Wrinkles, sun spots and the big C ... protecting yourself never looked so good.
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Photo BY Jen Ripple

My mom always said “brown fat looks better than white fat.” I lived by that mantra for years. When I was a teenager in the 80’s, putting iodine and baby oil on your skin and then baking in the sun was the “in” thing. I even blistered my whole face one year in Florida on spring break and call that “hillbilly dermabrasion.” While I say this in jest, the effects of the sun are beginning to take their toll. The older I get, the more important it is to me to protect my skin from the elements. Wrinkles and blotchy skin, coupled with a couple of friends who have had to undergo surgery for skin cancer have changed my idea about sunscreens and baby oil.

Today we are fortunate. Not only are there scientific studies so we can educate ourselves on the good, bad and ugly of the sun, but there are also many different products on the market to keep us covered. Here is a look at some of my favorites.

The Sunshade Hoody
Everywhere you look UPF 50+ shirts are popping up. You can get these in a variety of different styles and colors. My personal favorite is the Patagonia Women’s Sunshade Hoody. This long sleeve, lightweight sun shirt comes in an array of colors and sizes to fit every shape and style. It’s easy to pack in your dry bag to throw on when the sun comes out in full force or just wear as a regular fishing shirt. I like to drench mine when it’s really hot out and cool myself off. It feels a bit weird when you put the wet shirt back on (think putting on a wet swimsuit) but you can always just do the pour over method and solve that problem.

The Packable Sun Hat
There are so many hats out there today. Truly, the hat you choose is part of your own style. I wear everything from a baseball cap to the packable sun hat by Orvis; it really just depends on what mood I’m in.

The Buff
By now everyone owns at least one Buff. I fought the Buff look for a long time, but all it takes is a couple of days standing on a flats boat in the Keys to change your mind about this fashion statement. Not only does this protect my nose and cheeks from the sun, it protects my ears as well! I’ve tried wetting it to cool myself off, which helps when it’s around my neck, but I’m not a fan of the wet Buff over my nose and mouth. It makes me feel claustrophobic for some reason. Try it and let me know your thoughts on that one. Variety is the spice of life they say and I do love that there are so many ways to wear the Buff and so many different colors to choose from.

Dr. Dan’s Sun Protection
Walk down the aisle at your local Target and it becomes obvious that there are more sunscreens on the market than at any other time in history. It seems every major company has come out with one. No doubt there are a lot of good ones out there, but my personal favorite is by a company called Dr. Dan’s. Their sunstick and sunbalm have worked wonders on my fair skin in the heat of the day without making me feel like a little greased pig. I am worried enough about falling off the front of the flats boat so I love that I don’t have to worry about reapplying my sunscreen every 10 minutes as well. As a little aside, the infamous Brian Grossenbacher taught me that permit are very sensitive to smell, so if you apply sunscreen while permit fishing, make sure you grab some sand from the bottom of the flat and rub your hands to take the smell away (even if there appears not to be one) before touching your fly.

And there you have it, a little protection goes a long way. Do you have a favorite sun protective product? We want to know about it!

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Photo BY Deb Brox

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Photo BY Jen Ripple

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Photo BY Jen Ripple