So why see the world when you got a beach?
August 3, 2012 11:52 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to acquire a very serious daily SPF regimen. What products should I use?

After many years of being fairly cavalier about daily sun protection (although I always heavily apply and reapply on outdoorsy days), I've started seeing a few darker spots on my face in my early 30s and would like to stem the Unstoppable Tide. I also am seeing plenty of ladies who have beautiful well-protected unlined faces but terrifying necks.

Aging is inevitable; I embrace it! Laugh lines are signs of a life well-lived! Neckskin will be neckskin! I accept that. But I would also like to do as much as I can to incorporate effective protection into my morning habits on a day-to-day basis to protect my skin. I have darker Asian skin and rarely burn - instead I spot and freckle. I live in the city and have a very office-y job, so I'm not sitting in daily traffic on a sunny highway or tramping through fields or anything.

Face: Is moisturizer with SPF enough? Right now I use a Clinique 25 SPF moisturizer under my makeup every morning. A colleague says she puts on another layer of sunblock on top of it. Sometimes I do this with a Clarins 30 SPF. Is this necessary? Is this effective? Understood that the SPFs aren't cumulative - I guess this is more of having "backup" when your moisturizer or sunblock wears / sweats off. Please tell me if this is paranoid or sensible.

Eye area: I wear sunglasses all the time, but some of my dark spots are near my eyes (just underneath). In researching, I'm going down the rabbit hole and seeing eye area skincare products (like a Clarins SPF 60 eye cream). Is this necessary or overkill?

Neck: Do you sunblock your neck / decolletage every day? Do you use the facial stuff for this or the body stuff? My facial stuff is... not cheap. I have read this Ask which answers my daily body sunblock needs, I think - I have the same execrable Eucerin body moisturizer that I'm going to replace with an Alba or Neutrogena product that some of you suggested.

I guess I could always do the older-Chinese-woman thing my mom does and wear a horribly gigantic floppy hat-visor abomination and a white windbreaker everywhere including formal weddings, and these light sleeves that cover her hands and knuckles while driving, but my vanity is not ready for these accessories yet. Also she will say "I told you so, Moms are always right" and my stubborn daughterness is not ready for that yet, so I'd like to start with lotions and such.

Thank you for your product and application suggestions!
posted by sestaaak to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like you're doing everything right. I wear sunblock every day, cover up with sleeves/pants when it isn't too brutally hot to do so, wear sunglasses and hats as appropriate.

I don't know what else you could do short of never going outside or wearing a burka. Also, if you're super worried (and perhaps anyways) you could make an appointment with a dermatologist.
posted by blue_bicycle at 11:55 AM on August 3, 2012

How about a parasol?
posted by Mercaptan at 11:56 AM on August 3, 2012

I was just at the dermatologist yesterday and she was very happy with the regimen I've used for years. (I am 36 and have extremely fair, easily sunburned skin.)

-Aveeno facial moisturizer with SPF 15 daily on days I don't expect to be outside much (office work days)
-Moisturizer with SPF 30, or the usual moisturizer above + an SPF 50 sunblock, on days when I expect to be outside more

She told me that high SPF on a non-outside day is overkill and can be pore clogging. Since you're already doing sunglasses, the expensive SPF 60 eye cream sounds a bit extreme and you would probably be fine with just the lighter SPF moisturizer and sunglasses you're already using.

You don't need to use the same stuff on your neck/chest as you do on your face, but it sounds like the products you're using may be a little pricey for what you need in general if that is a concern. But yes, definitely cover your neck and any other exposed area around your collar (back of your neck if you have short hair).

A dermatologist visit would be a good idea to discuss these concerns and for a baseline skin check.
posted by dayintoday at 12:07 PM on August 3, 2012

Is the Clinique product you use the Cityblock? If so, that's what I use, and it's one of Paula Begoun's recommended moisturizers with SPF. You can also apply this around the eye area. Don't buy the hype around eye creams. There are no special ingredients in these creams that don't already exist in regular facial moisturizers. And yes, apply moisturizer to your neck and chest! These areas are vital to protect because they are as frequently exposed as our visage (hands, too). Other important ingredients in a well-formulated moisturizer (especially if you're interested in anti-aging benefits) include a range of antioxidants (NOT reliant on a single ingredient, like Vitamin C) and cell-communicating agents for skin turn-over.

