One of the first things I did when I got to Australia was make a bet with C about if I would get sunburned this trip. As always, I was determined for it not to happen, but this time – this time – I was going to take care of myself.
It’s not easy, though, in this country.
In the Western world, it’s become something of a trend to talk about the depletion of the ozone layer. Though sound advice has been given on how to fix this problem, it remains an issue.
While for most of us it’s a subject that’s fluttered with either worry, annoyance (for the non-believers), or as an opportunity for humour on the edges of our minds, for Australia it’s a fact of life. Why? Because that ozone hole that’s tearing itself faster than if Miley Cyrus were swinging at it with a wrecking ball is right above Aussieland.
This has some obvious implications for everyday living. Namely the risk of skin cancer. Solution? Sunscreen.
Sunscreen sunscreen SUNSCREEN.
SUUUUNSCREEEEN. SUNSCREEEN! SUNSCREEN!!
This can’t be stressed enough.
And I mean you don’t step outside your door without it if you plan on being exposed to the sun for longer than it takes to bring in the mail or put out the trash. Even if it’s not that hot. Even if it’s cloudy.
I met up with a friend in Wollongong, and as we sat under overcast skies eating sorbet, my back took on a shade reminiscent of baked salmon. It hadn’t even occurred to me that I should wear sunscreen that day; not only had it been raining, thus there being no sun, but the ocean breeze made it barely 20°C. I thought I was safe.
ERROR: DO NOT EVER BELIEVE YOU’RE SAFE IN OZ. If the various poison spiders, snakes, jellies, crustaceans, mammals, and trees don’t get you, then the weather certainly will.
That said, I refused to accept that such a small portion of my back burning ever so slightly made me lose my bet, as the redness turned into a tan by the next day. C graciously allowed me this cheat, but for the rest of the trip sang a perma-loop of a lispy Australian public service jingle on how to avoid skin cancer via slip, slop, slap (an alternate title for this post).
My cheat (and perhaps skin cancer-less grace period) only lasted so long though. While hanging out with another friend in Wollongong and strolling along the North Gong boardwalk, the sun cranked its death ray to full. I noticed that familiar singe on my skin after about ten minutes, and, despite the heat, covered my tanktopped body with a cardigan. My nose, however, was getting the whole blast of it. I feared for its safety.
Indeed, by that night, I saw that where my sunglasses hadn’t been, my face was nice and lobster-y. Unsurprising, though unfortunate. I don’t have a picture of what I looked like, but here’s a photoshopped rendition to ease the imagination’s workload.
What was surprising (though likely expected by you dear readers who are now more informed than I was at the time) was the rest of my sunburn. Despite having covered up my arms and chest and back within ten minutes of the walk, my skin still looked like the spanked results of a particularly vigorous night of BDSM.
Without aloe vera (my favourite sunburn remedy), there was nothing to do but keep cool and try my best not to let anything touch my skin.
Unhappily, the heat exposure did make me really sick for my third and second-to-last days there (definite bummer), but with some rest, soup, and a viewing of Crazy, Stupid, Love with C’s mom, recovery was achieved.
Better news yet – I actually have a tan. Though this means that I can’t wear my albino Korean makeup anymore; the kids find it fascinating that I’m not wearing my habitual cake of foundation (apparently mascara doesn’t count).
Where have you been dealt the worst sunburn?