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Cruising Towards No Tan

By caseymullins |

Pasty, Fair, Skin Cancer Free

When it comes to certain activities, there’s no hiding from the sun. Being on a boat, near water or on a cruise is one of those times that getting away from sunshine isn’t really what you’re there for. Sunshine, sand and water is one of the very reasons so many families choose cruise vacations. I don’t want to rain on your sunny Caribbean getaway, but as a fair skinned girl from a family with an extensive history of skin cancer, I’m here to help you out with a few sun tips and tricks.  It may help you to review before you’re burning on a boat or away from the convenience of  products you need the most.

I know, I know, most of this will be old news to you. But I can promise you that once you’re out having fun? You’re going to forget at least one thing and end up a very sad (and possibly red) person. One of my goals for my girls and me this summer is to end it without a single tan line. (Well, burn line in my case, let’s be honest. I don’t tan. Never have, never will.)

  • Water reflects the sun. I learned this when I spent a day on a boat and ended up with the most INSANE sunburn under my chin, ears, nose and ON MY EYEBALLS. If you’ve never sunburned your eyeballs, it’s every bit as horrible as you can imagine. The bigger the sunglasses the better, and when it comes time to apply sunscreen, leave no nook unslathered.
  • It takes time for sunscreen to settle in and form a protective barrier with your skin. Plan on applying a full coat at least 20-30 minutes before heading out, otherwise you’ll be left unprotected for the first little while (it only takes minutes to burn) which defeats the whole purpose of putting sunscreen on in the first place.
  • I have the most ridiculous floppy sun hat. It’s SPF 50 and it goes out past my face, shoulders and most of my back. People made fun of my floppy sun hat until I made it a whole summer by the pool with nary a tan line, burn or fresh freckle. Buy one, use it, love it. Same goes for your family, hats should not be optional when you’re spending days out under the sun.
  • Sunscreen expires and breaks down in heat. I realize you bought that giant bottle two summers ago but here’s the thing. a) Sunscreen breaks down and loses potency after about a year. b) If you still have that giant bottle leftover, you probably weren’t using enough to begin with. It’s going to take at least a shot glass full (or palm full) to cover your body properly. It’s barely June and we’ve already burned through 3 tubes. You’d be better off keeping sunscreen in your purse than in a hot car; heat breaks down sunscreen. If you’re going to buy it and go to the trouble of actually applying it, you may as well store it properly. The FDA has also changed the language sunscreen makers are allowed to use, so if you have an old bottle it may not be telling you the whole story as to what it really protects from.
  • My daughter hates having sunscreen applied to her face, so I use a thicker zinc oxide sunscreen and makeup sponge. It makes the whole process slightly more bearable.
  • Spray sunscreens, while effective, aren’t the best for little kids. It’s suggested that when using spray sunscreen on kids to spray it on your hand first and then apply it, in that case you may as well just put the classic lotion on them. If you use a spray sunscreen on yourself, apply before heading out, spread it evenly, allow it to dry and reapply just to make sure you’re truly covered.
  • Sunscreen doesn’t have to smell nasty, feel gross or go on with difficulty. Have you SEEN how many sunscreen options there are out there? I realize it’s tempting to buy the cheap stuff but if you hate putting it on you’re less likely to use it, and y’all…skin cancer is expensive and pretty gross. Many drugstores have buy-one-get-one-free specials on sunscreens throughout the summer.  When you find one you like, stock up and get into the habit of using it. I just found a new kind that boasts an SPF 30 (the recommended minimum now for daily wear) and it smells like delicious coconuts, and goes on without feeling like I rolled around in sludge.
  • Have you heard of SunGaurd? It’s a laundry additive that makes the everyday clothes you wear into clothing with an SPF 30 protection for up to 20 washes. A lot of us slack and don’t put sunscreen on our whole bodies when the truth is the sun is a sneaky bugger and can seep through clothes, windows and even clouds. Turning your clothes into an extra layer of protection for your whole family before heading out on a cruise is a great idea.
  • Before you leave on your cruise, stock up on your favorite sunscreen so you’re not subject to what’s available (or high prices.) And as motivation to use it? The more you use the more space you have for souvenirs!

We all forget sunscreen sometimes, but the sooner you make applying sunscreen a habit, the less sunburns you’ll have later on. I’ve made an effort to find sunscreens that I enjoy using that work, which makes it that much less of a hassle to use them. Just like makeup, there’s thousands of options, but once you find one that works, you’re all set.

Do you have a favorite sunscreen tip?


A big thanks to Norwegian Cruise Line for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.

