10 Things To Help You Beat The Heat If You're Photosensitive

10 Things To Help You Beat The Heat If You're Photosensitive

Helpful checklist of things for people with high photosensitivity who find it hard navigating across a college campus in the heat.


Who doesn't love summer? I do as long as I am fully protected from that beautiful sun. Over the years my body developed extreme photosensitivity, making it hard to carry out activities during the day, but now that summer is over, I return to my giant college campus in Texas where all my classes are held in the afternoon.

Walking from one class to another can really get my skin feeling like a hot metal rod. Some college campuses are smaller compared to some of those which have classes in different zip codes! No matter the size of your campus, those with photosensitivity (depending on the severity) can really be hit hard within seconds under the scorching sun, so this semester I geared up on some of these essentials which you can keep with you at all times while navigating across your college campus.

A hat, sunglasses and fully covered clothing, believe it or not, aren't enough in my case. Here are a few other essentials I take with me to college to beat the heat with.

1. Cloth Tote Bag

Cloth Tote Bag

I wouldn't want to carry even an extra pencil if I didn't have to in that already heavy backpack of mine. No one wants an extra burden on their shoulders. The solution is to carry a light tote in your hand, along with your backpack, where you can keep things to protect yourself from sun exposure. A cloth tote bag is light on the wallet, too. You can get them for as little as $1.

2. Chilled Water Bottle


This is a no-brainer: "Stay hydrated." We have all heard that. What I did not realize that it took just a sip of cold water to instantly cool me down than my regular water bottle that I used to carry. This one I cannot go out without.

3. UV Umbrella


This goes in the tote. A hat is great, but it does not fully cover my neck or even my whole face. A regular umbrella finds a way to let the heat in. This one I ordered is perfect in helping my skin stay calm.

4. SPF

CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion

Part of being photosensitive means sensitive skin. Most sunscreens break my skin out, so I decided to go with the one my dermatologist recommended. Elta MD was another one, but I have not tried that yet, and CeraVe is what I use. Miraculously, I haven't had any breakouts. Pick the right sunscreen that best suits your skin!

5. Cool Insoles

Dr. Scholl's Insoles

Flip flops are great, except they make my feet turn bright red and feel like you're walking with bare feet on hot sand. If you feel like your feet need to stay cool during those long walks across campus then I suggest getting running shoes with insoles that don't absorb the heat. (I own Dr. Scholl's.)

6. Oars + Alps Cooling and Cleansing Wipes

Oars + Alps Cooling and Cleansing Wipes

Wondering what these are? Completely new to me, these cooling and cleansing wipes were introduced by my gym after an intense game of tennis. These really mean what they say. Before use: tennis player headed to a fifth set. After use: look like did not even break a sweat. Walking into class looking like you need a shower? This is an amazing quick fix. Yes, these wipes have become my absolute favorite, and if Oars + Alps wants to sponsor me, sign me up before I run out of my load of samples.

7. Waterproof Mascara

Maybelline Waterproof Mascara

Just another thing on the checklist. As far as makeup goes for me, eyeliners and eyeshadows irritate my eyes during the day, not to mention they droop down my face and make me look even more exhausted. However, sometimes we need to look awake. For that reason I keep a backup waterproof mascara. This is the one I carry.

8. Laura Mercier Translucent Powder

Photo by Maha Razi

With or without concealer, this setting powder actually keeps my sunscreen or moisturizer from drooping down. I swear by it.

9. Body Mist

Dove Body Spray

The one for sensitive skin goes in my bag. I prefer these over other body mists because they are so much lighter.

10. Hair tie

Photo by Maha Razi

Last but not least: A hair tie that always stays on my wrist.

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.


Death is a difficult subject. It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease. The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own. We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time. Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death. However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me. In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident. A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life. I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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4 Things I Wish High School Me Knew

Every day has a purpose.


People don't give high school enough credit for having the ability to shape your life. It can build you or it can break you and often times there is no in between. As I enter into my senior year of college I have reflected a lot on my college career and how it really has been the best years of my life up to this point, but I know that without a doubt my life would have been so different in I would have known these things as a high schooler.

1. Your life is valuable

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. - Ephesians 2:4-7

2. You aren't defined by your singleness. 

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. - Song of Solomon 2:7

4. You aren't going to fit in

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12:2

4. Your clothes aren't going to fit forever, don't spend all of your money on them 

Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions." - Luke 12:15

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