by Jason Shomer
It’s hard to describe the different levels of pain and anguish sunscreen has caused throughout my life.
Like most traumatic things, it started early in childhood. My parents were frequent beachgoers and naturally, they wanted to spend summers down the shore (that’s New Jersey talk for beach). Now, I loved the beach and everything that came along with it. Swimming, building sandcastles, boardwalk and rides at night, and tons of great food. Unfortunately, these experiences were tarnished every single time the moment my mom pulled out the sunscreen and covered every inch of my exposed body.
Layers upon layers she would rub and rub. It would get into my eyes and burn, sand would mix with the lotion, causing my mom’s hands to feel like some sort of old skin-remover. I would cry and cry until she would finally stop. Then, a couple hours later, it was time for REAPPLYING. Oh the reapply. To this day I don’t understand the reapplication of sunscreen. It says waterproof. It’s on my skin. Where does it all go? Isn’t still there? Why do I need more dammit!
I was sure my hatred towards sunscreen would disappear into my adulthood. Then I had kids.
Being fully aware of what I went through as a child, I wanted nothing more than to make it easy for them when it comes to protecting their delicate skin from that giant ball of radioactive fire in the sky. For example, I came up with the brilliant idea of putting on the lotion on in the house…before we even walked out the door! What a concept! Brilliant! Eliminates all outside factors, such as sand and bugs!
It didn’t matter.
I equate putting lotion on my kids to branding a cow. A slippery cow. A crying, screaming, slippery cow. Seriously, it’s awful. No matter how careful I am, no matter how gentle I am, no matter what cartoon I put on TV for a distraction, my kids act like I’m full-on murdering them. Inevitably, it will get in their eyes. It will get in their mouth. It will turn into acid mixed with lava and make them scream how much it BURNS.
All of this to keep them from… Burning.
With my kids being so young right now, this new invention I’ve been reading about has seriously peaked my attention. For all parents reading this…hold on to something…IT’S A PILL THAT PROTECTS YOUR SKIN FROM THE SUN. That’s right, if they get this thing to work correctly, we’re talking about no more sunscreen.
There’s a big IF. They’re close…but it’s not here yet. Right now, pills containing the extract of a tropical fern, Polypodium leucotoms, have been successfully protecting the skin from long-term damage that comes with sun exposure. Skin experts like Salvador Gonzalez, a dermatologist with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, explain that high concentrated amounts of this fern in pills show can greatly increase the protection from the sun’s harmful rays. But at the moment, there might be too many side effects for there to be every-day use.
But that’s not the only possibility. Dr. Paul Long at King’s College London has been studying the mycosporine amino acids (MAAs) that naturally occur in the algae. In a nutshell, these acids protect from UV rays naturally. If that can be harnessed into a side-effect free pill…the days of gross slimy sunscreen may be over.
So what does this mean for me? Hopefully, if they manage to actually make this happen, they’ll invent a chewable children’s kind…. because getting my kids to swallow a pill with water will be a torture in itself. If it happens, however…no more crying. No more screaming. No more spending $1 million at Target.
Now all they have to do is invent a pill that automatically brushes the knots out of their hair.
Jason Shomer is a writer, actor, part-time stay at home dad, part-time waiter who enjoys uncomfortable short walks on the beach.
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