Diary of a Pasty White Girl: How I survived Death Valley

Fox and I just returned from a Southwestern road trip that included a trip through Death Valley. Now, the prospects of this trip were quite intimidating to me as a pasty white girl. I have always been pasty. I’ve never had a tan in my life, I always skip straight to the lobster red phase. As a result, I have learned to take extra precautions when I go into the sun. Namely, lots of sunblock. When traveling in more extreme circumstances however, I find that sunblock alone just doesn’t cut it for me. Perhaps it does for some, I saw a number of girls running around in stylish tank tops and shorts. If I wore an outfit like this into Death Valley, I would lobsterize within a few minutes. So, I came fully prepared with what I call my “pasty girl in the desert” outfit:

The Shirt: I purchased a lightweight, moisture wicking long sleeve at EMS a few years ago. It cools me down in the heat and protects my skin. I picked up another one of these at the Columbia store the other day, they have a line of clothing called “Omni-Freeze” that does the same thing.

The Pants: I purchased a couple of pairs of extremely lightweight hiking pants at Gander Mountain last year. If I’m going someplace warm, these pants come with me. They are very light so I can wear them in high temperatures, they are quick drying in the event that they get wet (they can also be washed in the sink and dry rather quickly). Again, I couldn’t find the exact pants online, but these look similar.

The Shoes & Socks: I saw a number of people going for the “cool” or “casual” look in flip flops, but I know that my feet are usually the first thing to burn. I also want to be prepared for any long walks or hikes. I always wear a pair of lightweight hiking sneakers, and moisture wicking socks (I like the ones I bought from Darn Tough.)

The Finishing Touch: A hat is necessary to complete the “pasty girl in the desert” look. It protects your scalp and face from burning. I tend to go for the fedora, but that’s just me. Sunglasses are also necessary. You could add a lightweight neck scarf if you are so inclined, to protect your neck and chest. It might be smart. This is an area I often forget.

So in the end, while I don’t exactly look stylish or cool, I am able to keep my skin in it’s usual pasty state and avoid the subsequent burning, itching and peeling I’ve come to know so well. Nevermind all of the long term effects the sun could have on your skin and general health.

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