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Best sunscreens of 2021 | CNN Underscored




CNN
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Regardless of your skin tone, protecting your skin from the sun is important. There’s no worse way to ruin what was an amazing day at the beach than getting home and realizing you’re as red as a lobster. And even if you don’t burn so easily (or at all), it’s still important to shield yourself from exposure to the sun’s rays, since it can cause damage to your skin in other ways, including skin cancer. That’s why wearing a proper sunscreen is essential when spending time in the sun. But even if trips to the beach are getting few and far between, that doesn’t mean you should stop wearing sunscreen, since you should be wearing it indoors anyway (yes, really!).

To help you find the best sunscreen, we talked to experts about the active ingredients and other important factors you should look for. We narrowed down a pool of 12 contenders and went hands-on with each of them for several weeks. Our pool included both mineral and chemical broad-spectrum sunscreens with a minimum SPF of 30. We avoided sunscreens that have oxybenzone, or either of the two active ingredients the FDA proposed as unsafe (aminobenzoic acid and trolamine salicylate).

To be clear, we didn’t test how well these sunscreens protect skin from the sun — for that, we relied on information from the US Food and Drug Administration and the experts we talked to (scroll down to see what they had to say). Too many variables (skin type, time of day, the sun’s intensity, etc.) made it impossible to accurately measure efficacy in our real-world testing. Rather, we had multiple testers with different skin types and tones test them for other variables such as feel, appearance on the skin, smell, ease of application and more.

After multiple weeks of testing, we found three sunscreens that stood above the rest:

The Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Sunscreen Spray scored miles above every other sunscreen we tested. An SPF 30, broad-spectrum, chemical formulation, this spray sunscreen applied super light, rubbed into the skin right away and smelled deliciously of coconut. A locking cap and slim bottle are just icing on the cake for our top-scoring sunscreen.

Our runner-up was the Alba Botanica Sport Sunscreen, an SPF 45, broad-spectrum, chemical sunscreen. It had a light texture, making it incredibly easy to apply, and it rubbed right into the skin without leaving any white streaks. It had a light, subtle scent and is the best option if you don’t want sunscreen with a strong smell.

If you want to be extra safe and go with a mineral sunscreen (more on the differences below), the Coppertone Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion is the pick for you. Physical sunscreens are harder to rub in and thicker than chemical sunscreens by nature, but this lotion rubbed in much better than other mineral options and has a light feel. It’s an SPF 50, broad-spectrum formulation with zinc oxide as its only active ingredient, which means it’s the safest pick if you’re worried about chemical absorption or have sensitive skin.

Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Sunscreen Spray

Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Sunscreen Spray

The Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Sunscreen Spray achieved a perfect score in nearly every single one of our tests. Its spray function made it extremely easy to apply, and it has a wide and even distribution, making it easy to quickly cover your entire body with a swift pass; it clocked in with the fastest full-body application for the testers who tried it out.

The spray disappeared nearly immediately into the skin and didn’t leave any lingering color or sheen. It felt a little wet at first but soon absorbed, and we completely forgot we’d even applied it. The spray’s tropical smell of coconut was pleasant, though it has a hint of chemicals and is quite strong overall, which could deter people with more sensitive senses of smell.

In addition to being a quick and easy sunscreen to apply, the Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Sunscreen comes in a slim container that barely takes up any room in a bag, plus it can easily fit in a standard water bottle pouch on the side of a backpack. The cap twists into a lock position, so wherever you store it, you can be sure it won’t leak or soak any of your belongings.

The Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Sunscreen Spray will protect you from the sun with its expert-approved, broad-spectrum SPF 30 formulation. It’s water- and sweat-resistant for 80 minutes, and is made without the chemical ingredients that the FDA and other studies have warned us to avoid. It’s incredibly easy to apply and its smell, feel on the skin and lack of streaking places it solidly as our pick for best overall sunscreen.

Alba Botanica Sport Sunscreen

Alba Botanica Sport Sunscreen

If you don’t want a spray or if you have a sensitive sense of smell, then the Alba Botanica Sport Sunscreen is the pick for you. It scored remarkably high in our testing, a few points below our overall winner, just beating out the cult-favorite Sun Bum sunscreen (which we also loved; scroll down to read about other sunscreens we tested). The chemical sunscreen shone brightest in its ease of application and ability to disappear right into the skin. Its light texture rubbed in quickly, and one of our testers even said it left her skin looking glowy.