I'm a huge fan of Paula Begoun's skin-care research. Here's a good starting point. (disclaimer: there are ads and links to her own products, which are mostly great from personal experience).
posted by Menomena at 12:11 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Make sure you are using sunscreen (or SPF moisturizer) that protects against both UVA (which causes aging) and UVB (which causes sunburn). Personally, I use SPF30 moisturizer all summer and apply something stronger if I know I'll be spending a while in the sun. My favorite stronger sunblock is by La Roche-Posay - it's the Melt-in Sunscreen Milk and it's not at all greasy or smelly.

I definitely put sunscreen on my decolletage unless I'm going to be wearing a high-necked shirt. I prefer the less greasy types which I'd also put on my face - you could always get the pharmacy brand version to save a few bucks. I too think the SPF eye creams aren't necessary.
posted by beyond_pink at 12:14 PM on August 3, 2012

I am not a doctor, just a fair-skinned lady living in a sunny place. My two cents: do not screw around with an SPF moisturizer. You want the real stuff. If you need to moisturize pre-sunscreen, do that first, wait, then do your sunscreen. I use Elta MD's UV Lotion and will never use another sunscreen ever. It is made of magic and rainbows and feels like you aren't wearing any sunscreen at all. (It also comes in an SPF 45 version, btw.) The stuff looks expensive, but it's a big bottle. The other secret: reapply frequently. I carry a small refillable bottle in my purse and reapply mid-day if I'm going out for lunch, etc. Your foxy future self will thank you for being so conscientious!
posted by anonnymoose at 12:34 PM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

P.S. I agree that your dermatologist will definitely give you the best advice. Now is a good time to do a general consultation and get a good state-of-your-skin baseline check. My regimen comes from my dermatologist's advice for me. Advice for you may very well be different since your skin is different than mine or any other internet stranger's.
posted by anonnymoose at 12:37 PM on August 3, 2012

When I lived in Florida I used No Ad Sunblock as my daily body lotion. It has no fragrance is pretty cheap and didn't make me itch. Then Clinique Cityblock with a layer of BB cream on top, and I'm good to go.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:44 PM on August 3, 2012

I'm not a dermatologist, just a fair-skinned woman who has been wearing sunscreen religiously every day, rain or shine, for the past decade at least (my mom's a cancer nurse!). I should also warn that I'm semi-allergic to the chemical sunscreens, and am stuck with the physical blocks (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide), which tend to be thick, stick, white, and grainy, so my view may be biased. But:

In my own personal experience, you have to splurge for the good stuff or you end up covered in a thick, sticky, white, and grainy mess. I absolutely use a facial sunscreen on top of whatever SPF my usual moisturizer may or may not have in it. I also reapply midway through the day, especially when it's sunny. I've currently fallen in love with Josie Maran's Daily Moisturizer SPF 40, which I find quite moisturizing without being comodogenic or otherwise oily-feeling once it dries. I use it as my moisturizer. I use Burnout sunscreens on my neck, decolletage, arms, hands, legs, feet, etc.: Burnout for me is a sort of halfway point between the expensive price and non-greasy feel of facial sunscreens and the thickness and cheapness of body sunscreens - even the nicer ones (e.g. Neutrogena sensitive skin). It doesn't feel thick or greasy to me, but it's slightly heavier than Josie Maran's. I'd put my facial sunscreen all over my body, but unfortunately I'm too poor! :-)

