Summer Skin Care: Your Guide to All Things Sunscreen

Your guide for protecting your skin while you have fun in the sun.

Special thank you to Goddess Garden for gifting me their sunscreens to try. All opinions are my own.

I'm an avid sunscreen user. I’ve got sunscreen in my eyes more times than I can count. (Yes, I always wash my hands after applying.) Especially growing up, my mom and dad constantly made me wear sunscreen.

Perhaps it's the reason I took an interest in skin care at such young age. Well, that and acne through my preteen and teenage years. If you had acne growing up like I did, you remember in the beginning how challenging it was adjusting to a new skin care routine. In the end though, it was all worth it because you ended up with beautiful, clear skin. Same thing with getting into a sunscreen routine.

Learning the sun accounts for 90 percent of visible signs of skin aging, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, might be enough to scare you from ever going in the sun again.{1} However, skin aging is preventable, if you're committed to properly protecting your skin.

I am not an expert nor do I claim to be one. Most of my skin care knowledge comes from my esthetics degree, college anatomy and physiology courses, and the vast amount of content I constantly consume. My bachelor's is in journalism and public relations, but before I changing my major, I wanted to work as a nurse practitioner in a dermatologist's office.

So today I bring you complication of information for multiple sources including personal, brand blogs and health organizations. I encourage you to utilize the sources listed at the bottom of this post if you want to additional context to the research presented.

Without further ado, I give you my guide for safer sunscreen and smarter sun protection. Let's start by exploring happens when your skin interacts with the sun.

YOUR SKIN & THE SUN

As you know, the sun can age your skin. But how exactly does this transpire?

The sun emits solar energy from different points on a spectrum. Along that spectrum are ultraviolet rays. UV rays are invisible, and when they penetrate the skin and are absorbed, they cause sunburns and sun damage.{2}

Most sun-related skin damage happens from accumulated sun exposure over a lifetime.{3} You'll have a better understanding of why that it and how to confront it after reading this post. To begin, let's examine the differences between UVB and UVA rays in relation to their effects on skin.

UVB vs. UVA rays

UVB rays are commonly known as burning rays because they have the potential to cause sunburns. They penetrate the skin's superficial layers (pictured below) and signal a physical reaction to sun exposure. Increased melanin production, also known as getting a tan, is your skin's way of preventing further sun damage and protecting the deeper layers of your skin. It's also your body's way of telling you that's enough sun for today.{4}

Sun damage from UVB rays shows up quickly usually in the form of redness, skin being sensitive to touch or a tan. UVB rays are also responsible for the generation of vitamin D. UVA rays do not help with the vitamin D production.

UVA rays are the aging rays. They have the capacity to penetrate the deeper layers of the skin, and they do not cause sunburns.

It's hard to determine what is safe amount of UVA rays because the skin has no immediate sensor. Skin aging due to UVA exposure is delayed and doesn't show up until years later.{3}

UVA accounts for nearly 90 percent of UV rays that reach the skin.{4} As a result, you start to see early signs of skin aging like lines and wrinkles as collagen is damaged resulting from a loss of skin elasticity.

Even if you stay indoors when UVB rays are the most intense at midday, UVA rays are always a risk.{4} The objective is not to avoid the sun. It's to enjoy it safely and in moderation, which is why wearing sunscreen is always a good idea.

DECODING SUNSCREEN LABELS

Before I researched this topic again, I thought I knew how to properly select and use sunscreen. I did my due diligence to protect against UVB/UVA rays. I applied 70+ SPF and made certain to reapply every hour. All of my friends can tell you how devoted I am to wearing sunscreen and reapplying.

However, sun exposure guidelines have changed since I adopted these habits more than 10 years ago. It was time for an update, and it started with choosing the right SPF.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF)

An SPF rating is a measure of the time it takes to sunburn when you're not wearing sunscreen versus the time it takes when you are. It's not a specific unit of time, rather a multiplier correlated to the time it takes you to sunburn.{5}

The higher the SPF, the more time you can spend in the sun. You still have to reapply every two hours no matter the SPF. Additionally, sunscreens with an SPF higher than 50 are almost pointless unless you have really fair skin.

Think of it this way, if you burn within 10 minutes of sun exposure, SPF 50 would protect you for up to eight hours before getting a sunburn. It's unlikely that you spend more than eight hours in the sun.

