Dear Answer Angel Ellen: In the pandemic, I don't go outdoors much except to walk the dog. But I am getting eaten alive by biting bugs that seem to be especially ferocious this season. Can you recommend any insect spray that will solve my problem? It seems to be getting worse and worse. Killer virus. Swarms of biting insects. What's next? A plague of locusts?
- Jen C.
Dear Jen: I feel your pain! I just checked my cupboard to count the number of products I've bought that don't do the job or feel so disgusting (Deet!) that I need to take a shower as soon as I get back indoors. Too many. Especially unhelpful (although nice smelling) are the various lavender sprays purchased at farmers markets. No matter how high the outdoor temperature, I now walk the dog in a long-sleeve, loose-fitting shirt buttoned up to the neck, long pants and socks that cover the ankle. Ankles are a particularly attractive target for the biting insects in my neighborhood. Linen clothing, incidentally, is no good because of the loose weave. "My" bugs can bite through that with ease. I get it that long sleeves and pants are stifling in hot weather, but you can probably put up with them for a short dog walk. The latest addition to my big arsenal is a mosquito net for my head and neck. It looks ridiculous but it was only $5 on Amazon and it really helps keep the bugs away.
- Limit your time outdoors at dawn and dusk, which are dining hours for mosquitoes and other biting insects. (Hard to do when you've got a dog scratching at the door.)
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.org) recommends products with these Environmental Protection Agency-approved active ingredients: Deet, Picaridin, IR3535, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), p-Menthane-3,8-diol (PMD) or 2-Undecanone.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I have a fair complexion and decided to get some sun. Now I have a nice light tan, but I'm wondering what changes I should make to my regular makeup routine to complement my new face skin color?
- Elaine K.
Dear Elaine: Make sure that your sun-kissed face isn't too dry. If it is, use CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with SPF 30 sunscreen (drugstores, target.com, $10.99 and up). If you wear foundation and think the color is too light for your new tan, choose a slightly darker shade. As you doubtless know, sun can cause skin cancer and wrinkles so it's time now to pay attention to your sun exposure and resume faithful use of sunscreen. (And, yes, use it even on a cloudy day.)
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: What's the rule on showing my belly and stretch marks in a two-piece bathing suit? I am middle-aged and have three kids and would love to wear some of the cute new styles, but I don't want to gross anyone out.