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Sun Smarts for This Gardener

By: Annette Delagrange
Posted: June 23, 2008, from the June 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Right upfront, I’m going to let you know that one of my passions has crept into this note. I love gardening, I love designing and digging new beds, I love planning hardscapes and water details, I love flowers, I love dirt, and I even love my wheelbarrow that has seen me through years of carrying planting materials, moved 18 square meters of topsoil in one month and is the transport to tidy up my beds in the fall. My burning (sometimes quite literally) question is: How do I care for my skin during this activity as well as I care for my plants?

My plants need water. I know to keep hydrated while I’m outdoors. My plants need nutrients. I have that fairly well covered, at least in the summer, with the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables. My garden needs sun. Now this is my concern. I’ve tried wearing loose-fitting white long-sleeved tops and pants—I even went through a gauzy dress period (à la The Great Gatsby meets Martha Stewart in her early days). I see people gardening, dressed in white, and wonder in awe. I revel in the dirt, and it becomes one with my clothing—I haven’t found a stain remover that’s strong enough to clean them suitably enough to be worn a second time.

Hats are always a good idea, right? I’ve tried both wide-brimmed and floppy straw hats, both of which are better suited to a garden party where your head remains upright, but not so good when your face is parallel to the ground. The hat tends to slip over your face, which is good for protection but not for seeing. The visors with the cute little garden implements or splashy flowers are adorable but grip your head like a vise. Is it better to opt for sun damage or migraines?

Sunscreen is a must. I understand that intellectually, but I just can’t grasp the practicalities. The hot Illinois sun conspires to drip it all away. I just don’t want to spend as much time reapplying as I do tending my gardens.

So, given this explicit, verging on tedious, background, I sought out two experts for their advice. Rebecca James Gadberry, president of YG Laboratories, and Christine Heathman, president and CEO of Advanced Aesthetics/GlyMed Plus. I might add that you don’t have to be a gardener to benefit from their suggestions.