My Favourite Sunscreens

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I am really into sunscreen.  You are too?  Don't lie to me now, you'll get me all excited.  When I say really into sunscreen I mean I wear it everyday, preach it to anyone who will listen, and give my family and friends a hard time when they don't wear it.  I wasn't kidding you.

The only downfall to being 'really into sunscreen' is being really, really pale.  I am naturally fair skinned and if I wasn't really into sunscreen, it'd be a struggle to get colour on my body.  The sun and I don't mix super well and I could be out there all day long and get very minimal colour (or a lot of red colour).  It wasn't always like this.  You see, when I was younger (about seven years ago) I used to work at a tanning salon (this was somewhat before all the bad press tanning beds have gotten).  I would tan every three or four days and I was dark.  Super dark.  I'd never had such dark, tanned skin in my life.  It was amazing.  Amazing, but obviously very unhealthy.  I worked at that salon for about eight months and  to this day I cringe about how much damange I did to myself. 

After quitting the salon, I didn't stop there.  I continued to tan and keep that beautiful bronzed colour I'd 'worked' so hard for.  I remember going for a facial at an upscale spa and the estitician telling me I had sun damage around my hair line; but that didn't stop me.  I kept right on tanning because I wanted to look good (and I wasn't worried about wrinkles, fine lines and of course, cancer at that time). 

However, there came a time where I did stop, and it wasn't necessarily by choice, but I consider it a huge blessing in disguise.  In the spring of 2006 I had received a gift card for my birthday to a tanning salon I'd never been to before.  'Free tanning minutes!  Awesome!' I thought to myself.  Wrong.  Within the first visit, I developed really bad hives all over my body, specifically on my chest, arms and shoulders - it was ugly.  I was concerned about what kind of salon I was tanning at; was it clean? Was it the bed? Was I not acustom to their bulbs?  So in true smart fashion, I went back to try again.  Sure enough, I broke out in mad hives again, and not only was it ugly, they were super itchy too.  I stopped visiting that salon altogether and decided to go back to the place I used to work at, since I'd never had any issues there.  Sure enough, the hives appeared again and after some minor research, it looked like I had developed an allergy to the sun (or UV light for that matter).  I couldn't believe my misfortunate; would I have to go back to being pale?  I certainly hoped not, but my fortune didn't seem to change.  After spending a day at the beach with a girlfriend a few weeks later, the hives appeared yet again and it sealed the deal: no more sun for me.

From that day forward I vowed to take my sun protection seriously as (1) I didn't want to be covered in an ugly rash, and (2) I knew that I shouldn't be tanning anyways (the facts are out there people) and this was just the kick in the ass that I needed to stop.  The following week I went out and bought a moisturizing lotion that contained SPF that I would wear on my face and neck everyday.

Since then, I have worn an SPF 15 (or higher) on my face everyday, even in the winter.  It has become part of my daily morning routine and I have found a formula I really like.  Enter Equate Moisturizing Lotion with SPF 15.  Yes, this is from Walmart, and it costs me about $7 a bottle.  The bottle lasts me about two months and the formula is non-greasy, light and absorbs quickly.  I have tried many other face lotions with SPF, but I always go back to this one because it's so light (I hate those thick formulas and will only wear them when I'm spending a full day outside or at the beach, versus commuting to work and eating lunch outdoors).

When I do spend the day outside or head to the beach or cottage, I like to wear an SPF 30 or higher.  My friends and family rouse me for this, but I don't care; I'm being proactive about my skin and trying to be as preventative as possible in reducing wrinkles and my risks of skin cancer.  I really love the Ocean Potion brand (sadly not available in Canada so I stock up when I'm in the US) despite the Creamsicle smell.  The formula goes on smooth and easily, it's not thick, it's not greasy and it covers well.  Their water/sweat proof one is great too as the formula doesn't change much and it works in the water (but of course you should always re-apply after swimming).

Lastly, for convienence, I picked up the Banana Boat Ultra Defence aerosole SPF 50 this year because as much as I want to be careful, I too get lazy and sometimes just don't feel like rubbing a lotion in.  The aerosole is a great alternative because it's super quick and easy (you can even chase your friends around with this and protect those, 'I-don't-wear-sunscreen' types).  I do find this formula slightly greasy (I've been trying to wear it consistently on the tops of my hands daily as part of my August Resolutions) and doesn't absorb really well, but it's convienent and sometimes that trumps greasiness.

Do you wear SPF?  Are you hard core about protecting your skin like me or more lax about it?

Don't forget your hat!

3 comments:

Diana said...

I am incredibly fair-skinned, even lighter than you. When I was a senior in high school I started tanning at the local salon to get ready for prom. I had an allergic reaction, too, and my chest and torso were so itchy and I was in an inexplicable amount of discomfort and pain. It would last about two days but I'd still go back for more, of course, because I wanted to be tan. After prom I stopped, but after about a year's hiatus I went back and tanned on and off every few months for about another year and a half or so. Then I read an article on skin cancer in a fitness magazine I subscribed to. I'd read several articles about the dangers of tanning before, but for some reason this one really scared me and made me seriously rethink tanning. Since then, I wear a minimum of SPF 15 regularly, and if I think I may be out in the sun for a decent amount of time, I will slather on 70+. I don't have a lot of sun damage that I can see but I know that it's there and it makes me wonder how my skin would look if I had avoided all of those unnecessary rays. I inspect myself regularly to make sure I have no new freckles or moles or anything like that, and fortunately I've not had anything of concern show up (knock on wood). My husband NEVER uses sunscreen and it drives me crazy. He says that because he has "olive skin" (which he doesn't, he's not even naturally darker skinned, he's just darker than me [everyone but albinos are]) he doesn't need sunscreen but I keep telling him that he's going to end up with skin cancer and I'm going to be a widow and I'll never forgive him!

Sarah said...

I totally relate to this. I absolutely have to wear sunscreen. When I was 16 years old I was in Florida (Cocoa Beach) and I got burnt so bad, lets just say it was my first time in Florida and it really ruined my trip, so bad even Disney World sucked. I now wear sunscreen religiously. My brother got burnt that same day also, unfortunately he has not learned his lesson. He coach's football and he is bald and gets burnt all the time. I tell him to wear it, men just don't like to listen. I am very fair skinned also, I do not tan period. I worked at a tanning salon also, and the tanning bed didn't even do anything for me. I use to hate being pale, but now it doesn't bother me. I look at old Hollywood and the ladies from that time and they were pale and absolutely stunning. At least when we get older we won't look like leather couch's.

Thanks for this post!

Sarah
http://skylarinc.blogspot.com/

Michelle said...

Love your blog! Ok so you have seriously given me something to think about as I am a crazy tan bed lover. My friends make fun of me and have enen nick named me Michelle "Tanner"!
I know tanning beds are bad but spray tanning is expensive and I havent found a self tanning cream that doesnt leave streaks, but I am so pale I always feel like I need some color!
Thanks for your post, as it has given me lots to consider : ) )

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