What’s in Your Sunscreen?

Badger Sunscreens: One of the top rated safe sunscreens for the family by EWG

Badger Sunscreens: One of the top-rated safe sunscreens by EWG

Just because you are familiar with a product doesn’t make it safe. For years I chose Neutrogena sunscreen for my family because I had always used it and I believed it to be a solid and effective choice. But it is important to know the truth about sunscreens and I soon discovered something: there are reports that chemical sunscreens that contain the compound oxybenzone (like those found in Neutrogena) absorb through the skin and may disrupt the hormone system. I reviewed these reports from EWG, The Environmental Working Group, and immediately stopped using it and switched to others (from EWG’s list of best beach and sports sunscreens). Safer choices include UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

And although I feel more comfortable using safer sunscreens that is only one part of my sun care regimen: I accessorize with hats and UVA/UVB sunglasses, I stay out of the sun more – especially during the hottest part of the day, and I cover up. I will even catch the sun for 10-15  minutes early in the day without any coverage for some added vitamin D. Just being mindful of the hidden dangers will do so much for your good health and satisfaction.

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Hats-on to sunscreen and skin protection!





Not long ago, I felt the first signs of age, when I noticed a large brown freckle on my face. I had noticed it a few years before, this spot on my right cheek, first staring in wonder as it appeared and grew darker, until eventually, wanting it removed. Thankfully, my dermatologist brilliantly removed it with laser treatments and I was free of the spot. But she left me with powerful words of warning: from now on, always protect my face from the sun. If I don’t, the spot will not only return, but it will be much darker when it does. And by the way, try a hat!

So I started wearing hats when I hung out in the sun. But I also started to be more mindful about putting on sunscreen, both on that spot and on my face. The best sunscreen is simply zinc oxide, that white stuff you remember from seeing on the noses on lifeguards. Continue reading

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Bland is boring when you’re talking about food but good when you’re talking about skin …

See? No more brown spot!

No more brown spot!

Last week Chaz Dean talked about the two most important things when it comes to our self-image, self-esteem and confidence: our hair and our skin. Hair may be our crowning glory but our skin is the mirror to what’s going on inside. Neither should be overlooked and both need to be protected. The winter months can be especially hard on our skin and the elements create dryness and chapping that needs extra tending.

Aging and growing older shines a new light on caring for our skin. A few years ago I had a rude awakening. I began to notice a large brown spot on my cheek that wouldn’t go away; in fact, it got darker and more noticeable with time. What was it? A large freckle? An age spot? Whatever it was I didn’t want it and it began to bother me, to the point where, when I looked at myself in the mirror, it was all I could see. Through a recommendation, I met a lovely woman, Dr. Lisa Breslauer, Board Certified Dermatologist. After performing a series of laser treatments Dr. Breslauer removed that stubborn brown spot and I was able to see myself again! Continue reading

Poolside Accessories

At the pool

At the pool – photos by Cheryl

Sunscreen – check

Sunhat – check

Sunglasses – check

Lipstick – check

Smile, from being in a state of pure joy – check

At the pool - photos by Cheryl

At the pool – photos by Cheryl

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Packing for the beach

Wild Horses on the beach of my beloved Outerbanks, North Carolina

Wild Horses on the beach of my beloved Outer Banks, North Carolina

Packing for my annual beach vacation with my family has become a process of elimination. And elimination. And elimination. I have come to see that simple and easy-to-unpack are the best ways to go. You end up wearing a few things over and over anyway. Here are my essentials:

– swimsuit and coverup (this year I am taking the plunge and adding pink to my classic black swimwear with my Lisa Curran Swim one-piece

– sunscreen and beach hat (my floppy pink hat has been my beach companion for several years)

– a few pairs of shorts and tees

– one light, longer length pant

– one easy-to-pack sundress

– exercise gear for my long sunset walks

– flip flops, sandals, and a beach bag

That’s it. Don’t fret whatever you are missing – maybe it’s time to treat yourself to a little something in town.

Happy Summer Travels!



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More with Jillian …



Here is part two of my conversation with Jillian. I started off by saying …

Jillian, I am now 52. There is a big question about what is age-appropriate at every age, but it seems especially important for women making the transition in their late 40s and early 50s. How can makeup help us or hurt us at this age?

