Coffee Break: Defense Refresh Setting Mist SPF 50

Sunscreen Spray: Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist SPF 50 At a recent conference I spoke to a Supergoop! representative about this new product, which promises to fix a number of problems for working women. It’s a refresher with sunscreen that is also a setting spray for your makeup; Vogue included it in its roundup of several similar products last spring. Here’s the rep’s pitch: For working women, even if you sit all day in front of the computer, UV rays can still reach you through glass windows — and so after you eat your lunch and refresh your makeup, you should also spritz this mist to re-up your sunscreen protection. I always find scent a HUGE component of any kind of spray product, and I’m happy to report the rosemary/mint smell is lovely. Light, refreshing — the perfect sort of thing to recenter yourself for a productive afternoon. The spray is $28 for 3.4 oz. (or $12 for 1 oz.) at Sephora. Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist SPF 50



  1. Anonymous :

    Or you could just, I dunno, put on regular sunscreen in the morning. If you’re not sweating or swimming, and you’re not even outside, I’m pretty sure your sunscreen can last you all day and doesn’t need to be reapplied. Some UV does get through glass windows but it’s so minimal compared to the UV exposure you get when you’re actually outside.

    • Anonymous :

      Yup. Does this spray actually even work as sunscreen?

    • Sunscreen should be reapplied every 4 hours even if you’re not swimming/sweating. UV that goes through glass may not make you burn but will contribute to cumulative sun exposure and premature skin aging. Technically, spray-on sunscreen contain all the right ingredients at the right concentration. My issue with it is that you don’t really know if you’re using enough or if if it goes everywhere you want it too.

    • Sunscreen PSA :

      The biggest problem with this particular sunscreen is that it contains chemicals like Avobenzone, which degrade in the sun and are thought to increase your risk of skin cancer. The poor public awareness of sunscreen ingredients is troubling, given the high rates of skin cancer in this country. The best ingredients for sunscreens are physical blocks, not chemical blocks — Meroxyl, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide. Ladies, educate yourselves:;

    • lost academic :

      No, this isn’t true unless it’s a physical blocking sunscreen (I doubt most of us are using that as our regular facial routine). Chemical sunscreens break down, you need to reapply regularly.

    • Anonymous :

      Posting late but I truly hate this brand. I have gotten countless Supergoop products from Birchbox and I just do not find them effective and they all smell terrible.

  2. Are those salary cost of living comparison calculators right?

    I’m looking at a position that pays $105k in Atlanta. I currently make $85k in DC and have to budget pretty tightly (SLs, naturally). The calculator says $105k in Atlanta is equivalent to $150k in DC. Does anyone have a sense of whether that’d be accurate?

    Is $100k good for a mid-30s singleton in Atlanta? I’m guessing yes.

    • PS – how’s the dating scene in Atlanta for an educated, professional woman in her mid-30s?

      • I can’t speak to the accuracy of the calculators, but 105k in Atlanta will set you up pretty well. Most 1 br apartments in the nicest, safest, coolest areas of town are renting for about 1,400+. Food and drinks will be cheaper than in DC, but not drastically so. We are also living under the tyranny of the 12 dollar glass of wine/c*ctail at the higher end restaurants.

        Re; dating. Ughg. Lots of people are already coupled. ATL isn’t exactly a bastion of highly educated, professional men compared with other large cities, but it’s certainly better than anywhere else in the south (except for the Research Triangle Park area in NC, perhaps).

    • Atlanta has a pretty low cost of living compared to DC. You’ll probably see it first in the housing costs. so maybe play around with some of the apartment finders to get a sense of it.

      • Also DC to ATL :

        I’m also moving from the DMV to ATL! I think the living expenses are dramatically lower. My SO and I currently pay $2,800/month in NOVA for a 1 bedroom and a den. In ATL, we get a 2 BD/2BR and twice the square footage for $1,600/month.

        I find the restaurants cost about the same if you are downtown. I know that isn’t a great comparison, but if housing is a big cost in DC, you can save a ton of money in ATL.

    • Anonymous :

      I think a better comparison is to look at the cost of specific things, especially the things you spend the most money on. If housing is a big monthly expense for you and housing in Atlanta costs 60% of what housing in DC does, that’s probably a good estimate. But if on the other hand, you spend a ton of money on meals out or travel, and those expenses won’t go down that much, if at all, then it might not be a good estimate.
      I have no specific experience with the Southeast, but generally housing is the big thing that will be dramatically cheaper. I moved from one of the highest cost of living places in the US to one of the lowest, and although housing is about 5 to 10 times cheaper here, most other things are only slightly cheaper (gas is maybe 60-70% as much here as in the HCOL place, restaurants 70%, food at the grocery store 90-100%).

      Also worth asking yourself will you keep the same lifestyle or will you want a better lifestyle in the cheaper place? I actually have higher monthly expenses now that I live in a super LCOL area, because here I own a five bedroom house and in the HCOL area I rented a one bedroom apartment. That’s a dramatic upgrade to be sure, but most people do generally want more space when they move to a cheaper area. Would you need a car in Atlanta but not in DC?

    • atlantaanon :

      That’s around my salary in Atlanta, and I think I have a fairly good standard of living. I just purchased a (very) small townhome in a “hot” part of town, drive a modest and dependable car, take a good number of weekend trips, go out to eat and out to see live shows pretty frequently, give to charities that matter to me, and still save pretty aggressively for retirement.

      However, I don’t actually think Atlanta proper is as low as a LCOL city as some people make it out to be. Yes, you almost definitely need a car in Atlanta and rents and housing prices are climbing in the areas that you likely will want to live (expect $1600 to rent a one bedroom in a good/safe area). But it’s a fun city to be in right now. It just feels like the energy is at an all time high for city residents. There are new parks, restaurants, museums, and attractions sprouting up all over the place at a pace I haven’t seen since I moved here in 2009. There are lots of former DC residents in this town, and Atlanta is filled with people from all over the world.

