Medicine for the Outdoors
Medicine for the Outdoors

Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.

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K2 Suncare: Endurance Sunblock and Lip Protection

At the 25th Anniversary & Annual Meeting of the Wilderness Medical Society held in Snowmass, Colorado July 25-30, 2008 there were exhibitors demonstrating new products and concepts to the attendees. One of these was Outside Labs of California, representing K2 Suncare. The specific products being demonstrated were “endurance sunblock” and “endurance lip balm.” I field tested a 4 mL (15 fluid ounce) container of 50 SPF (sun protection factor) UVA (ultraviolet A) + UVB sunblock, and a 0.15 ounce (4.25 g) stick of lip balm (protectant + moisturizer) with UVA + UVB protection rated at 30 SPF.

For the sunblock, the company advertises 4 prescription grade sunscreens containing polymers that bind to the skin in such a manner to create water- and sweat-proofing. In addition, the ingredients include antioxidants and non-greasy moisturizers. I applied the sunscreen prior to hiking in the Maroon Bells near Aspen in a warm and dry environment. I sweated profusely, and am pleased to report that the sunblock didn’t appear to smear or obviously wash off. I was caught in a downpour during the second half of my hike, and the sunscreen seemed to hold well. The sun broke through after the brief storm, and I basked in the intense warmth for about an hour in order to dry out my clothing. As a reward for having properly applied sunscreen, I was spared any evidence of a sunburn.

The K2 Endurance Lip Balm was terrific. It’s packaged in an innovative cylindrical container that extrudes the solid product stick for application to your lips when you rotate the bottom of the cylinder, which allows for one-handed use. The upshot of the design, besides being cool in appearance, is that there is no cap to lose. The balm has a faint, pleasant lemony taste. It resided in my black daypack, which grew quite warm, and didn’t lose its consistency (e.g., melt).

I can highly recommend both products, which are welcome additions to the pantheon of sunblocks and lip balms.

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About the Author

Dr. Paul S. Auerbach is the world’s leading authority on wilderness medicine.