Sun care for civilians…

After a hot day chez S’s V, I feel duty bound to write a small PSA.

It’s hot, it’s sunny, it’s not what most British people are used to – even after a beautiful summer last year. We generally haven’t assimilated the knowledge required to deal with these conditions, despite numerous warnings and sustained efforts to educate us.

Here are a few helpful tips to help you.

Hydration stations

If you wake up with a headache the chances are that you’re already dehydrated. Have a glass of water to start your day – not just a sip to help take the painkillers. If you wake up parched the same applies. Drink water before anything else. Carry a bottle – get a refillable bottle if you have good tap water.

Continue this all day long. If you aren’t used to drinking water regularly then set an alarm. Cool your jets before you kick off. Yesterday temperatures in Liverpool reached 84° in old money. You’re not used to it. Heat stroke isn’t funny.

Buy a box of ice lollies for the freezer. Ice cream is lush but it’s a meal not a drink on a stick.

Drink a glass of water before you go to sleep too.

Cool your house

Don’t let the heat in. Close your bedroom windows, blinds and curtains when the sun comes round and the heat rises. If you’re out all day take these steps before you leave the home. Open the windows as soon as the temperature drops at night.

Don’t worry about your appetite

The heat can change your body’s needs – and its ability to metabolise. Little and often is perfect. Foods that actually contain liquid are top choices too – tomatoes are a summer favourite for a reason and you can do a lot with the juicy little buggers.

I’m going to be doing a post about salads imminently. I love cold foods in the heat.

Careful with alcohol

Pub gardens (see the Dovedale Towers, for example) are a fun but not brilliant idea. The sun can mean that the booze starts to process at a much faster rate than normal. Heat isn’t called ‘the universal catalyst’ for nothing. Getting up to buy a pint should be a leisurely process if you want to avoid a head rush.

Personally I’d recommend having a drink in the comfort of your own garden or yarden, sitting down on the grass in a park (but please avoid public intoxication and other antisocial behaviour), with meals or later in the day.

Protect yourself

Well, your body anyway. You know this drill…but you may not be following it. You’re no different than a child.

Find a hat if you’re outside. Bucket hats are back with the 90s trends, floppy straw hats are a perennial, trilbies and fedoras have some unfortunate associations but looking after your bonce is more important than the possible mortification derived from being mistaken for a hipster. The picture shows Matalan’s classic fedora – which costs £6. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on things that don’t get used much.

Sunscreen is a must – however much or little time you spend outdoors during the day. Get a daily moisturiser and / or foundation that has an SPF. You can burn when it’s cloudy and even in water. You should probably be doing it anyway as they protect against other environmental factors like pollution.

A few things to remember with sun lotions and creams – they come with a use by date now. It will be a number of months after opening so you can check how much time you have left on last year’s bottle. I always mark the open date on the bottle with a Sharpie.

You get your Vitamin D even if you plaster yourself in cream. Don’t throw that back at me. You’re old enough to buy a supplement if you’re old enough to peddle that bullshit.

Sun is ageing as hell. Leather factories are called tanneries. Do the arithmetic. It’s not hard. And you only need one afternoon to burn and write off another few days of fun while you recover slathered in the aftersun that you have time to apply – when sunscreen was too much hassle.

Wear sunglasses – especially if you have pale eyes. They’re much more sensitive to the sun – and bright light in general. And don’t forget that sun will be reflected off pavements, windows and every other pale and shiny surface. These are from New Look and their whole range is very reasonably priced.

Stay cool. I’m a bit pissed off that I have to write this because most Europeans are bound by stuffy, old fashioned definitions of ‘professional’ dress and victims of a lack of air conditioning. I still don’t get why people can’t wear smart shorts, a pressed cotton shirt and loafers when it’s this hot. Or sleeveless dresses and tops.

I’m going to offer some sensible options but you’ll have to play it by ear. Firstly, don’t wear any jersey. No t-shirt is as cool as a linen or loose weave cotton shell top. You can get away with cap sleeves usually. Secondly, be easy breezy. I cannot say this often enough. This is not the time for fitted.