      Dating scene for well educated women in their 30s pretty much stinks though.

    • Anonymous :

      DH and I moved from DC to ATL about a year ago, and I can attest that, in general, the cost of living is much lower. The previous posters are right that you should look at housing costs first and foremost – and those can vary widely based on where in ATL you want to live. We live Inside the Perimeter (ITP) but not in the city of Atlanta, and our housing is significantly less than we paid for a rental place in Northwest DC. My understanding is that housing costs get higher the closer in you get to the city center (as would be expected) – so it’s much more expensive to live in Midtown than in Brookhaven or Outside the Perimeter. So keep that in mind as you assess COL – what do you want and expect from housing. Everything else seems to be approximately the same costs, i.e., I don’t feel like we spend significantly less on groceries or eating out than we did in DC.

      As far as dating, I don’t have any personal experience with it, but I have several single friends here, and it sounds like the scene is getting better for those over 30, though you should know that a lot of people get married young here. That tends to be the locals/natives, however – and Atlanta is chock full of transplants who came to work at the big companies (like DH and myself), and there is definitely a more thriving singles scene among that group. Atlanta is kind of like DC that way – lots of people from outside the city, so there are a lot of others looking to get to know the city like you.

    • I think when you have student loan costs that are a meaningful % of your cost base (and other costs that won’t adjust with your location, or a high saving rate), or really anytime you’re not spending nearly all your salary on housing, childcare and public transport, you can’t really rely on a COL adjustment like that. I have a hard time seeing you spending $45k less in ATL vs. DC. So no, I would not think of that as accurate in any precise sense, though it does seem you’ll be much better off in ATL at $105k vs. Dc at $85k, no doubt! I’d go for it.

  3. How you've changed :

    Ladies who are late 20s/early 30s and above: how do you think you’ve changed since your 20s? Good, bad, etc. Also, how do you think that version of yourself would view the person you are and your life today?

    • Anonymous :

      MM…Late 20s. I’m definitely less emotional and more level-headed (yay!) I feel as if I can pretty much handle most adult things (apartment issues, financial, etc…) or I recognize when I need to call in re-enforcements. I’m probably more co-dependent on my husband now as I’m just used to him taking care of certain things whereas I had to do more myself in my early to mid-twenties. I don’t care about other peoples opinions as much when making a decision because I realize I need to do what’s best for me/my family (meaning me and my husband) rather than gather input from my parents or siblings. This may all be a result of getting married though. I hear not caring about what people think as much is a huge by-product of entering your 30s though.

      I think 20s me would be happy where I am, but a little disappointed I didn’t travel/have more adventures. She’d be proud that I’m more in shape now than I was then. BUT, when I was in my early 20s I didn’t realize how much my student loans were going to kick my a** an severely limit my financial situation.

    • Anonymous :

      I’m 32. I have found my 30s incredibly freeing. Right around my 30th birthday I started giving absolutely no f*cks. I have no patience for BS. I tell people what I really think. I’ve ended relationships (personal and professional) that didn’t make me happy. I have done a lot of soul-searching about what I want to do for a living and am preparing to leave my first career (law) and do what I really want to do. I care about my husband, my dog, my parents and my BFFs and don’t worry about anyone else or their opinion. I buy nice things for myself with zero guilt.

      Lots of good things happened to me in my 20s, but I feel much happier and more settled since turning 30.

      • So much this. I can see 20s-drama from miles away and just avoid it.

        I am confident. I don’t have FOMO–I’ll either go, or not go, but not worry what everyone else is doing.

        I found my footing professionally. I stopped obsessing over THINGS I CANNOT CHANGE. I will never be petite (I’m tall). I will never be able to pull off certain fashions (I’m not busty/I have not great skin).

        I am so much happier just being me.

      • Anonymous :

        LOVE my 30s. Sure I was a little down when I first turned 30 and realized that I was unlikely to marry, etc., whatever else I thought was going to happen in my life. Now I’m 33 and I’m so happy and confident. I wasted so much of my teens and 20s worrying about what other people thought and wanted. Now I do me and I’m happy. I focus on the interests I like, I don’t wait around for other people to make things happen, I don’t worry about what I “should” do. I wear a fanny pack that holds my water bottles when I hike and don’t worry about how uncool it is. I wear as much makeup as I want. I don’t waste time on people I don’t care about. I don’t hide my opinions. Life isn’t perfect but I’m in control of my life and I love it.

        • “Sure I was a little down when I first turned 30 and realized that I was unlikely to marry, etc.”


          So do women expire the day they hit 30 or do they get a few weeks’ grace period? Kind of like how you can eat yogurt a little past its sell-by date cause, ya know, it’s already a little funky.

          Inquiring 29 year old minds want to know….. :/

    • Anonymous :

      I’m about to turn 31. Compared to early-20s me, I have less tolerance for other people’s drama (in that it doesn’t affect my life), I care less about what relatively unimportant people think of me (my style, my figure, etc.), and I have mastered the ability to say “no” without guilt to people/functions/commitments that are not important or worth my time. In short, I am better at prioritizing the people and activities that truly add meaning to my life.

      • Anonymous :

        Yup. I have so much more confidence in living my life. I care not at all about fear of missing out.

    • Anonymous :

      Wow – strong theme here!

    • Echoing everyone else’s comments so far. Mid-thirties and so far, it has been wonderful and freeing in my 30s. I know who I am, I’m happy about the choices I’ve made in my life, and I don’t care if people that I don’t care about disagree with my choices. I’m only friends with people that enrich my life and that I want to spend time with. I don’t have the time or desire to deal with friend “drama,” and luckily, all of my friends seem to be of the same opinion. Overall, I feel like I know who I am and I’m strong enough to not compromise that.