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About caseymullins



Casey Mullins is a writer, photographer, and nice person living in Indianapolis with her two little girls, husband, and a one eyed cat. She writes regularly at her personal blog moosh in indy and can be found trolling local bakeries and napping whenever possible. Read bio and latest posts → Read Casey's latest posts →

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22 thoughts on “Cruising Towards No Tan

  1. Chelsea says:

    That SunGuard stuff sounds so neat! I burn so easy, but that sounds like such a high-tech way to save my skin!

  2. Shannon says:

    I’m like you Casey! I have very fair skin and burn so easily. Thanks for these tips! They’re all necessary precautions. I had not heard of SunGuard…I’m going to look into it

  3. Melissa says:

    These are great tips – I got burned at the beach yesterday, and all because I forgot to pack sunscreen. Worst mistake ever.

  4. Amy says:

    My kids HATE wearing sunscreen, it’s so much effort to get them to the beach or pool safely!! I love that makeup sponge tip, I will definitely try that out so maybe we will all be burn-free this summer!!

  5. Heather says:

    Great advice!! I forgot to pack sunscreen for a cruise once and the prices are outrageous!! Not really something you can avoid buying, but it’s great to remember a kind you like!

  6. Cynthia says:

    I can’t believe it’s possible to burn your eyeballs!!!! I usually aim for a light tan every summer (I’m sorry but it just looks better!), but you may have just scared me into sunscreening up this year!

  7. Stephanie Judith says:

    Soo glad you mentioned the hat!! I think people think sunglasses are fine for when they’re out in the sun and a hat is just a great accessory but honestly, I’m such a hat person too and it REALLY makes a huge difference. I’m not fair-skinned and don’t really burn easily but it’s just as important for people like me, but people don’t get it. Thanks for the great post!

  8. Carol Ann says:

    These are really great tips, and I’ve never heard of SunGuard! I’ll have to look into that! It will really help with the kiddos. They’re definitely not easy to wrangle in every time it’s time to reapply. Thanks!

  9. Jolene says:

    I’ve never heard of SunGuard but it sounds amazing! One batch should keep my kids’ clothes protective all summer– can’t wait to try it!

  10. Rosie says:

    Yikes, I didn’t realize sunscreen could go bad! I have a bottle from last year that definitely needs to go. Thanks for the tips!

  11. dierdra says:

    The makeup sponge is such a good idea! My kids always squirm when i go to put sunscreen on their faces, and it turns into a much bigger mess than it needs to…not anymore!

  12. Bianca says:

    Wow, i’ve never heard of the SunGuard stuff before, but just bought some at the store today! This will definitely make our summer activities a bit more carefree!

  13. Diana says:

    The makeup sponge is an amazing idea. I always end up poking my kid in the eye while trying to apply it or blasting everyone around me with excess sunscreen from spraying it.

  14. cici says:

    Thanks for writing about this. I also have a history of skin cancer in my family and have already had to have a few suspicious pre-cancerous moles removed. The makeup sponge application tip is brilliant, and I didn’t know you could sunburn your eyeballs. Eeks! My tip: Set a timer on your phone to remind you to reapply sunscreen on every active outdoor day of your life, whether you’re on a cruise or gardening or whatever.

  15. Molly says:

    I get each of my family members a new hat each summer and a mini bottle of sunscreen to go in their purse/backpack/diaper bag. I never want anyone to be without.

  16. Marie says:

    Oooo, sunburns are the worst. These are great tips because every time I think I’m immune to the sun and skip the sunscreen, I always get bitten by the hot read sunburn.

  17. MrsK says:

    I use a zinc based lotion on my girl and myself and we slather it on before we even put our suits on. And reapply liberally. Also, not just on summer and beach days but also on those bright snowy days too!

  18. Mary Cait says:

    I am the PALEST of the pale, and I slather on the sunscreen but somehow a tiny spot always escapes me. I’ve had the weirdest sunburns – finger marks from rubbing in sunscreen on my back, backs of legs, the part of my hair, you name it… I need to get a hat like yours!

  19. emily says:

    I need to get a cool floppy hat for the sun this summer. That’s one thing I don’t have yet.

  20. Just Heather says:

    I am the WORST at remembering sunscreen. I’m always so busy slathering the girls, I kinda forget about myself. Expired sunscreen will never be an issue, though. We go through several bottles every summer.

  21. laurenjimeson says:

    These are great tips! The SunGuard sounds great. Not just for a cruise, but for anytime during the summer months. I am usually pretty good about putting sunscreen on my daughters, but not myself. I really need to get better with that!

  22. casi says:

    The SunGuard sounds amazing — never heard of it before! And now you reminded me I need a cute sun hat. Great tips!

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