Skin Cancer Awareness, Because Smart is Sexy

skin-cancer-awarenessOne in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.  Think about that for a second.  Out of you and your four girlfriends, one of you will end up with skin cancer. Do I have your attention?  Today is Melanoma Monday, which is a day dedicated to skin cancer awareness, so as a beauty writer, it would be a sin if I didn't preach and if you've been following BeautySweetSpot for a while, you know I also practice what I preach.  

According to a Poshly survey, only 27% of women say they wear sunscreen every day, 30% say they try to apply daily, but forget.  You guys, SPF is your holy grail – year round!  You wouldn't forget to brush your teeth right?  When choosing a SPF you need to look for three things:

  • Make sure it's a 15 or 30 - Anything higher than a SPF 30 is just marketing and anything lower isn't giving you the proper protection you need.
  • Look for the words "Water Resistant" - And remember, "water resistant" is great, but it doesn't mean waterproof.  As a rule of thumb, reapply your SPF every two hour when in the sun and every 40 minutes when in the water.
  • UVA & UVB protection are essential - Most SPF's are fully equipped with both types of protection.


Of course with all of the skin cancer awareness materials out there, you have the knowledge to be able to practice safe sun. You can also support the Melanoma Research Alliance through L'Oreal's "That Worth It Thunderclap" campaign. Check it out.  On May 20th, they want the whole world sending the message of safe sun and it's really easy to do.  For every message sent, L'Oréal Paris will make a donation to MRA of $1 and $1 for each L’Oréal Paris Advanced Suncare product sold in the U.S.  I already signed up!

SPF by Number, Truth About What You Really Need Will Change the Way You Shop

Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial start of summer so before you begin frolicking in the sun (if you live anywhere near NYC, we can thank Mother Nature for raining on our parade, literally), you need to read this.  The drugstore shelves are full of SPF options that range with numbers going up to 100+.  This post will change the way you shop and keep money in your pockets.  I spoke with DDF Founder and NYC dermatologist, Dr. Sobel, to find out what you really need. What level of SPF should I use?

Sunscreens with SPF 15 or greater should always be applied to the skin daily. Be sure to pick a sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum protection against harmful both UVB rays that contribute to damaging outer skin layers, or receiving a sunburn, and UVA rays that damage deeper layers of the skin contributing to fine lines and wrinkles. If you’re hitting the beach, I recommend increasing your protection to an SPF of at least 30 and be sure to reapply every two hours.

How effective is sunscreen with SPF 50+?

The SPF rating measures the time it would take you to sunburn if you were not wearing sunscreen as opposed to the time it would take with sunscreen on. SPF 15 blocks about 93% of the sun’s rays, while SPF 30 blocks 97% and SPF 45 blocks 98%, so doubling the number and applying SPF 50 or higher doesn’t double your skin’s protection and none offer 100% protection.

There you have it.  An SPF of 30 with UVA & UVB protection that's water resistant is all you need.  Don't be fooled by marketing.  The higher the SPF, the higher the price tag.  Don't forget to reapply every two hours and have a great summer!

Spring Break Beauty Essentials for Girls Who Like to Party... with Class

Spring Break is officially here and if you’re anything like me or my friends, you’ll be flying south to soak up some sun.  Although I didn’t go away this year (I know – so lame!), I asked some of my friends what they put in their beauty survival kits as they packed their bikinis and sunglasses for the warmer weather. Here are my top five fave beauty essentials that won’t break the bank: 1. Nail Polish

I usually bring Essie’s ‘Fiji’ with me wherever I go, but this year I’m up for a little change. The Essie Spring 2013 Collection is packed with fun colors and I’m dying to try ‘Go Ginza.' It’s a great bright neutral and the cherry blossom pink color will really bring out the tan in your hands. Be sure to pack it away in your suitcase so you can fix any chips and touch up your nails as needed.

2. Waterproof Mascara

While some of us might be totally against wearing complete face makeup to the beach or pool (leave it at home), there’s no reason our eyelashes can’t look fierce!  L’Oreal’s Telescopic Shocking Extensions Waterproof Mascara in Blackest Black is liquid extension gold in a bottle! Since I also wear contacts, I’m very cautious of flaky mascara so this is a must-buy for my sensitive eyes. The plastic, ‘lash hugging’ brush separates and extends each individual lash from root to tip for added length and volume.

3. SPF

Sometimes lugging around a big bottle of SPF is tedious and I know I’m always nervous about the cap busting open and dealing with an oily mess in m bag (yikes!). I suggest using Powerful Sun Protection Daily Sunscreen Towelettes SPF 30 by Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare. These towelette packets are perfect and easy to just throw in your beach bag. They’re 100% mess-free and oil-free so they won’t clog your pores. They block UVA and UVB rays along with other environmental pollutants. Plus, they're loaded with antioxidants, green tea, and vitamins A, C, and E. so you can use these little gems on both your face and body.

4. Lip Balm

I’m a firm believer in lips always, always needing protection. Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm SPF 20 is a sheer tinted lip balm that instantly moisturizes and leaves your lips looking fuller. Sometimes regular chapstick can be boring, but this comes in 6 different shades for every skin tone to give your lips a little something extra. Protection plus fun colors – what more could a gal ask for?

