Last year I was diagnosed with melanoma. A mole that I’ve had for as long as I can remember turned pink and became dry and flakey. It was a subtle change, but I recognized it as dangerous because it involved color and texture. I called my dermatologist immediately and since I was an established patient, she got me right in. She biopsied it and when the pathology came back as stage 1a melanoma, she quickly referred me to a surgeon. I underwent excision surgery the following week, and now I have a gnarly scar to remind me to take better care of myself.
Part of taking better care of myself includes wearing sunscreen every day. Every. Single. Day. If you’d asked me prior to my diagnosis if I wore sunscreen regularly, I would have looked you in the eye and told you without a doubt, yes. Yes I do. Because I honestly believed I did.
But I was wrong. My idea of regular sunscreen use was applying it to my face as part of my morning skin care routine. I gave myself bonus points because my CC cream also contained an SPF. If I was going to be outside running, riding my bike, coaching soccer, or playing with my kids, I would quickly spray all visible skin with whatever aerosol sunscreen I could find in the bathroom. And you better bet, if I was going to the pool or the beach, I’d cover my whole body with some chalky, milky-white, mineral-based sunscreen that smelled like bananas and coconut.
However, one of that was enough. I needed to wear it every day. Every. Single. Day. Even on cloudy days and on days that I stayed indoors most of the time. The sun’s rays reach through clothing and windows. I needed to do more to stay healthy. Melanoma is generally preventable and it starts with sunscreen and clothing. But who wants to wear sticky white stuff every day?
Still reeling from my diagnosis, I tried to wrap my head around how I was going to motivate myself to put that chalky, banana-smelling lotion on my skin every single morning before getting dressed. It will get easier. You will get used to it, I told myself. But I really disliked it and I set out to find the best products that would keep me safe, were safe for the environment, and that I loved enough to use every day. (This was a tall task, let me tell you.) Here is what I found:
My Favorite Sunscreen for Face and Ears
Right after my diagnosis, I was recommended Elta MD ($36 for 1.7 oz) for every day use. I love their facial sunscreen. It’s lightweight and goes on smoothly. It also doesn’t break out my sensitive and acne-prone, aging skin. It actually makes my skin look better. I don’t wear makeup but I do wear a CC cream. My CC cream just glides on top of it. It’s not oily and it doesn’t run in my eyes, even when running or playing tennis.
Click here to purchase Elta MD: https://amzn.to/3pWXJqk
Best Everyday Sunscreen for your Body
This one was hard. Everything I slathered on reminded me of struggling to put sunscreen on my young kids at the pool. Key word: struggle. Finally I developed my key criteria for the perfect every day sunscreen formy body.
- SPF 50
- Does not smell like I just stepped off a week-long cruise
- Does not leave my skin sticky or chalky white
- In fact, wouldn’t it be nice if it felt more like a moisturizer instead of a sunscreen
- Safe, natural, organic
Low and behold I found this unicorn and guess what? I LOVE putting my sunscreen on every day. Every. Single. Day. I’m not sure I’m supposed to be this excited about a sunscreen.
Supergoop Play ($58 for 18.6 oz) checked all those boxes. It feels like you are putting on a moisturizing lotion. No sticky mess, no overwhelming smell, and while $58 seems expensive, I price shopped for a better alternative. Dollar for dollar per ounce, you won’t find a better value at a big box discount store that compares to Supergoop, and it’s still cheaper than something from a fancy department store.
Plus, they are environmentally safe and reef-safe (more on this in another post), which means all their ingredients are safe for both you and the environment. Plus…plus…plus…Supergoop publishes all of their efficacy reports online for everyone to see (more on this in another post). This makes me so happy and demonstrates they aren’t trying to hide what’s in their products and howwell they do or don’t perform.
I love this company and I’m addicted to their Play sunscreen. I actually look forward to putting it on every single day. I buy the 18.6 ounce size and it lasts me over six weeks.
Click here to purchase Supergood Play: https://amzn.to/3aCDQhA
I’ve tried several of Supergoop’s other products and another one I’m really impressed with is their SPF eyeshadow ($24). They are the first beauty company to add an SPF to an eyeshadow. I don’t wear makeup other than CC cream, mascara (more on my favorite in another post) and some tinted chapstick, but I’m loving their sunscreen eyeshadow and it comes in several beautiful shades.
Click here to purchase Supergood SPF eyeshadow: https://amzn.to/3jlm8mK
My Favorite UPF Clothing
I was diagnosed close to the holidays so Christmas shopping was easy for me. I received a lot of UPF clothing. UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and it works like the SPF in a sunscreen – just in a clothing form. Hands down this every day t-shirt from Coolibar is my new favorite. I can wear it alone or as a base layer. I can pair with a pair of nice pants and a blazer for work. I can wear it on the tennis court or to the park with my kids. It’s extremely versatile and even more comfortable.
In full disclosure, I prefer a V-neck because I don’t like anything on my neck. Most crew necks irritate me, but this one did not. And the cut is so flattering. It’s not too loose and it’s not too tight. It’s really actually perfect.
Click here to purchase this wonderful Coolibar every day UPF tee: https://amzn.to/3cLR0vm
My Favorite Fabric Wash
I love the clothing that I already have and the idea of overhauling my entire wardrobe with UPF clothing was beyond stressful (not to mention, expensive). I couldn’t even wrap my brain about overhauling my children’s and my husband’s closets on top of that. Thankfully, I found this wash from RIT that adds UPF 30 to any clothing that you already own. Simply wash a load and throw it in. It’s that easy.
I was skeptical because we use non-scented everything for skin allergies, but this did not irritate my skin. And it did not damage any of our clothing. Almost all of the reviews say the same thing. My plan is to take a weekend each season and wash everyone’s clothes in it. It should last for 20 washes, so you might get away with only doing it once or twice a year. Such a win for kids’ clothing!
Click here to purchase Sun Guard: https://amzn.to/2MF6EOr
I hope that you’ve enjoyed these suggestions. They are simply four products that have changed my life for the better even during a dark situation. And speaking of that dark situation….
I’ve learned a lot about melanoma and skin cancer during this journey. Unfortunately, I’ve learned it all the hard way and have the scar to prove it. I don’t wish that on anyone.
Please see a dermatologist once a year if you can. Pay attention to your skin and any changes, no matter how slight or small. It could be a life or death situation. Take care of your skin by wearing SPF or UPF every day. You are worth it. The world needs you in it.
For more information on skin cancer prevention, visit https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/skin-cancer/prevent/how
(This blog post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase one of the products I’ve recommended, I’d love for you to consider using the links provided in the text.)