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sun protection week

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The next few days of sun protection week will be of me slathering a quarter teaspoon of sunblock on my face.

In Day 1, I mentioned that 2 milligrams of sunblock per square centimeter of skin is needed to get the SPF rating as written on the label. I don’t own a weighing scale sensitive enough to measure milligrams so I’ll be using the measuring spoon approximation. Check out Robyn’s attempt on 2mg per cm².

Biore UV Perfect Face

Vanessa told me that it’s possible to apply that much with Biore’s UV Perfect Face Milk (and still manage to look decent.)

Measuring Spoon

I freaked out when I poured the sunblock on my palm because I was not planning on washing the sunblock off and waste precious grams of product. I was dead set on actually going through the day with that much goop on.

Quarter-Teaspoon-Biore-1

Here’s what a quarter teaspoon of Bioré UV Perfect Face Milk looks like on my face. (Note: I am not naked here. I am wearing a tank top.)

Biore-Perfect-Face-Quarter-TeaspoonSay hello to my pale lips. Now you know why I love lipstisks. Haha!
By the way, do you have any eye makeup ideas for my
hooded, droopy, puffy, and tiny-spaced lids?

I look a bit shiny because of the fluorescent light reflection but I was actually surprisingly matte. As soon as the alcohol dissipated, it seemed like I just applied a generous amount of translucent powder on. My face wasn’t as white and slimy as I expected. Maybe people a few shades lighter than me can wear this sunblock on its own. For reference, I’m Gold Shell in L’Oreal and an NC35/ NC37 at MAC, only more yellow-olive.

I powdered my face to counter the ashiness and I didn’t need to retouch (I will have to re-test in the warmer months).

A bottle of Biore UV Perfect Face Milk is 30 ml. Assuming you’re like me who also doesn’t re-apply sunblock every few hours during the day, that’s about 24 days of use (1/4 tsp = 1.25 ml.)

I bought it from TPE Marketplace, behind Makati Medical Center, for Php 480. It seems like a sustainable fixed cost; what worries me is the alcohol. I’m ok with a little bit of alcohol in sunblock because it makes the product easier to work with. But 1/4 teaspoon of it felt like I was scouring rubbing alcohol on my face. If done daily, even the oiliest of all oily skins will dry out, I think.

I’ll write an in-depth review of this product once I use it when it’s more humid.

For now, I’ll use the more emollient sunblocks I own.

Conclusion: 1/4 teaspoon is doable with this sunblock.

I love the sea. I love swimming and water activities. I used to love getting really dark and almost sun burnt until I found out that it’s not healthy. So I learned to accept my medium yellow-olive-toned skin that’s neither pale nor tan.

I take sun care more seriously when I’m spending the day directly under the sun.

I buy the really heavy diaper cream-like zinc oxide sunblocks — the type that’s almost like white body paint.

I’ve accepted that when it comes to sun care, I CAN’T have it all.

I’ll always have to choose between 2 things:
1. Enjoy the outdoor experience; or
2. Fuss about how white and greasy I look like and re-apply sunblock like a maniac.

I never choose the latter. Although I still do re-apply sunblock.

Sunblock Preferences

I opt for the really sticky and opaque high-percentage zinc oxide sunblocks because it’s easier to know when I need to re-apply. If I can still see an opaque white cream on my skin, I know I’m still good. Once it starts to fade, I re-apply.

Chemical sunscreens have a definite ‘expiration’ period when taken out of the bottle and get exposed to sunlight. So even if you still see some cream on your skin, it’s not an assurance that you’re adequately protected. I don’t usually wear a watch when I do outdoor activities and I’m not anal enough to time the re-application at specific intervals.

Good thing most sunscreens nowadays are a combination of both physical blockers and chemical sunscreens. But I still choose products that are predominantly physical blockers.

Favorite Sunblock for Outdoor Activities

I used to alternate between brands until I found one that fits all my requirements: Nature’s Gate Aqua Block.

