The one anti-aging product I wish I had discovered sooner
And good news: it’s never too late to start!
Welcome to The LIFT
Thanks for being here! Would love for you to click the little heart, leave a comment + share this post with a friend! Oh, and click the button below to subscribe. A new issue comes out every Sunday + will be delivered right to your inbox. You can read previous issues here. We talk about a lot of things here - aging, beauty, downsizing, sustainability, self care. And today? Well - let’s get into it!
THE SIGNS OF AGING
For the last several weeks, I’ve been sharing thoughts around the topic of aging or rather our obsession to ‘avoid’ aging. You can catch up on the archives here.
While I make a focused effort to avoid using words like ‘anti-aging’, there is one ‘anti-aging’ product I wish I had discovered much sooner. It’s the one product that outperforms them ALL in terms of keeping skin youthful + radiant.
What is it you ask?
Before you stop reading because you think you already know everything you need to know about the importance of sunscreen, stick with me for a minute.
As a fair-skinned, Caucasian gal growing up in the 80’s in California, I am deeply programmed to think ‘tan skin’ is a sign of beauty + health. And, with summer approaching + a trip to Miami in my near future, I have been breaking into my favorite sunless tanners. Getting my skin ‘summer ready’.
I know I’m not alone.
Do you remember my post last year about the cost of beauty? I shared the story of my sister who is just two years younger than me. A fellow sun-worshipper. Her not-so-fun surgery. Read it if you haven’t.
Since that time, I’ve had a few of my own pre-cancerous cells pop up + get removed. As a result, my annual visits to the dermatologist are now twice a year to keep a watchful eye on all of my sunspots.
SIDENOTE: Don’t put off those skin checks. Find a dermatologist you like + become a regular. Every year. Seriously, you never know when something is going to ‘take off’ + if you catch it early, you can take early action.
I don’t have many regrets in life, but now that I’m in my 50s, if I could turn back time, one thing I would do is re-program myself to love the natural color of my skin.
If I had loved the color of my skin, I would have worn hats + sunscreen + done everything I could to protect my largest organ. I would have never laid out in the sun slathered in suntan oil. I would have never stepped foot in a tanning bed.
Even in my 40s, I didn’t take sun protection that seriously. I knew better than to hang out in tanning beds by that point, but I enjoyed my daily runs outside without sunscreen. I was healthy + I believed that the sun was ‘good for me’. All of that Vitamin D I was making. And, I ‘needed’ the color. I didn’t want to be ‘pasty’.
I will say, I did use sunscreen on my face when going outside in my 40’s, but only because I had terrible rosacea + it was triggered by the sun. Sunscreen kept the red itchiness at bay.
I honestly did not realize how fast + hard my skin would start to age after 50. Wow. Even with all of my other healthy lifestyle habits. It’s crazy how fast things ‘fall down’. I’m not talking about crow’s feet or fine lines here. I’m talking about knees, elbows, stomach, arms, chest. Eek!
I seriously would go back in time + slap myself if I could. But, since I can’t, I’ll share what I’ve learned with you. Maybe you can take some of this information into your life as summer rolls around.
If you’re investing either time or money into good skincare products, if you’re using treatments like Botox + lasers, if you’re seeing an esthetician for peels or your dermatologist for Retinol, you are someone who cares about what your skin looks like. You are actively doing things to reverse the signs of aging or to prevent them. At least, that’s what you’re trying to do.
Here’s the thing though.
Ninety percent (90%) of the signs of aging are caused by the sun. Did you know that?
It’s crazy when you think about it. We all cooked ourselves in the sun growing up + now we have an entire industry working hard to erase the signs of all that damage.
I do have a small handful of friends my age + older who have truly pretty skin. Radiant, bouncy, creamy skin. It’s beautiful! How did they escape the signs of aging? They NEVER allowed themselves to cook in the sun - and it shows. What a difference!
As for the rest of us, we can do our best to heal our skin + make it look better, but if we aren’t taking active measures to protect ourselves from the sun, we are dealing with a one step forward, two steps back equation. It WILL catch up with you no matter how healthy you are.