    • Anonymous :

      Fun question! Mid-30s, and I am SO HAPPY with my life now, compared to the angst and worry I had in my mid-20s. Like previous posters, I care a whole lot less about what people think of me and my life choices, and that’s so freeing. Also, the passage of time has given me some great perspective on things that happened over the past 15 or so years – and have put me in a position to see that everything happens for a reason, I’ve grown from every experience, etc. As a result, I don’t have any regrets about decisions I’ve made, which is incredibly freeing. Overall, I wish I could go back in time and tell mid-20s me (the one who had just ended an engagement & was convinced she was never going to find anyone to spend her life with, and who worried constantly about whether she would have a successful career) to stop worrying, it’s all going to be fine.

      I think/hope my mid-20s me would be proud of the person I became. I took the path less traveled in my career (I’m an attorney who didn’t go the traditional law firm path) and I’ve ended up in a position that I love and that compensates me well. As far as my personal life, I had to go through a lot of heartbreaks to end up with my husband, but I’m SO glad I waited – not only because I wouldn’t have met him if I wouldn’t have waited (logistically, because we lived in different areas of the country), but also because I needed to go through those experiences to open me up to him. So overall, this is not a life I could have predicted, but I think mid-20s me would have said “you done good” :)

    • I am 33 and agree with everyone else so far. I just don’t care what most people think anymore and don’t waste time on things that don’t matter. I am confident in my decisions and in who I am now, much more so than I was in my early 20’s.

      I think 20’s me would be mostly happy with where I am now. My career has gone well, we have got our finances under control, my marriage is still strong (got married at 22), having kids has been so fun. I never expected some of the struggles we have had though, in particular my mother’s cancer and her slow recovery and the care that has required. I would have never imagined I would be taking care of her at this age. I thought we would have had another 15-20 years before that happened. But it is what it is. .

    • hoola hoopa :

      Another mid-30’s and loving it. I will say that it can be lonely (people are busy, many relocate, less built-in social time in general). My 30’s are much less spontaneous than my 20’s and the daily grind means that time suddenly passes without me being in the moment – and I miss that at times – but frankly, I’m so much smarter than I was in my 20’s. I’m much savvier in the office, for example. I make better choices in general. I don’t get pushed around in the current. And it feels really good to be in a place where I still feel somewhat young and attractive but free to choose a swimsuit based on whether I can get away with not grooming my bikini area and applying sunscreen to my shoulders.

      Sometimes I do look at myself and my life and think “how did I get here?” My late 20’s and early 30’s were such a whirlwind; it’s feels like mid-20’s me woke up one morning to mid-30’s me. It’s not bad, and it’s mostly to plan, it’s just surprisingly sudden.

      • anon 35-year-old :

        Definitely agree with all of this. It can be harder to even see close friends because most people are trying to juggle more demanding careers, family (either their own kids or their parents), dating/relationships take up more time, etc. But the time you do spend with people feels richer and more rewarding than it did in your 20s.

        Seems like mid-30s is a time when many people relocate, either to be closer to family, for a big career change, or just to buy a place or be able to afford to buy a place.

        I feel much truer to myself and more confident in my own skin, which is great. Makes dating a lot easier and more freeing than it was in my 20s. I also actually think I look better than in my 20s because I had a lot of baby fat and chubby cheeks that FINALLY went away when I hit my 30s.

        What I don’t like: The feeling that even though I try to live in the moment and be grateful for each day, blah blah blah, I still feel like life is flying by and I’ll be old before I know it.

        The “this is it?” feeling I sometimes get about work. In my 20s, it seemed more acceptable to feel that way.

        The dating pool is much smaller, but there are still some gems out there.

        You realize who your real friends are. I chose a lot of friends in my teens and 20s because of proximity, adventure, or just because the person was interesting, not necessarily because they were good people who shared similar values. Now I still have a lot of different types of friends, but they are all good about making and keeping plans, for example, or being supportive when I’m going through a rough time (and vice versa).

    • Also loving my 30s over here (36 yrs old).

      I was somewhat reckless, selfish, afraid to be me, afraid to speak my mind, SUPER hard on myself/hypercritical, and sought attention for the wrong reasons and in the wrong ways in my 20s. In my 30s I am confident, I really like who I have become, I found a job I liked instead of the job I was “supposed” to have, I have much healthier habits (diet, exercise, and WAY less booze), have cut out the negative energy in my life, generally do what I want when I want, and have realized that good enough is completely fine. Viva la 30s!

    • Anon just turned 40 :

      At 30 I remember coming to peace with myself. I’m introverted and have had short pockets of time when I’m part of an in crowd. At 30 I started to be more truly comfortable in my tendency toward being a loner. I don’t beat myself up anymore about not being one of the popular girls.

    • Well, hm, I’ll be the voice of dissent. I had My Sh1t Together in my mid-20s: well-paying job, owned my own house, married. In the last decade, I went to law school and took on $100k of debt, sold the house, got divorced, am now making only a little bit more than I made a decade ago, and live in a small one bedroom apartment. Yeah.

      I’m not sure which decisions I’d change. I feel like I’m flopping aimlessly through life. I have no idea where I’m going or what I’m doing and I’m terrified. Young me was confident and hopeful and optimistic. Now me wonders when it is exactly that I’m going to find my groove.

      • You have done so much. So much.

        I’m really proud of you.

        A small one bedroom is plenty. And thank goodness, so much easier to clean.

        Just…breathe. You’ll get there.

      • It sounds like you did a lot of traditional 30s things in your 20s – the house, the marriage, the job. That is awesome, you were ahead of the curve! Divorce and major upsets can hit you at any decade – in your 30s I think you have a lot of ‘runway’ ahead of you to recover. See this bump as coming earlier in your life than it does for many others, and have faith that you’ll pull yourself through.

    • Great question! When I was in my 20’s, I was very frivilus, and spent alot of money on stupid thing’s, but now that I am in my 30’s, I am VERY smart in what I spend money on, and have become very fruegel. I think everyone in the HIVE should think about this b/c we all have to retire in 30 years, and we need to have a 401K we can depend on after we stop workeing.

