Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Sun And Other Pesky Issues

Disclaimer: A close-up photo of Carol's face without glasses as well as a candid discussion of age are contained within this post. Viewer discretion is advised.


This past April, I turned 36 years old. While 36 can hardly be counted as old, it's certainly hard to think of it as young (let's be real - I'm only 4 quick years short of 40, after all) and thoughts of my advancing age were certainly with me as I passed by and through that milestone. I'm fortunate in that I look younger than I actually am. This is something I hated when I was a teenager (no 17 year-old likes being mistaken for 13) - except when playing that carnival game where the barker has to guess your age. You know the one I mean? Suffice it to say, I always won that one. People used to tell me then, "you'll appreciate your youthful looks when you're older."

Their predictions have come to pass. I do appreciate my youthful looks. When I bemoaned the fact that I was turning 36 this year, friends were kind enough to assure me that I could pass for a woman in her 20s. I didn't really believe them (I thought they were just being nice) until my younger sister and brother (who actually is in his 20s) confirmed that they agreed (siblings can be pretty ruthless).

If I actually do look as young as they claim (some days I believe them and other days I really don't) I attribute it to my skin, and in regards to that specifically, three things: 1) my Asian genes, 2) good skincare, and 3) sunblock.

Having grown up under the southern California sun can be brutal and back in the late '70s and '80s of my childhood, sunblock was almost totally eschewed for tanning oils (anyone else remember that stuff?). I remember regularly getting sunburnt when swimming at my friends' homes during the summers, because people just didn't seem to think about sunblock a whole lot back then. In fact, I blame the (albeit minor) sun damage on my face to the fact that my mom never thought a whole lot about sunblock. This despite the fact that she thought about skincare a whole lot - so much so that when she saw that my sister and I were using Noxzema cleansers (we thought that tingling sensation meant it was really cleaning our skin), she went out and bought us an Estee Lauder cleanser and admonished us, saying, "You only have one skin. Make sure you take care of it."

I think I was 13 at the time.

This stuck with me as I got older, and by the time I graduated from college, I had begun regularly using a cleanser, eye cream, softener, and moisturizer from Shiseido's skincare line (I still use Shiseido products though not the same ones I used when I was in college). But it wasn't until I was 22 years old that a colleague of mine (I was teaching at the time) convinced me it was a good idea to start using a daily sunblock. I'm grateful to her that she started me on this path, because I do think that it's helped keep my skin younger looking, and only regret not having started protecting my skin from the sun at a younger age. 

When I say "daily sunblock," I mean, "daily sunblock." Applying sunblock is part of my morning skincare routine, and I put it on whether it's clear and sunny or pouring rain. I even wore it during snow storms, over the years I lived in the Northeast. I have no idea if it was at all necessary during those days (probably not), but it's a habit and one I'm thankful for, as it means it's very likely that I am wearing sunblock on those days when it's working hard on my skin's behalf. So here I am, just a couple weeks ago, aged 36 years old, with only eye& eyebrow make-up on (I don't usually wear any foundations or tinted moisturizers):




I'm sure things like two pregnancies and smiling a lot (drat those facial expressions) have contributed to my skin's aging. I'm also fairly certain that my skin looks a lot better when I've been getting plenty of sleep (something in low supply for me in the last few months) and drinking lots of water. But still, with the summer sun beginning to beat down on us, I'm grateful for the sunblock I reach for every morning, and would highly recommend it to others as well. If you're looking for one to add to your morning routine, here are some to try:

1. Shiseido Ultimate Skin Protection for Face and Body, SPF 60 (This is my daily - one bottle lasts forever. When applied to just the face, a bottle can last for over a year...)
2. Shiseido Ultimate Skin Protection Stick Foundation, SPF 35 (unlike the first one, this stick runs down super fast. However, it's handy to have in your purse for reapplications on those long outdoor-days)
3. La Mer 'The SPF Fluid Tint,' SPF 18 (I love a high SPF, so when I do wear this, I almost always have it layered over my SPF 60 - I don't know that it's necessary, but like I said, habit...)
4. Kiehl's Vital Sun Protection, SPF 40  (for kids) and SPF 30 (for adults) - good for those days when you're planning to be active (will protect for up to 80 minutes, in the water)
5. Kiehl's Super Fluid UV Defense SPF 50+ (haven't tried this one, but I've had lots of good experiences with Kiehl's products, so imagine this would be similar)
6. Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunblock Stick, SPF 60 (I bought this when Kate was a baby and use it now for myself too. Cheaper than the Shiseido stick version, higher SPF, and feels nice and non-greasy on the skin)

What about you? Do you wear a daily sunblock? And if so, which ones? If not, is it something you'd consider doing? Are you concerned about aging or is it something you don't think much about? Let us know, below!




