August 14, 2012 3:35 AM   Subscribe

Help me figure out how to take proper care of my skin.

I'm mid-twenties, of South Asian descent, with caramel coloured skin. I didn't start using sun protection until just a few years ago - growing up, my mum would always laugh and say that "sunscreen is for white people" and I believed her - she and my grandmother both have great skin with few wrinkles. Of course, I eventually figured out she's wrong, but I'm still not sure how to do it right

My skin is on the oily side. I hardly ever get zits, but I have some clogged pores on my nose. I use the gentlest possible cleanser because anything harsher dries me out. I have yet to find a moisturizer that doesn't feel too greasy for daily use, so I don't moisturize. I hardly ever wear makeup.

My boyfriend is very pale and slathers on the SPF50 during the summer. I use his sunscreen to save us money, but it feels so heavy and stifling that I tend to avoid it unless it's really hot and I'm out a lot. Would I still get enough protection for my darker skin if I switched down to SPF30, or, ideally, SPF15? Or does anyone know of an SPF50 product that is lightweight enough on the face that we both could use it regularly in summer?

We're going on vacation soon to a hot, sunny destination. I like the idea of using a moisturizer with added SPF as an alternative to sunscreen on my face during the trip. Do such moisturizers work as effectively as standard sunscreen? Would something like this be enough for both me and my very pale boyfriend?

My soap-and-cold-cream-only mum has always been wary of anti-wrinkle creams, and I share some of her misgivings. Most moisturizers with a higher added SPF that I've found are 'age defense' type products which seem unnecessary at my age. Is that a reasonable assumption? Does anyone know a product with enough SPF which still has minimal or mostly natural ingredients, and no anti-wrinkle factor?

Thanks in advance!
posted by guessthis to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I also have semi-oily, tan-caramel skin and don't burn easily, but I use SPF daily and have for years. For daily use, I just use a simple Olay moisturiser with SPF 30 (I think it's called Total Effects or Complete Care, something like that). It's super cheap, protective, and absorbs nicely. If you want to wear make-up you can look for some with built-in SPF, you could mix a liquid foundation with a your SPF moisturiser, and you can also find lots of tinted moisturisers with SPF. I use Laura Mercier TM just for special occasions, but it's definitely something I could wear every day.

When I go on vacation somewhere extra sunny, I use this Neutrogena sunscreen in SPF 45. This is a bit heavier (though still lightweight), and I wouldn't use it every day at home, but it makes me feel safer when I know I'm going to have a lot of sun exposure. My fiance uses the same cream, but with a higher SPF because he is much more prone to burning. Aveeno also makes a nice, more protective sunscreen moisturiser.

Hope this helps!
posted by sundaydriver at 4:04 AM on August 14, 2012

One more thing: look for "broad spectrum" SPF products, which cover you against UVA and UVB.
posted by sundaydriver at 4:06 AM on August 14, 2012

I came in to recommend Olay facial moisturizer too. Your skin may not actually be as oily as you think - it will produce more oil if it's getting stripped of moisure when you shower or wash your face. That's what I realized about my skin, and the oil has been pretty much under control since I started a regular wash-astringent-mousturize routine. Also, try not to use the hottest water possible when washing your face or showering, as hot water will strip more moisture from your skin.

Olay also has various makeup products that contain SPF, including some that are partnered with Cover Girl, if you do decide to wear makeup. A natural mineral powder put on over whatever tinted moisturizer or foundation you choose will also help control oil. If you do start wearing makeup, be sure to take it off at night. I like Clinique's "take the day off" makeup remover.

Really, I think it comes down to trial and error. It took me years to find the right lotions and makeup products for my own skin and preferences - I suspect you'll have to just get out there and find what works for you.
posted by youngergirl44 at 4:25 AM on August 14, 2012

Just wanted to point out that the spf number isn't how "powerful" the sunscreen is; it's how long the sunscreen's effects last. So SPF 15 keeps your skin safe from burning for fifteen times longer than if you had nothing; it isn't fifteen times stronger than nothing. And of course, that time is actually variable depending on things like the time of day, where you are, how much you sweat etc. If the sunscreen you're using is heavy and stifling, it's because of the brand, not the spf factor.

Higher spf is slightly more effective than lower, but only by a couple of percentage points.

I have facial moisturizer with SPF 70. It's light, absorbant drugstore brand and it works fine. It's well priced and smells ok.

Try cleansing with something gentle like spectro gel instead of soaps or facewashes. Try rosewater as a toner.

You really should be moisturizing. It's counterintuitive, but it will help with the oiliness. I use jergen's, whichever one is on sale for cheapest at the time, and I'm very happy with it. It's pretty absorbent. I only use a little.

Salt scrubs (gently!) Are good for blackeads. But it's nearly impossible to get them all.

Face blotter sheets are great for oil and shine.
posted by windykites at 5:41 AM on August 14, 2012

Oh yeah- and unless there's special chemicals like acids, most of that "age defense" crap is just marketing. It doesn't work on the people who think they do need it; why would it work on you? Just check the ingredients.
posted by windykites at 5:44 AM on August 14, 2012

I like many of the drugstore brands of moisturizer/SPF sun protection. Olay, Garnier, Loreal all make them. I got a tube of Clinique City Block, SPF 40 when I bought some other stuff, so I'm using that.

The more naturally oily your skin is, the fewer chances of wrinkles when you age, (I'm nearly 50 and I don't have wrinkles. I'm also Eastern European ancestry, so a lot of it has to do with genetics.)

Sun protection will help a lot!

I use a very gentle soap like Balance by Johnson & Johnson (drugstore), then Witch Hazel as a toner, then a moisturizing night cream. This is my night routine.

In the moring, I wash my face with Dove in the shower, again with the Witch Hazel, then my City Block, then a B.B. cream, then a dusting of mineral foundation. My skin looks great, and it's protected against the crud in the air.

I use a clay mask once a week, and those Biore strips on my nose to get all the gunk out of my pores.

If you work your coupons right and your drugstore discounts, you can get this stuff dirt cheap.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:36 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to point out that the spf number isn't how "powerful" the sunscreen is; it's how long the sunscreen's effects last.

SPF actually is a measure of how powerful the sunscreen is. The number is based on time it will take for you to get 1 minute's worth of unprotected sun, but it's not a timer. It's not as if SPF 35 protects you skin entirely for 35 minutes and then stops working. It's limiting the UV rays that are making it through so that you are getting 1/35th the level of exposure.

Two caveats: One, chemical sunscreens do degrade and become less protective the longer you're out in the sun, so if you're using one of those as opposed to physical block (titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) then you'll need to reapply. Two, SPF doesn't actually measure UVA protection. In the US, you unfortunately have to just take the makers at their word when they say "broad-spectrum".
posted by the jam at 3:44 PM on August 14, 2012

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