Don’t Buy the Cheap Sunblock

When exposing your lily-white winter skin to the Central American sun, it’s helpful to pick a sunblock that is actually going to protect you, rather than lull you into false promises.

There are no guarantees with a cut-rate lotion that costs half the price of the rest of the stock. Be suspicious. Do not consider yourself lucky that you nabbed the last bottle. Convenience stores located in North American tourist towns do not give away deals out of the goodness of their hearts. They have you by the short hairs with everything – snacks, beer, sunblock and most cruelly, after-sun aloe.

They know who you are and what you’re dealing with. So don’t go strolling into their shop with your American currency expecting any favors. If you’re smart, you’ll go for the waterproof, sweat proof, SPF 70, Helioplex, full spectrum, chemical-laden variety that costs upwards of $20. It’s a painful price to pay now, but it won’t be painful in the form of a wicked burn that is 1. Embarrassing and 2. Still causing the skin to peel from my body over one week later.

But you don’t yet know this and instead, you buy the cheap sunblock and proceed to lay on the beach and drink rum from a coconut. Whiskey will protect you from the cold, but rum does not protect you from the mid-day sun.

You will be forced to go inside, throw on a t-shirt and hide for the next two days while the burn sets in. A brute named Bo will hand you a small bottle of his own waterproof, sweat proof, SPF 70, Helioplex, full spectrum protection in an effort to save you from your own self-negligence. He will say, “Use this – it’s for babies.” You will accept it sheepishly, yet gratefully.

So heed my warning, fellow traveler, and you will not suffer the same fate: DON’T BUY THE CHEAP SUNBLOCK.

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