Protect Your Skin, Fashionably, Of Course

Much of the United States has been experiencing record-breaking temperatures this summer, and Albuquerque is no exception to the rule. With temps last week ranging from the high 90s to 107 degrees, my introduction to June in New Mexico has been a bit warm, especially considering that the A/C in my husband’s truck kicked the bucket last week.

But still, I relocated from Sacramento, a place that sees 100+ degree summers–this should be a seamless transition, right? Then why the hell does it feel so hot? Well, it turns out there’s a difference between these two cities after all, a difference in elevation of 5,287 feet (Sacramento hovers 25 feet above sea level, Albuquerque is at 5,312 feet).

Suddenly my earlier claim to my mother that I felt like I was closer to the sun doesn’t seem so hyperbolic now. One of the drawbacks to this higher elevation, of course, is that the UV rays are just pounding into me each time I step outside. (Is there no shade in this city?) And the fatigue and “lead leg” that I feel as a consequence are all the warning I need to minimize my time in the sun as much as possible in order to keep my lupus symptoms at bay.

But one can’t stay indoors at all times, so here are 3 things I’m doing to protect myself as much as possible from the sun:

1.  Minimize my time in the sun. I walk on the shady side of the street. When I’m in the car and happen to be on the sunny side, I use a piece of paper to shield my arm. And when I attend an outdoor event, I seek out shade, even if it’s in the form of a shadow cast by a signal light. But most importantly, I limit my time in the sun.

2.  Wear clothes that cover my skin. I love maxi skirts and dresses for the summer! And as long as they’re made of flowy, light fabric, I don’t get overheated. This is especially great for when I know I’m going to be in the car where the sun will hit the tops of my knees and my thighs–shorts and short skirts and dresses are no match for the sun’s rays, but a maxi dress sure is. I’m terrible, however, about covering my shoulders. I know I should be wearing something over my shoulders, but it’s just too stinking hot right now, so that leads me back to #1. It’s also a good idea to wear a broad-brimmed hat. I have two, but they’re in boxes somewhere in Sacramento, waiting to be reunited with me.

3.  Wear sunscreen. Last year I couldn’t give enough praise to P20, the European wonder product that will keep you pasty white despite your worst intentions. I still love that product. But now that I’m pregnant, I’m leery of using too many chemicals. So this summer, I’m using Kiss My Face Sun Spray Lotion. It has an SPF of 30, provides both UVA and UVB protection, and is water resistant. It has a number of natural ingredients, including aloe, green tea leaf extract, and carrots. However, the active ingredients are octinoxate, octisalate, and zinc oxide, the last of which I heard may be linked to cancer. So I apply this stuff each time I go outside, reasoning that the sunscreen is likely the lesser of the evils.

I hope that wherever you are this summer, you’re protecting your skin, enjoying good health, and having fun! I’m going to get a rocket pop and celebrate summer inside today.

4 Responses to “Protect Your Skin, Fashionably, Of Course”
  1. Leah Givens says:

    Hi, I replied to another post of yours, but I’m trying to get as much information as I can, and your input would be so valuable. I live in St. Louis and would do almost anything to escape the cold and move to Albuquerque (which I visited and loved, but which triggered a flare even while I was on steroids). If you were free to choose (and open to being very careful about UV-protective wear), would you make the move? (I like St. Louis otherwise, but could use a change of scene.) Or would I really be putting my health at too much risk for it to be worth it? (I know, not a question you can really answer for sure, but if you have a general opinion, that would be helpful in my indecision!), Thanks so much.

    • lupinelife says:

      That’s a tough question to answer. UV rays may affect you and I to different degrees, so what I find tolerable may not be to you and vice versa. Now that my disclaimer’s been put out there… Since moving to Albuquerque, my disease activity has definitely increased. While that’s not good in and of itself, it’s also important to bear in mind that Albuquerque is a smaller sized city with fewer resources. There aren’t a lot of lupus specialists to choose from, and I believe that the local Lupus Association Chapter is now closed. So for me, while I’ve enjoyed living here, I’m looking forward to someday moving elsewhere in the hopes that my health will improve. I hope this helps your decision-making process 🙂

  2. Be glad you are in New Mexico… last week we had 114 degrees in Phoenix… but it is a “dry” heat! Hah! I have family there who grew up here and we often compare notes about the weather. You are so right about the altitude and the UV exposure. There is less atmosphere to filter it out at the mile-high Albuquerque elevation. Phoenix is only 1,000 feet. Be careful out there! LA

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