Sun Protection. There are worse things to obsess over…

Posted by Lipglossiping On May - 25 - 2011

I’m a sun-protection devotee, not just for the products but also the theories and chemistry behind the idea of protecting yourself from sun exposure.  Throw in some tales of vitamin D deficiency and I can be hooked for hours.  Do I understand it all?  I wish… but choosing a reliable, safe sunscreen is probably one of the best favours you can do for your skin.  It’s worth the effort!

I’m the proud owner of around 2sq metres of sun-sensitive, freckled skin that turns pink at the merest hint of a sun ray and my (un)healthy interest in these products began a couple of years ago with the discovery of some of the fine sun protection products available to the Asian market.

I have a real fear of sunburn.  As a 9 year old, I was left bandaged across the back and shoulders, with daily visits to the hospital for blister-draining after a particularly nasty case of sunburn.  I own a slightly bizarre photo of me taken as an 11 year old… lying in bed, red as a beetroot mid-hallucination thanks to sunstroke.

Infact, nearly every holiday snap shows those tell tale burn lines on my bare shoulders.  It was a recurring theme throughout my childhood, teens and even early twenties until I realised that I simply couldn’t get away with exposing my skin to the sun in the same way my friends could.

I make my poor parents sound neglectful… they weren’t at all.  Who wanted to be the fat kid swimming in an oversize t-shirt and hat whilst your olive-skinned mates frolicked around in bikinis?  Not me!  Those sun defences bit the dust as soon as I was out of eyeline and we just didn’t understand the importance of re-applying SPF regularly back in those days.

For the month of June, is going to putting an emphasis on sun protection.  I want to learn more about the different chemicals/mineral options available and what they mean in laymans terms.  I want to fully understand all this UVA/UVB stuff and look beneath the obvious differences between an SPF15 and an SPF50+.  I wanna discuss some of the options currently available on the market and whether or not they’re up to the job.

I want to discover some of the easiest-to-wear sunscreens that don’t work against my makeup or skin type and I want to finally decide for myself whether the convenience of easily-absorbed sunscreen is outweighed by the potential health risks associated with chemical protection.

Phew!  I hope you don’t mind coming along for the ride?!

45 Responses to “Sun Protection. There are worse things to obsess over…”

  1. Rina says:

    Excellent. As a fellow paley in search of a good daily sunscreen solution, I’m looking forward to seeing what you discover :)

  2. Dempeaux says:

    Me too! I’ve never had a bad burn, but I’m always weary of the sun (mainly for what it’s done to my skin!). The scary thing is that, once you start your research, you find that not many sunscreen are actually that helpful/ good for your body. I’m using Marie Veronique Face Screen SPF 30 at the moment and my skin is doing really well with it. Check out both Jen’s post on sunscreen ( and EWG ( for sunscreen rankings. Super helpful in fighting the good fight!

    I’m so looking forward to your posts! x

  3. Kimberley says:

    Morning Charlotte/All,

    Skin Type: Oily, Never burn but still want a good protection for my skin.

    I use Ultrasun, its AMAZING!! I would not be without their Face 30spf and 20spf Sports version on my body… I have seen such a difference in my skin since using this for the past 2 or so years especially on pigmentation marks and a longer lasting healthy tan. The Face 30 works as an excellent makeup base and is easily absorbed, no white marks and never greasy. Which is a must for my Oily skin type. I usually by mine from QVC who offer the best prices and kits around, failing that I pop down to John Lewis however the prices are a lot different there. I find this 100 times better than P20, as that stains clothes and can become too greasy for me personally. I would love to hear if you have tried this at all & your thoughts on it.

    Take care,

  4. Lauren says:

    I’d love to come along for the ride. Living in Australia the need to protect your skin is high, especially for a pale kid like me. So it’ll be interesting to see what you find out =]

  5. Jen says:

    I only go out in the sun to walk the dogs. I regard a tan as ‘common’ and the easiest way to avoid it all is not to go out in it or to cover up with the big hat and baggy clothes. But I’m of the era when a ‘lady’ was pale and interesting. You know c.1870.

    I do wear an SPF product on my face and that’s all.

