I mentioned a few weeks ago my constant battle with “spots,” otherwise known as melasma, liver spot, sun spots, hyperpigmentation. I may have become a sunscreen convert in my 20s with regards to my face, but I have always allowed the rest of my body to soak in the sun with little to no precaution taken.
Well those spots haven’t just taken up residency on my face. The decades of sun exposure now tell their tales across my legs, arms and hands. And while my chest isn’t freckly or spotty like you see with many fair-haired women, I can see the damage wrought by the sun when I shrug my shoulders and a dozen lines appear across my chest –proof that the skin has lost its elasticity.
Now I recall the years I laid in the sun, slathered not with Johnson’s Baby Oil, but with some equally insufficient oil or lotion, with an SPF of 4 and the luscious smell of coconuts. In fact, recently, while looking through old photos, my husband asked, “Who’s this girl on the beach with your cousins?” “It’s me!” I promptly replied. “What? It can’t be… She looks Black,” was my husband’s response. When I recalled that the production of melanin is your body’s natural response to injury, I could only respond with a heavy sigh.
It’s not just vanity that is causing my spot obsession… I want to set a good example for my children who are still young enough to influence, and who are exposed daily to the intensity of our Californian sun. I hope to instill in them great respect for the power of the sun (think solar as well as radiation), and get them to think of applying sunscreen the same way they view brushing their teeth or getting dressed.
I’m only recommending one sunscreen this year, although I still like Burn Out (Ocean Safe and Sensitive formulas), and Kinesys Earth Kind Sunscreen Ointment if you’re going to be in the water for an extended period of time, due to its water-proof quality. However, Honest Co.’s Honest Sunscreen Lotion is my all-around favorite this year. It’s formulation (which, like all my recommendations relies on non-nano zinc oxide) is more elegant than Burn Out which means it goes on easier and is absorbed into the skin better. It’s also much more moisturizing–so much so that it feels like you’re just using a regular face or body lotion. (While not an issue for my family, I know others have found the Burn Out to be somewhat drying.) And I love the price–just $13.95 for a 3 oz tube or if you have access to a Costco, $19.95 for two 2 oz tubes.
A final comment about sun safety… While many people now understand the damaging effects of the sun’s rays, and use sunscreen daily as a result, most of us don’t take the next essential step: reapplication. People often think you only need to reapply sunscreen if you’ve been swimming or sweating, because both can wash off the sunscreen. However, most sunscreens also begin losing their effectiveness after just a few hours. To stay adequately protected throughout the day, reapply sunscreen every 3-4 hours.