    • I have definitely grown as a person and understood this world better. In my 20s, so many situations/people I faced were first time for me and I made a lot of mistakes handling them. I had low self-confidence and allowed people to walk all over me. I don’t regret the experiences, I think they were important learning experiences.

      Now I am in my early 30s, I no longer allow others to take advantage of me, I don’t care if people like me, I have no expectations from people. I am much more at peace with myself and I have started volunteering, donating, in general giving back to the society.

    • Anon for this :

      I was so naive back then, it hurts to think back to how eagerly I threw myself into very bad things thinking everything was going to be okay. But I miss being confident and carefree; now I am cynical and insecure due to abusive relationships making it very hard for me to interact with people, especially men, on a social basis.

      It sucks. I preferred being naive.

  4. Laughing at the thought of touching up my make up after lunch. I’m lucky if I wear makeup at all on a given day. And I don’t wear sunscreen either unless I’m going to be outside for a good chunk of the day. I need a little vitamin D and I have sensitive skin that hates sunscreen. I only wear it when really necessary. You don’t see men wearing sunscreen every day so I really don’t think it’s the skin cancer risk making us wear it. It is the wrinkle risk and frankly, I don’t care if I have wrinkles when I’m old.

    I can get behind just a nice refreshing spray though. I like clinique’s moisture surge spray. Great for flying too. It can go over or under make up.

    • Anonymous :

      Have fun with your skin cancer! Men suck at taking care of their health. Idk why you want to emulate that. Especially if you are natural blonde.

    • Anonymous :

      FWIW, a doctor told me you can definitely get your Vitamin D fix with sunscreen on. Nobody wears enough sunscreen to block all UV rays so you still get a lot of Vitamin D with it on. I actually do wear sunscreen for skin cancer reasons, not because of a fear of wrinkles (and I do know a couple guys who do too).

      • Anonymous :

        And yes to the anon above me who said guys are (stereotypically) bad at taking care of their health. Men go to the doctor way less frequently than women. It doesn’t mean going to the doctor is vain.

    • Maddie Ross :

      Definitely disagree with this. (a) You are still getting vitamin D, even if you were sunscreen, and (b) my dad has had skin cancer and all the related surgeries. You can bet your butt both my DH and I were sunscreen every single day, at least from the neck up.

      • Same. Both of my parents have had skin cancer removed and they’ve preached sunscreen since as early as I can remember. My husband is 100% Irish and has to wear sun screen every day, or else he will literally get a sun burn in the car on the way home from work.

    • Anonymous :

      I think you have said this here before and your advice is very damaging and not medically sound. The average person will get plenty of Vit D with sunscreen on every day. If you are someone who has a documented Vit D deficiency, the healthiest option is a dietary supplement, either through foods that are rich in Vit D or a vitamin pill. No doctor on the planet would advise you to skip sunscreen to get more Vit D.

    • Agree about not touching up makeup but echo what others have said about sunscreen. No reason to expose yourself to skin cancer and there are plenty of sunscreens for those with sensitive skin. I ended up in the ER because of an allergic reaction to sunscreen and still have found something that works for my skin.

    • Eh – I’m with you, Blonde Lawyer . I don’t wear sunscreen during working hours. I’m willing to risk the one hour daily exposure (cumulative over the course of the day) in order to avoid my face feeling gross, since I haven’t found a sunscreen that doesn’t feel gross on my face.

      • Ditto. Yes, perhaps there’s a slightly larger risk of skin cancer with minimal exposure, but at some point, we’re getting into greatly diminishing returns. We’re all going to die of something.

        But if someone’s more comfortable in sunscreen, that’s fine. I’m sure that I take precautions that they don’t in something else.

      • Yeah, I don’t quite understand the defensiveness about sunscreen. If we all wore as much as the skincare industry would have us believe is necessary (healthy coat every morning, plus some sort of touch-up every two hours, regardless of what you’re doing), we’d all be buying a lot of sunscreen.

        • As far as I could tell, up until about 5-10 years ago, the strong norm among my peers was to regularly go to the tanning booth (something I never had much interest in), so if I’m going to age prematurely and die of skin cancer, I’m pretty sure that I’ll have a lot of company.

        • Maddie Ross :

          Yeah, I get the idea that the skincare industry pushes a lot more usage (both in actual quantity applied and reapplication timing) than is practical for most, but I think the defensiveness was to the statement that sun = good and that we really don’t need to wear it ’cause men don’t. Which fine, if you have an allergy issue to sunscreen, then yes, there is a cost benefit analysis to wearing it. But telling people it’s totally ok not to wear at all ’cause it’s not helping anything but wrinkles is really false and harmful.

    • I retract my statement! My advice is bad and just specific to me because I break out like a mofo from all sunscreens and get red itchy patches from it that look like hives. I can get away with wearing it on occasion but absolutely not daily (without a lot of discomfort) so I’m just trying to convince myself I will be fine without it. Ignore and move along.

      • Anonymous :

        I wonder if there’s a disconnect in what we’re talking about here. I think by “sunscreen” folks mean “anything with an SPF” not “thick goopy cr!p you coat your body with before going to the beach all day” right? My daily moisturizer has an SPF, as does my foundation, and I wear at least the moisturizer every day. I never wear thick goopy sunscreen on my face, though, because it makes me break out.

        • Sadly, I break out from SPF in make up and lotions too, just not as badly as I do from the goopy beach stuff.

          • kinda related to my post below, have you looked at the ingredients list on products with SPF to see if you might be allergic to something? I’m allergic to several main ingredients in chemical-based sunscreens (avobenzone and octinoxate for example), but not to sunscreen/block that have zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as main ingredients.

    • I’ve been religious about sunscreen since I was 21. I’m now 51. My skin is in much better shape than peers who ignored sunscreen, tanned, smoked, etc. and I’m very glad I established good habits when I was younger. If you care about how you look now, you’ll still care when you are in your fifties. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t turn into a different person, or a non-person, when you cross the divide into middle age.

