It’s perennial graduation-time advice. And now it turns out to be even more complicated than it was before. The FDA has just emerged with new guidelines that shake up everything we thought we knew about the arts of SPF.
Apparently, I have been going about the application of sunscreen all wrong. You are, according to the FDA, expected to lather your entire body with a golf-ball-shaped amount of sunscreen. Instead, I have been — not putting on sunscreen at all, except on rare occasions where I spell obscene words on the backs of slumbering sunbathers. Yes, I know that when I age my skin will have all the resilience and elasticity of a post-liposuction elephant. But for the moment, I have a great tan! And this mole vaguely resembles the Bay of Pigs!
Applying sunscreen is like flossing — something you wish you had done but never want to do. It is oily. It gets into your eyes so that you spend the rest of the afternoon inadvertently winking at old men with whom you are not personally acquainted. Applying it is the sort of thing that you feel is best left to professionals, and as there are never any professionals on hand, you sort of swipe it vaguely on the bridge of your nose and emerge at the end of the day looking more than usually like a lobster.
And the FDA would naturally come out with such an announcement right when summer is scheduled to start. Do they want to trap me indoors for the next three months? Perhaps. That might be best for all concerned.
I know only two people who apply sunscreen well and consistently, and whenever they emerge in public they are mistaken for vampires. “You sparkle,” strange teens tell them, approaching with widened eyes. “Please, bite me, I have been reading a lot of sensational tween literature.”
But I can’t help feeling a little vindicated. It turns out that all those bottles that claimed they were “waterproof” and “sweatproof” were bottles of lies. According to the FDA, “sweatproof” and “waterproof” sunscreen, like true and lasting love, is not the sort of thing you can promise at the outset.
For people like me who tend toward the Raisin in the Sun approach to skin care rather than the Pale! Fire! side, it’s good to know that those bottles have been lying to my more scrupulous compatriots all this time. And more than 100 SPF turns out to be essentially meaningless! I’m practically glowing with triumph — or possibly I ought to seek some shade.
But where do we go from here? Whom can we trust? What about the nanoparticles?
I would throw in the towel, but the towel was acting as a critical sun-shade.
Maybe I’d better just stay indoors.