19 comments:

  1. This post comes so timely. I am just thinking of up'ing the SPF of my face moisturizer. I have been wearing Aveeno SPF15 for years and when I switched to 30, I didn't like the extremely greasy formula and switched back in a few weeks. Which one of the listed should I try first? I need it to be non-sticky. lol.
    Your skin looks fantastic, Carol.

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    1. I really like the first one - the Shiseido Ultimate Skin Protection for face and body, SPF 60 (it comes in lower SPFs as well, if you don't want one that high). It's not sticky or greasy at all. As I mentioned in the post, it's a little pricey for one bottle, but will last you for over a year, so not so bad, when broken down in price-per-wear cost. Hope that helps!

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  2. I pick sunscreens that use zinc as the active ingredient for sun protection for both my kids and myself. We use the JASON natural sunscreen on our body and a DHC face sunscreen on our faces (does not feel greasy or tacky on my face). Great post and your skin looks terrific!

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    1. Yes, zinc is an active ingredient in the Shiseido sunblocks too. Thanks for the recommendations - I've been wanting to try the JASON products - I'll have to start with the sunblock, now. :)

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  3. I am a huge fan of Elta MD facial suncreen. I first read about it in a magazine profile of various dermatologists' beauty routine. Almost every single dermatologist used Elta MD, so I had to check it out. I haven't looked back since that day. It's oil-free, paraben-free, broad-spectrum and great for daily use. I get it from Amazon and just love it.

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    1. Great! Thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to check it out. :)

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  4. What a timely post! I am 20 (as of recently; it's also a scary birthday milestone!) and walking to work this summer, so I've finally started using daily sunblock. But I have to admit that I'm only motivated because it's usually sunny here in central Illinois and I don't want to be burned.

    I'm currently using Eucerin Everyday Protection Face Lotion SPF 30 when I remember and Neutrogena Dry-Touch SPF 70 (my body sunscreen) on the way out when I'm rushing. I want to use up the Eucerin and still have a ton left, but maybe I'll try Shiseido after that. A higher SPF is definitely nice--you're supposed to apply two finger-lengths of sunscreen just to the face and neck to get the full SPF protection, and the less you use, the less protection you get (according to this great infographic). I definitely don't apply enough!

    Btw, you look 10 years younger than your age :)

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    1. Wow, that's a great infographic! Thanks so much for sharing it. :)

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  5. You look great! I was in high school when you were born, so I get it when you start to wonder about aging. Sunscreen has been part of my routine for years, plus wearing a hat, and staying in the shade - when possible. I have 2 kids who play a lot of baseball, so I find my self in the sun more now then when I was younger. I have dry skin, so I use a moisturizer that has sun screen and just started using Trish McEvoy 'Advanced Protective Shield®' Moisturizer SPF 40. This stuff is amazing. It goes on light, easy and it works. I have a milestone birthday next year...scary stuff, but far better than the alternative. Cheers!

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    1. Thanks so much, Julie! Congrats on your upcoming milestone birthday - and yes, far better than the alternative. :) Also, thanks for sharing your recommendation.

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  6. One of my biggest regrets in life is spending far too much time in the sun! I grew up in California, went to Hawaii every year, was a competitive swimmer, and would bask by our pool for hours. I got tons of compliments on my tan but I'd trade them all for nice skin now.
    Btw, the best way to find a great sunscreen is going to the Environmental Working Group website. They've tested 100s of sunscreens and will tell you if they actually work AND how toxic they are or aren't!
    Oh, and don't forget to take Vitamin D if you stay out of the sun and always wear sunscreen as you're likely not getting enough.

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    1. Yes! Thanks for reminding me about EWG - I forgot to mention that resource. I'm on their mailing list so get emails from them from time to time. Definitely good stuff, even if what they say about Shiseido products is sometimes worrisome. Also, thanks for the reminder about Vitamin D.

