summer sun protection capsule

Nothing says summer like beach trips, picnics, and outdoor rendezvous...AND the smell of sunscreen. But what if I told you there was more to sun protection than SPF?

I enjoy the warm rays against my skin like everyone else—especially after a cool and rainy spring that just never seemed to end. Knowing, however, that 90% of of visible signs of aging (think wrinkles, fine lines, and sun spots) is sun-induced and that prevalence of skin cancer is on the rise, I think twice about venturing outside unprotected.

Today, I’m sharing my current sun protection arsenal. I’ll admit that my arsenal has certainly transformed over the years—the umbrella and Indiana Jones style hat are gone—and I dare say these qualify for sun protection chic...if anyone was actually going to capture this. It’s been amazing to see that sun protection and prevention are finally getting the attention they deserve. More companies are coming out with more effective and fashionable options, and I can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon.

from head to toe...


Glamour meets function. I love my sun hat from Wallaroo. I have a petite head (read: child size) so I love that their hats have a camouflaged adjustable strap. Whereas most hats permit sun rays to peek through, these offer UPF 50+ (Ultraviolet Protection Factor), which means it’s lined with breathable cotton for extra protection. I have the Elsbeth felted one for the fall and winter and this Victoria Two-Toned one for warmer months. My less glamorous go-to is a baseball hat. It lacks the wide brim of a sun hat to protect the ears and neck, but I find it works the best on a windy day :) 


Crows feet aren’t a given. Sunglasses are not only essential for vision protection, but they are also key to protecting the skin around the eyes. 1) They prevent sun rays from directly damaging the delicate skin around the eyes and 2) They help reduce squinting which over years, can lead to crows feet and pesky wrinkles. Buy those that are 99% to 100% protective against UVA/UVB rays, also indicated by a rating of UV 400. These cost me $3 and get the job done.


As essential as brushing your teeth. I made it part of my routine many years ago, so now I don’t even think twice about it. I’ve tried many sunscreens over the years, but lately I’ve fallen in love with Elta MD’s Pure formulation. Rather than relying on chemical-based sunscreens that absorb UVA/UVB rays, it uses physical blockers like 10% Titanium Dioxide and 5.5% Zinc Oxide. Their Clear formulation, 9% zinc oxide, goes on virtually transparent so I'll use it when I'm wearing darker clothes that may show the Pure formulation. I’ve tried some other natural brands but had to switch when they caused me to break out. Look for non-comedogenic formulations if you’re acne-prone like me. I use this without additional moisturizer in the warmer months, but if you have drier skin, I recommend applying it on top of your regular moisturizer.   

I apply a nickel-size dollop to my face and neck. Some to my hands, and then if I’m more exposed, a huge dollop to the rest of my body. But, if I know I’m going to be outdoors for an extended period, UPF clothes are my go-to (more on that below).


For soft, supple, and cancer-free smackers. Just like the skin around your eyes is fragile and wrinkle-prone, so are your lips. Lip balm with SPF is key to preventing sunburnt, chapped lips and more importantly, the risk of skin cancer. I like EcoLips SPF 15 with Zinc Oxide; it’s made from a silky smooth combo of beeswax and fair-trade coconut oil and cocoa butter and flavored with essential oils. It goes on a little opaque but you can always cover it up with lip tint.


The new favorite way to reapply. We all know we’re supposed to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, but there’s nothing fun or sexy about smearing a layer of lotion over your face midday. Here’s where powder sunscreen comes in. Not only is it portable, but it’s mattifying, doesn’t smudge your makeup, and can be applied again and again. I’ve used both Colorscience and BrushOnBlock, but I love how BrushonBlock has a nifty powder refill.


The ultimate protection. I remember when my Mom first gifted me a shirt with UPF 50 (ultraviolet protection factor) several years ago—it was all function, no fashion. Not only was it unshapely, but it was made of a thick, insulating material that I sweated buckets in. Lucky for us, there are quite a few new companies designing fashionable AND functional UPF gear. UPF is a rating given to clothes and indicates how much of the sun’s rays (UVA and UVB) pass through. A plain cotton t-shirt, for example, has a UPF 5 which means 1/5 of the sun’s rays penetrate whereas a shirt with UPF 50 allows only 1/50 of the sun’s rays to penetrate. I’ve been in Kastel Denmark nearly everyday this spring. I first discovered them at a dermatolgist’s office, and I love that their fabric is super light, nearly all of their gear has breathable vents(!) along non sun-exposed seams, and that their cuts are totally chic. Other brands with UPF styles to check out are Coolibar and Mott50.

My husband and I at Muir Beach in northern California a few weeks ago. I'm sporting my EltaMD sunscreen, EcoLips SPF lip balm, Kastel UPF 30 pullover, UPF pants, sunglasses, and a baseball hat.

My husband and I at Muir Beach in northern California a few weeks ago. I'm sporting my EltaMD sunscreen, EcoLips SPF lip balm, Kastel UPF 30 pullover, UPF pants, sunglasses, and a baseball hat.

What are your sun protection essentials?