I’m seeing a lot of shirt dresses and they are a great sprautumn option but they generally have a fit and flare shape or tie / belted waist and mid length sleeves. At this time just buy a loose shift. It’s almost the only time I’m going to approve of those odd cold shoulder things too. And think smart with length. You need to be able to march around town, pick your way over beach bodies, negotiate the harsh lowlands of parks and recreational spaces… Do it in knee to maxi length. Or buy short length knickers for a mini skirt length.

Don’t mind showing off your skin. Honestly it’s too hot for anyone to care about a lack of tan or dry skin on your knees. Life is too short for meddling or bitching. And certainly too short to listen to that. All these options are from H&M and you can throw a blazer over the top if forced. None of them actually touch your skin – as much as possible, anyway.

I have also been wearing paper bag trousers. A nice loose cut with a Breton top is always going to be my jam.

Footwear is a bit…difficult. Very thin soled sandals or sliders are not suitable for offices or the city. Concrete slabs and tarmac are very hot. A flatform with strong straps, a substantial espadrille, a wedge or a ballet flat with laser cutwork or woven material should be fine for work.

Give your feet a bit of a treat because they’ll be in the outside world for the first time in ages. Get rid of the yucky old gunk with a foot file. Give them a little cream and apply sunscreen. Burnt feet are so painful. I love a pedicure because I obsess about nail polish colours. Go crazy because it’s fun. Toenails in quality street colours are boss.

When it comes to menswear, just ask. Stop whining about the strictures of your unofficial uniform and speak to HR. Can you lose the tie, wear short-sleeved shirts, chinos, city shorts, a linen jacket, no socks? You don’t know? Colour me surprised. Find out. These are all ideas that are considered absolutely fine in other parts of the world. Yes, it’s smart casual – but that’s smart first and foremost.

Makeup will slip and slide in heat so find a good, waterproof mascara and a lipstain (like the Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet in the photo above) for the whole day. Put your hair up so the nape of your neck is exposed – but don’t forget to use sunscreen there and on your little earsies. Get a little tube or pot of cream for your top-ups.

Carry a lighter bag with just the essentials. Listen to a book or music on public transport then you can ditch your book. Earphones not headphones over the summer too. Use the cloud and don’t lug files around with you.

Stop the rush

If you can work from home, do it. Take your time when you walk. I can’t emphasise the ‘mad dogs and English men go out in the midday sun’ thing enough. That’s not advice. It’s supposed to be a warning. Peak sun hours are 1 ’til 3. Stay inside. Have lunch then a period of quiet time or a nap if you can. And more drinks.

Sleep as well as you can

In the early evening – as temperatures drop – open your windows.

A fan is great in the bedroom but you won’t need it on all night. Learn how to use the timer (most of the newer, digital models have them and timer plugs are available for the older ones) so you minimise your power use and the impact on the environment and your budget. Also bear in mind that it may change your comfy sleep position and give you a stiff neck.

Sleep in as few clothes as possible. It’s obvious but there are lots and lots of options in the shops (like these ones by George at Asda) if you like something cute to wear in bed. Alternatively try a vest top with your knickers or less.

Strip your bedding back now. Pillows, check. Bottom sheet, check. Loose sheet, check. Bed cover or loose throw, check. You don’t need a duvet right now. Even a lightweight duvet will probably be too much. Try to only use cotton bedding. Polycotton will just stick to you all night.

You need to cool down your core. Take a shower before bed if you need to. Fair warning, though, it can wake you up. Most of us are programmed to shake off slumber in a shower.

If you can get away from the screens in the evening, do so. I’m going to advise enjoying the outdoors while it won’t barbecue you too. Just exist in the warmth while you have a little breeze. It’s a luxurious feeling.

Heat doesn’t have to be a drag. It’s fun if you adapt to it. It’s fun if you can sleep. It’s fun if you don’t have to worry about burning. It’s fun if you have the right clothes for the weather. It’s fun if you enjoy eating. It’s fun if you don’t wake up with a headache.

If it all gets too much then I can suggest some cool havens – the cinema, department stores, the beach, the chilled section of any good supermarket…

I’ve done two so far this week. I’m going to the beach tomorrow. I’ve also filled my freezer with ice cream and generic supermarket ice lollies. It’s rockets and twisters every time I think I’m going to overheat now.

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