If there is something I regret in my teens and twenties that I could take back, it would be my love of tanning beds and aversion to sunscreen. I had an unlimited tanning membership and my friend Ashley and I were called “the orange twins” in high school. In hindsight, we were being made fun of, but we were so blinded by the tanning bulbs. We thought that everyone envied what we thought was at the time a golden glow. Cringe. The money I have spent repairing sun damage in my thirties and forties could have easily bought me a decent used car. Seriously. And now that I live in SoCal, I have to be more careful and maintain the progress I have made removing sunspots and fine lines. When it comes to sunscreen, it’s now a way of life for me.
We all know, we all hear it and we know more about skin cancer causes and prevention than we did in the nineties. Wear sunscreen. Always wear sunscreen… But what sunscreens should I use and why? I’m no expert, but I am experienced. I am naturally pale and freckled, I burn somewhat easily, and I’m of Scandinavian descent and grew up in cold and grey Ontario, Canada where you could go months without a bright, sunny day. Now I am living in San Diego where the sun shines year round. So here are the regular sunscreens in my routine and what I love about them.
Face, Neck and Chest
I always wear a tinted SPF rather than foundation. These products have came a long way, and it ensures you get that extra bit of protection. My all around favorite is Elta MD UV Glow. It’s an SPF 36 and it contains niacinamide which helps to boost collagen, improve skin texture, brighten skin and possibly fade pigmentation. It’s a bit thick, but once you spread it around it blends nicely and my dry skin drinks it up. Another fave that was shared with me by a client who models and is literally perfect from head to toe, is Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue which has an SPF 30 in it and a lightweight, gel texture that goes on sheer and light. It’s perfect for the dog days of summer. When I complete my makeup, I finish with a mist of Soleil Toujours Organic Set Protect Micro Mist, SPF 30. This does double-time as a makeup setting spray and sunscreen. It’s a light mist that you can toss in your beach bag and reapply as needed. It’s always sold out on our website and Soleil Toujours site because it’s that damn good. You will love how easy it is to apply, no touching your face and carry on approved. I apply the mist on my face, neck and any exposed chest area. Don’t forget about your lips! Although I retail tinted lip masques at BLUXOM that clients rave about, I am very minimalistic and rarely wear tint on my lips. Although you will always find in my bag the SALT & STONE SUNSCREEN LIP BALM SPF 30 4.3 G / 0.15 OZ It keeps your lippies nice and hydrated and most importantly protected.
When it comes to face sunscreens, I will use a mineral base like Soleil Toujours Mineral Ally Daily Defense, SOLEIL TOUJOURS MINERAL ALLY DAILY FACE DEFENSE SUNSCREEN SPF 50 1.35oz / 40ml
but my absolute favorite is their Clean Conscious Organic Antioxidant Mist SPF 50. It’s so easy to apply, but it’s not toxic and takes your breath away like some of the more traditional SPF sprays in a can. It has a pleasant smell and isn’t sticky to the touch. I always have a can in the cupholder of my car for quick applications on the go. It’s also coral reef safe, so approved for those vacations to Hawaii and other tropical destinations.
If you wear hair extensions, never ever use sunscreens containing Avobenzone or Octocrylene. Not only are these ingredients good to avoid in general, they will discolor your extensions to shades of orange and peach and everything in between. Avobenzone is a synthetic sunscreen ingredient designed to absorb ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Though helpful in preventing damage from exposure to harmful UV rays, it breaks down quickly when exposed to sunlight and oxygen. This breakdown results in an oily layer of oil on the skin that can easily deposit onto the hair extensions, causing discoloration and even matting or tangling. Octocrylene acts as a stabilizer for avobenzone by limiting its oxidation at higher temperatures, but also has its own risks when combined with extensions. The chemical can build up on extensions over time, causing them to become stiff and brittle. Left untreated, this buildup can lead to irreversible damage on both your natural hair and extensions. When investing in hair extensions, you should be aware of possible exposure to these two commonly used sunscreen ingredients and take steps to limit their effects on your locks.
Avoid applying sunscreen directly onto your scalp or your hairline when wearing extensions; wear a hat instead. Any sunscreen that is mineral based typically does not contain Avobenzone or Octocrylene, so mineral based is always best. My top choices are Soleil Toujours, Coola and Sun Bum.
This is still a controversial and relatively new topic, but ingesting a high amount of seed oils (sunflower, canola, grape seed) in your diet is being linked to overall increased inflammation in the body, and if you are inflamed, you are more sensitive to UV rays, meaning you are more likely to burn. I avoid seed oils in general because I don’t feel great when I eat them. The oils I keep on hand in my kitchen are avocado and olive and I love using grass-fed butter just like my great grandmother.
I hope this blog post helped you in some way and you picked up a new tip or product to try. To recap, I have traded tanning beds for shady places under a tree or palapa. And lastly, don’t forget to wear a hat and sunglasses. I’ll always be that shady lady now on my beach walks and I encourage you to do the same. Stay tuned for future blogs on some of the skin treatments and lasers I swear by!