The Alba sunscreen is marketed as fragrance-free, which rings mostly true as both our testers loved its light and subtle scent. The only dings really came with the sunscreen’s feel, as it was a little thick and left a chalky feeling on one tester’s fingers after application.

Alba’s sunscreen comes in a small, compact bottle so you can easily stash it in any bag. The cap snaps shut, and while it doesn’t have a locking mechanism, it’s quite secure and shouldn’t leak.

The Alba Botanica Sport Sunscreen’s broad-spectrum, SPF 45 lotion met all of the experts’ standards for offering stellar sun protection, while avoiding the harsh chemicals the FDA has proposed as unsafe. If you’re looking for a sunscreen lotion that goes on fast or an option with little to no scent, we think the Alba Botanica Sport Sunscreen is the best one to keep you covered.

Coppertone Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion

Coppertone Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion

If you want to be extra safe and completely avoid chemical active ingredients, a mineral sunscreen is the way to go, according to the experts we spoke to. While this variety is generally thicker and harder to rub in than a chemical sunscreen, out of all the mineral options we tested, the Coppertone Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion stood out above the rest.

Alba’s Botanica Fragrance Free Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen fell short of our “best mineral sunscreen” spot because it was harder to rub in than the Coppertone, but the Alba mineral sunscreen does come in a spray bottle, which might be a plus for some.

The Coppertone formula is an SPF 50, broad-spectrum lotion with only one active ingredient: zinc oxide. The Coppertone excelled in tests where mineral options normally fell short, namely in ease of application and sunscreen visibility. The lotion itself is thin enough that it applies smoothly to the skin. However, like all mineral sunscreens we tested, it took a while to sink in. One of our testers saw a slight but noticeable white cast on her skin after applying, while another said it took some rubbing but most of the chalkiness and color eventually disappeared.

This sunscreen didn’t have much of a smell, though our testers did pick up a slight chalky, mineral scent. The Coppertone felt gentle on the skin, with no issues or irritation, which makes it a go-to option for anyone with sensitive skin, including children.

If you want to avoid chemical sunscreens altogether, there are plenty of mineral options out there. Many of them take more time to apply and might leave a white cast, but if you want a sunscreen that offers safe protection and isn’t a chore to put on, you won’t find one better than the Coppertone Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion.

We selected 12 sunscreens to test after extensively researching the different types available, their active ingredients and minimum requirements for effective protection against the sun. We relied heavily on research done by the FDA and spoke to various experts who echoed and supported the conclusions of the FDA.

We tested only sunscreens that were broad-spectrum (meaning they block both UVA and UVB rays), had an SPF of 30 or above, and didn’t contain oxybenzone or either of the two ingredients the FDA suggested as unsafe (aminobenzoic acid — commonly referred to as PABA — and trolamine salicylate).

We interviewed several experts, including dermatologists, to create these criteria. Dr. David Colbert, the founder and head physician at New York Dermatology Group, said micronized zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (the two mineral sunscreen ingredients) are the best active ingredients to look for because they are inertly safe. “Chemical sunblocks — the super long words most people can’t say or spell such as methoxycinnamate — can get into the bloodstream and into the environment,” he says. “I prefer physical sunblocks and of course sunblock clothing and umbrellas.”

The experts we talked to also praised physical sunscreens for their gentleness on skin. “The physical sunscreens’ ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, tend to be better tolerated by people with sensitive skin and can usually be found in sunscreens for babies and children,” says Dr. Elisabeth G. Richard, a member of the photobiology committee at The Skin Cancer Foundation, who’s also a practicing dermatologist and assistant professor at John Hopkins University School of Medicine. Above all, Richard says, what’s more important than the ingredients in your sunscreen is whether you use it. “We believe the best sunscreen is the one you’ll use,” she says. “What’s most important is choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day that suits your skin and activity.”

With so many different active ingredients and types of sunscreens, it can be overwhelming to know what to look for. The FDA complicated matters a bit more when it proposed a new rule in February 2019 calling for more research on certain sunscreen ingredients. “We are requesting additional information on these ingredients so that we can evaluate their GRASE [generally recognized as safe and effective] status in light of changed conditions, including substantially increased sunscreen usage and exposure and evolving information about the potential risks associated with these products since they were originally evaluated,” the agency wrote.

