Hi, friends! With Spring upon us, I’m eagerly awaiting some warmer days (still pretty chilly here in Baltimore). Exercising outside more- hell, just BEING outside more- feels so good, right? Like am I the only one that legit looks forward to doing errands during those first warm days of Spring? Windows down, tunes wayyyy up. It’s amazing how a little extra dose of sunshine can lift my spirits. That being said, as a reformed sun worshipper, I’m kinda obsessed with protecting my skin. So today’s post is all about healthy skin essentials for Spring.
Funny-ish story. My eighth grade English teacher gave us the assignment before the end of the school year to write a letter to our future 18 year old self, with the intention of sending our letters to us four years later. I wrote all about the boy I had the biggest crush on… the classes I liked… the classes I hated… my favorite shows (90210, R.I.P. Luke Perry)… and a bunch of other random nonsense, mixed with a dose of teen angst. ; )
Not only was this letter hysterical to read later as a graduating high school Senior but even funnier when my father recently dropped it off at my house. (I wrote the letter in 1994. I’m still horrible at Math, so feel free to figure out my age on your own.)
Anyways, the point in me telling y’all is this– If I were to have listed the products I used on my face in that middle school letter, I’m guessing I’d be laughing in the same manner as I did about that 8th grade boy crush. Things change with age, and so does our skin. At almost 40 (whoops, there it is!), my healthy skin essentials are prioritized around protection, prevention, and active treatment of existing conditions.
No doubt, growing older is a privilege. I realize this more and more with each passing birthday. It’s more than OKAY if that privilege of age shows up on our faces and bodies! Lots of smiles over the years create little lines of expression. That’s awesome! And guess what? It’s also OKAY if you want to slow Father Time down a bit too. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to aesthetics, other than feeling the need to judge someone else’s approach to aging.
There IS a “right”, however, in the importance of protecting ourselves from the dangerous rays of the sun and ultimately, skin cancer.
Okay, without further adieu, these are my current favs for good UV protection, treating dark spots, maintaining hydration, and all the rest of the glamour that appears on my slightly middle aged-ish skin.
(This post contains affiliate links. Please see the bottom for full disclosure & medical disclaimer.)
Y’all, I’ll be honest. I have gone down some major internet rabbit holes late at night when I should’ve been sleeping learning about sunscreen, sunblock, UV protection, and all that falls in between. And I still have so much to learn. (Fyi, now would be a good time to check out my medical disclaimer at the bottom. Please know I’m not a physician. Just a curious gal.)
Sure, I could just tell you my fav products to protect your skin. And if that’s all you really want, totally cool- keep scrolling to the bottom of this section. I think it’s really important though for people to learn WHY and HOW this stuff in a bottle works, as well as what you might look for when you’re shopping around yourself.
According to SkinCancer.org’s website, sunscreens “help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin. Two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB, damage the skin, age it prematurely, and increase your risk of skin cancer. UVB is the chief culprit behind sunburn, while UVA rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply, are associated with wrinkling, leathering, sagging, and other light-induced effects of aging (photoaging). They also exacerbate the carcinogenic effects of UVB rays, and increasingly are being seen as a cause of skin cancer on their own. Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect against UVA and UVB.”
Basically, you want a form of protection that prevents against both UVA rays (which cause premature aging) and UVB rays (which causes your skin to burn). When you read on a label that the product has “broad spectrum” protection, that means there is coverage for both UVA and UVB rays.
The SPF number on the bottle actually refers to the UVB protection. I always look for an SPF of at least 30, but keep in mind that the lower the SPF, the more regularly you’ll need to reapply. I‘ve read in several places that a general rule of thumb, regardless of the SPF number, is to reapply every two hours. Probably just easier to remember for me if I stick to this rule vs. trying to distinguish how much more time SPF 50 will buy me than SPF 30.
Unfortunately, it’s rare (although becoming increasingly more popular! yay!) for sunscreens to display the amount of UVA ray protection on the bottle. This type of protection is evaluated by what’s called a PA grading system. Only 5 or so countries utilize this system. Thankfully, the US is one of them, although it’s not required to put the amount of coverage on the product label just yet. The PA grading system measures the PPD, or “Persistent Pigment Darkening”. If the amount of coverage IS displayed on the bottle, it will do so by posting “PA” followed by up to four “+” signs. The more + signs, the higher coverage.
The decision to choose organic skin products or not seems to be an emotionally charged hot button sometimes. I’m definitely not hear to convince you either way, as I personally utilize both. Like most things, there are advantages and disadvantages to both and you’ll have to prioritize to make your own decision. As I mentioned before, I am NOT a doctor. I’m not even a skin “guru”. This is just a snapshot of my of own research and opinions.
