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An end to beauty product mix-ups in the bathroom

By Ellen Warren, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Fashion Daily News

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I wanted you to see my text exchange with a few of my girlfriends that outlines a genuine problem that maybe you can help with. It started when Claire M. sent around a photo of her bathroom counter with three white tubes of products side-by-side that she uses every day (sunscreen, toothpaste, "skin smoothing cream") and this text: "How many times have I put face cream on my toothbrush? More than once." Deb S. replied, "Tom (her husband) once sprayed deodorant in his mouth instead of his asthma inhaler." Then Joan C. wrote, "My houseguest once squeezed Preparation H on her toothbrush. I put contact lens cleaner on my contact lenses when I thought it was wetting solution. It was like putting soap directly into my eye!" Any suggestions to avoid these mix-ups?

- Terry N.

Dear Terry: I think many of us have had the same problem - including confusing shampoo and conditioner in the shower. The simplest way to manage this is writing the contents in big letters on the container with a Sharpie. If the Sharpie won't adhere to the tube/bottle apply painter's tape first and write on that.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Does sun-protective clothing work? Is it worth the money? Seems to me that some of it (like Columbia) is a bit pricey. I like the new Reel Legends brand I purchased at Bealls ( Price was right although I haven't put it to the test yet. Seems like fishermen take this stuff seriously.

- Clark W.

Dear Clark: Yes, it does work! And you don't have to just take my word for it. The Skin Cancer Foundation ( says, "Sun-protective clothing is the simplest way to stay safe; unlike sunscreen, you never need to reapply." The foundation says the clothing needs at least a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 30 for it to receive the foundation's "Seal of Recommendation" with 30-49 offering "very good protection" and 50+ rated "excellent."


Here's a few other things I learned from the foundation website:

- Dark and bright colored clothing offers better protection than lighter colors. (A white T-shirt offers only a UPF of 7 and when wet it slips to a 3.)

- Densely woven cloth (denim, canvas, wool, synthetics) offers the best protection. Hold it up to the light and if you can see through it, UV radiation will penetrate. "A dark long-sleeved denim shirt can provide UPF of about 1,700; in essence complete sun protection."

- Loose fit is better than a tight fit. If stretched (or wet) it loses some protection.


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