The FDA also recently found that seven common sunscreen chemicals can be absorbed into your bloodstream, although it stated that doesn’t mean you should necessarily stop using those ingredients: “The fact that an ingredient is absorbed through the skin and into the body does not mean that the ingredient is unsafe.”

One of the experts we talked to, Dr. Elisabeth G. Richard, a member of the photobiology committee at The Skin Cancer Foundation, says if people are concerned about absorption they should use physical (often called mineral) options, and, “Out of an abundance of caution, pregnant and nursing women may want to consider using mineral sunscreens.”

With all these new findings, choosing a safe and effective sunscreen can be a challenging task, which is why we dove deep into the research and interviewed experts to identify the best options. They all agreed that using a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects you from both UVA and UVB rays, is critical. On top of that, you should use a product with an SPF of at least 30, which tells you how long it takes for the UV rays to hit and damage your skin. So, using an SPF 30 — exactly as directed on the product’s packaging — means it will take you 30 times longer to burn compared with not wearing any sunscreen.

It’s also important to find a sunscreen that has a rating for water resistance. “If you’re going to be swimming or sweating, look for sunscreens labeled water-resistant which are tested to be effective for up to 40 minutes of swimming,” Richard says. “Very water-resistant sunscreens stay effective for up to 80 minutes in the water.”

Where it gets more complicated is deciding which kind of sunscreen ingredients you should use. We found that physical (mineral) sunscreens are your safest bet for protection, as none of the ingredients absorb into your bloodstream. Mineral sunscreens contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or both, but they are normally thicker and whiter and don’t disappear as well into your skin as their chemical counterparts. Mineral sunscreens work by physically blocking the rays of the sun so they don’t reach your skin. Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, work by absorbing the rays so your skin doesn’t have to.

In the world of chemical sunscreens, there are two active ingredients you should definitely avoid: aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and trolamine salicylate. In 2019, the FDA proposed that these do not meet the standards to be “safe and effective” for sunscreen use.

The FDA still wants more safety information on 12 other chemical sunscreen ingredients, but there are some studies about one ingredient in particular, oxybenzone, that have discovered a potential link between the chemical and lower testosterone levels, hormone changes in men, shorter pregnancies in women, and disrupted birth weights in babies. However, according to CNN Health, experts caution about assuming an association between exposure and those outcomes. Oxybenzone is one of the seven active ingredients that were found to absorb into your bloodstream, and Hawaii, Key West and the Pacific nation of Palau have banned sunscreens containing oxybenzone because of its impact on coral reefs. To be extra cautious, we didn’t include any sunscreens that contain oxybenzone in our tests.

While finding the perfect sunscreen that has broad-spectrum coverage and an SPF of at least 30 is critical to protecting yourself from the sun, many experts we talked to also made sure to point out that avoiding sun damage doesn’t end with a good sunscreen.

“While sunscreen is an important part of a sun protection strategy, it is not our only protection,” says Richard. “Remember that clothing, shade structures, sunglasses are all additional measures to use when protecting your skin from UV rays.” And Amanda Turney, a press officer at the FDA, encourages consumers to limit time in the sun, “especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense.”

We ran each sunscreen through the same set of tests to measure both performance and portability. We did not test each sunscreen’s ability to protect you from the sun’s rays, but instead relied on our extensive research and the opinions of experts we interviewed to create criteria that all the sunscreens we tested met. Our performance ratings were instead based on tests that focused on the products’ ease of application, visibility, smell and other variables. Since many of these tests are subjective, we had two testers evaluate each sunscreen and took the average of both results. Here’s a full breakdown of every test we ran:

Performance

  • Ease of application: Testers applied the sunscreen according to its directions and noted how difficult it was to apply to their entire bodies.
  • Time of application: Each tester applied the sunscreen three times and found the average time it took to apply the product thoroughly.
  • Sunscreen visibility: After applying each sunscreen, we noted if it left any color or white marks on the skin, or if it disappeared completely.
  • Sunscreen feel: We examined how the sunscreen felt on the skin, noting if it was sticky, greasy, thick or thin.
  • Sunscreen smell: We smelled the sunscreen whenever we applied it and noted if it had a pleasant scent.