Oh the transition!” she said with a sigh 🙂 This is a big one, and one that I didn’t understand until I made it myself. I remember being a thirty-something makeup artist and telling women in their forties and fifties … ‘So what? You’re gorgeous! Who cares?’  Their response: ‘You won’t understand until it happens to you.’ Now I get it! Here is the thing: We are all going to age, no one is exempt. Once you accept it and truly decide to be fabulous in your own skin you’re practically there. My friend Quentin Phelps, an amazing artist/stylist, said it best: ‘You’re a woman, so own it!’

So, ladies in your forties and fifties, you are no longer the ingénue … so, be the Goddess!!!
Here are some of the biggest mistakes women make as they age:

Hanging on desperately to the makeup from the era in which they grew up. You cannot wear the same makeup you wore twenty years ago. It is a tell-tale sign of age. (This includes hair styles). Solution — Try an adjusted version of what you are comfortable wearing. Instead of using lots of shadow and mascara, try a smudge of taupe or gray with a good eyeliner and some mascara.

Wearing a heavy, full face of makeup everyday, and at every place, including the gym. Solution — Take it down a few notches, and go to your essentials. You will look fresher if you adjust your makeup to where you are and what you are doing.

Wearing too much foundation and powder and trying to sculpt the face with darker shades. Solution — If you want to look fresh and more youthful, get that skin hydrated and use only a drop of foundation. If you need your powder, instead of using a pad, try using a really fluffy brush and dust lightly. Never sculpt the face, unless you are sitting for a soft focus photo or under very dim light. And even then, make sure a professional helps you! It usually ends up just looking like dated streaks of brown. As we age we lose collagen and we want the face to look softer. Use an over color complexion enhancer or soft bronzer to get the skin to glow.

And some women do the opposite and decide that they shouldn’t wear any makeup. This is aging, too… Just because you are more mature doesn’t mean you can’t look gorgeous and still feel like yourself. Don’t give up. Be true to yourself. If you have always been a natural girl you can still keep it simple. But just like women who wear too much makeup and need to tone it down, you may have to take it up a notch. Solution — Try a tinted moisturizer or a lip gloss – whatever makes you comfortable.

How would you describe the connection between makeup and self-esteem? What have you noticed about that connection?

It depends on the woman. I believe you should do what makes you happy and confident. Confidence is the number one key to beauty.

Has your makeup regimen changed since you first started?

Yes! At 25, I would go to bed with a full face of makeup after being up all night. And I would go outside without sunscreen. I wouldn’t dream of it now; at 48, if I stay up all night, my face screams I’m tired! And we all know that the sun is extremely damaging and aging to the skin. You have to adjust everything with age. From the 20s to the 90s we are in a continuous state of aging and changing: adjust all routines, diet, exercise and skin care, according to what your body and your skin need. Keep your skin clean, exfoliate, (Retin A is great for skin) moisturize, take vitamins, drink tons of water, don’t smoke, use SPF 50, and sleep at least 6 to 8 hours a night!” ~ Jillian

I appreciate this time with you Jillian. I am embracing my inner Goddess now!

What do you think? Will you too?

Jillian applying makeup

Jillian applying makeup

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Jillian is a beauty expert, who has worked with some of the most important cosmetics houses in the business. She has worked extensively behind the scenes and in front of the camera, and was a regular on QVC. Jillian’s career has included working for Chanel and Bobbi Brown as an International spokesperson and makeup artist … doing everything from education, special events, award shows, Fashion Week, and editorial; for Prescriptives, as the Director of Beauty/On air QVC spokesperson. And most recently, Jillian was the Senior Director of Beauty/On air spokesperson for Philosophy. A year ago, Jillian took time off to work on a fictional novel, a passion project for her, but plans to return to her career when the project is complete. I met with Jillian to discuss beauty and makeup and self-esteem, what it means to age appropriately with our makeup choices, and ‘how to’ makeup advice. Here is part one of my conversation with Jillian …

Jillian, I would love to know how you got started in makeup and skin care? What inspired you?
Most likely, I started playing with make up around six years old, rummaging through my mother’s junk makeup drawer. I was always attracted to anything having to do with cosmetics. From my Barbie Head Beauty Salon, to obsessing over magazines and Charlie’s Angels. Around twenty, I began to flounder, searching for a career goal and not finding anything that really hit the passion spot. Things were different in the late 1980’s; one of the best freelance jobs was spraying perfume in the aisles of the Department Stores. (I still laugh thinking about that, because today it’s such a caricature of that era!) I worked spraying perfume for Chanel for a few months. One day at Macy’s the makeup artist didn’t show up. The woman behind the counter asked if I could apply the client’s makeup. I said yes, although I was uncertain. (You always say yes!) And that was it! I found my talent and my passion. I was always very focused and eager to learn, which I did from some of the best in the business, and still do today. Twenty-five years later, and still going, I’ve had an amazing career working in many aspects of the industry, with some of the most talented people in the world …

It was hard work and I paid my dues. But when you do something that you love it doesn’t feel like you wasted a minute of your time…

I am inspired by many things, but two stand out: I love to hear people’s stories and, I could watch The Biography Channel all day. You never know what someone has been through or feels until you listen to him/her. From a physical beauty perspective I am drawn to anything from the 1920’s or the classic era of Hollywood. I love glamorous things yet I appreciate everything.

