if whatever you're wearing has a loose weave the sun can go through to some extent. So do apply sunblock even if you're under an umbrella or wide hat!

A note on mineral sunblocks (containing zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide) vs chemical sunblocks: I find that the mineral sunblocks don't sting my eyes when I sweat like the chemical blocks do.
posted by theory at 6:34 PM on June 4, 2020

they say water- or alcohol-based sunscreen is indicated for protests because it doesn't interfere with washing tear gas out of your eyes, which is guaranteed to sting most of all. so whichever sunscreen rec you go with, check the inactive ingredient list to make sure it's not oil-based.

they also say full sleeves & long trousers are better than sunscreen for sun protection in protests, again because of tear gas. this is obviously less and less practical the hotter it gets. and I hear good things about umbrellas as both sun protection & improvised defense against chemical sprays.

this is not the place nor the crowd for a lecture on amazon's worker-treatment practices; suffice it to say it is more or less impossible to square them with covid awareness. you might hire someone to run to a store for you, a single trip would put them at less risk than a warehouse worker & would also give you a better shot at getting the item on time than any delivery promise/estimate could.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:46 PM on June 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Gold Bond medicated powder is cooling (menthol) and good for drying and relieving sweaty/chafey areas like bra bands and thigh meat. Comes in sample sizes at most pharmacies so you could stash it and use to freshen up.
posted by kapers at 8:45 PM on June 4, 2020

Riemann P50 sunscreen in SPF 50. Takes a while to get because it ships from abroad, but lasts for 8 hours.
posted by medusa at 8:46 PM on June 4, 2020

I have an Ex Officio shirt that has a weirdly cooling effect, and here's one of their long sleeved shirts on Amazon that says it has the same effect with an SPF of 50. Not cheap, but if it's too much maybe related items would be a good starting point?
posted by foxfirefey at 9:34 PM on June 4, 2020

Electrolytes. If you just drink water, you'll end up feeling depleted (and some people get migraines). You can get electrolyte tablets from sports stores, outdoor stores like REI, and a few other places.

This brand comes in little paper packets of 2 each, so they're easy to carry and share.
posted by amtho at 9:54 PM on June 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Uniqlo AIRism is more for Japan's humid heat, but generally is just comfy and so light you can barely feel it. They have UV-protection hoodies in male and female versions, and wide-legged trousers from the same fabric.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 2:26 AM on June 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

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