    • It’s not so much the wrinkles when you’re old. It’s the wrinkles when you’re 40. Sunscreen every day for 25 years (and an indoor job) an I don’t have any wrinkles at 44. And I come from a wrinkly family.

    • Anonymous :

      I’m curious… how many of the every day sunscreen wearers also wear aluminum-free deodorant?

      • anonymous :

        I’m an every day sunscreen wearer and don’t wear aluminum free deodorant. It’s too hard to find one with good reviews. Although I’m also a daily sunscreen wearer more to delay signs of aging than skin cancer.

      • There’s no scientific conclusion that aluminum in deodorant is harmful. So, I’m not too worried about it.

      • Anonymous :

        It is undisputed that sun exposure is linked to skin cancer. The American Cancer Society has said the aluminum in deodorant-breast cancer link is “largely untrue.” Comparing these two “risks” is night and day, in my opinion.
        -Daily sunscreen wearer and I don’t worry about what’s in my deodorant

      • Me. I wear Old Spice deodorant, no antipersperant. Why don’t any womens’ brands have a deodorant only option? I don’t get that sweaty, I just need not to stink.

    • I cringe when I read cavalier comments about dying from skin cancer. At my first job out of college, a colleague (in his 50s) was diagnosed with skin cancer. He eventually died from it. And what a horrible way to die – they kept chopping off parts of his face/head in an effort to get ahead of it until he was so disfigured and sick that he could no longer work. It made a big impression on my 22 year old self. I never leave the house without sunscreen and sunglasses.

  5. Anon with older parents :

    I don’t know what to do. My parents, who are older but certainly not old, are not at all handy and consistently pay different workers to fix/plant/etc around the house. For the past year and a half or so, my mother has been using this one handyman “John” very frequently. John is not licensed and is not very careful (i.e. I have never seen him wear goggles or protective equipment, even when using power tools to sand down wood). He also does not seem to follow any safety protocols (i.e. He has no concept of providing proper ventilation in areas where he is working indoors). At times, John will bring random helpers to assist him, workers we do not know at all. My parents do not have any homeowners insurance clause for workmen. While I am not a lawyer, according to my research, if John or any of his workers get hurt while working for my parents, my parents could be completely liable.

    This is all very worrisome to me. Although my father has stated multiple times that he does not want John or any of his buddies coming to our house, my mother has disregarded this wish and says everyone uses unlicensed help (please note, my mother is extremely intelligent, one of the smartest people I know – I can’t understand why she is being so unintelligent in this situation).

    It also so happens that John tends to convince my mother that certain things need to be done. Not only is he really not capable of doing certain things, he has also caused numerous problems because of his work. For example, my mother recently had him sand down and restain the gorgeous front door. It had a few minor scratches on it but was otherwise beautiful. He sanded it down way too much and restained the front half of it a completely mismatching stain color. He then put back the locks incorrectly so my mother now has to call a locksmith to fix all the locks.

    Today, as he was sanding down the door (again, disregarding proper ventilation so all the wood particles were released and circulating in the main few rooms near where he was working), I asked my mother why he was sanding down the door so much – to me, it seemed quite excessive because he has literally caused piles of wood dust from all this sanding. So she went over and asked him – his answer was “it makes the door happy”.

    I then joined them and said (not meanly but also not necessarily so nicely either), doesn’t sanding it down so much weaken the door? He answered with an actual answer but then went on to say basically that just like he doesn’t pretend to be an expert in my line of work, I shouldn’t think I know anything about what he’s doing. The result of that conversation is that he knows that I do not trust him and am talking to my mother about it. So now, I also am somewhat wary of being on the wrong side of this man who we barely know who is nearly 7 feet tall and is very strong.

    Here’s my main gripe – fine I might not know much, but he’s not licensed, is rather negligent, and therefore can’t hold himself out as an expert either.

    My mother believes anything he says and even after my printing out multiple research articles from the state and a search on the license registry, still is not listening to me and plans to keep using him. I’m at my wits end – it’s true that he’s generally a nice guy (the little we know of him) but first, she exposing herself to unlimited liability. Second, he’s actually causing actual harm to the family’s health. Third, the jobs he does are not even well done and she ends up paying him so much while then also having to pay others to fix problems that he causes. And fourth – I am now not comfortable with him being in our house- although this is just a personal feeling and nothing he has done has indicated that I should feel unsafe in his presence.

    Any advice or commiseration?

    • I don’t mean to come across rudely, but it sounds like your mom has a crush on John. I think you need to enlist your father to tell her no, she can’t do this. This sounds like a Lifetime Movie waiting to happen and like physical possessions of theirs are going to go missing very soon (either because of John or the random unqualified helpers he is bringing in). It also sounds like, even if John is a perfectly good (though hapless) person, it is creating a situation where it would be easy for him to take advantage of her financially and maybe otherwise because your mom will be embarrassed to let anyone know if suddenly the silver is missing.
      Could you have a friend who is actually a contractor or a real estate agent or someone like that come in and say “WOW — this is shoddy work. Who did it?” or otherwise have a neutral party back you up on this?

      • Anon with older parents :

        No, no, no – there’s absolutely no possibility of a crush. Please just trust me on this – I know with absolutely certainty.

        Unfortunately, we don’t really know anyone who works in real estate or home improvement. But you have given me a good idea, I’m going to make sure to work from the house when the locksmith comes to fix the locks that John messed up, and I will ask the locksmith (someone we’ve used in the past and trust) to mention something to my mom about how John unnecessarily caused the problems with the locks.

        I am going to have a long talk with my dad tonight – it just seems like I can predict what will happen. He’s going to tell my mom he doesn’t feel comfortable using John. My mom will say that I, “daughter”, am overreacting as usual. She will then say well I don’t know anyone else to use (true), it’s impossible to find an affordable trustworthy handyman (also true). So she will then say she doesn’t really have any other choice.

