I’m just a little less than two weeks from turning thirty-three. Yes, I’m feeling old. And vain.
It’s no newsflash that I should be wearing it. Skin cancer rates are startling. The American Academy of Dermatologists estimates that one in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. New York City is so committed to reducing skin cancer cases that it’s doling out sunscreen for free at its beaches. Read literally any bit of beauty advice and the first defense against aging (as if!) is wearing sunscreen.
In general, my approach to sunscreen is that it should be the last defense against the sun, not the first. Hats! Sunglasses! Making it a point not to lounge around in the noonday sun! Putting away that tanning oil and tin foil and getting serious about finding some shade! I’m pretty good at these things.
And yet, sometimes mama wants to stick her face in the sun. Sometimes it’s all I can do but to turn my face skyward and grin like a maniac, because Vitamin D and Planet Earth and sunshine. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that in the past few weeks my nose has gotten browner and my freckles have gotten darker. It’s not that I’m unfamiliar with the research or the risk of not wearing anything at all, it’s just that wearing sunscreen is the worst.
It’s very easy to say that the best sunscreens are broad spectrum and includes physical mineral blockers, like zinc oxide, instead of ones that sink into your skin like oxybenzone. It’s a whole other endeavor to slather my face with thick white paste every morning and commit to walking around with a ghostly, ghastly, positively phosphorescent glow that makes me feel like I’m auditioning for the part of a killer clown meets Casper the friendly ghost. To be clear: If I’m spending a lot of time outdoors, I’ll borrow a squeeze of whatever sunscreen I’m currently slathering on Faye. (Here’s a good list to consult, if you’re curious.) I’ll put it on my shoulders and arms and legs and ignore that my limbs look like something descended from outer space. But putting it on my face? I’ll cop to usually being very tempted to forgo sunscreen on my face altogether.
Dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen every single day, heaven help me. Every single day is a lot of days, especially when so much of a day is passed indoors and one has interest in their pores feeling a bit of fresh air once in a while. But skin cancer isn’t going anywhere. Neither are wrinkles. Neither, apparently, my vanity.
So, here I am, making an effort to shift a habit.
I bought myself a bottle of Josie Maran’s Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 Protect + Perfect. It’s good. It’s still sunscreen, but it includes zinc oxide and a bit of a tint, so it doesn’t leave a ghastly cast. And even though wearing it is a far cry from being bare faced and fancy free, it’s not (by far) the greasiest, heaviest, yuckiest sunscreen I’ve tried either. Better: The 2015 formulation got a score of three on the Environmental Working Group’s SkinDeep database. Three feels sufficiently not terrible in terms of weighing the evils of skin cancer and toxicity and feeling miserable coated in sticky stuff. And we’re all weighing all of those things, aren’t we?
I’m curious. Are you all saintly sunscreen wearers? (TRULY?) Are you as flawed as I am? (Misery loves company). More to the point: Do you have favorite sunscreens I should know about?
PS. If you’re feeling equally stumped, EWG’s Sun Safety Campaign has a really great list of tips to consult when making a decision.
To sun protection and shifting habits!
More habit shifts, right this way.