How to be a happy vampire in the sun

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This is Caroline and myself on the beach in Maui. I titled this one "vampires at the beach."
This is Caroline and myself on the beach in Maui. I titled this one “vampires at the beach.”
I have pale skin, and I enjoy having pale skin. I dislike the beach, tan lines, sun damage, and 100 degree heat. However, in mid-July, my husband and I will be staying for a week in a Galveston, Texas beach house.

I don’t want to pull a Lydia Deetz, and have the whole week be one, big, dark room; I want to be a part of the fun without ending up looking like I was at the beach for a week.

Do any of the Homies have advice for keeping the sun off while keeping cool? (Other than liberal application of sunscreen, of course.) -Sandy

I feel you, Sandy! I’m fair-skinned, and burn easily. The beach is one of my happy places, but it’s also one of the most dangerous places for me if there’s no permanent shade. Here’s what this vampire does to prepare herself for some major sun time…

Sunblock (duh)

I know you said not to mention it, but I just wanted to put my hat in the ring for this stuff — the kind that’s not greasy though, because I HATE applying sunblock.

BIG-ASS sun hat

big ass sunhat

My favorite vampire in the sun accessory is the big-ass sunhat. If you’re traveling, these cotton ones are great, because they’re easy to pack and won’t get bent out of shape.

One-piece bathing suit

Bathing Beauty One-Piece Swimsuit in Black

They’re not just for your grandma anymore, the one piece bathing suit has made a comeback HARD. I rotate between my Black Milk bathing suit, and my many Esther Williams suits. The less flesh that gets exposed, the more I’m protected from burning up.

It’s all about the coverups…

Seaside Stunning Cover-Up Dress in Black
I turned a long sheer black skirt into my beach coverup.
I turned a long sheer black skirt into my beach coverup.

Shady accessories

Rock a parasol like a fancy, old time-y lady!

What are your tips for staying a happy vampire in the sun?

Comments on How to be a happy vampire in the sun

  1. Was going to send this to my vampire husband, but even as feminine as he is, I think this list may be a little too feminine (other than the sun block)

  2. Get actual UPF rated clothing. A fashionable cover-up may still allow you to burn! Also, you can buy a long-sleeve surf shirt. It’ll be skin tight (be careful when picking your size, check the reviews, I had to order larger than normal) and protect you from the sun. They also make swim capris that are UPF rated. These are all good options for protecting tattoos in the sun.

    • Running shirts are a good source of wicking UPF fabric. I also find they are cooler than many of the typical UPF suit cover-ups and dry just as fast. Also usually have some sort of “anti-stink” function (unlike suit fabric). I have polymorphic light eruptions (PMLE; “sun allergy”), and have hand to feet covers. They work even in sand!

      • I can vouch for the long-sleeved Lands’ End UPF swim tees. I have a plain red-orange one, but there are plenty of other options. I wear it in the water and out of the water. They fit relatively loosely – like a regular long-sleeved tshirt – and dry quickly. It’s so much easier than slathering sunscreen everywhere all the time!

        My problem is that I *love* the beach and the water but *hate* the sun and burn really easily.

  3. My husband and I are both very pale people. I enjoy the beach and agree with many of the suggestions above. In addition, having a sun shelter is really nice. They sell a variety of sizes and price points on amazon. It allows you to be out on the beach and feel the breeze but stay more in the shade. It’s also a little bit easier to deal with than an umbrella.

    • Sun shelters make me nervous (so much to carry, how much room do I need to set it up, what if it blows awa?), so I make it hard on myself by ONLY going to beaches that have natural shady areas. Help! Do you have a recommendation for one that’s easy to cary around but won’t get taken down by big gusts of wind?

      • I feel the same way, Megan! I used to lifeguard and spent so many anxious hours waiting for people’s umbrellas to blow away and potentially stab someone. I am always worried umbrellas and shades will blow away – it kinda ruins my experience at the beach, so I go without and opt to cover up instead.

        • I have a “canopy chair” where the top folds over and makes a roof. great for the beach. Also, since the top part is attached to the chair (which is weighted down by a person), less likely to blow away.

