A healthy (thriving) fear of illness paired with unmatched vanity about aging has led me to be diligent about daily sunscreen application, which makes it more than ironic (or more-onic, some might even say) that I made myself sick by slathering on too much SPF. Yes, I’m the embodiment of Murphy’s Law when it comes to makeup and personal grooming, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” in my hands. In this case, I had embraced my summer sunscreen routine by ordering a new bottle with glowing reviews for it’s tasty tropical scent, some organic elements in its ingredients, and a reliable waterproof formula. And I switched from a creme formula to an oil without giving it much thought. I wore it to the pool on a few occasions successfully and the first opportunity I had to protect myself before an afternoon bike ride, I put on a ton and happily headed out.
Later that evening, I was disappointed when it started to feel like I was super sunburned despite my cautiousness. I was uncomfortable and a little itchy below my collar bone and all around my upper chest, I felt too warm inside my skin and a little woozy. I applied some after sun lotion and started pounding water. Besides worrying about actually being sunburned, I couldn’t figure out where I’d went wrong and left myself exposed to getting crispy in the first place. Fixated on the frustrating situation, I returned to the bathroom to try to alleviate more of the sting on my skin when I noticed my skin was bumpy, not taut and shiny. I showed it to my boyfriend who confirmed that the redness on my chest area was more puffy and rash-like than simply pink, and hadn’t spread to my shoulders or other areas the sun would have shone on.
WebMD isn’t always the best idea unless you’re looking for a maddening set of terminal illnesses to obsess over during sleepless nights (which I must always be), but I couldn’t resist sleuthing about my skin dilemma just a little. The internet said it was heat rash and it was totally my fault. OK, I added that second part. But heat rash does happen thanks to clogged pores that can’t expel their sweat, WebMD taught me. “Heat rash begins with excessive perspiration, usually in a hot, humid environment. The ducts from the sweat glands in the skin become blocked. This causes the sweat to leak into the surrounding tissue, causing irritation and redness.” And guess why those sweat glands were blocked? Because I’d gone BP on them with my new sweet-smelling tanning oil.
Even the most beneficial acts of beauty, backed by good intentions, can go awry when you’re overzealous, like me. The lesson here is everything in moderation.
Should you find yourself battling a bitter heat rash because of a sticky sunscreen and sweat cocktail, a shower to open up and cleanse those enraged pores works wonders. I also lightly scrubbed up with a salicylic acid acne wash as a home remedy site suggested, and woke up feeling a lot less discomfort. What’s your worst, or most improbable, beauty blunder? — Casandra Armour