Who doesn’t love a day at the beach? No, really — who? Show yourself you mangy coward.
For family trips in the summer, nothing makes a hot day more enjoyable than a trip to the beach. That said, nothing will ruin a trip to the beach quicker than forgotten sunscreen, a wet cell phone, or a sand-damaged DSLR. Choosing your beach carry wisely can greatly increase your enjoyment. We’ll start with some fun picks and finish out the guide with a quick rundown for choosing quality sunscreen.
The beach as a resort destination became popular in the mid-1800s. The initial draw for beachgoers wasn’t sandcastles or boogie-boards, but was the potential positive health effects of vising a “spa-town.” The idea was the fresh air and water were cures for ailments, often respiratory, cropping up in industrializing urban areas. The introduction of railways permitted middle and lower income individuals to reach seaside resorts, and the modern tourism industry was born.
In the Victorian era, many beaches had standing bathing machines that would keep swimmers out of the direct sun — mostly owing to modesty concerns. Back then, a trip to the beach wasn’t a one day affair — as even rail travel could be arduous. Families would spend a weekend or more at a seaside resort, and would pack accordingly. Today, while you may only be heading to the beach for an afternoon, and likely won’t need to bring along a dopp kit and mustache wax, we have much more sensitive equipment to consider than our Victorian counterparts.
Take a peek at this quick rundown of some ideas for your next outing.
|The Pick||The Why||The Cost|
|Ricoh WG-M2 Action Cam||
|Dragon Vantage H2o Sunglasses||
The Less Cool Bit – Sunscreen
Let the above be the spoonful of sugar to the bitter medicine to follow. You need to pack sunblock. The consensus is in and the potential risks to using sunblock are far outweighed by the positive effects in preventing cancer — specifically squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
What is Broad Spectrum Sunblock?
Unfortunately, for a long time sunblock was formulated to block only UVB radiation, which is the cause of sunburn. However, turns out, exposure to UVA doesn’t cause sunburn but increases your risk of melanoma. So-called “broad spectrum” sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB radiation and, in so doing, helps prevent UV damage and the resulting increased cancer risk.
What is SPF?
Sun protection factor (SPF) is a measurement of the fraction of sunburn-producing rays that reach your skin. SPF 30 indicates that 1/30th of the radiation reaches your skin; SPF 15 is 1/15th, etc. As you might have already guessed from this definition, SPF is a problematic measurement of effectiveness. First, sunburn is no longer our only concern when we are exposed to UVA-radiation, which won’t burn you but will increase your risk of melanoma. Second, not everyone will sunburn at the same rate. Any metric that uses sunburn as a point of reference is therefore, at best, of varying effectiveness.
We would love to be able to tell you that there is some other little-known metric, hidden on the back of your Coppertone that will tell you how well it really works. There isn’t. Your best bet is just going to be to:
- Choose a broad spectrum sunblock.
- Choose sunblock with at least SPF 15.
- Apply a thick layer to all exposed skin.
- Reapply after 2 hours.
- Reapply after swimming or toweling off.
- Reapply after sweating significantly.
- Don’t just rely on sunscreen, wear a hat and seek shade.*
The Best Sunblock
The best sunblock on the market today is La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 60 lotion. It is allergy-tested, fragrance free and, most importantly, broad spectrum. Helpfully, it does not leave a residue on your hands and dries quickly.
*Yeah, #7 is a bit of a cop out — the best sunscreen is not to go in the sun at all. Stay inside, read a book, take a bath. But seriously, if you’re heading to the beach — consider a beach tent. They are not as crappy as they used to be, are lightweight, and can really save you a lot of agony.