          • I echo the canopy chair! I find that most of them only have canopies that extend to cover your head & a portion of your upper torso, though. I’ve McGyver-ed mine by adding some light weight “bamboo” sticks (meant as garden trellising, from the dollar store) and then throwing an light weight oversized scarf over it. I attach the frame (3 separate sticks) to each other, & the chair’s existing with some tightly wound twist ties. You can secure the scarf a little with some of those teeny tiny butterfly clips, also from yon friendly dollar store. (All of the above is black, but that’s my own personal preference). It’s not exactly durable and on a really windy day it won’t hold up, but if it’s a humid day with not much air movement, you’re golden. (Scratch that. You’ll be less golden. Less sun exposure, after all). I also just saw a little gizmo at the dollar store last night that I might pick up – it’s a little refillable water bottle, attached to a battery powered fan, for misting yourself with. 🙂

  4. I’m a beautifully fair-skinned red head with a love of the outdoors. I highly recommend going to your local outdoor sporting goods store (a la REI, Cabela’s, Eastern Mountain Sport, etc…) and look into their light weight, breathable, quick-dry clothing. Long sleeve shirt and pants that I MIGHT be 2 degrees warmer wearing than shorts and tank, and offer sun protection, yes please! Its great to throw on my clothes, go for a hike, to the beach, walk around downtown DC, etc… without having to slather sunscreen over every inch of me. I highly recommend 1-2 outfits of this type to thoroughly enjoy the sunshine.

  5. I’d love to just echo the one-piece bathing suit/not a skimpy bikini idea. When I finally admitted to myself that part of why I hated beaching/swimming/summer sunshine was that I hated bikini’s because wearing one meant I had to swim glob on the sunblock lest I fry like bacon and because I just wasn’t comfortable sharing that much of my body with the public, it opened a whole new world to me. I bought two separate bathing wear pieces, swim shorts and a top that is similar to the bathing suit pictured here. I actually want to go swimming and be in the sun now!! Plus because I wear swim shorts, I can walk around in them and just need a simple t-shirt/tank top meaning one less thing to pack. =)

  6. I’m always looking for the next set of super-dark sunglasses. Being in a sunnier area it actually hurts my eyes if I walk outside without sun glasses. Wrap arounds are my favorites because it prevents those times when the sun is at juuuuust the right angle to sneak in between the frame and your eyebrow ridge.

    • I have the same issue with my eyes hurting if the sun is too bright. I usually wear prescription sunglasses, but if I’m not I have a pair of Maui Jim’s. The lenses on those are awesome! Highly recommended if you’re in the market for new sunglasses (but be forewarned that they are not cheap).

  7. I want to throw in my vote for that sunblock. I’m super pale, and I have always hated sunblock, but that stuff doesn’t feel greasy and it’s really effective.

  8. For me, the key is knowing where I burn first. All of my skin really should be protected, but taking care of my really burn-prone spots means a whole lot more happiness. The top of my back burns so, so easily! I wear sunblock and a coverup, just to be safe. I find hats to be a real bother–they’re hot, they blow off my head, my head is too large for 99% of hats–so I try to strategically place my hair so my scalp doesn’t burn (deeeeep side part) and lean on sunblock to work its magic.

    • My giant floppy hat, which I mostly wear while working in the garden but could totally see myself taking to the beach, has a cord that hangs below my chin, greatly reducing the risk of my hat blowing away. I love it! It’s a little bit granny, but super practical.

    • A lightweight white cotton t-shirt only offers a UPF of 7! Choice of clothing really does matter. Dark and tight-weave fabrics offer more protection. But if you’re spending a lot of time out in the sun, doubling up sun screen and clothing coverage is your best bet.
      I also need to recommend spray on sunscreen to spray on your hairline. I am fair-skinned and have gotten sun spots on my scalp and hairline because I couldn’t get a sun screen lotion into those places. The sun hits the top of your head first, so it’s a no-brainer to protect it just as much as the rest of your body.

      • OMG thank you! I had never thought to use spray on sunscreen for my hairline (and since I have to was my hair post beach anyway it doesn’t matter!) As I’m spending 3 weeks on tropical beaches after next week this will be super helpful!

  9. Fair-skinned redhead here. I love that Neutrogena stuff, too, and would add that a good rule of thumb is to apply it slightly more often than you think you should. A good coating at the beginning of a long day in the sun is not gonna last you. And if you’re going to be on or in the water, that is doubly true!

    • Applying sun screen onto already sweaty skin can make coverage less than ideal and can lead to streaks of sun burn. Learned that one by experience, yikes!

