When I first mentioned writing about sunscreens to Juliette, my Love, Mom co-founder, she pretty much rolled her eyes and said that she couldn’t imagine a more boring topic (she’s content with buying whatever sunscreen is on sale). The beauty junkie in me was shocked. Every year I research sunscreens (especially new ones), read customer reviews, quiz all my beauty peeps about which ones they love, and then head out to the store after I’ve made my final choices (there’s never just one, but more on that later). While some may blame it on my beauty editor background, the truth is it’s because a few years ago my dad died of skin cancer, a disease that could have been prevented.
So here’s a bit of background: My parents were born in Jamaica. I was born in Jamaica. For as long as I remember I used to run around the beach with no clothes on (apparently I thought bathing suits were too restricting…) and limited sunscreen. But that was the ‘70s and I’m pretty sure the ozone didn’t have a huge hole in it back then. In my teens I basked in the suns of Greece, Mexico and here in Canada with little sun protection. Years later when I became a beauty editor, I learned the error of my ways and now always keep sunscreen at the ready. My dad by then had moved back to Jamaica and during our hour-long conversations I’d remind him to invest in some sunscreen. His answer was always a chuckle, and the insistence that he didn’t need it. He lived in Jamaica all his life, and he’d be fine.
Until that day when he wasn’t. There are so many details but the most important one is that he was diagnosed with skin cancer. He began treatment, but it was too late. I watched my strong, fun-loving, energetic dad suffer with pain from the disease and eventually, whittle away, all because he hadn’t thought sunscreen was important. I don’t know if wearing sunscreen would have saved my dad, but sadly, I’ll never know.
I’m not here to preach to you about the importance of wearing sunscreen, when to reapply, the anti-aging benefits, blah blah, blah. And I’m not here to discriminate about one formula to another (I use all-natural, mineral, non-mineral, etc). It’s up to you to decide what you prefer for you and your family. I just wanted to tell my story and hopefully inspire you to get as obsessed about a daily habit that’s a good thing for everyone.
My Sunscreen Picks for the Whole Family
I rotate up to ten formulas. I know it’s a lot, but I’ve found that to get everyone to wear sunscreen, you have to provide them the ones they like—and are happy to reapply.
For Lena (age 3): Aveeno Baby Sensitive Skin SPF 50, Avène Eau Thermale 50+ Spray for Children (Avène is pricey, but it’s super-light for a mineral sunscreen and absorbs exceptionally well. I just spray it into my hand before applying it to her face), and Babo Botanicals Sunscreen Stick SPF 30 (which she uses when she’s in a “me-do-it” phase). All offer mineral ingredients such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide that won’t irritate her sensitive skin.
For Zoë (age 7): Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Water-Light Daily Face Sunscreen and Sun Bum SPF 30. She carries one for her face to school and uses another for her body because she doesn’t like the usually, thick consistencies of some zinc oxide sunscreens.
For the husband: Neutrogena CoolDry Sport SPF 30. He’s easy to please. He likes a sweat-proof formula with a high SPF.
For myself: I have two for myself (one for the face that won’t make my makeup pill, another for the body that won’t leave my skin looking ashy). I alternate between a few favourites: Coppertone Clearly Sheer SPF 30, SkinCeuticals Physical Matte UV Defense SPF 50, and La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-fluid lotion SPF 60 for the face, and use Coppertone Clearly Sheer SPF 30 for body (for now).