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. But since I can’t cover my entire face with thick, white, zinc oxide, and I care about what I put on my skin, I began to look into finding other healthy sunscreen options. Here are some sunscreen basics I have learned from EWG, The Environmental Working Group:
– Stay away from sunscreens with the following: oxybenzone (a hormone disrupter) and retinyl palmitate (a form of Vitamin A). You will be amazed how many sunscreens contain these elements
– Stay away from sunscreen sprays (not easy to do with young kids, I know), because of the greater chance of inhaling the chemicals, and of missing places on the skin
– The highest SPFs (anything over 50) is not necessary, and may actually be harmful. I choose to use an SPF 30
These days, I continue to soak in the sun and revel in the warmth of summer, but I do more of it from under a hat or in the shade, hoping to keep my freckles and brown spots at bay. Noticing the first signs of aging was disturbing and definitely no fun, but they led me to make more wise and mindful choices. And, in this case, more fashionable ones, too.
Photos by Cheryl