        • It’s not impossible. My hometown has a Facebook group called “HOMETOWN Parents Network”, which is actually full of adults and not just school-aged parents. It’s a constant swap of names for good, reliable contractors, handymen, babysitters, painters, interior designers, etc etc. People get pretty candid/honest, too. Arm yourself with some alternative handyman contacts by accessing some social media community like that — give her other choices.

          • Anon with older parents :

            That’s a good idea but they live in a pretty large town so I have to check to see if something like that exists. Unfortunately, I don’t own a home so I lack the resources to know how to pick out good workermen!

          • Shopping Challenged :

            Other local websites where this kind of info is exchanged: “flea market” “swap and shop” “patch”, all with the name of the city or neighborhoods within it.

          • Bewitched :

            ANGIE’S LIST. Tell your smart mother that she shouldn’t be hiring anyone except someone who has multiple positive reviews from Angie’s List (or the Better Business Bureau or the like). I’m not a shill for Angie’s List and I’m sure they have problems in some areas, but they do require contractors to be licensed and insured. Deflect mom’s attention away from John and towards a more positive source for licensed and insured contractors.

          • Gail the Goldfish :

            NextDoor is good for these sort of recommendations, if it exists in your parent’s town. It’s a neighborhood message board system–you have to verify your address to join the group, so it’s not just random people. Just make sure to change your privacy settings when you join–the default is to have your address visible (no thanks, NextDoor, I don’t need the entire neighborhood knowing exactly where I live).

          • Anon with older parents :

            Thank you both, I’m going to look into these!

          • Killer Kitten Heels :

            Along the same lines as Angie’s List and NextDoor, we’ve had a really good success rate find solid, affordable professionals for home repair stuff using Home Advisor – basically, you put in the info of what you’re looking for, click that you want to be contacted, and you’ll get 3-5 calls from local business who are *actually licensed* to do the thing you need within 24 hours (actually, for me, it’s been within, like 30 minutes, but I believe the site promises a response within 24 hours). You schedule three or four consults, and pick the folks with the best price/presentation (my H and I usually go with the lowest priced company, but have occasionally selected someone different just based on comfort level/gut feeling/Yelp reviews).

      • Anon who also has parents who make poor life decisions :

        You cannot know that there is no possibility of a crush. You have no idea what is going on inside your mom’s head. People have secrets. There is a reason that your mom is ignoring your dad’s clearly stated wishes and still letting John and his buddies come over. That is the disturbing part. It doesn’t really matter how you feel, but your dad is clearly uncomfortable with John. Still, your mom wants to use John. John botches the work and your mom is still happy to employ him? There is some kind of emotional reason that your mom is using John, since he does not sound like a great handyman.Your parents have neighbors and friends. Who do they use for work like this? I don’t think you are overreacting. Maybe all the work John is doing is fine, and there is no problem with his working without a license. The real issue is that your mom is attached to the handyman.

        Ultimately though, your mom is hell bent on using John, and your dad doesn’t want to put his foot down. It is incredibly painful to see people you love make poor decisions. The best thing you can do is avoid spending time there, and try to avoid conversations about the house projects. It is only going to stress you out and make you sad.

        The silver may end up missing, and it may end up that the 401k and their investments start disappearing as well. This is your parent’s choice. Kind of like when you have a loved one who is a drug addict. You can’t change them. People live the life they choose.

    • I’m not sure I buy the argument that he’s harming your family’s health that much – some sawdust in the air is not a huge deal. You don’t need to wear a mask while you’re sanding wood unless there’s something harmful over it. I can see why your mom says that you’re overreacting. Why she keeps using him if he’s doing such a poor job is another question, but one that is probably best settled between your parents since it’s not your money or your house (or is it?) I would stay out of it. You mentioned “our house” – if you live with your parents in their house, unfortunately you don’t really get a say. You’re probably better off finding your own living arrangements where you won’t have to deal with this anymore.

      • Anon with older parents :

        Fair point. It was actually excessive sawdust (he literally sawed down half the door) but that was only one instance. I may totally be overreacting, I agree! At this point, I just am scared because of all the liability she is exposed to. My parents are not wealthy but have saved significantly for retirement and I would hate to see anything happen to that.

        I call it our house just because it’s the house I grew up in. I’m in grad school now so I’m back there frequently on breaks, etc.

        I know that maybe I should just stay out of it but it’s hard. My parents in general are just sort of naive and way too trusting. It’s difficult to be there and just stay out of it completely, particularly when my dad is not always made aware of what’s going on (he’s at work for long hours).

        Sigh. I guess this is just one of the struggles those of us with aging parents have to deal with.

        • I just don’t see how this has anything to do with her age. Like at all.

          • older parents :

            I agree. And my parents are over 80 (my father is over 90) and their judgment is completely sound.

          • older parents :

            (Not completely sound – they have their blind spots. But they’re perfectly capable of hiring a reponsible contractor).

        • It depends where you are located, but unless you’re reading their Homeowner’s Policy (which typically include personal liability) and the local laws, it’s possible that there is no need for a handyman to be licensed or insured (for when you sue them), anyway. Where I live, no license would be required for small jobs like sanding a door, and no licensed contractor would ever take such a small job. Your mom may know more than you think she does.

          I know it’s a weird time in your life, but it’s so much less stressful for yourself if you start staying out of things that aren’t technically your business. It is hard to let go, but it is freeing.

          • Anon with older parents :

            I checked my state’s labor department and the first thing they have listed is that it is a crime to act as a home improvement contracter (which is how he holds himself out) without a license.

          • Anon with older parents :

            Just to add to this. My mom has no idea what the laws are or what’s in her policy. I asked about her policy and she had no idea what it covered. She also had no idea that she could be sued if an unlicensed worker got hurt on her property.

          • If that is the case, go ahead and report him. It is a good idea to check first if small jobs fall under acting as a contractor, though, in case they do not and you anger your parents further.