SPF also indicates the percentage of UVB rays blocked. It's a good measure for sunscreen effectiveness, but it doesn't tell the whole story.

Broad Spectrum Coverage

To fully protect yourself from the sun, you want a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against burning UVB rays and aging UVA rays. A sunscreen lacking in UVA leaves you at risk for long-term sun damage.

SUN PROTECTION MECHANISMS

Active ingredients in sunscreen can be divided into two categories: chemical and mineral (also called physical) sunscreens. Both prevent sunburns but do so using different mechanisms.{6}

CHEMICAL SUNSCREEN

  • Absorbs UV rays and convert it to a small amount of heat
  • Filters UV exposure

MINERAL SUNSCREEN

  • Reflects UV rays
  • Blocks UV exposure

As I mentioned earlier, absorbing UV rays isn't the best anti-aging technique for your skin. Although chemical sunscreens provide the immediate benefit of not getting sunburned, it's hard to justify their beneficial in the long run.

The sun protection mechanism in mineral sunscreen works by creating a physical barrier that sits on top the skin rather than being absorbed, meaning UV rays aren't absorbed either.

Which leads me to the last factor I took into consideration for my sunscreen update: quality of ingredients.

WHAT’S IN YOUR SUNSCREEN

We’ve all had a moment when we realize a product we use regularly contains harmful ingredients. Sunscreen is no exception.

    Questionable Ingredients

    Below are some ingredients you need to watch out for according to the Environmental Working Group, an organization that researches and educates consumers about toxins in personal care products. If you want a more in-depth look at sunscreen ingredients, The EWG Guide to Sunscreens 2017 is a fantastic resource. It provides product safety information about sunscreens, lip balms with SPF, moisturizers and makeup.

    *In no way am I saying these ingredients are harmful, only that they have the potential to be. Sometimes they work wonders in other applications. Be that as it may, using them for the purpose of sun protection should be approached with caution.

    Ingredients with higher toxicity concerns

    Ingredients with moderate toxicity concerns

    Ingredients with lower toxicity concerns

    • Avobenzone: product breakdown causes relatively high rates of skin allergy

    Inactive ingredients to avoid

    Don't get me wrong, chemical sunscreen is better than no sunscreen. However, we can do so much better than not getting a sunburn.

    AN ALTERNATIVE

    As you've probably guess, the alternative I found for common chemical sunscreen is to go mineral. Mineral sunscreen provides the same benefits, and it does so without the added risk that comes with absorbing UV rays and potentially harmful chemicals.{7}

    Active ingredients used in mineral sunscreens include zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or a combination of both. Both of which show little evidence of penetrating the skin.

    You're probably thinking, no way am I going out there looking like one of those old school lifeguards with the white zinc patches across their nose. But don't worry, we've come along way.

    Today's mineral sunscreens are gentle; they work immediately; they don’t break down in the sun, and most of all, they go on sheer.

    The best ones I've found, that meet all the standards mentioned above, come from the company Goddess Garden Organics. Here are a few reasons why I'm glad I made the switch their facial sunscreen SPF 30 and sport sunscreen SPF 30 a couple weeks ago.

    • Goddess Garden sunscreens contain only natural minerals and organic ingredients including aloe vera, sunflower oil, shea butter and helichrysum essential oil.

    • Their product ingredients have very low EWG toxicity ratings.

    • They are broad spectrum.

    • They're easy to apply, go on sheer and leave my skin feeling moisturized.

    • They feel light on skin and they're not greasy either.

    I used the facial sunscreen all the time when I take my dogs for their walks. I love smelling the lavender scent as soon as I open the tube and as it lingers on my skin.

    The sport sunscreen I use when I'm going to be in the water. It's thicker than the facial, but it applies just as easy if you remember to dry off your skin first. This is key!

    I'm really happy with the sunscreens they sent me. My mom and sister started using their products before I did, and they love them too.

    Again, I urge you to do your own research, talk to a dermatologist and then make the best decision for you.

    To recap, what you're looking for in a mineral sunscreen is broad-spectrum protection, active ingredients zinc and/or titanium dioxide and an SPF of at least 30.

    Thank you so much for checking out this post!

