The Summer Solstice has passed in the Northern hemisphere, which means summer has arrived. The Lady of the Manners wishes she could be more enthusiastic about the whole thing.
The Lady of the Manners is completely accepting of the fact that many other goths don’t share her biases about the seasons and their attendant weather. There are people she’s very fond of who adore sunny days and high temperatures, and who become listless and dispirited once autumn comes around. But, as the Lady of the Manners often says over on Tumblr, she is a delicate moss flower. Which brings the Lady of the Manners to what is becoming a summer tradition at Gothic Charm School: advice on how to deal with the burning orb.
As the Lady of the Manners stresses time and time again, you don’t have to be pale to be a goth. However, avoiding the sun isn’t just a gothy affectation; there are people (the Lady of the Manners included) who thanks to genetics, illnesses, medications, or who knows what else, don’t deal well with prolonged exposure to sunlight. (As the Lady of the Manners has said before, eventually she’ll develop the fun symptoms of vampirism, like immortality and being able to turn into a flock of bats.) While the idea of not going outside until after sunset has its attractions, it’s not entirely feasible, which means knowing how to cope with sunlight.
- Sunscreen! This is absolutely the most important thing you can do. Apply sunscreen to every bit of skin that isn’t covered by opaque fabric. No, Snarklings, lace or fishnet clothing will not protect you from the sun. Also, reapply the sunscreen every 60 to 80 minutes if you’re going to be outside for an extended length of time. (The Lady of the Manners realizes this may be a problem if you’re wearing makeup, but has a suggestion for that shortly.)
The Lady of the Manners relies on matte finish sunscreens that are made for the Asian skin care markets. They don’t feel sticky, and they double as primer for under makeup. The two the Lady of the Manners keeps on hand are: MISSHA All Around Safe Block Essence (SPF 50) and Biore Watery Essence Sunscreen (SPF 50). The Lady of the Manners has also seen good reviews of La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid SPF 50, FrezyDerm Sun Screen Velvet Face SPF 30, and Nivea Sun Anti Age Face Cream SPF 50. And of course, there’s the (usually) easy-to-find Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Dry Touch SPF 100. (Which used to be the Lady of the Manners’ go-to sunscreen, and she doesn’t remember why she stopped using it.)
How to deal with the problem of reapplying sunscreen to your face if you’re wearing makeup? Snarklings, did you know there’s such a thing as powder sunscreen? There is, and it’s amazing. You use it just like any other powder to touch up makeup throughout the day, but it adds an additional layer of SPF. The Lady of the Manners has tried a bunch of them, and keeps coming back to Jane Iredale Powder Me. Yes, it’s almost $50 a container, but one container has lasted the Lady of the Manners through almost three summers. It actually is translucent (unlike many other powder sunscreens which are ”¦ orange), has the same sort of effect as any of the “HD” makeup setting powders, and can be used on any exposed skin. This product is what the Lady of the Manners and her loved ones use when visiting Disneyland for Bats Day. In other words, this is the product the Lady of the Manners enthusiastically recommends.
- Physical blocks – a giant hat! They can be left plain for a Lydia Deetz look, or festooned with tulle, ribbons, flowers, or anything else that strikes your fancy that can be somehow attached to the hat. Some of the things the Lady of the Manners has used to decorate her giant sun hats:
- A (large) length of tulle, scrunched, crumpled, and stitched around the crown of the hat, for a gauzy, cloudy effect. Tulle can also be used to make a veil around the brim of the hat.
- Lengths of lace or ribbons tied around the crown with a big bow, and the ends left to flutter.
- Fake flowers from the craft store. The blossoms are easily pulled off the plastic stems, and then can be pinned or sewn on.
(The Lady of the Manners strongly suggests sewing any decorations on, instead of using hot glue, because what if you decide you want to change the ornamentation? Prying anything off a hat that has been affixed with hot glue is tedious in the extreme, and no amount of silly vampire movies on in the background will change that.)
Remember, if you have long hair and decide to wear a giant hat, you probably want to pull your hair up and off your neck. The giant hat, while protecting you from the sun, will sadly trap heat against your head. Don’t make that worse if you can help it.
- Physical blocks – a parasol! Which, let the Lady of the Manners stress, can be used by ANY gender. Parasols are not just for femme -presenting folks.
Back In The DayTM, goths had to hope they found a vintage parasol at a thrift store or yard sale, or found an umbrella they liked and decorated it themselves. But now there are parasols everywhere, from plain and unadorned umbrellas to frilly confections that would make any gothic lolita swoon with envy. The only caveat the Lady of the Manners has with regard to parasols is that while sheer or lacy parasols are lovely, they don’t actually provide any protection from the sun. Always look for one that has at least an opaque center to the canopy.