Portability

  • Leaks: We examined the bottle to see if it would leak easily, giving points to sunscreens with secure caps.

Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Lotion Sunscreen ($11.49; target.com)

The Hawaiian Tropic lotion sunscreen performed quite well, but not as well as its spray-bottle counterpart. It lost a few points on ease of application and size. Overall, it’s a solid sunscreen that rubbed into the skin well and wasn’t too thick, but its tropical, fruity smell may be overpowering to some.

Banana Boat Simply Protect Sport Sunscreen Spray ($11.89; target.com)

This chemical sunscreen also scored very well in our testing, achieving high marks for ease of application, how it felt on the skin and visibility. One of our testers said it was a little harsh on her sensitive skin, though, and the chemical smell can be overbearing. But if those factors aren’t an issue for you, this option from Banana Boat is a top-notch spray sunscreen.

Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion ($15.99; ulta.com)

Sun Bum’s chemical sunscreen was one of our favorites. It has a light texture that rubs in quickly, and boy oh boy, does it smell good. The creamy banana scent had us reaching for Sun Bum more than most of the other options in our test pool. It was just a few points shy of our winners because it took more time to apply than the sprays and comes in a bottle that’s a bit bulky.

MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense SPF 50 ($39; amazon.com)

MDSolarSciences is one of the most expensive sunscreens we tested, but it fell short of our top picks in many categories. It didn’t have a discernible scent, which was nice, but it felt greasy on the skin, making our testers sweat more and leaving them desperately wanting a shower.

California Kids Supersensitive Broad-Spectrum Tinted Sunscreen ($35.99; amazon.com)

The biggest issue with this mineral sunscreen from California Kids was how long it took to rub into the skin. It lacks a strong scent, which is a plus, but both our testers docked points because it left a white residue that wouldn’t go away.

Thinksport Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+ ($12.71; amazon.com)

This sunscreen is made with the sole active ingredient of zinc oxide. It was incredibly thick and took quite a while to fully apply; even after our testers took a long time to thoroughly rub it in, it left white streaks. Several other mineral options we tested, such as the Coppertone and Alba sunscreens, were much easier to apply.

Alba Botanica Fragrance-Free Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen ($3.59; amazon.com)

This spray sunscreen from Alba was a close second to the Coppertone for our pick for best mineral sunscreen. The spray function made application a much faster process, but we still had to rub in the sunscreen a lot, as it came out white and chalky.

CeraVe Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen Stick ($12.99; amazon.com)

The CeraVe Sunscreen stick is a fantastic option for a portable sunscreen you can keep in your purse, but its small size means it’s a pain to apply to your entire body. It scored well in our tests, almost claiming the title of best mineral sunscreen, but we ultimately chose the Coppertone Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion since it’s a better option for full-body application. The CeraVe is a mineral formula and has a decent smell and feel, but where it really shone was with its petite size and ultimate portability.

Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Body Shield ($45; colorescience.com)

This mineral sunscreen is the most expensive on our list, but it scored lower than many other, cheaper options. It didn’t feel amazing on the skin, with one tester describing it as matte and silky, but still as though there were a thick film on his skin. It had a light scent that’s reminiscent of makeup, but it’s just too expensive compared with the other, better options we tested.

Read more from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing:

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Best Father’s Day gifts of 2021




CNN
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It seems like we barely get done celebrating Mom when it’s time to give props to Dad. Indeed, Father’s Day is coming up fast. It falls on June 20 this year.

Maybe you’ve noticed something. On Mom, it seems, we go hard. But then the next month, we sometimes…phone it in. Literally. We give dear old dad a ring and call it a day. Stats bear that out. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spend just about $8 billion more on Mother’s Day than Father’s Day. Now’s not the time to explore the cultural reasons for that, but we’re here to say it just ain’t right.

Start giving your dad his due this year, right here. We have such great gift ideas for him and for all the special fathers in our lives, from new dads to granddads.

Man Crates Trail Blazer Crate ($99.99; mancrates.com)

Man Crates Trail Blazer Crate

Man Crates

Man Crates Trail Blazer Crate

Help that outdoorsy dad even the man versus nature odds with this cache of gear and supplies. Once he cracks open the sealed wooden crate with the laser-etched crowbar (half the joy of this gift), he’ll find a 14-function tool, an extra-bright headlamp, a collapsible water bottle and a trio of meaty protein snacks.