Nature's Gate Aqua Block SPF 50 Review

If all you care about is getting sufficient protection, you should try this. I use this even on the face and I don’t break out.

On Spray Sunblock…

The formula I avoid at all costs (for outdoor, direct sunlight activities) is spray-type sunblock.  It’s a good concept for re-application but I always get burned when I use it. Since it’s mostly transparent, I don’t actually see if I’m covered enough. Sometimes some of the product are blown away with the wind as you spray it. I feel like it’s a waste.

Removing Zinc Oxide Sunblock

The major disadvantage of using zinc oxide sunblock is that it’s difficult to remove. I discovered a product that makes it easier — Dr. Wood’s liquid castile soap. This is a cheaper alternative to Dr. Bronner’s. What laundry detergent can’t wash off, liquid castile soap can.

Anyway, I’m curious to know what your sun care routine is for outdoor activities and what products you use. I hope you can share them below.

If you missed Days 1 & 2, check the links below:

Day 1: I don’t think I need to use a separate sunscreen.
Day 2: My daily sun care routine.

Up next probably: Experiment: What does a quarter teaspoon of sunblock look like on the face?

Before anything else, let me be clear, I’m only talking about sun protection on an everyday regimen here. When I go to the beach, I don’t scrimp on quantity and frequency of application.

I want to justify my ‘disobedience’ by saying that my morning commute is a mere 10 to 15 minutes, I stay indoors all day, and I go home after sunset. I am aware that fluorescent light has UV rays but it’s not like I will get sunburn by getting artificial light exposure.

One-third teaspoon of sunblock is something I just can’t commit to right now. Note: On Dr. Bailey’s skin care blog, 1/3 teaspoon is recommended, but several articles say a quarter teaspoon is enough.

I want to be able to go out with just sunblock on and not look like a mime. I could remediate the mime look by masking the mask with face powder or foundation but that’s too much trouble and I don’t wear base makeup every day.

So, what constitutes my sun protection strategy?

I use a zinc-oxide and/ or titanium oxide-based sunblock everyday. I apply it only once, in the morning, at a quantity as much as my skin can absorb — I stop at that sweet spot right before my face looks like it’s been slapped by toothpaste. If I am going to wear makeup I will put less.

When my skin is parched, I will put even less or none and put on a good moisturizer instead. My face can only handle so much goop and I believe that moisture trumps sun protection every time.

I had an interesting observation a few years back. I noticed that when my skin is well-moisturized I don’t get post-acne hyperpigmentation.

So I googled on how the skin behaves when it is well-moisturized. My readings can be summarized as follows:

“The skin has better defense system when it is not dehydrated.”

Maybe that’s the reason why I don’t get post-acne dark spots and why dry-skinned people are said to be more likely to get pre-mature wrinkles and sun-induced photoaging.

Incidentally, I stumbled upon this blog post a few years ago by a cosmetic chemist using a day moisturizer with only SPF 4. There’s a line there that goes:

“I was intrigued to read a posting on the Money Saving Expert website where a woman stayed out in the sun but only got burned on the parts of her body where she hadn’t used her moisturiser!”

That made me even more stubborn with how I choose to protect my skin against the sun: moisture first, sun protection second.

Anyway, going back to when I said I prefer using something that has zinc oxide and/ or titanium dioxide. Those two are physical blockers i.e., they reflect UV rays. All other sun protection ingredients are non-physical and they absorb UV rays (the latter is called chemical sunscreen, which I thought was a little funny because physical blockers are chemicals too).

I prefer physical sunblock because I don’t want to re-apply during the day. I am already at my quota for the number of face things to do in a day: (1) oil blotting; and (2) re-applying lipstick. My brain can’t process any more than that.

Physical blockers don’t disintegrate upon sun exposure — or so I’ve read. This means, unless it is brushed off, it’s there. My argument on not re-applying is, maybe if I’m not too malikot, the sunblock will stay the whole day.