- Physical blocks – clothing! Wearing long sleeves or long trousers seems counter-intuitive in the summer, and a recipe for overheating. The key is to look for garments made with natural fibers, such as cotton or rayon. Lace and fishnet are oh-so-gothy, but are usually some sort of poly-blend, and thus don’t actually breathe; they trap heat and sweat against your skin, leading to suffering for your fashion. While the Lady of the Manners is all for over-the-top looks, she also doesn’t approve of any of you giving yourselves heat stroke.
The color doesn’t matter – while “common sense” says that black clothes will make you warmer in the summer, it turns out that isn’t really true.
- Physical blocks – wash it in! Sun Guard lets you add SPF 30 protection to your laundry. Using this doesn’t mean you can skip applying sunscreen, but it is a nice additional boost. And in the Lady of the Manners’ experience, it doesn’t do anything odd to black garments.
- Stay cool! Drink lots of water and make sure you have some electrolytes (be it through juice, sports drinks, pickles, or delicious salty food). Carry a folding fan to create your own breeze. Stick lightweight scarves or shawls in the freezer, then drape them around you; once they lose their chill, dampen them with cool water and let the evaporation do its work. You can also dampen any fishnet or lace garments you’re wearing for the same effect.
Finally, the Lady of the Manners made a
Pinterest board for summer goth style! While all of the clothing is modeled by women (grrr), the Lady of the Manners strongly feels that almost all of it could be styled in a more gender-neutral way, depending on what other garments or accessories are added, when in doubt, add big belts and boots. (The Lady of the Manners offers her sympathies to the masculine-leaning Snarklings; male fashion is pretty much the same year ”˜round, with the length of the sleeves being the only element of change.)
Do you have tips for dealing with the sun or avoiding heatstroke? Or just want to commiserate with other delicate, nocturnal moss flowers? Leave a comment!
(cross-posted to FB)
Love you, love your blog! Lots of great advice here! Just want to add a couple of words from my own recent experience..
One word on sunscreen: I recently tried using a generic kid’s 50 proof one from Target. It worked fine for about a week (I hadn’t been using it daily until then), but then I woke up one morning with the reddest, most itchy rash! It was only on the places where I put the sunscreen, so I know it was the culprit. I’ve had to go on a steroid pack and use an ointment for about seven days. I’m 39 years old, and never had this reaction to sunscreen before (though I’ve also not used it daily before.)
I’m currently on the search for an ideal sunscreen that won’t break out my obnoxiously sensitive skin (I have to be careful with the make-‘er-ups for the same reason), read ALL the ingredients, and probably get an allergy test. (It turns out that if someone has sensitive skin, chemical blockers in sunscreen are the more likely to cause a reaction than the physical blockers (like zinc oxide) are.)
I’m also probably in the minority, but knowledge is power!
I hate sunscreen. Always have. But after years of peeling sunburns and last summer a sun burn so bad it was so red it turned purple and didn’t peal at all, as well as the realization that the older i get, the worse a tan looks on me, i have resolved that this is a year i should use sunscreen. My wonderful mother, knowing my suspicions to the possible carcinogens in most sunscreens, opted for a natural sunscreen made of minerals. Its only a 30 spf but so far its worked quite well for me. (we haven’t had too many sunny days yet)
Oh boy -pulls up sleeves-
As a tropigoth (goth cursed to live in eternal heat and sunshine, though I admit Im rather fond of both of those), I also recommend loose black clothing, or cutting stylish holes in Tshirt backs/necks/shoulders. Craftier people can even cut off the backs of shirts and replace them with lace or mesh. Or dye loose white cotton clothing (which usually looks more gray-ish than black, but still haunting and beautiful)
Also, some goths shriek at the thought of ditching their boots, but when temps reach dangerous heights, please consider clunky sandals (or slippers if you dont like your toes peeking out)
Finally, for accessories, try to avoid chokers and instead layer varying lengths of necklaces. I have had to take off chokers while heaving cause it’s too hot and suffocating!!
Stay cool, my gothy peeps. Stay cool~
Liz, I have super sensitive skin, and I am sensitive to the chemical sunscreen; I can only use it on my limbs and not face (I use Trader Joe’s sunscreens for outdoor/swimming activities), and even then, I sometimes get splotchy, so I don’t use them often. I actually just applied some of the TJ lotion sunscreen on my face today at the pool since I needed a waterproof one since my daily sunscreen I had on was not waterproof, and it burned! I had to run and wash it off, and spent the rest of the time in the shade. ðŸ˜¥
I recently saw my dermatologist, and she recommended Vanicream mineral sunscreen, which is made for people with super sensitive skin. You can find it in Target, Walgreens, etc. I couldn’t find the 35 SPF, so I got Elta MD, which is also recommended by them. It is a physical sunscreen, does not irritate my skin, does not leave a white cast, has no scent, goes on matte, and actually works. It is pricy, but it is 7 oz and a little goes a long way. It was about $37 from my drs office. I use the 45 spf broad spectrum one for my face and neck, and the 7 oz 30 spf Elta MD Lotion for my arms to protect my tattoos, and elsewhere if exposed. You can find Elta MD on Dermstore, on Amazon (but I avoid purchasing body care products from Amazon), or check the Elta MD website for an office near you that stocks it. I got the 45 from my drs office, and the 30 lotion from Dermstore online.
