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Surviving Summer in Houston: Five Must-Have Items

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That impending sense of dread as the mercury climbs higher and higher up the thermostat, coupled with increasing humidity; the inevitability of leaving the air conditioning running day and night; the explosive growth of displays of sunscreen at the drugstore. These are just a few of the signs that summer is just around the corner.

Plus, you know, the calendar. It's May.

Whether you covet the deep, dark tan of a 1980s Coppertone commercial, or (like me) you're counting the days until October, here is a list of must-have items to help you survive summer in Houston.

We've Covered This, But Again--Hats

You guys, there is nothing funny about skin cancers. Hats are amazing for so many reasons, but honestly a physical barrier from harmful UVA/UVB rays really is number one.

And for dudes who think a baseball cap is enough, don't forget your neck and ears; if you aren't into a hat with a 360-degree brim, you're going to have to get into the habit of applying sunscreen--daily. Which leads us to ...

SPF is Spiffy!

SPF protection is not just for days you plan on being outside for long periods of time. I used to skip SPF on days I worked from home, reasoning that I was only going outside to walk the dog or grab the mail. Then one day I was reading a review of an SPF product online; the reviewer, like me, reasoned she could go without sunscreen if she wasn't "going to be outside." The problem, she realized, is that if you add up all the minutes spent walking to and from the car during errands, or walking the dog, or even sitting in your car as you drive, that can add up to an hour or more of sun exposure each day.

Sunscreen time.

I've been anxiously awaiting the release of the 2013 Sephora Sun Safety Kit, but thus far I have been unable to find it. There are rumors online of its appearance in stores, but so far online listings are a bust. Some suggestions for favorite brands:

Drugstore: Neutrogena is always a good bet, and they have a wide range of options--lots of lines, lots of SPFs, lots of delivery methods. The husband loves the spray-on mists for golfing, I like the dry-touch Ultra Sheers; they now make a special sunscreen designed for application to wet skin--great for kids. • High-end: Two favorites include Chanel UV Essential Protective UV Care Anti-Pollution SPF 50 (great for those who don't like a moisturizer with SPF--this is SPF only) and Shiseido brand sunscreens. Both top-notch, as well they should be, for top-dollar products. • Other: Kiehl's is making an SPF 50 BB cream that is getting rave reviews, and I'm wild for anything by Clarins, which is a terrific brand for those with sensitive skin.


Sunglasses protect your eyeballs from the sun's harsh rays, but it also protects that delicate skin around the eye. Just wear them, all the time, okay? Crow's feet don't need any help; better to get them from laughing, or glaring at loud children in public places. Keep a pair in the car, and another in your bag, and even a spare by the front door if you have to--just always have your sunglasses handy! Not sure what shape you want? When in doubt, aviators--objectively awesome, and they look great on everyone.

Clothes with UV Protection

For walking around the city, maybe not, but if you are going out into the wild outdoors (Memorial Park?) this summer, clothes with UV protection are great. Runners, cyclists, hikers, and outdoorsy types who aren't as particular about sunscreen application as they should be can benefit from a few well-chosen pieces of SPF-infused clothing. A few to check out:

Land's End makes swimwear with SPF--an excellent way to double protection when you know you need it. • REI carries a lot of clothing with sun protection built-in; and they provide you with a handy online guide to figure out what to buy. • Exofficio is another brand that offers sun protective clothes. Pricey, but good quality performance wear.

Pretty Feet

This goes for the boys, too. Sorry, but 24-hour sandal weather means at least some foot-related maintenance. They are the only part of you that really get to be naked all summer, so make 'em look good. This doesn't necessarily require a weekly pedicure appointment; I, for one, will not let ANYONE TOUCH MY FEET, because "ew" and "gross," in that order. So buy yourself a pumice stone, a really nice moisturizer, and keep the toenail clippers and file handy to attend to yourself once every seven days or so. Ladies, if you are so inclined, some of the best summer colors for toenails include:

• Essie "Barefoot and Topless": Neutral and beachy, a soft, sandy pink. • Revlon Colorstay Longwear Nail Enamel in "Marmalade": Everything is coming up orange for summer. • Dior Vernis "Bird of Paradise" Nail Duo in Samba 1: Two beautiful variations on ocean blue; one cream, one shimmery sparkle.

How about you? What are your must-have summer survival tools?

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