The Wild Pair

Is The Sun Fun?

In Travel Tips on August 22, 2008 at 7:11 pm

Why does everything have to be so complicated? Your computer, cell phone, Blackberry and digital camera have a thousand ways of crashing and flaking on you. You try to call a company to get service and you end up repeating yourself endlessly and talking through clenched teeth at a recorded announcement. Your calendar is covered with ink and you spend a good chunk of your entertainment time looking for parking spaces. For every appliance you have, you need a PhD to read the manual.

Sometimes you just want to get away from it all, hit the road, strip down to bare essentials, and go out in the sun. Easy, right? Hmmmm. The Wild Pair has the same love of the sun as you do, and we’ll try to make this part of your life as uncomplicated as sniffing a rose or the proverbial walk in a park.


Apparently, the sun we grew up with is not the same as the sun we are living with today. Or, more precisely, there was an ozone layer that protected us from the not-fun part of Mr. Sun. Now the ozone is holey, and we have to protect ourselves from the thing we love.


You probably think we are going to wax rhapsodic about the use of sunscreen and sunblock but the Wild Pair has a surprise for you: we have our own reservations about chemically blocking the sun. The emphasis here is on the word “chemically.” Have you read the ingredient list of what’s in your beloved sunscreen? It may include irritants, allergens, carcinogens, pore-blockers, and a host of substances you can live a long and healthy life without. It’s great that you put it on all the time, but it would be a lot better if you weren’t slathered in potentially-harmful chemicals. Which means you may want to think about….a hat.


We hate to break it to you, but your backward-facing baseball cap doesn’t provide much protection at all, except for your scalp. If you corner a dermatologist and ask her to give you the skinny on protecting your face and head, she’s likely to reply with three words: four inch brim. Yup. That’s how many inches it takes to shield your precious cheeks and skin from the sun.


If you can accept the fact that a hat is not just something made of felt that your uncle Oscar wore, and are willing to consider its benefits to you, you will be surprised to find that there are nerdy hats and stylish hats. You can try the Indiana Jones look with an explorer-like hat at Sun Precautions (, where they specialize in SPF30+ clothing. You can find the safari or foreign legion look at ExOfficio( or Coolibar ( Tilley Endurables ( and Outdoor Research ( ) also offer an attractive selection of lightweight, wide-brimmed weather proof hats. You can browse the isles of R.E.I or your local outfitting shop. Women will be pleased to find that big floppy brims are the rage. Just remember those three words: four-inch-brims. And think about buying a lightweight hat so you are not weighed down. They make featherweight hats that you won’t even remember you’re wearing.


Pretty soon, we’ll be telling you about safe sunscreen solutions, so you will always have the option of slathering. But, for an alt idea, you can…don’t faint when we say this….wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts. The new generation of travel fabrics is colorful, breathable, vented, fast drying (sometimes amazingly fast drying), wrinkle-resistant and LIGHT. You’ll hardly know you have anything on your bod.


We know this talk of covering up is not appealing to you, but is having skin cancers burned off your body or cut out with a scalpel attractive? So please read on.


“You don’t like all those chemicals, do you?” a dermatologist asked us recently. We shook our heads from side to side. “Well, then,” he said, “why don’t you look into VaniCream?” They make sunscreens that are much cleaner than most of what you find on the market, so we tried a few (


Then we found two sunscreens that really are clean. Caribbean Solutions sunscreen ( is so chemical free you can probably spread it on a slice of rye bread and eat it. Bert’s Bees ( has just come out with a sunscreen that is labeled “chemical free.” These are two very welcomed additions to the sunscreen market. However–we warned you that life is complicated–they both may leave a thin white residue on your skin. Burt’s Bees is whiter than Caribbean Solutions. You just have to scrub it off.


Caribbean Solutions says their sunscreen is safe for marine animals and will not harm reefs. On a recent trip to the Yucatan in Mexico, at a top tourist attraction we saw a sign requiring removal of all sunscreen products because they harm the fragile ecosystem under water. What’s ikky for you is also ikky for fish. So bravo to Caribbean Solutions for paying attention to this.


D isn’t good in school, but it’s good as a vitamin. It has a host of important health benefits that are being touted daily in the media. So instead of covering up in sunscreen from head to toe all day long, maybe get a little early morning or late afternoon sun on your bod. It will do you good. As little as l0 minutes may do the trick.


Do you see life through shades? Perhaps a little exposure to full-spectrum light from our friend the sun is a good thing. When there’s no glare (from water or sand or snow), it may be okay to remove your sunglasses sometimes. You’re wearing a four-inch-brimmed hat to protect your face and eyes. Now tell us the truth–aren’t those natural colors beautiful?


Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide on your relationship with the sun. We’re just offering some input from the field. The most important thing is to cherish the sun for providing light and life for us, and, whatever you do, relax and enjoy.

BON VOYAGE from the Wild Pair!

ABOUT THE WILD PAIR: Ellen Barone and Judith Fein,

They’re smart, sassy, savvy, award-winning travel journalists and photographers and now they’ve joined forces to become THE WILD PAIR, bringing you cutting-edge information and tips on how to turn your next vacation into a life-enhancing experience.

© Ellen Barone and Judith Fein. All Rights Reserved.


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