Sunscreens can most likely, as far as I’ve been able to uncover, be divided into two categories: Chemical and Physical.
The word “chemical” can be a bit misleading, however, as there are a fair number of organic chemical sunscreens.
Physical sunscreen is really a “sunblock”. It puts a layer on top of your skin, shielding it from the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreens utilize ingredients that, once absorbed into your skin, change UV rays into heat. The heat is then released from your skin.
Physical: uses ingredients like Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide
Chemical: uses ingredients like Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Oxybenzone
So which do I use????
BOTH. I carry both in my bag with me and choose depending on the circumstance! And frankly, I don’t even sit inside my house without sunscreen on because your skin can be potentially damaged by all the blue screen light too! (yes, yikes.)
If I need immediate coverage or my face is acting really sensitive, I use a physical sunscreen. My favorite right now is EltaMD a highly preferred product by many dermatologists. In fact, you can sometimes purchase it at their office. Otherwise, you can buy from Amazon by clicking the picture below (no extra cost).
If I have a bit of extra time to let absorb or am wearing makeup over top of the sunscreen, I like Makeup Artist’s Choice Enzyme Protection.
A good sunscreen is WORTH the money, y’all!
Vitamin C is good for not just boosting your immune system, but for also for protecting your skin. Our skin is exposed to free radicals and UV rays every day. Vitamin C can potentially help mitigate this exposure that causes oxidative stress, and perhaps even reverse the damage. (check out this study)
Obvious signs of damage can appear as brown spots on the skin, also known as melasma. Other spots on your skin can be a result post break outs. Vitamin C can brighten these spots!
The challenge with using a Vitamin C serum is that it’s a finicky molecule that easily becomes unstable when exposed to air and light… and that could actually produce the opposite effects you’re going after on your skin. But fear not- some great researchers and companies have found ways to improve the shelf life of this otherwise awesome healthy skin essential. One way this is achieved is by adding Vitamin E. I’m not going to get really nitty-gritty on the science of how this works but if you’re interested, here is one source.
Besides looking for a Vitamin C that includes Vitamin E, a good suggestion is to keep your serum in the fridge to help maintain its freshness. The color should be clear or slightly opaque. If or when it becomes brown or orange, and has a funky smell, then it’s time to toss that ish.
Vitamin C also is best utilized on a low Ph skin, which is usually after you wash your face. I personally wash my face in the morning with Cerave Hydrating Face Wash (you can buy here or click on the picture below), wait about 15 minutes or so, put on my Vitamin C serum… go get ready/put my clothes on… then put my sunscreen on : )
My go-to Vitamin C right now is this one by Timeless. There is one out on the market that is a cult fav by SkinCeuticals, but it’ll cost ya a pretty penny! I’m not an expert but I have read that the Timeless product is as close as a duplicate as there is, and for a fraction of the price- I’ll take my chances!
I wrote a post last year about how I fell in love with facial oils, particularly Squalane oil. My love affair with oils has only grown since then! I have super duper sensitive skin. I break out easily… with just about everything from hives to dermatitis to blemishes. As I’ve gotten older, my skin has become increasingly more temperamental. My face can quickly become very red, irritated, itchy, and dry with so many products, even those that market to “sensitive” skin. No fun, y’all. I have to keep my routine simple as a result.
Facial oils though have been something my skin has tolerated so well, however. Remember, everyone’s skin is different so I highly rec patch testing any product on your face for a few days first before slathering it all over yourself.
Currently, I’m loving 100% Argan oil. It’s also high in Vitamin E and fatty acids, which help soften and hydrate my skin, but without any heaviness. Yes, it can feel weird at first putting an oil on your face but it absorbs rather quickly and doesn’t leave a greasy residue!
Fun fact: I travelled in 2017 to Morocco for a yoga retreat. Much of our Argan oil comes from Morocco, as the nut tree it’s derived from is native to the country. I was able to watch these sweet ladies make it!
Taking care of your skin is part of my self-care habits. Not just to avoid more fine lines (and not so fine lines), but also to protect myself from skin cancer! These three suggestions are what have been working FOR ME, a sensitive skin gal, who spent entirely too much time in the sun growing up! YMMV (skincare talk for “your mileage may vary”, according to the SkincareAddiction subreddit… another internet rabbit hole!).
What are YOUR fav skincare products and what’s your routine? Fill a ol’ lady in!
To healthy skin essentials (sun protection!) and creating a life in color,
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