  6. Katrine says:

    Being a pale, freckled, hyper-sunsensitive redhead, I’m onboard!
    I’m forever on the hunt for a spf 30+ that doesn’t make my face go made in sensitive hysteria, whilst protecting my pale prettyness.

    So, I’m so happy you are doing this!
    Thank you.

  7. Andrea says:

    Although I’m pale, I don’t burn easily but I am concerned about ageing. I apply make sunscreen daily before my make up at about 7.15 am. Other than a very short walk to work, I don’t spend any time outside until around 1.30, by which point I worry that my protection will have worn off, and I can’t reapply to my face without removing my make up. What are your thoughts on this?

  8. Sydney says:

    Gosh, I am so glad you’re doing this.
    I was actually a bit tempted to send you an email and recommend/beg for you to do some sun block reviews/digging around.

    I’ll get my seat right at the front for this one!

  9. kyanvi says:

    I brought up in HK and we used to use a very high degree SPF protection, SPF 35-45 are the minimum, people use at least SPF 50 if they are going outdoor. But the problem with me is that I am allergic to most of the sunscreen that are above SPF25, so I also have trouble to find the one that can give me protection while not giving me rashes and dry and torn skin.

  10. Lindsay says:

    Very happy to come along for the ride!

    My skin sounds very similar to yours – burns at the merest hint of sunshine. My parents always marvelled that I was the only 3 year old on earth who would go inside and find a jumper in the middle of summer. Even at that age I must have been able to feel the tingle indicating the beginning of a burn.

    I’m pretty good at applying the factor 50 in the summertime, and factor 30 every other day of the year. I do resent paying out so much money on sun cream though. It’s ridiculously expensive. Especially if u use as much as they reccomend.

    Looking forward to hearing more!

  11. Vijaya says:

    Can’t wait to see your posts about sun protection! =D

  12. stregalice says:

    Your sunburn tales remind me of my very similar childhood memories. Sadly I did have a sort of neglectful grandmother who thought Nivea cream in the blue box was the only sunscreen I needed (on my nose only), resulting on a regular sunburn each year from 7 to 11 years old. Now people tease me for my fear of the sun, I wonder why 😉

    I am so glad you’re doing this, I can’t wait to read your findings about sunscreens!

  13. Lexie says:

    This sounds really interesting. Would be great to find out whether those high spf 30 oils would work for pale skin. At the moment I have a bit of a mind block about putting oil on my skin despite the fact it’s got a really high spf.

  14. shanice says:

    UVA is the one that causes premature aging and UVB is the one that can cause cancer, I think anyway haha. I’d love to have the dedication of those girls that wear sunscreen every day of the year!

  15. I really want someone to explain chemical vs. physical sunscreens to me in a way that I understand! :)

  16. Gemma says:

    I was totally the fat kid swimming in an oversize t-shirt. Which is perhaps why I never made friends on holiday.

    BUT hopefully because of that, my skin won’t look like a handbag when I’m in my 40s. Boo for sun-sensitive pale skin. Yay for high SPFs and sitting in the shade, huge sunglasses and ridiculous kaftans.

  17. Rachel says:

    Oh yes…sunscreen is definitely something I’m interested in!

    I’m really pale on a good day and look kinda freshly dug up on a bad day. However I refuse to sit in the sun with no sunscreen on, because sun damage is one of the few things that will never repair itself.

  18. Claire says:

    Yay! I’m really happy that you’ve got some stuff about suncreams coming up. I’ve been really struggling to find a suncream for the face which doesn’t make me shine and that I only need to apply once a day (what’s the point in making a lovely facial suncream that needs reapplying? That would ruin my makeup!). But I can’t go out without suncream on (In my head the sun is targeting me with super aging lasers all the time), in the end I always choose shine over sun damage.

  19. NeenaJ says:

    Thanks, Charlotte! Count me in! I, too, spent many summers burnt from tip to toe. I still have the scar on my left shoulder where I would get a recurring nasty blister. Even with sunscreen and a t-shirt, the sand and surf were too much for me. I would also get red, itchy sun rashes all over my hands and forearms. I remember sitting in vinegar baths and applying tea compresses like it happened yesterday.

    I would like to know more about how the different types of sunscreen can interact with each other, and with our makeup. Also, what order are we supposed to put products on? I keep reading conflicting stories!