Looks aren’t everything though, right? Let’s talk health. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.
Skin cancer is the MOST COMMON cancer in the United States. It’s also the most PREVENTABLE!
Here are a few facts from the Skin Cancer Foundation:
1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70
More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined
More than 2 people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour
Having 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma
Sun damage is cumulative. Only about 23 percent of lifetime exposure occurs by age 18
Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent (and squamous cell carcinoma by about 40 percent)
ATTENTION MEN: From age 50 on, significantly more men develop melanoma than women. The majority of people who develop melanoma are white men over age 55.
If that wasn’t enough, you can learn more fun facts here.
Okay, enough with the fear factors of wrinkles + cancer - probably two of our greatest fears.
Let’s talk about the latest fear - chemicals. And, rightfully so.
If you’ve traveled to Hawaii lately, you have probably heard the word oxybenzone. This FDA-approved ingredient commonly found in sunscreen has recently been banned from sale in Hawaii because of the damage it is causing to coral reefs.
Yes, we slather on the sunscreen, jump in the water + the oxybenzone from our sunscreen is ruining the coral. We are also learning about the havoc it is wrecking on our endocrine systems.
Next, you hear about a mass recall on popular sunscreens like Neutrogena, Aveeno, Sun Bum, Banana Boat, Coppertone + others because benzene, a cancer-causing chemical, was found in their lotions + sprays.
All of this is enough to make you want to throw up your hands in despair + give up.
It is NOT hopeless. You can absolutely protect your skin from further damage in safer ways.
I’m going to share a few things I have learned that will help you not only reduce your UV exposure, but also feel more confident with your next sunscreen purchase so you can get outside + enjoy your summer.
SUN PROTECTION 101
Before we talk about sunscreens, let’s remember the best defenses against too much UV radiation are protective clothing, shade + timing. And, don’t forget about asking your primary care doctor how often you should see a dermatologist.
Here are a few tips from the Environmental Working Group:
Don't get burned. Red, sore, blistered or peeling skin means far too much sun - and raises your skin cancer risk.
Wear clothes. Shirts, hats, shorts and pants provide the best protection from UV rays
Find shade - or make it. Picnic under a tree, read beneath an umbrella, take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade - they lack the tanning pigments known as melanin to protect their skin.
Plan around the sun. Go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is lower. UV radiation peaks at midday.
Sunglasses aren't just a fashion accessory. Good shades protect your eyes from UV radiation that causes cataracts.
Once you prioritize these basic strategies, it’s time to stock up on sunscreen. Which ones are best? Which ones are worst? How do you know? All good questions! Here are some handy guidelines.
SUNSCREEN: The Don’ts
NO SPRAYS: I know a LOT of people still use sprays - even though the efficacy of these has been under question for a while. Aerosols make it easy to miss spots or apply too little. They also pose inhalation risks. We definitely want to minimize lung exposure when it comes to harmful chemicals.
If you can’t give up the convenience of a spray, look for a product that is non-aerosol like this one from Beautycounter. It uses non-nano zinc oxide (larger particles). It is actually an air pump, not an aerosol. It sprays on white (then blends in easily) so you can see where it goes + ensure you don’t miss a spot.
NO HIGH SPFs: This is a common misconception. We think a higher SPF means higher protection. But, that’s deceiving. Here’s the breakdown:
SPF 15 blocks 93% of UV rays
SPF 30 blocks 97% of UV rays
SPF 50 blocks 98% of UV rays
See how small those differences are as SPF goes up?
There is no such thing as 100% protection, so anything above 50 is simply misleading. Better to find a sunscreen you love that is between SPF 15-50, apply thoroughly + frequently. You’ll be much better protected.
NO OXYBENZONE OR ENDOCRINE DISRUPTING CHEMICALS: Ignore the labels + look closely at the ingredient list. Get out your magnifying glass if you must. It’s not just about what is NOT in your sunscreen. It’s about what IS in your sunscreen. Flip your sunscreen over + look at the actual ingredients.