Ballast Beach Pillow ($35; amazon.com)

Ballast Beach Pillow

Amazon

Ballast Beach Pillow

This plush pillow repels sand and wicks away water, but its claim to fame is its special design. It won’t blow away on windy beaches or breezy days poolside, like typical inflatable pillows. It can be used right on a towel or attached to a chair, and it comes in a carry case.

Kodak Step Mini Wireless Printer ($59.99, originally $69.99; amazon.com)

Kodak Step Mini Wireless Printer

Amazon

Kodak Step Mini Wireless Printer

The palm-size printer turns his favorite shots of his kids into 2-inch-by-3-inch prints, straight from his phone as the memories are happening. We were sold on the fact that you don’t need ink…that stuff costs a fortune. The Zink Paper (an included supply) is embedded with special dye crystals that make crisp images that resist moisture, tears and smudges.

Swimways Hydro Lacrosse Game ($14.99; dickssportinggoods.com)

Swimways Hydro Lacrosse Game

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Swimways Hydro Lacrosse Game

“Scoop it, Daddy!” Does your crew look forward to spending time in a pool, at the ocean or lakeside this summer? Then expect to hear that a lot. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly gift to encourage family fun, this is probably it.

The North Face Base Camp Duffel ($149; nordstrom.com)

The North Face Base Camp Duffel

Nordstrom

The North Face Base Camp Duffel

A duffel may seem like an expected gift — except when it’s this killer specimen from The North Face. Whether family road trips or camping adventures or both are in his future, this water-resistant bag, with an ergonomic shoulder strap as well as handles, is a worthy take-along. One of its reviewers had this to say: “I can stuff two complete sets of bedding for my camper in it, including pillows. If it gets tossed onto wet ground, everything’s fine. I love this bag!”

Schosche PowerUp 600 ($99.99; walmart.com)

Schosche PowerUp 600

Walmart

Schosche PowerUp 600

Is he a plan-ahead-just-in-case type of guy? Then he’ll be all about this clever device: lightweight car jumper cables, a flashlight (because breakdowns always happen in the dark) and a USB phone charger. It holds a charge for six months and automatically turns off to conserve the batteries the second the car starts.

Casio G-Shock Step Tracker Watch ($99; dickssportinggoods.com)

Casio G-Shock Step Tracker Watch

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Casio G-Shock Step Tracker Watch

For those fathers who want to trim their dad bods but haven’t plunged into a workout routine yet, this tech-drenched watch will be inspo to take the first step. Literally. It has a step counter with an acceleration sensor, an LED illuminator for his nightime walks or runs, a stop watch, alarm reminders, a goal log, a calorie tracker, an accompanying smartphone app, Bluetooth and resistance to water, shock and fogging up. Whoa.

Panasonic SoundSlayer Gaming Soundbar ($249.80, originally $299; amazon.com)

Panasonic SoundSlayer Gaming Soundbar

Amazon

Panasonic SoundSlayer Gaming Soundbar

So, yeah, this one’s slightly pricey, but for a guy who’s a gamer, with a kid who’s a gamer, the bonding sessions will be worth every nickel and way more. It’ll bring a whole new dimension of 3D sound to video game sessions.

And the speakers are legit: Panasonic partnered with the Final Fantasy XIV online sound team to design them. This soundbar brings an immersive experience to movies too, with ambient music and environmental sounds.

Nostaglia Hot Dog Toaster ($24.99; amazon.com)

Nostaglia Hot Dog Toaster

Amazon

Nostaglia Hot Dog Toaster

Give the man a break from the barbecue grill by gifting him this fun, old-timey appliance. It toasts the buns and warms franks perfectly, both at the same time. No more soggy boiled hot dogs in winter either. He’ll be able to enjoy his favorite taste of summer year-round.

Huron Shower Kit ($39; usehuron.com)

Huron Shower Kit

Huron

Huron Shower Kit

Do you get the sense your partner wants to level up his skin and hair game but is at a loss as to where to begin? Show him! This body wash, shampoo and conditioner set gives luxury products a run for their money. (Pssst: One of the founders formerly led development teams at top skin care brands.) But unlike luxury brands, Huron aims to be totally nonintimidating to men who have never been real good about taking care of themselves. The products have no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, silicones or aluminum.