5. UV Defense for Hair

With all of the island wind, sun and salt water, your luscious locks are going to need some serious protection. Save them by using Bumble and bumble Color Minded UV Protective Styling Balm. When working it into your hair from root to tip, it creates a seal around your strands, resurfaces damaged cuticles and locks in moisture and nutrients. It works for all hair types and I highly recommend it for color-treated hair because it doesn’t contain sulfates, blocks UV rays and will save you a visit to your colorist.

The Best Tinted Moisturizer, Hands Down

Last week after I had my Fraxel treatment my derm handed me a goody bag, or maybe it was a 'trust me, you're going to need this bag.'  Besides moisturizers, SPF's and ointments there was a tinted moisturizer from a brand I've never heard of.  How could I have never heard of it?  Really?  She swore to me that it was her favorite and told me to try it.  Since my derm is my new BFF (come on, my skin is in her hands!), I trusted her and gave it a try.  Well, now it's my favorite new tinted moisturizer too. The product – Revision Intellishade SPF 45 Anti-Aging Tinted Moisturizer, $50.  It comes in original and matte versions and just replaced my Laura Mercier one.  Why?  Because it's lighter, has an SPF of 45 and has anti-aging properties.  The intellishade formula acts like a one size fits all t-shirt and adapts to your skin tone.

I typically don't like wearing makeup on my face (and yes, I count tinted moisturizer as face makeup) unless I'm in front of a camera for a gig and need to, but this doesn't count for me.  It's literally moisturizer that adds a bit of a healthy glow and evens out my skin tone.  The one downside?  You can't get it online or in stores!  It's sold through dermatologists offices and medical spas, but you can locate one near you here.  Trust me, it's worth a trip!

BeautySweetSpot Launches A Safe Sun Facebook Campaign, Join In & Win!

Hey BeautySweetSpot readers!  With all of the attention that's arouse from my tanorexic story I decided to take the opportunity to launch a safe sun Facebook contest.  I've been getting a ton of emails and Facebook messages from all of you and people around the world about your safe sun stories and thought it would be an awesome if you had a place to discuss them, help me spread the word and a chance to win a years worth of SPF and a chance to be featured on BeautySweetSpot! So here you go... Check out BeautySweetSpot's Facebook page and visit the Photo Contest.  Once there, upload a pic of yourself by August 13th practicing safe sun.  It can even be a pic of your fave SPF, self tanner, a wide brim-hat... anything that sends a safe sun message and tell me why practicing safe sun is important to you.

After submissions are collected, there will be a voting round!  Share your submission with your friends and vote for yours and your favorites.  Three winners will be chosen on August 27th and each receive a years worth of SPF along with their stories and photos featured on BeautySweetSpot.com.  At random, one will receive 12 bottles of Vichy, another, 12 bottles of La Roche-Posay and another will receive 12 bottles of Australian Gold.

Yes, I'm deeming 12 bottles of SPF a years worth, even though any person may need more than that.  Let's not get greedy!  I thank you all for your support through out my tanorexia story and it's media coverage.  Now, let's all help spread the message of safe sun!  Good luck!

Good Morning America Helps Me Spread the "Ban Your Tan" Message

Last week after I got home from Aruba, Good Morning America's, Linsey Davis paid a visit to my apartment along with a producer and crew to discuss my former tanorexic days and why I kicked my harmful beauty habit to the curb.  They couldn't have come at a better time as my former self would have returned from Aruba with blisters from the sun!  I proved my case and told the story that some media outlets loved to sensationalize.  Here's the segment and an article on ABC that explains it further.  I'm honored to have been able to spread the message of safe sun on GMA!  More pics after the jump!

The Best Summer Beauty Buys, Aruba Approved

Packing for Aruba was intense.  Literally, I had a carry on sized suitcase just for my toiletries and I wouldn't even consider myself high maintenance.  I was (naturally) elected by my family to bring as much sunscreen as I had for the 13 of us on the trip and of course packed different forms of UV hair protection, cream based cosmetics and you know, hair removing essentials.  Here's a peek at the products that proved their worth from my packing list...  

Shiseido Urban Environment UV Protection Cream - I tried a variety of sunscreens while I was in Aruba with SPF's of 30 to SPF's of 60.  This was one I used often on my face.  It has an SPF of 35, protects from UVA and UVB rays and is water resistant.  I liked that it was light weight and didn't clog my pores.

L'Oreal Sublime Sun SPF 50 - I found myself liking the spray version of this SPF.  I started out using the 50 since I'm so pale and the sun was so strong.  As the week went on I switched to 30.

Philosophy Here Comes The Sun Age Defense SPF 30 - This is the spray I used once I switched to SPF 30.  The mist is more targeted than the L'Oreal one, but no matter which one I used, I made sure to rub them in as well.

Schick Hydro Silk Razor & Skintimate Shave Gel Pack – I really like this razor because it has five blades and dispenses a smoothing serum when it gets wet, but this pack came with a travel sized shaving cream so it was convenient and a great bang for my buck.

