Sunscreen 101: What you need to know

Are you ready to be in the sun this summer?

With Memorial Day upon us and the unofficial kick-off of summer, it’s important to make sure your SPF routine is summer-ready.  Not only is sunscreen key in your antiaging routine (see my anti-aging tips here), but it is also your weapon against skin cancer, which is on the rise.  Here are some facts that are concerning:

  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.*
  • Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.*
  • Also, the risk of skin cancer doubles if a person has had 5 or more sunburns in their lifetime or even one severe sunburn as a child.**

Ok, so this is pretty scary.  What do you need to know when selecting a sunscreen?  Products should have a minimum of SPF 30 and should protect against BOTH UVA and UVB rays.  If you don’t see the words “broad spectrum” on the label, then it doesn’t protect from both.  UVA rays cause premature aging, hyperpigmentation, broken capillaries, and wrinkling.  UVB rays cause sunburn.  Both are contributors to skin cancer.

UV rays pass through clouds and window glass – that is why sunscreen is a MUST every day no matter what the season or the weather!  Also, UV rays are the strongest between 10 am and 4 pm so be extra diligent during those times of day.

Knowing what to look for in a sunscreen is key to being safe in the sun!

What is physical vs. chemical sunscreen and which should I use?

OK, let me break it down.  Bottom line, you need to use sunscreen and need to find one that works well with your skin type.  Both types have pros and cons, and there isn’t any evidence that one is better than the other, as long as you are using it consistently and reapplying often.  (Remember to reapply every 2 hours – don’t forget around your eyes and lips.)

Also there is not evidence that the higher the SPF the better.  Most experts recommend using a minimum of SPF 30 up to 50 with broad spectrum protection.  Really though, anything higher than 30 does not really provide that much more protection, maybe 1-2% more than SPF 30 does.

Physical sunscreens have mineral ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and sit on top of your skin to deflect the sun’s rays.

Pros and Cons-

Physical sunscreens can be better for those with sensitive or acne prone skin; some formulas can be very thick or leave a white cast which can be a con for those with darker skin tones.  However, sunscreen products have come a long way and many are not as thick as in years past.  Another pro is that once applied the product begins working and you can go in the sun.

One product I love that is a physical sunscreen is CeraVe Face Lotion SPF 50.  It is for the face and looks great under makeup!  It also has some other good for you skin ingredients like ceramides and niacinamide, and is pretty inexpensive.  Another product I use to touch up during the day without messing up my makeup is Brush on Block.  It is powder but comes in a portable stick so it’s great to bring to work, the beach or wherever you are going!

Chemical sunscreens have ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate or avobenzone and penetrate into your skin, absorbing the UV rays, changing them to heat and then releasing that heat.

Pros and Cons-

Chemical sunscreens can be more irritating to certain skin types and also, because they penetrate into the skin, it is recommended that you wait at least 20 minutes for the product to sink in before sun exposure.

One chemical sunscreen moisturizer I love is the L’BRI Oil-Free Moisturizer with SPF 32.  L’BRI is an American company that uses all natural ingredients and features aloe as a main ingredient in its products.  This moisturizer feels great on my skin and leaves a natural glow.

Final thoughts

No matter what, find an SPF product that works for you and use it!  Don’t just use it when you are going to the beach, but every day.  And, don’t just apply in the morning and forget about it the rest of the day!  It needs to be reapplied every couple of hours or after you’ve sweat or gone swimming.  If you are using makeup with SPF in it, great but please don’t rely only on that for your protection.  Happy summer, everyone!

Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of those products, I receive a small commission.  This is at no additional cost to you.  I appreciate your support of this blog if you do decide to try some of the products!

*Cancer Facts and Figures 2017. American Cancer Society.  http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@editorial/documents/document/acspc-048738.pdf.

**Milady’s Standard Fundamentals for Estheticians 9th Edition.

Mascara Round Up – High End and Drugstore

I’ve pulled together a round up of some mascaras I’ve been using over the past several months, along with a “grade” of how I think they perform.  Before we begin, it’s important for you to know what I value most in a mascara, as I know for each person this may vary.  I like to get thickness and length with my mascaras, but I do not like the clumpy look.  My lashes are naturally on the longer side, so the thickness of my lashes is weighted a little more than length for me in my evaluation.  You’ll see some drugstore, more high end, and a couple in between!  Let’s get started!

 

My favorite mascara right now!

