Sunburns are the absolute worst, both in the immediate “this sucks” sense, and in the more long term, “Oh great, now I have cancer” sense. Beyond that, most of us treat sunburns like we do any other ailment — complain about it, treat it and move on.
But what can we learn from a group of people whose entire identity is shaped around a single sunburnt piece of flesh? What do they know about the trials and tribulations of a burnt neck that those of us who generally burn everywhere, or don’t burn at all, might not? We reached out to some hand-to-God, self-proclaimed rednecks to hear what they have to say about, well, red necks.
Chris Herman, host of the Real World Redneck podcast: It may sound obvious, but the first line of defense against sunburn is a hat. We don’t just wear them out here for fashion — they give a pretty good sun shield for your face and neck. Slather on the sunscreen if you must, but a better option is to get a good tan in the first place, early in the season, before the summer sun starts baking you!
How do you do that? Get off the couch! Get out of the house and do something. Put your phone down and take a walk. Do something with your hands. Move!
As far as treatment, you can’t go wrong with the green stuff. Lots of gooey aloe vera gel.
Mike Byrnes, self-declared redneck in Chicago: Let’s break the word down. First letter: “R,” as in, “R U talking about sun burns.” The answer: Yes. A good burn is the only way I know how to start the summer. I put on that “SPF NO THANKS,” and let nature do its work. Once I’m in enough searing pain, I’m ready to really enjoy myself and go back into my dark cave where sunlight is nonexistent.
Jackie and Dunlap, hosts of the Red State Update podcast: Don’t go outside! Stay indoors with a Ray Stevens playlist on YouTube and a bowl of potted meat and cut-up sweet pickles. If you get sunburned anyways, you can make a healing salve out of that potted meat and cut-up sweet pickles, too. So basically, stock up on potted meat and cut-up sweet pickles.
Another old trick to avoid sunburns is crawling up under cars and pretending to change the oil. You can even use the cars on blocks in your yard. UV protection and those weasels at Jiffy Lube won’t get a durn cent.
William Dupree, aka @PeaceOfTheSouth on Twitter: To avoid a red (burnt) neck, wear T-shirts, no v-necks, and stay out of the sun. If you’re in the country and no sunscreen is available, apply a light layer of mud to any exposed areas. When applying sunscreen, I stick to keeping the burnt area moisturized — whether through aloe, lotion or mud if I’m in a pinch.
Cordel Gunderson, part-time employee at a “sketchy mechanic shop” in North Carolina: There’s a stigma about red necks among certain groups, and among others, there’s high-fives. Personally, I don’t like it ’cause it’s itchy. If you’re going out to higher-class things, or making serious business deals, a red neck will make you look less credible, because people who don’t work with their hands think those who do are basically aliens. I don’t do those too often, but I like my neck to not give me skin cancer. My grandpa got skin cancer on his nose from working on his farm every day, even with a full-sized straw hat, and I ain’t tougher than Pa was.
Baseball caps don’t count, not even if they’re backward — the sun comes in sideways from the sides not covered, the hats are too short for full neck coverage (there’s a reason for the bigness of the hats), you look stupid and the sun gets in your eyes and burns your nose. That’s why those loose fitting, poorly shaped, cheap looking hats are so popular (aside from being cheap and readily available) — they just work, most of the time. Holes also help with heat, because airflow.
“Oh yeah, just get a mullet,” helps with the neck, but then your face is burnt and your head is too hot in the back anyways. Get your ass a hat. Or work outside for less time in the heat of the day, and just get up earlier/stay up later.
That said, get and keep some sunscreen if you really want to avoid burning. Shit’s important. Shit will also get completely ignored once you start working and your hands are dirty, but it’s one of those things you ought to remember and go, “Damn, I should’ve done that.” Or, if you’re blessed by the gods, your girl/whoever comes out and rubs it into your neck for you. And then aloe at night — I could kiss her just thinking about it. Watch out for tan lines with sunscreen though, or you’ll look like a redneck (especially around gloves, if you need those — even rednecks might think that’s odd, because rednecks generally don’t bother with gloves).
Okay, I lied. A lot of what I’ve said above is sissy shit, and you should just tan your neck the hard way until it stops burning — then you don’t need to worry about burns, according to some.