Even with Asian skin, I think you're right to use sunblock daily on all exposed skin. You might want to hunt for one for body that's a good compromise on price and feel. I tend to want to be safe rather than sorry with facial blocks, and usually double up, but I'm really pale so you may not need to do the same. You might want to consider a physical block rather than or in addition to a chemical block: I'm not a dermatologist (and perhaps one reading can weigh in), but my understanding is that some chemical blocks are possibly unstable in the presence of sunlight, and usually take half an hour after application to become effective, whereas physical blocks become effective immediately and cover more light wavelengths.
posted by UniversityNomad at 12:56 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Fair-skinned and frugal gal here:
If you are in the U.S., be aware that the FDA allows American sunscreen makers to claim their products are “broad spectrum” even though they offer much poorer UVA protection than sunscreens sold in other countries. I recommend checking that database to check any product before you buy it - half of all products they tested failed this criteria.

Personally I use a basic moisturizer (jojoba oil), then follow with Neutrogena ultra-sheer sunblock, which is non-comedogenic. I've never had a breakout from it and like it because of the low cost compared to most face lotions, though they do have a dedicated face sunscreen. I use it on my face, neck and hands year round; during the summer months I also do my shoulders and arms. Admittedly I'm pretty outdoorsy and take sunscreen and sunglasses pretty seriously (skin cancer runs in my family), so YMMV.
posted by susanvance at 1:31 PM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ditto the Anthelios sunblock, but if I'm going to be out at the beach or something extreme, I'm a big fan of the physical blocks. And don't forget to apply even if you're riding in a car or bus--the windows don't block.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:46 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you like your Clinique sun block and just want some extra protection, Clinique's City Block comes in both SPF 40 as well.
posted by asphericalcow at 1:47 PM on August 3, 2012

A dermatologist recommended a physical blocker for me - look for sunblocks with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to block out both UVA and UVB rays.
posted by pised at 2:25 PM on August 3, 2012

There are better, far more dashing hat options than the wide-brimmed floppy visor (and definitely better than what I've come to think of as the "Darth Vader full-face shaded visor" that's so popular in Oakland's Chinatown). I'd highly recommend checking out the hat shops in your area and seeing what they can set you up with.

Besides, it's a lovely ego-boost when a total stranger pauses on the sidewalk and says "Now that… is a hat. You wearing it, girl!" Seriously, it feels like all of a sudden you're an inch taller and someone's just pumped helium into the heels of your shoes. I love my hats. *grin*
posted by Lexica at 6:47 PM on August 3, 2012

I'm an Aussie, with crazy pale skin and an Oh shit our country is right under the huge hole in the ozone layer fear of UV damage. After having precancerous moles cut off my arms and back and permanent damage to the skin on my nose cause by sunburn I am paranoid about sunscreen/sunblock.

You really need a sunscreen as well as a moisturizer the amount of sunscreen you are supposed to put on to protect your skin is more than most people do with moisturizers.

Sunblocks with zinc oxide or titanium are the best but can leave you looking white tinged, a lot of baby sunblocks or ones for sensitive skin use these, they are my favourite as the tinge vanishes under my foundation. I am partial to the Nuetrogena brand, if going makeupless and that is what was recommended to me by my doctor as one of the best chemical blocks for both UV A & B, and it is light feeling to wear.

The difference between SPF's after SPF 30 is minimal you are looking at like a 1% improvement between SPF 30 and SPF 50, so you don't need to buy into the hype, but you really want to start at about 30 and broad spectrum for an sunblock you go for.

I sunblock my neck area every day, I wish I had started well before now as I now have horribly leathery skin there from a life spent living in a sunny climate, but I am trying my hardest to stop it getting worst. I have told my niece who is 12 if she listens to no beauty advice from me for her whole life, never forget to put sunblock there.

I have found Clinique dark spot corrector quiet good at lightening some of these sun damage spots, not so they completely vanish but they are much lighter. Be careful with these products though as they really sensitize your skin and if you forget to sunblock after using you can actually end up with more or worse spots than when you started.
posted by wwax at 8:31 PM on August 3, 2012

« Older Hormonal Birth Control Question #3493, you are our...   |   Is there a simple (client-side) way to allow web... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.