So, this is a Pagan blog but this is also my blog and I am obsessed with beauty and skincare. As a Pagan I find the divine in nature and love being outdoors – especially in the summer. I love hiking, camping, swimming, cycling, – and most of all, I actually love basking in the sun poolside or on the beach. I can’t think of anything more relaxing than simply basking in the warmth of the sun. My skin however, does not share my love for the sun. Freckles may have been cute to the Husband, but for me, freckles say one thing: Sun Damage. Skin cancer is a high risk in my family, we are all sun-worshipers of some sort from my farmer great grandparents, gardener grandparents, or ’70s era sun goddess mother and aunts. In addition to lifestyle factors, my grand mother has that pigmentation disease that Michael Jackson had (only we are White so it’s not as noticeable). We may have the skin cancer genes, but I have also inherited excellent aging genes because despite the disastrous amounts of sun damage and thanks to good skincare, my grandmother and aunts have excellent skin.
So, in preparation for the solstice on Wednesday and upcoming summer months, I’m going to share with you my summer and sun skincare secrets. Really, there isn’t anything “secret” to it: it’s mostly sunscreen. Apply the correct amount (it should look “white” for a minute when you rub it in and sink in): re-apply often. In real life, I re-apply sunscreen every four hours; but your actual time will vary. My technique of good sun screen, proper application, and re-applying every few hours has kept me sun-burn free for years in many trying conditions including trips to Greece (much closer to the equator than the Midwest) and float trips.
In order to make the most out of your sunscreen, you’ll first have to understand how sunscreens work. I’m not a doctor, scientist, or authority BUT I am educated enough to read scientific studies, and exercise good judgement in what authority is actually giving truthful information. (Note that the “Determatological Association of America” or anything like a seal of approval on a product really is not a reliable source of information, most of those endorsements are bought by companies and there aren’t real “standards.”) Basically there are two kinds of sunscreens, chemical or physical. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV radiation and turn it into heat that gets given off or they release the radiation at a longer UV wavelength (and that makes it less damaging to your skin). Chemical sunscreens are the kind that defiantly need more re-application since they get less effective over time. Physical sunscreens actually block the light from reaching your skin by reflecting it away. These kinds of sunscreens may create that “white” film on skin, stain clothes, and often feel heavy. My preferred sunscreen in a physical sunscreen, and I always look for “zinc oxide” in the ingredients as this is a physical blocker that blocks all the harmful rays. Also note, a lot of your reputable “natural” sunscreens will be physical blockers.
So, what do you need to protected from by your sunscreen? Well, the sun gives off UV radiation and some of it reaches the Earths’ surface and us. The main types of exposure sunscreens deal with are UVA and UVB wavelengths. Both kinds of radiation damage our skin at the DNA level but UVB is responsible for redness and “sunburns” while UVA lowers skins immunity, causes tanning of the skin, and contributes to aging of the skin. (Ew!) So, when you look for a sunscreen you want to be sure it is going to protect you from both types of radiation. Look for “broad spectrum” sunscreens or ones that specify they protect against both UVA and UVB. Then you have different SPF. SPF numbers imply the amount of time wearing that sunscreen adds before you will begin to burn. SPF 10 for example indicates you can be in the sun 10 times as long as you ordinarily would be able to without burning. So, if like me you are a pale person and can only be in the sun for about 15 minutes before you begin to burn, take 15 minutes X 10 for 150 minutes to burn time (re-application). So while 45 is defiantly going to be better than 15, it’s not a free pass: you will need to reapply at some point. Most dermatologists recommend everyone wear a SPF of 30 every day, and there are some products out there now that make this pretty easy. I use Clinque’s BB cream with an SPF of 30 on my face and Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Sunscreen Lotion on my arms, legs, and chest in SPF 30 daily.
When spending time out in the sun, I will vary my skincare routine accordingly. I have a pool and even though I know the risks, I still enjoy spending an hour or so floating on a raft in the sun or laying out on the deck. In these instances I use an SPF 15 if I am trying to tan and keep track of my time in the sun. I also always add extra protection on my face using either Juice Beauty SPF 30 moisturizer or Dermadoctor’s mattifying sunscreen in SPF 30. For those days when I would prefer to keep tan lines at bay I wear a SPF 50 sunscreen and re-apply as often as necessary. In addition to one of the above products I layer over that with Peter Thomas Roth powder sunscreen in SPF 45. I know that seems like over kill but, as a girl with oily skin I don’t want to go much higher than 30 on my face because it will basically slide off. To combat the oil, I layer the powder sunblock on top but it’s unlikely I am going to layer on enough powder to actually get “SPF 45” protection: so I figure doubling up helps. Additionally, wearing hats keeps the sun off your face and shoulders if the brim is floppy enough. I totally recommend a wide brim floppy hat for a cute boho look. Don’t forget about your eyes: sun damage in eyes causes cataracts and also crow’s feet (aging gracefully doesn’t mean aging prematurely). It’s important to look for good sunglasses that also ofer UVA and UVB protection. Some eye creams also contain an SPF claim, but I would recommend the glasses as well. I use something by L’Oreal that says it’s SPF 30 but like with most makeup products, I probably do not use enough of the product to get that SPF protection.
While you are preparing for summer, don’t forget about your hair. Hair, especially colored hair, gets damaged by UV rays heat, and chlorine. This summer I am also trying out a hair sunscreen using Oscar Blandi Capri Sun Spray. This product may not be available on Blandi’s website, but I know there are other products out there like this: basically this is sunscreen for your hair to protect your hair from UV damage. I am using this one because it was on sale at my local beauty supply store for $10. I haven’t noticed if this stuff makes a difference yet but if I think it does I might blog about it later in the summer. Last summer I started using Fekkai’s Glossing Creme, which has some SPF and antioxidants (and smells heavenly) it was nice for taming summer frizz as well as offers some alleged sun protection. If you do notice your hair getting dried out or changing color (blondes go green sometimes from pool chemicals) it can be fixed by coating your hair with a leave in conditioner or a natural product like coconut oil before getting in the pool.
If after all your efforts, you still fail, how can you minimize the inevitable damage? Even those of us vigalent with the sunscreen can end up a little red. In these cases, I always use an aloe product right away. However, even without a burn if you’ve been outside and you can “feel it’ but don’t see it there’s still some damage there. Now, the idea is to minimize the damage done to the skin. After an afternoon at the pool, I always hop in the shower and use a gentle soap to wash the chlorine off my skin. After the shower I might follow up with any number of super moisturizing products but my favorites are Alba’s Hawiian AFter Sun Lotion and good old coconut oil (amazing natural moisturizer). For the face, Vitamin C can help repair sun damage and has been the most helpful in my experience to refresh dull skin. I really like Avalon Organic’s Vitamin C serum, and as long as you don’t combine it with AHA or retinol, the Vitamin C will also increase sun protection when worn in the morning. I usually use the serum at night because it makes my skin shiny. Dr. Jessica Wu recommending eating a lot of red fruits and vegetables for the antioxidants after sun in her Feed Your Face diet. I follow her advice, and she specifically recommends tomato paste because the cooked tomatoes are the best source of antioxidants. Finally, drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated and stay safe. With all that in mind: have fun in the sun!
I’ll be spending the rest of the week in Michigan on an adventure with a friend so I’ll have to trust that the schedule option on this thing works to update the blog.
Disclosure: I have purchased all recommended products. I have not been paid for any reviews on this blog.