    Right now, I use Neutrogena SPF 55 + Age Shield on my face everyday. If I’m going outside on the weekends, I will add SPF 30 to my neck, shoulders, arms & hands. But, I’m not happy with the Neutrogena as it leaves my face really shiny and greasy and it shows through the makeup.

  20. Janie says:

    Oooh how exciting!
    I have to say I am a big fan of P20. I have never burnt whilst using it, and whilst it does smell I do find it lasts all day and still enables me to get a tan. My bf who burns has also started using it and hasn’t burnt since.
    For my face I use Neova Z Silc which is a great make up base and doesn’t make your make-up slide. It dries really matte and isn’t greasy.
    I also love Piz Buin purely for the smell!! :-)

  21. Dee says:

    i would love to find something i could put on my face that wont leave me with a huge breakout a few days later. if you find anything, i would love to hear about it! i love gardening and living in the south of france where the sun is very strong, i need to use something most days between march and october. look forward to hearing about your journey of discovery.

  22. Jen says:

    I can totally relate. I had bad cases on sunburn as a child & now realise that I can’t tan in the way my friends do. Oh how I resent them, but a recent slight mole-related scare means I know I have to be more careful – looking forward to reading your posts.

  23. Leah says:

    Count me in too! I was sunburned badly a few times as a kid. My mum did put sun cream on me, but no one really knew the dangers of skin cancer back then. I’d wriggle around as mum slapped cream on me, rush straight into the sea, roll around in the sand fighting my brother then dive back in the sea to get it all off. It’s no wonder I spent summer holidays resembling the head of a Swan Vesta match and picking off peeling skin.

    Now I avoid the sun as much as possible because being out in it too much does horrible things to my body (Stay Puft marshmallow man from Ghostbusters anyone? the wonders of autoimmune disease not only mean the sun fatigues me no end, but if I get my legs out regularly they swell up full of fluid). Also, I have nearly a grand’s worth of tattoos to protect from sun damage. Currently I go out covered almost head to foot to protect myself, so I’m all ears about your findings. One of my aunts (who most resembles me – pale, freckles, auburn hair etc) has had to have melanomas removed on two occasions and I have no desire to follow suit.

  24. Silva says:

    I am so glad you’re doing this! While I never get a sunburn, I’m really protective of my skin!

  25. Debbie says:

    Yep t-shir wearing fat kid here too (we could form a Facebook group!) I also had sun stroke that made me go blind and a massive blister on my ankle when my mother mummified me but left that tiny bit of skin exposed. My size 8 sister used to slather herself in coconut oil and lay there til she could smell pork. At the time she look incredible. She is 18 months younger than me (currently 43 to my 45) and everyone that meets us for the first time, without fail, double checks that I am in fact the elder of the two! Skinny and btf are a very ageing combo! (Catholic guilt attack time: She is a lovely person and would NEVER be this disloyal to me & I love her to bits)

  26. Sam says:

    I am a paley too so completely understand your fear of the sun…hell I even suffer from wind burn if I don’t wear sun screen. After using the BE SPF30 mineral powder sun screen for the last couple of years, I’ve recently moved on (if onnly it came in a regular pot without the brush attached!!)and have started using the Clairns UV Plus HP SPF40 sun screen which I love. It leaves a lovely matte base for foundation and so far I haven’t burned!!

  27. hannah says:

    Even people who aren’t pale should read this, just because you have a medium/dark skintone, doesn’t mean you should skip out on sun protection. Theres even oils on the market now with a SPF20

  28. I’m SO looking forward to this feature…I especially want to learn about how different sun protections can work against/degrade each other – it’s all so confusing!

  29. I use Neutrogena! They make tons of options in all different strengths of protection and different formulas for different skin types!

  30. Rachael says:

    I hope you’ll also look into biodegradable / environmentally safe sunscreen. one of the things that I’d never thought about was that the sunscreen washes off our skin and into the environment, potentially ruining and poisoning the places that we love. It wasn’t until I went into a cenote in Mexico where they made us wash ourselves first that I even realized how we’re slowly destroying our world in even the most unassuming ways.