Bumble & Bumble Color Minded UV Protective Polish – After drying my hair at night I smoothed a dime sized amount of this lightweight serum through my strands and it gave my hair a great sheen while protecting my color.  Since I didn't wash it again when I woke up to go to the beach, it continued to protect it from the sun all day long.

Avon Glow Eyeliner in Copper Paradise – This is my fave summer liner.  The creamy consistency glides on smoothly and the shade makes my hazel eyes pop especially when I'm by the ocean.  It's a nice change from a sharp black or brown.  Perfect for a beachy locale.


Everything You Need to Know About Sunscreen Including the New FDA Regulations

I'm completely obsessed with knowing everything there is to know about my skin, aging, sun damage and SPF.  My derm, Dr. Ilyse Lefkowicz, can back me up on that as I'm constantly picking her brain and bugging her for more and more info.  My days basking the sunshine are over and I now understand everything there is to know about protection  – sun protection to ensure I don't age any quicker and never welcome skin cancer.  Of course, I had to share her knowledge with you, because it's beyond interesting and helpful. Incidental sun exposure received during everyday activities accounts for approximately 80% of an individual’s lifetime exposure," states Dr. Ilyse Lefkowicz.  "Therefore, I always recommend applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher on a daily basis in order to help prevent skin cancer and aging."

When shopping for SPF you want to look for three things:

  • Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays)
  • Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or greater
  • Water resistance


Broad spectrum is super important (UVA and UVB coverage) because the different types of rays do different types of damage that can both lead to skin cancer.  UVA rays can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkles and age spots and can pass through window glass.  UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn and are blocked by window glass.

"Because most people don’t apply sunscreen the way they are supposed to (most apply less than 1/4 of the amount they should, , I always advise my patients to use a higher SPF," Dr. Lefkowicz comments.  The proper dosage is about a shot glass full, or an ounce, to cover your entire body.

To break it down, Lefkowicz explains that SPF not only indicates how much longer protected skin can resist getting red than unprotected skin, but also what percentage of UV rays are screened.  An SPF 15 screens 93% of UV rays whereas an SPF 50 protects against 98% UV rays.  Her thoughts on an SPF 100?  Well, doubtful it can do much better than 50.

Beginning in 2013, you’ll see several changes to sunscreen labels required by the FDA.

  • For a sunscreen to carry the claim that it can prevent skin cancer and sunburn, it must offer both: 1) broad-spectrum coverage 2) an SPF of 15 or higher.
  • The FDA will ban companies from claiming that a sunscreen is “waterproof” or “sweat proof.” This is simply not possible. You’ll now see the term “water resistant.” The label also must state how long the water resistance lasts, either 40 or 80 minutes.


Dr. Kunin Dissects Sunscreen in A Pill

Double duty beauty products are all the rage these days – and celebs are using just about anything that cuts their time in half and has added skincare benefits.  Last month, Reese Witherspoon confessed that she takes an oral supplement, Life Extension's Enhanced Fernblock with Sendara, (in addition to applying sunscreen) to increase sun protection and keep her skin looking fresh. While Reese’s routine might seem harmless, there’s one caveat: even though it contains the protective ingredient polypodium leucotomos extract, the ashwagandha contained in her supplement hinders it.  According to dermatologist and founder of DERMAdoctor, Audrey Kunin, the supplement can also induce a condition known as thyrotoxicosis, a syndrome that is related to hyperthyroidism.

For those interested in added UV protection, Dr. Kunin suggests using a different oral product called Heliocare, which is safer and more reliable... The active ingredient in this supplement, polypodium leucotomos extract, has shown to offer at least some sun protection. According to Dr. Kunin, this supplement “works to protect skin structure and immune response, as well as to scavenge UV-induced ROS and repair DNA.”

Since a sunscreen with a high SPF cannot provide 100% protection, this supplement’s DNA cellular repair benefits are advantageous.  Dr. Kunin advises to take one or two capsules a day in addition to a topical sunscreen. But she cautions, “the use of this oral product does NOT mean you should skip the sunscreen.”

The verdict still isn’t in on whether these supplements truly prevent sun damage. Are you interested in taking a sunscreen pill, or do you think slathering on good old sunscreen is the  only way to go?

Latest Self Tanner Obsession

I'm a huge self tanner snob. Having tried almost all of them, liking a handful, but loving only a very select few I have to dish about my latest fave: Lancome Flash Bronzer Tinted Anti-Age Self-Tanning Face Lotion SPF 15. I've always been a fan of Lancome self tanners because they're tinted so you can see where you're applying them and they leave you with a natural looking tan that develops in less than a half hour.  It's not a gradual self tanner (like Jergens that you apply every day as your moisturizer), but it is buildable so after three days you can self tan again to get darker.  The color also fades gracefully.

So why is this new Lancome tanner different?  It contains anti-aging ingredients in it so it works to prevent aging while making you a bronze goddess.  You can even put it on in the morning and use it as your moisturizer because it has SPF of 15 in it.  Pretty sweet deal.