    I hope you enjoyed it and that it gave you insight on how best to protect your skin this summer. Stay tuned for more summer skin care series posts. This month I will be talking about sunscreen application tips, how to repair sun damage, and how to prevent it from happening again.

    Let me know about any questions you might have, skin care topics you're interested in or a sunscreen experience you would like to share. Always leave me a comment below if want to see more posts like this.

    Want to connect more? Choose the social platform you like best.

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    SHOP GG MINERAL SUNSCREENS

    Goddess Garden products are available on their website {click photos to shop}. They are also online at the following retailers Target, Amazon, Walmart, CVS and Walgreens. And, I have found them locally in-store at Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, Hy-Vee and Whole Foods.

    Up Next

    Inside My Sephora Custom Makeover

    Your guide to making the most of a Sephora Custom Makeover. Free with 50+ purchase and for VIB ROUGE members.

    Sephora Custom Makeover

    In no way is this post sponsored by Sephora, I simply love the beauty retailer and the products they carry.

    It's hard to imagine life before Sephora. Although the French cosmetic store chain was founded in 1969, it didn't reach U.S. shores until after it was acquired in 1997 by LVMH makers of Louis Vuitton, Moët & Chandon, and Hennessy.

    It's considered a beauty lover's paradise. Yet, before ever stepping foot in the beautiful, monochromatic beauty care mecca, I remember hearing stories from people who made the journey to such a place. They talked about all these products and brands I never heard of.

    One day I had to see for myself how magical this beauty emporium could be. I was not disappointed! In a truly unique shopping experience, I freely roamed shopping multiple brands, physically interact with products, and testing any product at my leisure.

    As overwhelming as it was at first, Sephora figuratively and literally removed the traditional beauty counter and the uncomfortable interactions that come with it. At Sephora, you're free to experiment and learn with Beauty Advisors guiding you along the way.

    Every time I ask a Beauty Advisor for their product recommendations or to match my foundation so it's the right shade for summer, it's a mini beauty lesson. They tell you how to apply the product as they're applying it along, with any tips for achieving the look you have in mind.

    Knowing how educationally beneficial a Sephora experience is, I decided it is the perfect first step for expanding my beauty knowledge and taking it to the next level. After some relatively easy research on their website, I discovered a 45-minute custom full-face makeover, by one of their Beauty Advisors, is complimentary with a $50 minimum purchase.

    At that moment I thought, why haven't I done this every time I refill my essentials because let's be real it's always a $50+ ordeal. If you spend more than $50 at each Sephora visit, start using this benefit!

    Additionally, VIB ROUGE members, a status earned by spending $1000 in one calendar year, get unlimited custom makeovers for free. $1000 seems like a lot, however, once you estimate your annual beauty expenses, you may find it's closer to $1000 than you think.

    Provided that's the case, you would consolidate all your beauty purchases (that includes gifts too) to be made at Sephora and you enjoy all the VIB ROUGE perks during the year you obtain it and the following year. Learn about VIB ROUGE specifics from this Racked post and get shopping.

    Now let's dive into all products used in my 45-minute Sephora Custom Makeover.
    *Indicates products I own

    SKIN CARE

    The foundation of flawless skin and makeup application is skin care. We used five products to tone, moisturize and prime my skin. Jasmine, my Beauty Advisor, explained the benefits of beauty oils that are trending right now. She tells me beauty oils work for all skin types, are super hydrating and quickly absorb into the skin. This is one of the many knowledge bombs she dropped on me throughout our 45 minutes together.

    IMG_5604 Edit.jpg

    Son & Park Beauty Water

    Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist

    Tatcha Gold Camellia Beauty Oil

    Tatcha Balanced Pore Perfecting Water Gel Moisturizer

    IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Eye Cream

    EYES

    Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Eye Shadow Palette is not a palette I would normally chose because of the bold, bright colors. Neutral shades are more my speed, but I thought this is the perfect opportunity to try something new in the competent hands of a Beauty Advisor so I went for it.

    It turned out so pretty! It was largely a result of continually layering shadows, blending and softening bold colors. Jasmine probably used six different colors to create this look. I was mesmerized by all the multitude of brushes and techniques she used. Next time I'm filming the makeover so I can add her tips to my beauty arsenal.