  10. I’m so sensitive to the sun that I burn straight through 55SPF sunblock. Neutrogena also makes a 100+ SPF version and I SWEAR by the stuff! I wear it all the time once it gets sunny.

    I also have an opaque black parasol/umbrella that’s amazing. It’s ruffled on the edges but waterproof so it works in rain or sun! I found it on Amazon.

    Don’t forget to about maxi dresses and stuff. They’re super comfy, usually jersey cotton, and work well with a shawl or parasol or other sun-blocking accessories.

  11. Neutrogena is my go-to, but if you’re willing to splurge a little I highly recommend La Roche. My GP swears by the stuff and says it allowed her to travel Sub-Saharan Africa without a single tiny pink burn.

  12. I too am a porcelain princess, and my best tips for sunblock is how to apply it.
    I begin by doing a very thorough application with a high number SPF about a half an hour before I head out. Start off in the bathroom naked and make sure you get every part of you. (don’t forget the tops of your feet, hands, and ears!) Then, you must hang out naked for at least 10 minutes (I prefer 15-20 minutes myself) to really let the sunblock soak in before you get dressed. This is key! Once the sunblock has had time to absorb, you can get dressed. Once at the beach or sunny location, I reapply, but this time with the spray, making sure to stand upwind from the nozzle and make sure to get a good spray on every exposed area. My other tip: reapply your sunscreen! Make sure to reapply every 2 hours, whether you feel like you are burning or not.
    I used to get burnt on the part in my hair, so now I make sure to wear a baseball cap or put up my hair in a bun so there is no part of my scalp showing. Also, SPF clothing is awesome! Hubby and I love to fish, so we have a few SPF long sleeve shirts that have these little spots of mesh to keep you cool but covered at the same time. They are also quick dry and comfy as hell.

  13. I like to hang out under a big umbrella and glob on the sunscreen. I’ll echo others here who have mentioned the Neutrogena products. They feel lovely and work great. Remember to check expiration dates on your sunscreens, though!

  14. All good tips so far. I am also a super pale redhead. I was sooo happy when I discovered big floppy hats a couple years ago but I find they get destroyed when I travel. They never seem to come back to the right shape after being packed in a suitcase and maybe it’s just the way I do when I travel (hello, pool bar!) but I often end up getting them wet or trampled or otherwise destroyed. So when visiting a sunny destination I find a store selling cheap hats and buy one. I figure at $10-15 or so it’s ok if it only lasts me one trip.

    I also find it easier to stick to the shade and cover up than to be in a bikini and slather myself in sunblock. Everyone close to me knows that at the beach or the park we will be finding a shady spot, dammit.

    I am smiling at the memory of the time we went to a nude beach with no shade, we had like 15 people in our group and all were mostly naked. Then here I am wearing a bathing suit, coverup caftan, big floppy hat, aviators and sitting happily under an umbrella. Heh.

  15. I’m not fair, I tend to tan quickly (sorry!), but I have super sensitive skin and tend to either break out in acne or eczema. The only sunscreen I’ve found that doesn’t bother my skin is Coppertone Oil Free. I use spf 30 or 15 but they have an spf 50 version for faces (or vampires!) Thought I’d pass it along in case anyone else had the super fun combo of adult acne and eczema. I second Terrafirma about putting the sunblock on while you’re naked that way if your suit moves a little bit you won’t have that awkward burned strip where you didn’t apply. Also, I totally recommend putting sunscreen on your part with a q-tip. And don’t forget your spf chapstick!

  16. When my brother had a beach wedding a couple Julys ago, I showed up with a parasol. Actually, I use a parasol all summer long, and have for a decade at least, but these were boating-type people so they gasped and gawked a lot. By the time the wedding began, though, all the redheads were huddled under my parasol with me. It made for a hilarious photo!

  17. One thing from a native Texan, know when to go outside. Go in the morning and have a siesta or nap after lunch. That is the brightest and hottest time of day. Morning and late afternoon to evening is much cooler while still being 80+ out!

    • When I lived in India they had a saying, “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun.” Early morning and late afternoon are definitely great times be outside, then a nap before going out again in the evening!

      • Absolutely! I love a late afternoon/sunset beach picnic. It’s a great time to be out enjoying the beach, without the heat of midday and plus it’s usually less crowded.

