A Tale of Two Sunburns

August 3, 2008 at 12:22 pm (Everything Else) ()

This is a story from last summer, but I’m writing it partly as something a bit funny and partly as a reminder and warning to myself, since I plan to go to the beach this weekend. Important background information that you need is that I got married last August, and that I had a strapless gown. I had be very careful all spring not to tan in anything with straps, or that would otherwise show.

A good friend and I went to Europe for three weeks in the spring of last year. We had a blast, but while we were in Zurich, I got a cold. I feel a bit bad for my friend, as I suspect she got a bit bored of sitting around in Zurich while I slept, but there’s not much I could do. Having read about the beaches around Lake Zurich, we decided to seek one out, so that I could nap, and she could hang out on the beach. We didn’t find any sand, but we did find a grassy area near the water. I promptly fell asleep on my stomach. The tag in my shirt must have been flipped up, because when I woke up I looked like this:

me attempting to fix the first tan line

me attempting to fix the first tan line

Only I was red and started to peel almost immediately. It was pretty bad sunburn. Backpacking with a burned upper back is not fun. Really, really not fun. At first, I hope that maybe the back of my wedding gown would be higher than this tan line, but my first fitting after I got home squashed any hope of that, the line was a good three/four inches above the back of the dress.

So I determined that there was only one thing to do. I had my sister carefully apply sunscreen on the tanned area, and went out and burned the rest of my back to a crisp. Seriously, the second burn was actually worse than the first. It was very painful, I couldn’t sleep on my back for a few nights. But even worse, it didn’t work. It turns out that sunscreen bleeds a bit from directly where you apply it, so I ended up with a very brown back, with a single, finger width line of white running across it.

The end result.  You can clearly see the lines on my back

The end result. You can clearly see the lines on my back

The picture above is what it looked like on my wedding day. This was about a month (maybe a bit more) later, and I had done more tanning of my whole back, as well as giving it some time to fade a bit. Luckily, I had a two layer veil, which obscured the view of my tan lines most of the time. Although I did show them off to a few close friends.

I learned a few important lessons from this: The way to fix a sunburn is not to burn more, always wear sunscreen, and for goodness sakes make sure that your tag is not flipped up.


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