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  7. Do you use the facial sunscreen in place of moisturizer with along with a moisturizer? I'm still on the search for a good facial sunscreen I can use in place of moisturizer (I'm got oily skin) but so far everything I've tried with a high SPF irritates my skin. I may need to try out the Shiseido brand - I love most of their stuff.

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    1. I actually wear my sunscreen over my moisturizer, though I've been told I can wear it in place of it, if I wanted (Shiseido Ultimate Skin Protection). I find the Shiseido brands nice and non-greasy, but then I have very normal skin though, so am unsure how it might feel to you. Shiseido does have an oil-free version, which they advertise as good for oily skin, so it might be good to try that one:

      http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/shiseido-urban-environment-oil-free-uv-protector-spf-42/3265138?origin=related-3265138-0-0-1-1

      Most Shiseido counters will give you a sample to try for a couple weeks. I don't know about you, but generally my skin (which is also sensitive) will react to something within that timeframe, if it doesn't like it. Hope that helps, and good luck!

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  8. I have to say, you look great for your age--any age, really, I can't see the signs of aging on your face. The great thing about being Asian is that we don't really age...until suddenly we do, but that's not for years. ;) I just turned 34 and I love playing the "what age do you think I am?" game, because people always guess about 10 years younger.

    Also, I don't really wear sunscreen (shhhhh) but I really should, I'm not going to get away with that forever, so thanks for posting your recos.

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    1. Hahaha, yes, I've seen that illustration before. It's so totally apt. :) I wanna skip from 50-60 directly to 120. ;)

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  9. I am late to this but coming from Australia we know about sunscreen (and we have the 'Slip-Slop-Slap' campaign against skin cancer - slip on shirt, slap on some sunscreen, slap on a hat :). I also use and LOVE EltaMD. I get it from my dermatologist who is not the kind who pushes lots of products. If you get it from a dr instead of online they will have samples for you try the different formulations first and to keep in your purse. I have really sensitive skin and went to her in desperation (I scared a lady at the Chanel counter really badly my eyes were so swollen from a reaction:) So I use the Elta Clear SPF 46 which I apply religiously every day. I put this on after Cerave moisturizer which she also recommended that is really cheap and you can buy from the drugstore but is perfect for sensitive skin. I also use Cerave cleanser. You can use the Elta MD sunscreens without moisturizer depending on your skin type. The Elta Clear is 'very light' if you have sensitive/young/oily skin. Then they have a creamier one. There is also one for body. It costs about $28 for a bottle that lasts me about 2 mo I think (maybe longer?) I use it 365d a year. It is a physical blocker (which is what all hypoallergenic ones are so it does give that very slight whitish look of you put it on thickly but you can blend, but I'd rather have one that works and gives no reaction. I also agree Kiehls have good products but I found that daily defense super fluid SPF 50 smelt funny and was really oily and runny (they gave me a sample and I tried it because I'd run out). Ok love your blog, I rarely comment. Oh and if you go to the dermatologist they can do one of those camera things where you can see how much sun damage you have. OK sorry for long message - just such a good topic!! So many people are out in the sun right now getting burned?!

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  10. Great topic! I learned so much just from reading the comments -- definitely going to check out Elta. :)
    I have sensitive skin, so I wear organic sunscreen by necessity (anything else makes me itchy). I use MyChelle's Sun Shield SPF 28 just about every day. I've also used Skinceuticals C E Ferulic serum, which is supposed to fight aging. Cosmetic Skin Solutions has a much more affordable formulation. I've slacked off on using it lately, but now I'm thinking it's time to make it a part of my routine again.

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  11. Great post, Carol! And I agree with all the posters, you have absolutely fabulous skin.

    I had fairly bad acne when I was younger, and the only thing that worked to get rid of it was Accutane. Unfortunately, since Accutane zaps your oil glands, it means that 10 years later I still have dry and quickly aging skin. Throw in a few years of being a tanning bed fiend, and ugh. Whenever I see a young girl going into a tanning salon, I want to yell, "DON'T DO ITTT!" It's just so awful, and one day you WON'T be able to tan, which makes dry, wrinkly, and sun damaged skin look all the worst.

    My mother-in-law has used Shisiedo sunblock now for an incredibly long time and loves it (and has great skin in spite of being a sun worshipper), so I keep meaning to try it! Definitely bookmarking these rec's...

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