      • ‘”Mad Dogs and Englishmen”, a song by Noël Coward, is about that phrase. The song is pretty funny. Coward is mocking the pale British colonialists for not getting the hint from the locals – although the language is still a bit colonialist in it’s attitude toward “natives”.

        “In tropical climes there are certain times of day
        When all the citizens retire
        To tear their clothes off and perspire
        It’s one of those rules that the greatest fools obey
        Because the sun is much too sultry
        And one must avoid its ultra violet ray…
        …but mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun!”

    • Yes, I came to say this as well!

      The sun is the hottest between about 10am and 3pm. Try to stay inside during those times if you can help it. If you’re going to the beach for a week, there’s no need to stay on the beach all day long. You’ll be burnt to a crisp and no one will have fun after that.

      There are also a ton of really fun indoor things to do in Galveston. (I’m native to Houston and have been several times). When you’re taking a break from the sun, you might want to check out Moody Gardens, Schlitterbahn -(indoor water park FTW) or some of the tours of historic homes. If you want extra information, let me know 🙂

  18. Just wanted to suggest Coola sunscreen, it’s a great zinc based one.
    Also I wear large hoods and capes when in the sun, they make a great alternative to hats that are easier to pack. Plus it really ups the vampire factor! My sister-in-law says it’s like hanging out with a darth lord, but my skin remains almost see through pale so it is worth it.

  19. Bullfrog is the only sunscreen that stays on me in the water / sweat. I don’t use it on my face though (I break out) so I wear a big hat and use Badger on my face.

    One-piece suits look terrible on me, so I tend to wear lightweight cotton long-sleeve tunic cover-ups and lightweight, gauzy pants or long skirts. I also like those pareo wrap things because you can drape them over your legs to keep them out of the sun but still stay cool.

  20. Last year while kayaking, I discovered that I love wearing a tankini top and mens board shorts. Where have these been all my life? They kept a lot of my legs covered up and protected, plus they are cool, comfortable, dry easily, great for sporty activities (no riding up the butt crack!) and they are CHEAP!

    • I live in mens/boys boardshorts all summer; they are so comfortable and versatile. I’m sad they don’t make board shorts that are knee length for women.

      • The surfer brands like Billabong and O’Neill actually did make knee length women’s boardshorts for a while. Sadly they went out of style but I still have a couple pairs I love.

  21. Athleta and Coolibar both sell UPF swim capris, tights, and long-sleeved shirts. If you take a dip in the water, the evaporation will keep you cool when you get out.

    • +1 for Coolibar! I usually wear a rash guard (with collar and hand protection) and leggings in the water. They also make super cute cover ups: I have a lightweight hoodie and cute print yoga pants.

  22. Also make sure you’re using your sunscreen correctly. I read that you’re supposed to use a shot glass-sized amount every time, and you should reapply every 90-120 minutes. I would probably do it more frequently on my tattoos because I don’t want “old sailor” tats when I’m a grown up. Remember that you can burn through clothing, light reflecting off the water is just as bad for you, and you only have to be outside for 10-15 minutes to receive more sun than you want.

    I vote for moonlit strolls! Moonlight is romantic and much less damaging/annoying.

  23. Long sleeved, loose fitting cotton shirts that are either upf rated or fairly dense weave, a wide brimmed stiff hat (straw is fine, just not one of those floppy paper ones)and a pashmina shawl thrown over the hat work wonders. Bonus points if you have a water source to wet down the shirt of a regar basis ( your own personal swamp cooler!). Otherwise, I second the parasol and upf suggestions. Also, if you are near water or sand, make sure to put sunscreen in weird places like the backs of your thighs (if in shorts) and the bottom of your chin. Reflected light can be intense

  24. Like my dad and half of my family, I’ll burn in the shade with sunscreen on if I’m outside more than a few minutes in the summer. Give the sunscreen enough time to absorb, reapply it at least every two hours (more if you sweat or swim or otherwise get wet), wear UPF 50+ clothing (Lands End & L.L.Bean have not-too-expensive stuff), and drink plenty of water. Yes, I wear sunscreen AND sun-protective clothing, it’s the only chance I have of not immediately burning. (My brother, somehow, will tan all day and not burn. Brat. He also got all the height. I still love him.)

    Say hello to the Strand for me!

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