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Thread: Sunscreen and mandolin finishes

  1. #1

    Default Sunscreen and mandolin finishes

    Festival season is coming up. Are there any sunscreens that won't cause finish problems? Are mineral sunscreens (zinc oxide) less of a problem than chemical sunscreens?
    Last edited by Don Grieser; May-24-2019 at 11:56am.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Sunscreen and mandolin finishes

    Sounds like a wacko post but yes, you gotta be careful. Last year I had a ten-year-old Gibson mandolin on my bench with extensive damage from sunscreen. I ended up referring the job out for a refin by a guy I know who is far better at this sort of thing -- heart breaking and expensive.

  3. #3
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sunscreen and mandolin finishes

    Do we actually know which ones are safe? I kind of doubt any of them are I always keep my hands clean of the stuff and constantly clean where my forearm comes in contact and keep a t-shirt on. Are there any finishes that are more durable to sunscreen?
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Sunscreen and mandolin finishes

    Insect repellent messed up my mandolin’s finish (nitrocellulose).

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sunscreen and mandolin finishes

    Deet in insect repellent is a known fogger of finishes. I have a Martin guitar to show as proof. It would make sense that other chemicals could do the same. I had a friend that used to cut the top off an old tube sock and put it on his forearm when he was playing at festivals. Chances are it won't be your fingers or hands that kill a spot, chances are that you'll lay your sweaty arm across the top at some point while playing or not playing and the transfer will take place then.
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  6. #6
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sunscreen and mandolin finishes

    I use real vanilla extract as an insect repellent and Absorbine Jr. When summer rolls around I don't use scented soap because it seems to attract insects. For sunscreen, I use the Neutrogena with helioplex. I do go out of my way to keep my arm off the mandolin though. So far no issues so I can't say if it is caution or the stuff used that has not damaged my finish.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Sunscreen and mandolin finishes

    Down here in Florida where UV rays and skin cancer are serious business, we're partial to Columbia long-sleeved fishing shirts. They're unbelievably light, vented, and don't hold sweat like cotton. Buy a light color and you're actually cooler wearing one than having bare skin exposed as the shirt reflects the sun's rays. Pricey but exceedingly well-made. NFI on my part, just converted user.

  8. #8
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sunscreen and mandolin finishes

    I don't use bug spray or sunscreen at all, that will NUKE a finish-heck swet is bad enough and will fog up varnish and lacquer. I used to take odorless garlic tablets "before heart problems" and I never got bug bit, My wife said that use dryer sheets-tie in your hair if you have hair or put on hat? She said it works? Sunscreen, just wear a long shirt, one shouldn't play in the direct sun anyway but we all know you can't follow that rule if at a festival, but one can be mindful of the position you play. I refuse to play gigs in direct sun.

  9. #9
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sunscreen and mandolin finishes

    I use zinc and natural oils...I avoid getting it on my Mandolin, but if I do it’s not eating the finish and can wipe off.
    I don’t use synthetic insect repellent, especially when I’m playing or fishing, the chemicals attack fly line too.
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  11. #10
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sunscreen and mandolin finishes

    Quote Originally Posted by William Smith View Post
    I don't use bug spray or sunscreen at all, that will NUKE a finish-heck swet is bad enough and will fog up varnish and lacquer. I used to take odorless garlic tablets "before heart problems" and I never got bug bit, My wife said that use dryer sheets-tie in your hair if you have hair or put on hat? She said it works? Sunscreen, just wear a long shirt, one shouldn't play in the direct sun anyway but we all know you can't follow that rule if at a festival, but one can be mindful of the position you play. I refuse to play gigs in direct sun.
    I have looked at those shirts, so they really work to block the suns rays?

    I used to go without and just use real vanilla extract but with age and the many hours of outside work, growing up a farm kid, military time, and still working outside a lot, I have started getting some sun damage and I do not want skin cancer. So I use the Nuetragena helioplex product. It works great. I can put on their 75 product and be outside all day and not get a burn at all. But like I said I keep it off the instrument. I don't want to experiment just to see what it will do to my mandolin, maybe on some scrap wood, this would be a worthy experiment. I have friends and family that have had skin cancer so I won't take any chances anymore.

    For the ladies, a few years ago I read a study conducted in Australia over a ten year period. Someone wanted to know what the best anti-aging cream was. So as studies go those with valid product put it on daily using up to a golf ball sized wad by the end of the day those not using anything just went about the day as normal. They were checked routinely and over five or ten years I don't remember, those without had noticeable wrinkles and signs of aging those who used the Helioplex product had the least aging of all to the point there were no visible wrinkles forming, no sun damage, etc, I have my whole family use the stuff now. Just saying, when I was younger I didn't care we used baby oil to tan! But with the development of some skin damage I had frozen off I decided prudence was the wise path.
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  12. #11

    Default Re: Sunscreen and mandolin finishes

    Not sure I really understand the question or concern? Only an idiot would put that junk on their instrument......

    OK, I think I understand, now. Putting that crap on your skin, then having it rub off, mixed with sweat on your instrument from playing in the hot sun.....

    Working at a vintage guitar shop, in summertime, everybody sweats at a different rate. I remember one fellow playing a 40's Banner J-45 for 30 minutes or so and the whole back of it turned white as did the forearm area on the top. Hangs the guitar back on the wall and leaves. Local guy, regular customer. Anyway, when it dried it was fine, so.......

    On a related note, my dad spend his whole life working inside an office building and died of skin cancer, that had spread to his brain. The doctors traced it back to one summer in 1950 that he and his brother got jobs on the railroad laying ties and worked all day with their shirts off.........FWIW.

  13. #12
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sunscreen and mandolin finishes

    Do sun shirts work? Yes! I work 200 days a year outside. My work uniform is essentially fishing guide clothes. I never burn. They are also mosquito proof!
    2007 Weber Custom Elite "old wood"
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  15. #13
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sunscreen and mandolin finishes

    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMatt View Post
    Do sun shirts work? Yes! I work 200 days a year outside. My work uniform is essentially fishing guide clothes. I never burn. They are also mosquito proof!
    I grew up in the river bottoms of the Mississippi in Iowa, Mosquitos the size of busses or so it seemed. I am on the SD Iowa and Mn border and still get those nasty critters. I need to look into these shirts. I spend a whole lot of time outside as well but generally, even if I am working I am in Keen uneek sandals and shorts nothing else. I never burn because of the sunscreen I use and the bug soother spray is all natural oils, Vanilla Eucalyptus, etc. Thanks for the heads up!

    Any preferred brands?
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  16. #14
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sunscreen and mandolin finishes

    Sun shirts that I use are Columbia, Mountain Hardwear, Magellan, pants are Gramicci RiverG(tough with some stretch)
    I'm an organic vegetable farmer...no shade in a farm field.
    The tight weave of the fabric resists mosquito mouths, ample mesh pit and back vents keep the air circulating.
    2007 Weber Custom Elite "old wood"
    2017 Ratliff R5 Custom #1148
    Several nice old Fiddles
    2007 Martin 000-15S 12 fret Auditorium-slot head
    Deering Classic Open Back
    Too many microphones

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  18. #15

    Default Re: Sunscreen and mandolin finishes

    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMatt View Post
    I'm an organic vegetable farmer
    I thought you were a dental floss tycoon. Seriously though, lots of good info here. Going to some of those UV clothes. Thanks everyone!
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    Original Melodies for Mandolin, Mandola & Mandocello
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  19. #16

    Default Re: Sunscreen and mandolin finishes

    It would seem to me an armrest would be prudent in such situations.
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