DEAR BEAUTY BLOGGERS, PLEASE STOP SPREADING DANGEROUS MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SPF

Be it moisturiser, powder, or foundation, a lot of blogs have recently been promoting the »wear SPF daily« trend (which is not a trend, but the only thing that stands between wrinkles and melanoma, and your skin) by promoting non-sunscreen products with added SPF.

As an AB-educated sunscreen convert, I’m horrified. I know most of those people aren’t cosmetic scientists or dermatologists, not even aestheticians, but the tone in which they endorse these products is very much »be all end all«.

Now, you might think, »But, Minnie, shouldn’t you be happy? People are finally straying from the tan-craziness of the Werstern world, they’re beginning to understand the importance of sunscreen!« — No, they’re not. What they do is buy that foundation they wanted anyway, and take whatever little SPF the manufacturer has thrown into the mix as an excuse not to protect their skin further.

The main reason why this is dangerous is that the average consumer will never apply foundation — or any other teint product — in the amount needed for full protection. Wanna see how much exactly the minimum required amount is? [1]

[image via FutureDerm]
[image via FutureDerm]
That’s how much that is. Now, tell me: When was the last time you applied 1,25ml of foundation in one sitting? Hm?

Anyway, this post would end up too long if I started ranting about the proper amount of sunscreen now; I’ll do that in a separate post, promise. In the meantime, let’s take a look at some other examples, shall we?


»Too much sunscreen«

The first one comes from a blogger who actually is an aesthetician — which makes the advice she gives twice as dangerous, because people will follow that advice based on the fact that she has had some »professional« training in the skincare department (although she herself discloses that she’s not a medically trained expert).

I’m talking about Caroline Hirons, whose blog has in fact been my gateway drug to places like r/ScA and The Snailcast. Some of her advice is actually really good, like, »Use a gentle cleanser and exfoliate regularly«, but she utterly lacks in the pH and sunscreen departments, as you will see in this video (it starts at 6:17):

»There are people who wake up, shower, put SPF50 on, and don’t leave the house« — sounds familiar?


Here’s a more recent video she did on acid toners:

Millon dollar question: How many times does Caroline say the word »pH«? The winner recieves a free full size bottle of Pixi Glow Tonic.


Unsurprisingly, r/ScA has some pretty strong opinions about her:


That sunscreen advice just sounds like she looks, outdated.

— BetaCarotine20mg

I think she’s a good primer for those who never before approached their skincare seriously, but for those of us who are a little more savvy, meh.

hunnychile


(I, personally, totally agree with the latter comment.)

Admittedly, Caroline seems to be on the right way with the amount of sunscreen needed, wait times, and reapplication. However, she doesn’t really disclose this in her acid/retinol reviews, which is, at best, unprofessional (and dangerous, at worst).

As I said, I used to be an ardent follower of both her blog and her YouTube channel — and I still am, but rather for nostalgic reasons —, although most of the products she talked about were way above my budget. About a year into my skincare obsession I discovered the SkincareAddiction subreddit, which, at first, was too science-heavy for me, but I eventually fell down the rabbit hole of double-blind placebo-controlled long term studies, and then there was no way I would go back to a woman who gets her daily SPF from her makeup.


P.S.: If you’re interested in quality skincare advice from someone who has been/is in the industry, have a look at Veronica Gorgeois’s YouTube channel! She’s an L.A.-based aethetician who gives really good and scientifically backed-up advice (although, admittedly, her video titles are a bit sensationalising) — go check her out, and tell me what you think of her!

I’ve compiled a little »best of« of her videos to make things a bit easier for you:


  • On the importance of pH in skincare:
  • Ten basic rules for good skin(care):
  • On having a completely fragrance- and irritant-free skincare routine:
  • The basic rules of sunscreen (amount, application and wait times, etc.):
  • On using sunscreen indoors:
  • On using makeup as your primary sunscreen (starts as 4:15):
  • On preventing acne scars (although I believe what she means is PIH, not actual scars):
  • On treating acne scars:

You see the emphasis on sunscreen? That’s how you spot a good aethetician.