I’m a goth from New Zealand, a subtropical to temperate country that doesn’t have a particularly hot sun; however, the ozone layer (which blocks out the sun’s most harmful rays) over New Zealand is particularly thin. As a result, New Zealand has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. In New Zealand, generally speaking, if you can see daylight, you can get sunburnt. One of the worst sunburns I’ve ever had I gained on a grey, overcast day. So I’d like to make a note about parasols: while they provide movable shade, they don’t actually protect you from sunburn. The radiation from the sun is in the air itself: shade keeps you cool, but doesn’t stop you burning.
Regarding fans, remember that they’re not for quick fanning: the effort of rapid fanning can actually heat you up like any physical exercise. Fans are for wafting, only as hard as you need to, creating a slight breeze that carries away your own sweat, thus assisting your body’s natural cooling mechanism. (They also help keep you sane: the sun may be horrible, but at least you can feel fancy and sophisticated with your fan and your own personal breeze created by it.)
All the best to my fellow goths who are enduring/enjoying Summer now: I’m in Winter, and I loathe Summer, so I don’t envy you.
I have a word of advice regarding sunscreen. Even though it is good and useful to use in the Summer, please remember that we humans need the sun light to reach our skin to synthesize vitamin D.
Even though I am not a regular user of sunscreen out of the summer season I am currently low on vitamin D and getting treated for it, which my doctor told me it is happening now more frequently because of all the extensive use of sunscreens, even in winter season.
So, if you do not have a condition that warrants the use of sunscreen all the time, please consider your vitamin D levels when exposing yourself to sun, with and without sunscreen.
And yes, I know vitamin D supplements can be taken orally, but it has to be with your doctor’s knowledge and control. It is VERY easy to get liver poisoning from an excess of orally-taken vitamin D; a co-worker of mine almost lost an aunt because of it.
Stay safe this Summer 🙂
Seconding La Roche-Posay – my dermatologist gave me some and I use it on my hands, where I don’t want a thicker, sunscreen-ier feeling sunscreen.
I use Sunology mineral sunscreens and although they are definitely greasy and definitely leave you looking white, I’ve never gotten a burn. I especially love them for swimming, because they don’t slide off my skin as easily and I can go all day on the lake (with re-applying, obviously) and not so much as tan.
Thank you for noting that Sun-Guard doesn’t do anything to black fabric! I have a fine mesh swimsuit cover that I was hoping to Sun-Guard, but was worried about the fabric.
(See also: FB)
First, many thanks for the article. Help in the ongoing struggle against the day’s angry stsr is most appreciated.
As a southern goth, there’s always the threat of the world’s most despised bloodsuckers: mosquitoes. If one must deal with the great humid outdoors (particularly during the day), Skin So Soft (Avon) is your friend. Never understood why, but those unpleasant bugs avoid the stuff.
Good luck surviving the Evil Yellow Orb this summer!
SPF 100!! I’m in the UK and I’ve never seen an SPF higher than 50, and that’s nearly always marketed to children for some reason. SPF 15 is the most commonly sold here, there does seem to be an attitude here that sunscreen is for when you go abroad and not everyday use in the summer. >_<
Recently found your articles from your book “Gothic Charm School” and just love them!
I have fully embraced my goth-ness, over the last few years, and realized that with my love for 40s/50s glamour and love for all things spooky, I am a “Glamour Ghoul”. The mother of Glamour Ghouls was Maila Nurmi who created Vampira, as was inspired by then unnamed matriarch of the Addams family comics. She would then later inspire Elvira and even the 1960s Addams Family tv show’s version of Morticia and of course the 90s movie version of the character played by Angelica Huston. Dita von Teese is a good modern day representation of this aesthetic. My favorite Glamour Ghoul though, who is also a burlesque dancer, is Marie Devilreux (@dressedtokillyou on instagram).
That look, as much as I love it, is more for when I go out to events, trade shows, burlesque performances where I wont stand out so much amongst the other 40s/50s enthusiasts. When I’m doing daily errands however, I do a more Wednesday Addams mixed with 90’s spooky girl vibes, which I like to call “Living Dead Girl”.
It’s so fun finding your own unique take on being Goth and I love seeing those of others. Keep up the amazing articles!