Ostrichpillow Digital Detox Phone Case ($50; ostrichpillow.com)

Ostrichpillow Digital Detox Phone Case

Ostrichpillow

Ostrichpillow Digital Detox Phone Case

Let’s face it: We can all benefit from loosening our phone’s grip on us a little bit. And that goes double for dads with kids who are growing as fast as bamboo. Help him embrace distraction-free family time with this stealthy phone case. Slip a phone of any size up to iPhone 12 in, and all signals are blocked. Calls, texts, notifications, all of it. You’re welcome.

Best Farter Mug ($14.99, originally $19.99; amazon.com)

Best Farter Mug

Amazon

Best Farter Mug

OK, yes, mugs are usually a boring gift. But surely you agree this one is an exception, leaving “No. 1 Dad” in the dust.

Misen Essentials Knife Set ($130; misen.com)

Misen Essentials Knife Set

Misen

Misen Essentials Knife Set

If your guy, like many of us, discovered a love of cooking during the pandemic, he’ll be all over this high-quality set that includes a chef’s knife, a serrated knife and a paring knife. Armed with those three, he can cut and chop just about anything.

Misen makes its knives from steel that’s high in carbon, which ensures they’ll last basically forever and stay super sharp. The shape and weight of each piece makes it feel good in your hand. The 2,100 reviewers giving the set an average 4.9 stars agree on that point. Pun intended.

Little Words Project Lava Family Bracelet (starting at $8, originally $20; nordstrom.com)

Little Words Project Lava Family Bracelet

Nordstrom

Little Words Project Lava Family Bracelet

Slip this stretchy, handmade men’s bracelet on your husband’s wrist when you two first wake up on Father’s Day morning. It’ll be a perfect, sweet start to his special day. And long after June 20 has passed, it’ll serve as a reminder of what really matters and what most definitely does not (his boss’s maddening rants).

Bloomscape Mini Money Tree ($35; bloomscape.com)

Bloomscape Mini Money Tree

Bloomscape

Bloomscape Mini Money Tree

If there’s one thing a brand-new daddy wants, it’s a money tree. The classic Chinese money tree is said to trap your fortune within the folds of its braided trunk. Those are pretty big, though, so if you don’t have all that much room, may we suggest this cute mini version? It ships in a box that holds the pot (which comes in five colors) snugly in place. Plus, it comes with a 30-day “it’ll stay alive” guarantee. Tip: Tradition holds that businesses put it near the register, while in homes it should be placed in the southeast corner.

Wireless Bluetooth Shower Speaker ($19.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)

Wireless Bluetooth Shower Speaker

Bed, Bath and Beyond

Wireless Bluetooth Shower Speaker

With a newborn to care for, the shower can be about the only place one can gather their thoughts for a few minutes. Help him enjoy that brief break from daddy duty to the max with this shower speaker that can access his phone’s playlist. It even has a built-in speaker phone for caller ID. (That may take away from the relaxation aspect, but he’ll probably think it’s cool.)

Casper The Glow Light ($129; casper.com)

Casper The Glow Light

Casper

Casper The Glow Light

Babies sure do mess with sleep-wake cycles. You’re constantly drowsy from cutie-induced sleep deprivation, then when you can finally catch some zzz’s, you’re tossing and turning. Enter this new parent life improver. It’ll help Dad’s brain relax and wind down with a warm light that gradually dims. (It works in reverse as a gentle alarm clock, which you’ll appreciate in a few years when you need one.)

It also can be carried as a night light for 2 a.m. feedings, bright enough to keep him from walking into the refrigerator but not so bright that baby thinks she’s up for the day.

Canary Flex Security Camera ($129.97; amazon.com)

Canary Flex Security Camera

Amazon

Canary Flex Security Camera

Know a nervous (or just moony over his little miracle) first-time father? Put his mind at ease while brightening his days with this indoor-outdoor camera. It has night vision and motion detection with alerts, and it plays nice with Alexa and Google Assistant. Installation is also extremely simple.