You see a person from the outside but I wonder what you have learned about beauty, inside and out?

Well, listen. To be honest, when we’re young, we tend to view beauty as an exterior thing. It’s hard for a young person to see beauty outside the perimeters of her own age. As we mature we start to see things differently and realize that beauty can’t always be defined by a strictly physical trait. We learn as we grow that beauty can be found on so many levels; mind, body and soul. When I apply makeup now as opposed to twenty years ago, I look at the whole person …

What are the makeup basics and essentials for any woman? (if you could just choose a few)

I am asked this question a lot. I would say that aside from a good SPF moisturizer, night and eye cream, the rest of the makeup picture is about the individual. If you have perfect flawless skin without under eye circles but have skimpy lashes without color, your go-to should be eyeliner, mascara and bronzer blush. If you have no brows, eyebrow pencil is your must have. Interestingly enough, if you search 75% of the handbags women carry every day, most have their essentials inside without realizing it. My eyes disappear without liner; I never leave the house without black eyeliner in my bag. To break it down:

–   Step one: Get your skin care in place

–   Step two: Honestly assess your face’s absolute needs

–   Step three: Ditch the extra’s…eye shadow colors, trendy items, etc. Remember, this step is critical!

–   Step four: Once you pick the essentials, and only your essentials, apply them and see how you feel. If you feel confident … great! These are your essentials. If you don’t, add what you need, one at a time, until you create your essential kit …” Jillian

Wonderful, Jillian! Thank you. More of my conversation with Jillian to follow

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Holding on tight …

Fun at the beach

… to summer! It isn’t just my boys who are saddened by the approaching end of summer. I, too, am melancholy as I think about the joys of this time of year, not to mention the simplicity of summer dressing: things like sleeveless shirts without coats, sandals without socks, and a glowing face without much makeup – just a simple lip gloss. There is a freedom with summer that we don’t experience any other season. I am not ready to let it go.

What do you think?

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It’s a cover up!

My cover up

While getting ready for vacation I uncovered a summer fashion conspiracy: not only is it wrenching to find a swimsuit, it can be just as daunting (and expensive) to find a swimsuit cover up.  I went through the process recently and it was eye-opening and horrifying at the same time.

One trip to the department stores and you will find a variety of cover ups but their wearability is questionable. What am I talking about? Let’s start with the tunics and the wide butterfly arms – sometimes adorned with fake-jeweled appliques at the neckline. No, that is not for me. These cover ups would age me before my time and I would have to move to another part of the country to wear them. Next, how about designer cover ups? Chic? Yes. Wearable? Perhaps. But I learned the hard way that they can cost you more than the actual swimsuit …

What do you think?

 Read more– (See Styling with Mel article)

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Let the sun shine – more

LLBean Tropicwear outfits polyvore.com

LLBean Tropicwear outfits

Clothing with built-in sun protection. It makes perfect sense and has been around a while, but why didn’t I know about it? L.L.Bean sent me an e mail today highlighting their Tropicwear apparel. It looked so interesting that I investigated further. This special line of clothing within the L.L.Bean brand provides head-to-toe UPF-50 UVA/UVB protection. Lightweight, breathable and quick-dry fabrics, Tropicwear has long and short-sleeved shirts, pants, shorts and hats for men and women, providing adults with both comfort and sun screen. My research shows that Tropicwear for kids is more limited. The protection lasts up to 40 washes according to L.L.Bean, much of the life of the garment. Prices are moderate and affordable.

There are other resources. I looked up sun protective clothing on the internet and found a few more names of note: Coolibar’s Suntect Line (an Australian company specializing in sun-protective clothing for all ages) and Sun Precaution’s Solumbra line (an American company founded by skin-cancer survivor Shaun Hughes).

Clothing with built-in protection is constantly advancing. Of course, you must still apply sunscreen to exposed areas of skin. But think of the possibilities. More time outdoors and less worry about damage to your skin, leaving you comfortable and confident.

What do you think

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