Trish McEvoy High Volume Mascara $32

This is right now my all time favorite mascara- it gets an A+!  Why?  Well there are a couple of reasons.  First, the small, thin brush (which at first I thought I would hate gives me the control I need to get fuller, long lashes without the clump.  The other reason I love it is because it is a tubing mascara, which means you remove it differently from other mascaras.  You gently saturate your lashed and then can pull off the mascara in one piece!  This formula doesn’t flake or smear on the top of your browbone and no need for a waterproof formula (which I generally hate).  I little bit of water doesn’t take it off so this is truly my go-to mascara with the summer coming.  I recently ordered a new tube and it is ready to go!

My favorite drugstore mascara – I’ve been using this for years!

Loreal Voluminous Million lashes $8.99

This is by far my favorite drug store mascara – it gets an “A!”  I love the brush size and shape and the look this gives my lashes (again not clumpy, defined full lashes).  For the price you can’t beat this deal.  Many beauty gurus rave about the Loreal Voluminous lashes, and I like that one, but for some reason prefer the million lashes formula.

This was a disappointment for me.

Maybelline Lash Sensational $6.99

I couldn’t get behind this mascara, although I had heard others say good things about it – I’d grade it a “C.”  The brush is interesting. It has the spikiness I like on other brushes but curves slightly.  I found it personally very hard to work with and the formula to be clumpy.  While some days I was happy with the look it gave me, it also hurt my lashes and performed very inconsistently.  Bottom line, I had more clumpy looks than good ones.  I would not purchase this one again.

This hourglass brush is all the rage in the beauty world but I’m just meh about it.

Too Faced Better than Sex Mascara $23

This mascara is all the rage in the beauty world but I’m very “meh” about it.  Overall, I’d grade it “B-.” It has a very unique hourglass shaped brush with wispy bristles.  Again, some days I got a great look with it, but I personally found it hard to get used to controlling the brush and had some issues with clumping in the formula. I don’t hate it but I don’t think it’s the cat’s meow like some others do.  For me, there are better products out there that give me what I am looking for.

Here’s how the packaging looks – bet you can’t tell there’s 2 mascaras in there!

MAC Haute & Naughty Lash $23

This product definitely gets an “A” for innovation – there are actually two mascaras in one product.  That’s right, two brushes, two different formulas in one tube!  I actually prefer the brush and formula in with the pink handle, but I like to combine them both and can get a very nice result with that.  Using the pink product alone, I can achieve a beautiful more natural looking defined lash that I love for everyday wear.

Here’s the first brush – this is for a more dramatic look.
Here is the second brush, my personal favorite. It gives a full natural lash with no clumps.

The good news is, there are so many types of mascaras in an array of price ranges, that can give you the lash look you are seeking!  Here’s to great lashes for all of us!

Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of those products, I receive a small commission.  This is at no additional cost to you.  I appreciate your support of this blog if you do decide to try some of the products!

To Kindergarten or Not to Kindergarten: 6 Steps to Follow to Determine if your Child is Ready

I know this is a bit of a departure from my usual posts, but I feel like this is an important topic and one very germane for me right now.  My son is 4 and will turn 5 in the middle of the summer.  He’s in Pre-K now and I need to decide if he is ready to go on to kindergarten.  Retaining children with summer birthdays is actually a thing also known as “redshirting,” and it is fairly controversial.  Welcome to my stress!

Ever since I was pregnant and knew I was having a boy, with a due date of July 31 I was often asked if I would hold him back from kindergarten.  This seemed an odd question to me since at that time I was focused on taking my breastfeeding class and trying to make sure I had a clue about how to take care of an infant.  I remember thinking, “Is that a thing?”  I personally have a summer birthday and went to kindergarten shortly after turning 5.  Had that changed?

After my son was born and other friends of mine with older sons talked about holding them back, the questions came up again.  This still seemed premature and I figured I’d cross that bridge when we came to it.  Some of my friends made the decision to hold back so that their sons would have a competitive edge in sports.  That seemed to me a bit extreme to base a decision solely on that.  Also, the fear that your child will be the youngest in the class is another reason I think is extreme to base a decision on.

I would recommend following the checklist below (which is exactly what I did) to really assess your child’s situation and arrive at a decision that is best for your child and family.

Know your child – As mothers, we intrinsically know our kids.  I call this the “gut factor.”  If you feel like your child might not be ready for kindergarten then you need to trust that instinct.  That is how I started.  If you asked me 6 months ago what I thought, I’d say “He’s definitely ready for kindergarten.”  However, now I have a different opinion after observing him in various social situations with his peers.