Blue Bottle Coffee Blend Box ($35; bluebottlecoffee.com)

Blue Bottle Coffee Blend Box

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee Blend Box

Java his new best friend? Of course it is. Inside this gift box, he’ll find Blue Bottle’s most popular whole-bean coffee blends: Three Africas, Bella Donovan and Giant Steps. They’re all roasted right before shipping, so his cups of joe will taste supremely savory and fresh. We even named Blue Bottle the best coffee subscription of 2021.

Hearth & Hand With Magnolia Croquet Set ($99.99; target.com)

Hearth & Hand With Magnolia Croquet Set

Target

Hearth & Hand With Magnolia Croquet Set

Chip and Joanna Gaines had a hand in designing this modern incarnation of a beloved backyard game. It has wheels and a handle so he can easily roll it out for a round with the grandkids. The entire set is made of wood for that nice classic look.

Bokksu Authentic Japanese Snack Box Subscription (first box $31.50, $49.95 thereafter; amazon.com or starting at $39.95 per month; bokksu.com)

Bokksu Authentic Japanese Snack Box Subscription

Amazon

Bokksu Authentic Japanese Snack Box Subscription

Does Grandpa love his snacks? Then thrill him with an ongoing supply of treats he has surely never tried before. Each box of Bokksu yumminess delivers at least 20 snacks that normally can only be had in Japan. He’ll enjoy candy, senbei rice crackers, mochi, cakes, chips, tea…each box is different. All snacks are made by family-run small companies, which ship their packages direct from Japan, free, with tracking. A guide is included in every box that details each snack’s history and flavor profile.

Check out our review of Bokksu here.

Helinox Sunset Chair ($149.95; amazon.com)

Helinox Sunset Chair

Amazon

Helinox Sunset Chair

Comfy and perfectly portable, this top-flight aluminum beach, camping and watch-the-grandkids’-soccer-games seat weighs only 3 pounds. That’s inside the included carry bag! Yet it supports up to 320 pounds. It also sits higher off the ground than most such chairs, so it’s easier to get in and out of.

Brightland The Summer Grilling Capsule ($65; brightland.co)

Brightland The Summer Grilling Capsule

Brightland

Brightland The Summer Grilling Capsule

Everyone knows Grandpa is King of the Grill, presiding over summer barbecues with panache. As one of his adoring subjects, gift him this limited-edition set of lemon olive oil, a brushed gold drizzling spout, heirloom aromatic sea salt and two sustainably harvested cedar grilling planks.

Check out our review of Brightland olive oils here.

Crescent Lufkin Shockforce Nite Eye 25-Foot Tape Measure ($29.98; lowes.com)

Crescent Lufkin Shockforce Nite Eye 25-Foot Tape Measure

Lowe’s

Crescent Lufkin Shockforce Nite Eye 25-Foot Tape Measure

Handy grands will make so much use of this smartly designed tool. The two-sided blade has distinct green markings on matte black that can be easily read even when the light isn’t good. The blade extends out 14 feet without collapsing (even if he’s not holding it); the end hook has a special coating so it stays put without slipping.

Midland MicroMobile 2-Way Radio ($149.99; amazon.com)

Midland MicroMobile 2-Way Radio

Amazon

Midland MicroMobile 2-Way Radio

Roger that! Hook him up with a two-way radio with a handheld mic and an up to 50-mile range (depending on terrain). He’ll use it to keep in touch on a multi-vehicle road trip, chat with his buddies on walkie-talkies and stay ahead of the elements with NOAA weather stations. If he happens to live in a rural area, it’ll come in handy for chatting with nearby friends in areas with no cell service. It comes with a quick start guide, so if Gramps is a first-time user he’ll feel like an expert fast.

Shiitake Mushroom Log Kit ($30; uncommongoods.com)

Shiitake Mushroom Log Kit

Uncommon Goods

Shiitake Mushroom Log Kit

Is that special grandfather endlessly curious? A lover of nature or gardening? A bit of a mad scientist? Then this cannot fail to leave him giddy. All he has to do is soak his log and keep it in a damp, cool, dark spot. With resoaking and regular harvesting, he’ll have mushrooms for salads, soups and chicken marsala for three years or so. These shroom wonders are handmade in Georgia.

Custom iPhone Case ($50, originally $100; westandwillow.com)

Custom iPhone Case

West & Willow

Custom iPhone Case

This sleek yet tough iPhone case doubles as a means for your giftee to show off his pride and joy (even if that is a plump pug). It has flexible sides for easy off and on, and it’s designed to make wireless charging a snap.