  31. woohoo! As a sunscreen junkie, I’m really excited about this series. And nice timing as well xD

  32. Roberta says:

    I’m glad your doing this, I’ve had to have my skin check every year since I was 16 when it was discovered that my dad had melanoma. Since then I’ve also been on a crusade to find the perfect sunblock. In the last couple years however I now I have go to the dermatologist every 6 months for a skin check. Most of the time I get at least 1 mole shaved off and occasionally have to have one surgically removed. I hope more people start wearing sunscreen. Yes I am incredibly pale and both my parents developing melanoma (my mom got it about a year ago) puts me at a higher risk, but if they had been wearing sunscreen religiously they would be in better shape.

  33. Jade says:

    This is a great idea! I too am a freckly mess and have never had an actual tan unless you count having so many freckles they join and make me look brown.
    I have seen some sun protection products reviewed on blogs but most are hard to find or cost tens of thousands of pounds to ship :(
    Will you also be including hair protection? As the owner of highlights and a poor student I want to keep them looking nice for as long as possible but have no clue where to start looking for stuff that is good AND available in the UK.
    I’m looking forward to it :)

  34. seii says:

    I really.. REALLY want to get this chemical suncream + mineral makeup = OMG UNSTABLE CHEMICALS ON YOUR FACE thing sorted out.. it makes me wonder whether or not you can actually use a high protection suncream with your makeup.

  35. AshD says:

    I’m so glad your doing this because I’ve spent so many hours over the past few weeks researching sunscreen and it is SO complicated. either the UV filter chemcials are unstable and produce free radicals, or penetrate into your body & have estrogenic effects, or the physical filters may cause free radical damage & penetrate into your body if they are nano particles…It’s so hard to find the perfect sunscreen! you do have better options in Europe though. In the US it is impossible to find a high PPD (UVA protective) sunscreen because they don’t allow Tinosorb here which is the best and safest and most stable UVA filter. It’s also nearly impossible to find Meroxyl here.
    My real challenge is finding a highly UVA protective sunscreen for daily wear. I have a European one for days at the beach, but not one for my face for daily wear b/c I can’t find one I’m satisfied with.

  36. Gemx says:

    I look forward to future posts on this topic. I burn easily and I’m allergic to most supermarket sun creams. I’m red either way if I use sun screen or not! 😛

  37. Ann says:

    If you could help me find a sunscreen that fits the following characteristics, I would be forever in your debt.

    Face Sunscreen:

    1.) SPF of at LEAST 30
    2.) Excellent UVB protection
    3.) doesn’t cause breakouts
    4.) doesn’t feel greasy or disgusting on the skin once it’s sunk in
    5.) easily available in the UK (online shopping is fine)
    6.) reasonable price
    7.) (bonus) doesn’t make my face sting!

    Body Sunscreen:
    1.) SPF of at least 30
    2.) acceptable UVB protection
    3.) doesn’t feel greasy or disgusting on the skin once it’s sunk in
    4.) not overly stinky
    5.) easily available in the UK (online shopping is fine)
    6.) cheap price for a large bottle

  38. Ann says:

    Also I have a strong feeling that in that post I said UVB instead of UVA >_<

  39. Cristina says:

    I’m really looking foward to this. Lately, I’ve thinking in quiting wearing spf! I’m SO tired of trying differents things and they never work well for me: unbearable shine, white cast, skin allergies, breakouts (I have very acne-prone skin), spfs that start to peel after a couple hours, are super difficult to reapply, trying to get rid of the damn white film with make up and end up looking meh…horrible (and every face make up item I tried to date breaks me out like crazy!), sunscreens that melt and get into my eyes, that feel heavy and suffocating on the skin, that smell awful and sometimes I can still smell them after a couple of hours, I hate feeling the taste of sunscreen on my mouth…the list of problems is just too long! I am so annoyed by the all Spf thing, I just don’t get how people do it.I suffer when I have it on and I just want that the end of the day arrives quickly, so that I can wash it off…

  40. Jules says:

    I am a total sunscreen-aholic. Sunny days mean SPF 40-50 Neutrogena spray sunscreen, and my face gets mac spf 50 primer. Any “tan” I get is from sunless tanner, which works like a charm!

    My only thing is that I’m pretty sure my sensitive face doesn’t much like ANY sunscreen on it, as I find that every time I use it my face breaks out :(


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