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The Dirt on Sunscreen
Some common sense, some skincare recs.
The beauty industry’s stance on sunscreen is one of extremism. Get absolutely no sun. If you don’t wear SPF, don’t bother taking care of your skin at all. Personally, I find this POV to be conservative-bordering-on-fascist and more fearmongering than a goopy anti-oxybenzone guide. It’s also silly! The skincare experts sermonizing about SPF usually exfoliate multiple times a week, use retinoids, and/or subject their barriers to twice-daily, seven-step skincare routines too — thus increasing sun sensitivity, depleting the skin’s built-in “SPF,” compromising the microbiome’s ability to prevent and heal UV damage, and rendering topical sunblock less effective. (It’s almost like they’d rather purchase proof of their own moral goodness in product form than actually protect themselves from the sun or something!!)
Anyway. There were times in my life when my epidermis was so damaged from Topical Steroid Withdrawal that it couldn’t handle sunscreen, and it was fine, because I could still follow the American Cancer Society’s top two tips for avoiding excess UV exposure: seek shade and wear protective clothing. Now that my skin is healed, I can and do apply SPF — which lands at number three on the ACS list, as sunscreen is a fallible product made by fallible humans and “should not be thought of as your first line of defense,” by the way — whenever I’m outdoors. Le Prunier Plumscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 31 is my go-to. I recommend it, but not in a shame-y, you-deserve-to-be-blamed-for-your-future-cancer-diagnosis way.
Which is to say: SPF is important! I suggest wearing it! Wearing SPF does not make you a better or smarter person! It is not a substitute for an actual personality!! People who act as if topical SPF is the only thing that matters in life and in beauty are probably not particularly knowledgable about sun protection (or life or beauty, for that matter)!!!
If you’re looking for a new summer SPF though, check out the full list from Dirt. It features recommendations from Terry Nguyen, Sophie Kemp, Bella Negri, Jocelyn Silver, Iva Dixit, and Colleen Kelsey.