    IMG_1307 Edit.jpg

    Too Face Shadow Insurance Glitter Glue Glitter Bonding Eye Shadow Primer

    Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Eye Shadow Palette

    Dior Diorshow Waterproof Mascara in Brown

    FACE

    Do you apply your eye makeup before or after your face? I have always done mine before because I like the seamless look it gives. After this makeover, I may convert to eyes first especially when wearing darker eye shadows.

    Jasmine walked me through face after eyes using YSL TOUCHE ECLAT LE TEINT Radiance Awakening Foundation. I opted for a foundation with a glow because I was curious how it would look since I use Smashbox Studio Skin 15 Hour Wear Foundation, which is a matte finish. It looked great btw.

    Then she applied the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder per my request as I was looking for a new setting powder I can use for baking. It packed on well, which is a must for baking. I purchased it after the makeover.

    The difference between this powder and the MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Microfinishing Loose Powder, is MAKE UP FOR EVER smooths while Laura Mercier sets.

    YSL TOUCHE ECLAT LE TEINT Radiance Awakening Foundation in B20 (Ivory)

    YSL TOUCHE ECLAT Neutralizer in Bisque

    *Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder

    *MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Microfinishing Loose Powder

    BRONZER

    I found the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick at Costco six weeks ago for 50 percent off! I used it a couple times prior to my Sephora makeover, but I wanted to know if there was a use I was missing. Jasmine said it's best to use a fluffy brush and push in circular motions to grab all the colors. The bronzer can be applied all over the cheek.

    She then used the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer to define my cheek bone further.

    *Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Bronze

    Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer in Luminous Bronze Light

    HIGHLIGHT

    IMG_1333 Edit.jpg

    Learning how to master highlighters was the portion I was most excited for. I learned both dry and wet highlighters are necessary to creating a look that is multidimensional.

    First, Jasmine went in with the Anastasia Beverly Hills Pale Cream in a c-shape from above my brow, down my temple and across my cheek bone. Pale Cream is a matte highlight color from the contour kit.

    Next, she applied the COVER FX Custom Enhancer Drops with her fingers and really pressed it into the powder along the cheek bone.

    Finally, she used the lightest shade in the NARS Banc De Sable Highlight Palette to go over the other two products and blend it all together. Her highlight skills are impeccable.

    Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit - Light to Medium in Vanilla (Pale Cream)

    COVER FX Custom Enhancer Drops in Celestial (Glistening Pearl)

    NARS Banc De Sable Highlight Palette

    BROWS

    I don't know how I lived my life before filling in my brows. I'm well versed in the art of brow sculpting yet pomades are completely foreign to me. I found the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz very comparable to the micro pencil I use from Maybelline.

    The verdict is still out on whether I will add a pomade to my beauty routine since it requires the right brush and it's a whole thing.

    One of my favorite beauty products and ways to make a statement is lip color. For this look, we used Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick, which is a pale mauve nude with a really yummy matte finish. Jasmine said they were out of this shade for months and is so happy it's finally in stock.

    Before applying lipstick, she used a lip pencil close to the same shade to go over my cupid's bow and bottom lip. When I asked why a lip pencil is important, she said it helps keep the color inbounds if you have a hard time applying lipstick.

    Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil in Walk of Shame (Pale Nude-Pink)

    Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick in Pure Hollywood (Pale Mauve Nude)

    SETTING SPRAY

    Lastly, we used a setting spray to keep it all in place. Setting spray is definitely a product worth investing in with summer around the corner or for any special event when you want your makeup to stay perfect.

    My appointment was at 11:00 a.m., and my makeup lasted me all day through windy walks scouting photo shoot locations.

    MAKE UP FOR EVER Mist & Fix Setting Spray

    I hope you guys enjoyed this post and hopefully it gave you insight into a Sephora Custom Makeover if you were on the fence. I can't wait to book my next appointment. The entire experience was wonderful and beyond educational. Next time I plan on doing even more research and creating questions beforehand.

    Thank you so much to Jasmine for doing my makeup and for you for checking out this post! If you like Jasmine's work, be sure to follow her on Instagram at @misjasmarie or request her for your next custom makeover.

    Let me know if you have any questions or if you have a Sephora Custom Makeover experience you would like to share. Always leave me a comment or email me directly if you like this post and want to see more like it. I look forward to hearing from you.

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