Learning from other people’s stupid mistakes is undoubtedly easier, but way harder than learning from your own dumb blunders. Take it from me. I should have listened. Oh how I should have listened when I was in my 20’s and 30s when people told me, “Always wear sunscreen.” Today, at 54 (an age which has come upon me suddenly like a bird lands on a wire then flies away), I have so much discoloration from sun damage on my face that I feel self-conscious if I leave the house without wearing makeup.
Magazines and the media didn’t really give a hoot about sunscreen protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays back then, and neither did I until the late 80’s early 90’s when skin cancer and sun exposure were definitely linked in the public imagination. My answer to the early messages coming from medical practitioners at the time when I was in my 20s was always, “I don’t get brown spots, and I don’t burn in the sun”. But what I didn’t realize is that sun damage, discoloration, wrinkles, and sun cancer develop slowly over time.
Everyone, no matter how dark-skinned, is vulnerable to sun damage. Reggae god Bob Marley died of skin cancer that took hold on the lighter skin on the soles of his feet. My sun damage is literally baked in from the time I was a child.
Every summer an adorable set of freckles would blossom across my cheeks, as the season changed to winter my freckles would disappear. By the time I was in my late 40s, those once adorable freckles took up permanent real estate on my face. Like an angry mob, those once delicate dots joined up forming smudges of pigment on one cheek, then both cheeks.
In my 30’s, I had babies and hormonal changes causing my skin’s sun sensitivity to go into hyperdrive. There was no stopping it because the hyperpigmentation train had already left the station during my childhood. Then, one day, I wake up, and there’s a mushroom-shaped cloud of exploding pigment rising from the center of my nose and exploding across my forehead. Cautionary tales like mine and women who have either wrinkled or cracked complexions or worse sun cancer usually get passed around when the ending has already been written. Game over. Sun wins. You lose.
Simply using sunscreen and wearing a wide-brimmed hat could have slowed and possibly even have stopped this fallout. Did I listen? No. Can I hear you now sunscreen? “Yes.” What can I say? Well, it’s never too late to do something smart. Here are my picks – believe me I’ve tried enough brands to open a sunscreen museum- for the best sunscreens for all types of skin.
Colore Science Sunforgettable SPF 50 Brush-On Mineral Powder Sunscreen
You laugh. Sunscreen in a powder? Don’t let the joke be on you though and get sunburned or damaged skin because it’s not plausible or practical to reapply suntan lotion while your sitting at your desk or out on a date. Forget putting oil-based sunscreen over makeup. How about a tube of tinted loose powder with its own retractable brush that’s an SPF 50 physical sunscreen with active ingredients titanium and zinc oxide?
Sunforgettable’s formula comes in 4 shades and provides 80 minutes of sweatproof waterproof overage. That should make you smile!
Elta MD SPF 46 UV Broad- Spectrum Daily Routine Sunscreen
My dermatologist turned me on this lightweight, non-oily, cream-based sunblock recommended for skin prone to rosacea acne or hyperpigmentation. What makes it unique among hyaluronic acid mixed with both zinc oxide, a physical sunscreen also added is oxctinoxate, which is a chemical sunscreen. Given the high tech performance of Elta, which is primarily distributed through doctor’s offices and serious skincare geek sites like The Dermstore, is it’s kind of controversial.
Customer reviews on the Elta site – which has some of the most balanced commentary I’ve ever seen from consumers – seem to praise the luxury formula. The only thing that would make it better is if Elta MD would please omit the octinoxate so it would be a chemical-free SPF.
“I don’t understand why it has to be in the formula because the zinc oxide is a UVA and UVB blocker,” according to Rebecca from Seattle Washington, a 24-35-year-old female with acne prone skin.
Most of the sun care range comes in tinted shades, but being on the darker end of the color spectrum from the average person the sunscreen is almost always and exclusively marketed to, I prefer to mix a bit of my own SPF foundation with Elta and touch up during the day with a high SPF loose powder for continuous protection.
You’ll need to reapply Elta every two hours, and if you are working out or sweating heavily, you will taste it in your mouth. Despite those two factors, I’ve been using it on the daily and loving it.
Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30 for Adults/ SPF50 for Kids
One of my favorite suncare products of all time – the only thing I had wished for was a higher SPF than 30, and now 50 SPF kids just hit the market. Prayers answered. Why is it so great? Well, if your red, yellow black or white no one wants to look chalky or pasty when you’re trying to get your glow-up under the sun?
Packed with natural goodness like avocado oil, jojoba, carrot juice which is full of vitamin C and can help minimize breakouts, sunflower oil, and cacao to help smooth and even out the complexion, this fragrance and chemical free sunscreen leaves your skin nourished and glowing. Smartly priced at about $15.00 available at Target and Amazon it’s a world-class product with an around the way price tag.
Sundaily Base Layer and Back Up Suncare in a Daily Gummy
Suncare in a tasty daily vitamin supplement, you say? Hmmm… it’s not as radical as it sounds. Protective skin Heliocare an ingestible capsule with scientific claims to help slow and repair impending sun damage has been around and recommended by doctors for a while. Sundaily, which just debuted it’s two-fold Base Layer and Backup natural suncare system this week. While Sundaily is not FDA approved or tested, which is standard in the nutritional supplement industry, so, it’s really up to your doctor or nutritionist’s advice . I think the ultimate litmus test is how you personally feel after trying something for 30 days to make the decision if a supplement is right for you.
Sundaily manufactured in the USA, claims to be both preventative restorative using ingredients containing vegan non-GMO plant extracts like polypodium leucotomos extract from a tropical fern native to the Amazon reportedly packed with antioxidants that shield the skin. Each gummy also contains Vitamin D3 derived from nutrient-rich lichen that supports the skin’s ability to resist environmental stressors like UV light. What’s the advantage of swallowing your sun protection instead of solely slathering it on? While there is no substitute for the sunblocking ability of high SPF physical sunscreen, there’s something to be said for the addition of sun protection that doesn’t wash off in the pool or drip away in beads of sweat and disappears on your morning jog or while you’re carving up the slopes on a downhill run.
Sundaily’s website welcomes potential users of its products to a “fountain of youth” – me and Ponce De Leon have yet to meet, so I am always skeptical of these claims. But I tell you one thing, I’ll take an ounce of prevention over a pound of cure any day.