          • Anon with older parents :

            I would not feel comfortable reporting him nor would I want him to lose his source of income. I just want my mother to understand why it’s not a good idea to keep using him :(

          • The tasks that you described would not typically require someone to obtain a license either from the state or local level. Things such as refinishing floors, painting, etc. are cosmetic and not covered under the International Building Codes which is what municipalities typically enforce.

            I really think you are over-reacting here.

          • Anon with older parents :

            He hasn’t just done cosmetic work though – he has built closets from scratch, etc.

          • Closets are structural though. I really feel like you are over reacting on this. I realize you are worried but you can’t make your parents live in a paranoid little box.

        • I agree that this is not your problem at all. It is not your house, it is not your liability, and it is not your wife ignoring your wishes. Honestly, you sound kind of co-dependent, or enmeshed – is there some reason you are so caught up in trying to fix this? I’m really not trying to be rude; your reaction seems out of sync with the situation, and I’m wondering if there is another reason for your reaction that you haven’t considered. Like, perhaps you identify with your father?

    • Disagree with prior answer. You do not need to do anything. Your parents are not senile. You are not liable. You have told them what you know and now you need to back off.

      You can’t parent your parents. If they’re messing up, they are messing up.

      The day may come when you do have to parent your parents when they’re elderly and infirm. That is my personal situation right now. My advice is to save your energy, because it will take a lot.

      • +1 to your last paragraph. This is where I am right now and it is so hard.

      • Anon with older parents :

        The reason I’m having a hard time letting it go is because of the unlimited liability they are opening themselves up to, which could have major repercussions for when they’re older and senile. I will not have any of the resources they have to help support them because of my current path in school. So, I really can’t let them risk everything, can I?

        • Bewitched :

          Second thought. Why not call the homeowners insurance and see if there is a supplemental policy you can purchase for contractors working at your house? I don’t know if that is a possibility but if it’s available, it could resolve some of your anxiety for minimal cost. GEnerally speaking though, I agree with everyone else that this is not your issue and your concern seems a little exaggerated given the circumstances.

          • Anon with older parents :

            I’ll have them call to see if there’s something they can add on to their insurance.

            Yea, I know, I really am overreacting. But a while ago (like 5 years), they actually ended up in a bit of a scrape and had to pay out a few thousand (not a lot but not a little) to an unscrupulous worker (not for injuries but for unrelated costs). That’s kind of why I have this need to feel like I have to help protect them.

          • This is a good idea. Honestly, I always figured workmen at my house were on their own if they fell off a ladder or inhaled sawdust. They are contractors, not employees. I would do some research before you assume that (short of undisclosed dangers) the homeowner has some potential for liability here. I would be very surprised if that guy has a case if he comes back in 10 years and demands that his respiratory problems be paid for because he inhaled saw dust at your parents house when he could have chosen to wear a mask.

          • Anon with older parents :

            I did a lot of research today and in my state, my parents would be liable for both John and his helpers, since John is not licensed and does not pay workmen’s comp for his helpers.

            It’s worrisome to me because he’s not just inhaling sawdust. At times, he is up on our roof, etc. so the potential liability really is quite large.

          • Since that’s the case, I think you have a rational reason to worry. Work with your dad to see what can be added to their insurance policy.

          • Shopping Challenged :


        • You must let them. It’s not your money and you have no financial obligation to take care of them in their older years. In fact, in some ways they’re better off with no assets anyway.

        • Maddie Ross :

          Like so many things in life, this is the kind of situation where you can say it once – “Mom, Dad, I think you need to find a licensed and insured contractor to do work on your house” – and then if they choose to ignore, you have to let it go.

        • Dementia is not inevitable. I guess that ageism will be the last ism to go, even after sizeism.

      • Shopping Challenged :

        Of course you have to parent your parents, once they’re old enough to make bad decisions. Senility doesn’t happen all at once, like breaking your leg. It’s more like going grey, a few strands at first, barely perceptible and easy to hide, then some sections that might come across as striking or bold. It’s a long way to all-out white, and you want to slowly fill in support as they gradually lose capabilities.
        Either that or stick em in a home and send cards at the holidays.

    • I would honestly stay out of this. Maybe have one final “I think this is not a good idea” talk with your parents and then leave it. They are adults and unfortunately, get to make their own bad decisions too.

    • Shopping Challenged :

      This involves a disagreement between your parents. You don’t want to get in the Middle of it. You also don’t want them to be financially ruined. Assuming that their finances are set up in a way that can do this, your dad needs to take out liability insurance for the house. My renters policy has umbrella coverage. This isn’t his ideal–he wants the dude out–but it is a pragmatic step to stay safe. He doesn’t have to tell your mom why he’s doing it, and if he prefers to delude himself as to the real reason, fine. But help him research and sign up for an appropriate policy. Then let him deal with the rest on his own.

    • I am a bit concerned about you.

      Your level of concern is disproportionate to the situation.

      Do you know what is really going on here? I mean…. With you? Why is your anxiety so out of control?

      • Anonymama :

        I’m theorizing the OP is in law school and learning about liability and lawsuits and thus getting a little paranoid, as good lawyers often are. (No shade, it’s good to be conscientious! But in this case it’s not really your responsibility)

  6. First Father's Day :

    Any ideas on a gift for DH for his first Father’s Day? He gave me some nice sunglasses for Mother’s Day (I had recently lost mine, so he knew I wanted them). I don’t know of any equivalent things he wants right now. We are moving, so maybe something for the new house? It’s also our third anniversary, and we do the traditional gifts (so third year is leather), and I’m getting him some leather luggage tags for that. But I could combine gifts and do something bigger. I would love to get him a leather chair for the house, but I know he’ll want to pick that out himself, plus we share finances, so it’s not as fun to say “Hey! Let’s go buy the chair you were planning to buy anyway.” Sorry for the stream of consciousness– I would love any suggestions. Thank you!