These are the most common ingredients to avoid in your sunscreen:
Octinoxate (Octyl methoxycinnamate)
*NO RETINOL PALMITATE: You may still be using retinol palmitate in your night cream for its ‘anti-aging’ effects. But, you may recall your dermatologist telling you to be extra cautious in the sun when using a retinol. Retinol palmitate on sun-exposed skin can speed the development of skin tumors + lesions. Do NOT use this ingredient when out in the sun. Why this ingredient is common in sunscreens makes no sense at all.
SUNSCREEN: The Do’s
Do read ingredients. Now you know which ingredients to avoid. Grab your sunscreen + take a look at the ingredients. Avoid all of the ones we just talked about. Look for zinc oxide + titanium dioxide as safer active ingredients.
Do apply properly. Sun protection is only as effective as the application quality + quantity. The FDA recommends at least 1 oz. of sunscreen for an average-sized adult. That’s about the amount to fill a shot glass. Also, reapply every 2 hours or after water exposure, exercise, sweating or towel-drying.
Do stay up-to-date. I say this because sunscreen formulas change all the time. Don’t just assume that the brand you bought last year is safe this year. The Environmental Working Group puts out an updated sunscreen guide each year. Their newest Sunscreen Guide for 2022 just came out + provides a list of the safest sunscreens. Download their guide. See if your sunscreen is on it. If it’s not, make this the summer you find a safer sunscreen that you love.
I am a huge fan of Beautycounter sunscreens - primarily because I LOVE them. I have never had a sunscreen that I actually LIKED putting on my body. Obviously, I’m more prone to use it regularly when I LOVE it.
Beautycounter uses a high level of non-nano zinc oxide in all their sun products. They ban over 1800+ potentially harmful ingredients. And, they are a certified B-corp so you get the added value of knowing your money is going to a company that is driving change in the industry.
And yes, if you buy from them using my links, I get a small commission which helps support my business. Let me know if you’d like to save 20% on your first order. I can send you a promo code if it’s your first time shopping Beautycounter.
Hopefully, this rundown gives you a little more confidence when shopping for sunscreens. If not, reach out. I’m happy to talk with you one-to-one.
I’ve been teaching sunscreen safety for about 6 years now. I used to be totally overwhelmed trying to choose a sunscreen while standing in the aisle at Target. I know how it feels. And, now with so many brands touting ‘safe’, ‘natural’, ‘reef-friendly’, etc., you really have to know what you’re looking for.
That’s why, every year about this time, I stand on my sunscreen soapbox + share this information. So you can choose safer.
When we know better, we do better.
Skin cancer + the signs of aging are highly preventable. And, the damage is cumulative, so there’s no reason to think it’s too late to act.
Start taking action now to protect your skin from further damage + you will not only stop the progression, but you will give all of the dietary + lifestyle improvements you are making + the treatments you are investing in, the chance to do their job effectively.
This week, I challenge you to grab your favorite sunscreen - whether for face or body or both. Flip it over. Read the ingredients. Grab your readers if you must or take a picture + zoom in. See if any of the biggest offenders are in there. Do you see…
Octinoxate (Octyl methoxycinnamate)
If you find any of those ingredients or ‘fragrance’ listed as ingredients, toss it out. Download the EWG Sunscreen Guide for 2022 + pick out a new one to try this summer.
If you prefer to use my recommended favorites from Beautycounter (which is included in the EWG list of safer sunscreens), reach out. I’ll send you a 20% off discount code if you’ve never shopped Beautycounter before. You can see the options for body, face, travel - right here. We have a full 60-day refund + easy returns, so no risk trying it out. Not many brands offer that.
When we know better, we do better. Don’t let the past keep you from making a better choice for your future. One small change today can lead to a completely different outcome down the road. You ready? Stock up on your sunscreen, buy yourself a new hat + get ready for some fun in the sun! I can’t wait for summer!
See you next week?