‘Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life With Your Cat’ by Jackson Galaxy ($14.97; amazon.com)

'Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life With Your Cat' by Jackson Galaxy

Amazon

‘Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life With Your Cat’ by Jackson Galaxy

We’ve all heard that dogs have owners while cats have staff. Consider this his employee handbook. Cat daddy extraordinaire Jackson Galaxy will help him understand why his feline does what he does. He even offers up the secret to stress-free trips to the vet. This is essentially everything Jackson knows about cats.

Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Kit ($99.99; chewy.com)

Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Kit

Chewy

Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Kit

Give him the gift of an answer to the question “What kind of dog is that?” The DNA test from Wisdom Panel can break down breed information down to 1%. The process is easy and not at all uncomfortable for your pup.

KitAtlas Custom Pet Magnet ($26; etsy.com)

KitAtlas Custom Pet Magnet

Etsy

KitAtlas Custom Pet Magnet

He’ll show off the object of his affection with a magnet on the fridge designed to look just like his best pal. The collar can even be personalized with his pet’s name.

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View site

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Why Is Asthma Worse at Night?


Man holding asthma nebulizer on bed at night

Shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing are annoying enough during the day. Waking up in the middle of a coughing fit or being unable to catch your breath in the quiet of the night is downright disturbing. Unfortunately, approximately 30 to 70% of people with asthma experience nocturnal asthma, or a worsening of asthma symptoms at night. Not everyone with asthma feels worse at night, but many do.

Learn more about nocturnal asthma and what to do if you have nighttime asthma with cough and other symptoms.

The most common reasons asthma is worse at night:

  • Exposure to allergens. Bedbugs. Pet dander. Dust mites. All are common in the bedroom, and all can trigger asthma attacks. You probably spend 6 to 9 hours in bed every day; that’s a long time to be exposed to potential allergens. Some people also experience delayed allergic reactions at night. It’s not uncommon for an allergic response to occur 3 to 8 hours after exposure to an allergen. If you’re exposed to pollen, for instance, in the early evening, you might experience shortness of breath and wheezing when you’re trying to fall asleep.

  • Supine position and acid reflux. When we lie down, it’s easier for stomach acid to travel back up into the esophagus, the tube connecting the mouth and stomach.Instead of being swallowed, some of this fluid can enter the large airways and provoke an irritating cough. Reflux of stomach acid can also cause the airways to constrict, which leads to more difficulty breathing.

  • Postnasal drip. People are more susceptible to postnasal drip at night. When you lie flat, it’s easier for fluid to drip down the back of your throat and cause coughing. Lying down also causes fluid to shift from the legs to the chest, which can lead to increased fluid accumulation in the airway walls and narrowing of the breathing passages.

  • Circadian changes in lung function. Our lungs work differently during the night. Perhaps because human beings evolved to be active during the day, our lung function is best during the day. Airway resistance increases throughout the night, and that effect is more pronounced in people with asthma.

  • Stress. At least one study has found a relationship between stress and nighttime asthma. Hormones released by the body in times of stress can cause inflammation, so researchers theorize that stress may lead to narrowed airways, at least in some people.

If you wake up in the middle of an asthma attack, use your rescue inhaler. (It’s a good idea to keep it within reach of your bed, especially if you’re prone to nocturnal asthma.) Adopting a more upright position may help too. Some people find that a drink of water can ease a cough.

If you regularly experience asthma symptoms at night, talk with your healthcare provider about the problem. Adjusting the timing of your asthma medicine may help. Some studies, for instance, have shown that an 800 microgram dose of inhaled triamcinolone (Azmacort) at 3 pm is more effective than taking 200 micrograms of it four times a day.

Your healthcare provider may also need to increase or add medication. Asthma tends to get worse over time, and if you’re having symptoms at night, your asthma may be poorly controlled. Tweaking your asthma management plan may eliminate your nighttime symptoms.

Exercise can help alleviate nocturnal asthma as well. Studies have found that physical activity at least twice a week for 6 to 8 weeks decreased nighttime asthma symptoms in children. Ten to 12 weeks of physical exercise also decreased nocturnal asthma and improved sleep in adults.

People whose asthma is worse at night should see a healthcare provider and ask about nocturnal asthma treatment.