Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Sun protection clothes

In my last post, I mentioned UV-protective clothing. I haven't really felt the need for it myself because I'm living in rainy Manchester and also because it's just my arms that need protecting, but I think the outdoorsey type or people more sensitive to the sun might find this information useful. The clothing that I've seen is mostly sporty and designed for the beach. There isn't that much choice out there. On top of that, the clothes are quite expensive and most of the ones I liked were from the USA (I do have a jacket on the way though, ready for Croatia). However, I've just come across a product mentioned in an article called Sun Guard (https://sunguardsunprotection.com). It claims to wash UV protection into clothing for up to 20 washes. The reviews seem quite positive. I might give it a try if I end up going on any beach holidays (very unlikely) but hopefully it might help someone who's not heard of it either.

Live your life, do your work, then take your hat

Since dealing with my allergy, the hat has been a necessary but troublesome accessory. First you need to choose the right style, with a large enough brim as well as making sure there aren't any holes (look for hats with a UPF, I've only just learnt this recently). Then, I have to worry about it ruining my just-done hair or ruining my foundation on my forehead. However, my number one pet peeve is that it flies off my head (it always seems to happen on a crowded street with dozens of people watching me chase it!). I soon realised that I needed to start testing the fit of a hat physically in a shop, rather than feed my online shopping addiction. It helps if the hat is not too large, which all the generic sizes seem to be. I even bought some sticky back foam to stick inside my hats to keep them on but it just seems to make them really uncomfortable. There is only one hat that I own that actually fits neatly on my head, I wear it everywhere, but it doesn't stop the flying off my head dilemma. 
Now it's summer, I'd like to be able to be more active and the only thing I could think of is to get a hat with a chin strap. If like me you are conjuring up images of hats on people in the outback or cowboys and cowgirls, then you'll understand why I've been hesitating to buy one. I've been searching online vigorously and I think I may have found the one. It's by Coolibar who do UV protective clothing, which I didn't even know existed. I usually wear sunscreen on my arms under my long tops so I bought this summer jacket (http://www.coolibar.com/product/Sale/Women/Beach-Cover-Ups/Summer-Jacket/pc/2266/c/2301/sc/2403/156349.uts) and also a chin-strap hat (http://www.coolibar.com/product/Sale/Hats-Accessories/Sedona-Hat/pc/2266/c/0/sc/2387/155428.uts). The hat is UPF 50+ which I've only just learnt that you should be aware of in order to get maximum protection. They give you 10% off for registering but at the minute it's buy 2 items and receive 20% off. It has made up for the international delivery charges because its a US site so I'm hoping the products will do the job. It's is really difficult to find fashionable UV wear on the net!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

The sunscreen dilemma

First of all, if like me you are allergic to face creams, please try Epaderm cream. I love it. I have previously used aqueous cream (which I later learnt shouldn't even be used as a moisturiser, don't trust your GP), doublebase (very greasy) and diprobase (very heavy). Epaderm is perfect. I was prescribed the emollient because my skin was so dry (during my allergic reaction I was afraid to put anything on it), but the cream is great as an everyday moisturiser. I use the emollient on places where I have ezcema and it works really well. I do get envious that people get to use all these fancy creams, and that my friends might all look 10 years younger than me with their anti-aging creams but at the moment, I'm just so grateful to find a moisturiser that works.
Now onto the sunscreen. I was given samples to try such as Sunsense and Eucerin but have been allergic to all of them. Thankfully I was given a foundation by a great Chinese doctor at hospital. I'm afraid you can only get hold of it at Salford Royal. No one seems to have ever heard of it so I restock when I go in for my check ups. He gave me two colours but the beige is perfect for me. I wouldn't be able to go anywhere without it but my problem is that my arms react to the sun too, and I can't have the foundation ruining my clothes as I have to wear long sleeves. That's how my quest started for everyday sunscreen.

I will try and summarise all the information I've been trawling through on the net as quickly as possible. If you are allergic to sunscreens, you need a physical sunscreen (sunblock) as opposed to the chemical ones on the high street. There are two types, zinc oxide and titanium oxide. Zinc seems to be the best as it covers UVA and B which I need. I chose the one with only a handful of ingredients, Badger organic sunscreen SPF30 (http://www.badgerbalm.com/p-462-organic-sunscreen-cream-spf30-unscented.aspx).
I'm not allergic!
White face
Quite thick to apply
Break out in small spots if I apply this everyday

Unfortunately I have not tried any other physical sunscreens yet. Apparently they all leave a white residue, if they don't you might be dealing with nano-particle zinc which is said to be harmful. I'm on the search to see if there is anything better suited to me and there are a few brands I will be trying in the next few weeks. Fingers crossed.
For the time being, my routine for a day out in the sun is, sunscreen foundation on my face, Badger sunscreen on my arms covered by a long-sleeved top and a wide-brimmed hat. My next post will be on hats, as I've had multiple problems with them, especially on an active day out.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Why me?!

Hi everyone,

I've decided to write a blog on how I tackle my sun allergy because there doesn't seem to be a lot of help out there. Google only seems to come up with this condition from a medical point of view, but what about the sufferer? The only thing I want to read about is treatments or a cure. I understand that there are different types of sun allergies out there and that I can only comment on my experience, but I would love to spare even one person, the pain and costs of trying out all the wrong strategies I have written off over the years.
I recently had a severe reaction on my face that lasted months, here in Manchester, one of the most sun-deprived cities in the world. I had no idea that my sun allergy would rear it's ugly head at home here in the UK. I remember feeling so low. I know beauty isn't skin deep but my confidence took a good knocking. I basically lived like a hermit, and was scared of seeing anyone, even friends. I am lucky that I worked with my family because there is no way I would have been brave enough to face people everyday at work, even with a face full of make-up. I've been through multiple GP visits (useless!), dermatology appointments at Salford Royal plus many tears to actually find some products that work for me.
I'm 32 and have had a sun allergy since I was 26 (I read somewhere that this is the average age this type of sun allergies happen: Oh great! I'm a statistic). It started on a trip to Hong Kong where my face and arms erupted in red blister-like lumps. I paid a fortune to see a private doctor, who I remember was called Dr. Tommy, but he could only confirm it was an allergic reaction. Although he did mention sun allergy, which is the first time I'd even heard of such an affliction.
I finally deduced it was a sun allergy myself after a couple more holidays, one of which was Miami, where I was forced to hide my Michelin man arms in the blistering heat. At this point, I was referred to hospital for testing. They did various tests including photo-testing my skin and patch-testing my back. In the end all they seemed to be able to do is confirm it was a sun allergy (?!). My hope for a magical cure was shattered. Their advice was all based around avoidance: keep out of the sun, cover up and wear sunscreen. Living in the UK helps, but my recent skin reactions have made me realise that avoidance is no longer a solution.
It is now up to me to figure out what the best products are to use to get my life back. Wearing sunscreen is the only way I can live normally but, just as an added bonus, I also have an additional problem. My face is highly sensitive to almost all creams, so finding a sunscreen that works for me is still an ongoing battle. I've actually read many comments on sunscreen review pages where people are also allergic to many of the brands on the high street so I hope I can help others with the products I test in my future blogs. Don't give up hope!