    • A cute picture of your child in a nice frame? Breakfast in bed with the child “helping”? For the anniversary, we tend to buy things for our house or go on a trip, so we don’t try to surprise each other. Gifts aren’t our love language though so YMMV

      • Anonymous :

        Same here re. anniversary gifts. This year we are getting a dishwasher! So romantic.

    • This is really stereotypical, but a grill? If you don’t already have one and he’d use it.

    • Anonymous :

      Voucher to get car washed/detailed, month of lawn service (if he usually mows it), or something else that he usually takes care of?

    • How about a nice leather overnight/duffle bag? My husband has one and uses it all the time for weekend and short business trips.

    • I’m planning on a bottle of scotch that I know that he would really enjoy!

    • Shopping Challenged :

      Something related to what he likes to do or hopes to one day do with the kid(s):
      Baby and Daddy sports jerseys
      A stroller or baby carrier for when he takes the babe on walks/runs, (so you don’t have to constantly readjust the one you have for both of you)
      A camera or lenses that are recommended for good pix of children
      Gardening tools (goatskin leather gardening gloves?) for him and Jr.

      If the kids are slightly older
      A bike seat or one of those pull-behind attachments
      A ball and gloves.
      More camera crap (there’s always more!)
      More gardening equipment with actually useful tools for babe
      Daddy & babe grilling aprons.
      A murse, messenger bag or daypack, because you need to haul around extra stuff when you’re out and about long after they’re out of diapers (water, snacks, books or simple toys for wait times, extra sweater, all that camera crap, etc)

  7. As someone pretty sensitive to scents, who often gets an instantaneous splitting headache when a scent-happy person plops down next to me on the train or whatever, I would really hate to work in close proximity to anyone who spritzed themselves with scented products during the day. I am incredibly lucky to work in an office where everyone seems to just be content to smell like soap and call it a day. Die in a fire perfumed products!

    • Do you believe you get a headache for physical reasons or because you focus on the fact that someone had the audacity to use the scented product?

      • I get headaches because there is an ingredient in the scent that I am sensitive/allergic to. Many people are allergic to random essential oils and you can develop allergies to them at different points in your life. I usually notice the headache before the smell.

      • lost academic :

        Some incense is fine for me, even if I am not often fond of the smell or the smoke, but there’s some – I don’t know what’s in them that keeps causing it – that immediately cause splitting head pain and my sinuses to explode. We’re talking a reaction in seconds. Can happen anywhere.

  8. I have used a similar Supergoop product and it actually turned my foundation gritty when it dried, so I will pass.

  9. Anonymous :

    Any recommendations for a good waterproof, outdoor, Bluetooth speaker? My budget is pretty high – up to maybe $300 or so, maybe more. Just want a really good quality one for Father’s Day.

    • The UE Megaboom! I’ve had mine for about a year now. It’s incredibly rugged and the sound is fantastic outdoors as well as indoors.

  10. Does anyone know of a makeup setting spray similar to this but uses zinc or titanium oxide as the sunscreen/block? I’m allergic to the main ingredients of avobenzone and octinoxate that are usually found in sunscreens.

    • I would be doubtful there would be such a thing because physical sunscreens leave physical traces–ie white zombie residue. The closest you could get would be Colorescience mineral powder sunscreen stick, where you are adding color (tinted sunscreen).

  11. Stalking a beach cover-up on Ann Taylor Loft, and they have a pretty good flash sale on today. Will the Memorial Day sales be better? Should I wait?

    • They always have 40-60% off sales. So if it’s within that range, I’d buy it.

      Cautionary note: they won’t take their “beach” stuff back in store. You have to pay to mail it back if you end up not liking it. I purchased a cotton sundress which apparently is categorized as a “beach item” that’s hideous in person and learned the hard way when I tried to return it to the store.

      • Thanks!

      • There’s a lot of non-beach stuff that is marked “online only” that can only be returned by mail at your cost. Just be aware when you’re shopping because those items are clearly marked.

  12. “so after you eat your lunch and refresh your makeup . . .” — well that means I would never use this!

    • Sorry Kat :

      Yeah. I feel like the references/products/clothes in the posts have been way off lately.

      • Sorry, but not Sorry :

        AGREED. I also feel like the posters here have different values than me now, and that definitely didn’t used to be the case. Not sure if I changed, or the traffic to the site has.

        • anonymous :

          Different values in what way? I agree with the statement, but not sure if there’s been a change or not as I’m a relatively recent reader.

  13. Coach Laura– I think my replies to you last week were in moderation for a bit. If you see this and can still send me those lists of NY nurse residency programs that would be awesome… thanks! email is NYtoCOcorporette at g mail dot com

  14. This may be a long shot, but does anyone have suggestions for meditation classes in Chicago in/near the Loop? Looking for a place that isn’t looking to convert me religion-wise, and where I can attend 15-60 minute meditations with others in a place that won’t look at me weird if I show up in my work clothes and where I can actually get there on time. (I found some with good Yelp reviews that are too far from the Loop for me to get there in time after work or where I couldn’t go back to work afterwards without it taking an hour of roundtrip travel time.)

    • Meditation :

      I took a good mindfulness class at THRIVE in Oak Park. It was one evening a week for a couple hours. Check your website. If that doesn’t work for you, email or call the course director and ask for recs in the city or closer to you. She’s very nice and would respond to your email.

  15. Shopping Challenged :

    I clicked through to the Vogue site and would like to try the Skindinavia product they mentioned. Is anyone familiar with that brand and where I could try it?

  16. Anonymous :

    Seriously, how is sunscreen a product for ‘working women’? It is sunscreen.

    Hey marketers (and Kat): find a real unmet need and develop something that meets it. Don’t try to manufacture demand for sunscreen by telling us we need it to sit in front of a computer.

    This is lazy marketing, for one, and it is patronizing to the smart women who comment here.

    Hawk better.