I usually buy sunblock with at least SPF 30 and 3 plus-es. I could go lower with the SPF number but the +’s that come after the SPF-rating (e.g., SPF30+++) is non-negotiable. The plus indicate the level of sun protection it gives against UVA rays.

UVA = UV rays that cause photo-Aging
UVB = UV rays that cause sunBurn

The mnemonic above is likely to be an over-simplification but I will leave the elaboration to scientists and your googling skills.

My sun care routine may not be ideal for you because my risk appetite has always been high and re-application is out of the equation for me. But overall I think it my routine is adequate.

Disclaimer: I have brown skin, and I don’t burn quickly. If you’re pale, something else might work for you. But I hope you don’t stress yourself too much about it. The stress might age, or worse, kill you more than sun damage will.

I listed below the skin care routine of some of my favorite blogs. You’ll notice how different they all are:

Welcome to Sun Protection Week.

I’m using “week” very loosely here because I probably won’t be able to sustain seven consecutive days of writing. I’m not a blogging superwoman like Liz and my offline life is as chaotic exciting as my online life. I’ve been brewing this blog series for a while now. Are you excited? I am!

Enough foreplay, here we go!

To be honest, I am very confused by whether I need to use a separate sunscreen when my moisturizer or foundation already has SPF. This should’ve been a no brainer.

Most of the dermatologist-written articles I’ve read seem consistent in saying that I need to put on sunscreen in addition to any other face base that already has sun protection.

But seriously, if you’re as oily as I am, doing the sunscreen + face base combo is like over-layering icing on a cake. The icing will slide down eventually and the whole thing will look like a mess.

Anyway, I’m not the type to take recommendations as they are so I decided to read more on this. I googled for how SPF is measured and what constitutes enough sun protection.

Apparently, SPF is determined by testing 2 milligrams of formula per square centimeter of skin.

I took it to mean that 2 milligrams of foundation with SPF30 rating offers the same protection as 2 milligrams of sunblock with SPF30 rating if applied within the same size surface area.

It is said that this is equivalent to a conservative 1/3 teaspoon for the whole face, the teaspoon rule. That means that if I want to get all the SPF from my foundation alone, I have to apply 1/3 teaspoon of it.

One of the sources of my confusion is:

milligrams = unit of mass/ weight; and
teaspoon = unit of volume

Looks like 1/3 teaspoon is just an estimation (hello me, of course it is). And I don’t think there’s a direct conversion of milligrams to milliliters — and I’m not about to determine the density of my foundation just to get an accurate conversion of volume to mass.

Be that as it may, it’s already settled that I won’t put 1/3 teaspoon of foundation on my face. But the more important question is:

Will I put on my face 1/3 teaspoon of sunblock?
My answer is NO. That will look like me channeling my drunk inner geisha. Anyway, is there really a brand of sunblock that looks decent enough spread out on the face — at that volume??? If you know of one, tell me.

As I try to imagine it, I feel like I put the same amount of either sunblock or foundation when I wear each solely.

What I know now is — and I can not speak for dry or normal-skinned people — 1/3 teaspoon of sunblock or a combination of sunblock foundation is the same banana to me. This is what I mean by that:

amount of grease churned out by my face
+
1/3 teaspoon of sunblock or a combination of  sunblock and creamy anything
=
cake icing analogy
aka melting down face

Whatever it is that I put on my face — be it sunblock, foundation, or a mix of both — I’m sure that I always do not reach a third of a teaspoon. It would be the same less-than-1/3-teaspoon any which way I do it, every single time.

Right now, I think I’m not putting enough sun protection by derm doctors’ standards, and — gulp — I’m ok with that O.0

Although… I think I may be doing something else to mitigate sun damage… But more on that later in the week.

I have to be honest and say that I haven’t actually compared how 1/x teaspoon of sunblock looks like versus 1/x teaspoon of foundation. Maybe I’ll do an experiment on that.

What do you think?