Going on a beach vacation while on Accutane

Kate La Vie is someone who is known for beautifully composed flatlays, immaculately lit bag spills, and a love for products that lean on the pricier side. She was also one of the few bloggers who talked openly about their hormonal acne — which was what drew me to her initially. I couldn’t exactly afford the products she was talking about — that seems to be a theme with the blogs I follow! —, and she didn’t know much about the science behind them, but it was nice to hear the words of someone who was struggling just as hard as myself.

My sympathy for her died last year when she went on Accutane. Acutally, no: In the beginning, I initially felt more sympathy, as I’ve been on Accutane myself — with great results, by the way! —, and was excited to see how it would work out for her.

I don’t know if her GP was a shitty one and didn’t inform her about all the risks, or if she just thought the damage she was doing couldn’t be that big, but in the middle of her Accutane course she went on a beach vacation to the Carribean and, of course, got a tan there.

Now, if you’re only beginning to learn how to take good care of your skin, you might probably still live under the misconception that acquiring a tan while wearing a »protective« layer of sunscreen results in a »healthy« or »safe« tan. Unfortunately, there is no such thing — a tan is already damage being done to your DNA, and it indicates that either your sunscreen is shit, or you’re not using it properly.

Isotretinoin (the active ingredient in Accutane) is the strongest derivative of vitamin A, all forms of which make your skin extremely photosensitive, resulting in an exponentially higher risk of developing melanoma, aka skin cancer. Even normal daily exposure is dangerous, so if you’re not already wearing sunscreen every day, it would be a great time to start as soon as you go on Accutane (and at least one year after finishing the course).

Of course, Kate’s health is Kate’s personal responsibility, same as with Caroline’s decision to get her daily SPF from her makeup despite regularly using photosensitising acids (AHA) and retinol (yet another form of vitamin A). It only gets dangerous when they spread their ideas online to a wide audience that could develop the idea that sunscreen is, in fact, optional. (Spoiler alert — it’s not.) As a conscious consumer you should question the content that you read online — actually, even question me as I’m writing this. I, too, am strongly biased about some things — but I can assure you that sunscreen isn’t one of them. I at least got science backing my claims, as opposed to the anecdotal evidence that most popular skincare/makeup blogs produce.


»This foundation boasts an SPF of 15, which makes it perfect for summer«

Um — no. Just no.

There are a lot of bloggers who are guilty of having said this — I won’t even bother to put in links. I’ve already shown you how much foundation you would have to use to get the designated protection factor [1][2], so I won’t dwell on this for too long.

Let me just add that, when shopping for a new foundation, you should be opting for one that has only physical filters, or no SPF at all (the best case scenario). The reason for this is that certain chemical sunscreen filters could have the potential to destabilise the formula of your regular (chemical) sunscreen, thus rendering it useless, or, even worse, phototoxic. [3] (More info on sunscreen photostability, and a list of chemical and physical sunscreen filters and their respective photostabilty to be found here: [4][5])


Fortunately, the Blogosphere is continually becoming more and more educated about skincare — xoJane, for example, have recently discovered r/ScA, and written a pretty funny article about it. My personal highlight:


I was overwhelmed and fascinated at my first encounter. Here was a place where everyone scoffed at the idea of ever putting lemon juice on your face, which I had done a million times, irritating the shit out of my face in the process. The concept of going outside without sunscreen was blasphemy to these people. And, to my horror, half of them slept with Vaseline on their faces, something my mom told me would basically kill me.

— Liz Furze


That sums up r/ScA pretty accurately, I think! It’s a really good place for skincare fanatics, though; if you have any issues with your skin, that’s the place to look for suggestions (obviously, if you’re issues are severe, you should go and see a professional!).


Minnie


This post doesn’t contain any affiliate links. Affiliate links and PR samples on PALE AS F∗CK are always marked with one (∗) and two (∗∗) asterisks, respectively.


[1] Su, John: How Much Exactly is 2,0mg/cm² — The Amount of Sunscreed Necessary to Achieve the Labeled SPF Rating? FutureDerm.com 26.4.’13

[2] How much sunscreen do I need to apply? Skinacea.com 12.9.’12

[3] Can I wear makeup over sunscreen? Or will it destabilize it? Skinacea.com 25.9.’12

[4] How can I tell if my sunscreen is stable? Skinacea.com 14.9.’12

[5] UV Filters Chart: Sunscreen Active Ingredients. Skinacea.com 13.9.’12

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