Is you child ready academically? – Do you think your child is ready academically?  The preschool teachers can definitely help providing you feedback with this, and if your school system is like mine, there is a test given to determine each child’s readiness academically.  There my son was good, but I was still not feeling confident.

Social skills/maturity – How does your child interact with his/her peers?  Does he/she seem a bit immature for their age?  On both of these counts, in my situation, I felt that my son could benefit from another year to mature and improve his social/playing skills with his peers.

Talk to your pediatrician – I think it’s a good idea to consult with all the “experts” before making a final decision.  I did discuss this situation with my pediatrician and, in my case, he suggested I hold my son back.  Again, this will vary in each child’s situation and I believe that your pediatrician is one piece of the puzzle and don’t think you should listen to your pediatrician alone without weighing in all the other factors.

Does your child have any special needs? – Does your child have any developmental delays or any type of special needs?  If so, it is a factor that should be weighed into this decision.  My son does have special needs and works with a speech and occupational therapist.  I felt that an extra year in Pre-K would help to further develop his communication skills.

Be your child’s advocate – As I mentioned earlier, our “mom” instincts are strong and it is for that reason that it’s our job to be an advocate for our kids.  When I first presented my concerns about moving my son up to kindergarten, I surprisingly received some pushback from his school.  However, that did not deter me from succinctly presenting my arguments and why I felt it was in his  best interest to be retained.  In the end, they came on board with my arguments.

No Right or Wrong

Remember, there’s no right or wrong decision here;  just what is best for your child.  If you’ve carefully weighed out the pros and cons, spoken to your child’s teachers and pediatrician, and went with your gut mother instincts, you really can’t go wrong.  For me, the right call was to hold my son back another year – that might not be the right call for you, but I feel relieved in our family’s decision and how that will help my son moving forward.

 

Three of the Best Long Wearing Nail Polishes

Are you like me, always on the hunt for a long wearing nail polish?  I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a nail polish junkie.  I used to go to the salon to get my nails done, and went through phases of getting acrylics and gels on my nails, but for the past couple of years, I prefer to do my own nails at home and buy a bunch of nail colors I enjoy to switch out each week or so.  So, I’ve tried LOTS of different polishes and have established my top three brands that wear really well on my nails, meaning 7-10 days without major chips.

Essie Gel Couture – This two step nail polish system boasts long wear for up to 14 days and it does not disappoint!  There are a wide range of colors to choose from and no base coat is needed during application.  The polish has a swirl stem brush (wider brush) that I find easy to manipulate.  Through trial and error I’ve also learned that the thinner I keep each coat that I apply the better and longer the wear of the polish.  Also, don’t be thrown off by “gel” in the name – no UV lamp is needed for this product!  It comes off with regular nail polish remover.  The color I’ve been into lately is Take it to Thread, a mauvy purple!  This retails for about $11.50 a bottle.

KL Polish – This is a new brand of nail polish launched by one of my favorite YouTubers, Kathleen Lights (hence the “KL” in KL Polish).  She comes out with new colors seasonally and I am in love!  I loved her Winter colors and now am trying out her Spring line.  The colors mix edgy with classic, so there is something for everyone! Her packaging is sleek and has a wider brush which I find easier to use.  The polish retails for $8.50 and is only available online at klpolish.com.  KL Polish is cruelty free and also 5 free.   What does that mean? 5-free nail polishes are free of 5 potentially harmful chemicals: formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, dibutyl phthalate, and toluene. In addition, this brand is 7 free and 9- free which include: 7-free nail polishes add xylene and ethyl tosylamide to that list, and 9-free polishes are also free of parabens and acetone.  Any beauty product that is free or low on harsh chemicals and parabens is always superior in my book, especially when it performs as well as this polish!

defy & Inspire – This is a brand I randomly stumbled upon at Target last year and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it wears on the nails.  This was launched by Target as one of its first in house beauty lines.  It retails for $7 and the line also has its own base coat and top coat.  I’ve only used the nail lacquer colors so I can’t comment on how the others perform.  The color ranges are nice and I’ve found all the colors I have to perform consistently on my nails.  With some polishes I’ve used in the past, some colors wear differently than others which is a disappointment.  Similar to KL Polish, this brand also has a 5 free formula which is a plus for me.  If you are curious what I use for base and top coats that I really love, Nails Inc Superfood for base coat and Seche Vite for a high gloss top coat!

I’d love to hear what long wearing nail polishes you are all obsessed with!

Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of those products, I receive a small commission.  This is at no additional cost to you.  I appreciate your support of this blog if you do decide to try some of the products!