I have always been predominantly Irish by heritage (as far as I know, at least that’s what they tell me). That equals: pasty and translucent for most of the year except for maybe two weeks at the end of August. I did live in Hong Kong as a kid but never really got a tan because it’s not really the place where you tan and when I lived in Bali for 2 years in my early 20s, I did get a great arm-tan because I was always on my motorbike running errands. My work involved a LOT of schlepping. Because of the Irish and French and potentially some German in me, I’ve always been prone to burning, and I just never thought twice about lathering up with a nice ol’ factor 40+ so the sun couldn’t get at me. So, when the doctors and pharmacists warned me that my medications would make me very sensitive to sunlight, I wasn’t that phased. Although, since then, I’ve gone through moments where I would get a little manic about it. I’ve also started a hat collection. So far this includes a Yankees cap I stole from my father and a floppy hat I found in Woodstock. I need some help on the hat front.
But, yes, after transplant, I had the fear of god put in me about even stepping in the sun. I was on a high dose of Prednisone (a commonly used steroid). This is the main medication that makes you very sensitive to the sun. So I would go outside covered up, wear long skirts and oversized muumuus. I was, at the time, 200 pounds or 91 kgs (I had oedema from surgery, having been pumped with fluids). After my rejection episode in 2016, I had a lot of trauma and it manifested in the most surprising ways. On the same day the above photo was taken, I threw a total wobbly about being in the sun. I was away with friends, for the first time since my discharge from the hospital and it was all a bit overwhelming. I sat by this bucolic setting in upstate New York and just started crying and couldn’t stop, for a while, about the idea of being in the sun, about having to wear the sunscreen, about the idea of getting skin cancer from doing something wrong. My friend Michael, who has had his own set of health issues in the past and is very zen about the whole thing, talked me off a ledge and made me feel a lot more at ease. The point is: I am absolutely still afraid of being in the sun, of getting a tan, of getting skin cancer and lesions, of making sure I’m protected year-round (especially since I’m so forgetful) but I can’t let it take up too much space in my head, otherwise I’ll drive myself round the bend. And there is already enough of that to go around. All I can do is be informed and responsible and make sure I don’t bake like a potato at midday with body oil on (which is probably not recommended for anyone, ever). And put good products on my skin. The not tanning thing doesn’t bother me, and I have never liked sitting on the beach. It’s so hot! You can’t read! It’s so sandy! Your phone always does that thing where it says TOO HOT with an exclamation mark! Why do people love it so much? I think everyone who likes the beach is a liar.
After my initial surgeries in the summer of 2015, we went into winter and wearing sunscreen wasn’t as much of an issue, but I had some great tinted moisturizer for my face (SPF 42) that my aunt gave me, which is great and which I’ll list here. Then I started researching other non-toxic products because I already knew the regular stuff wasn’t the best in terms of ingredients. Which took me down a crazy rabbit hole, because sunscreen is really one of the most toxic products we can put on our bodies and as I’ve said before if I’m putting massive doses of chemicals into my body each day, I’d rather put the least toxic products available to me onto my skin (or make my own).
So this is what I’ve been using thus far, I’m still searching for the perfect one but I do like these products.
I really like their SPF 30 Unscented Moisturizer, it’s light, it keeps you protected and it hits all the big things you want from an organic skincare company. I haven’t tried any of their other products but I’ve read good things.
I have the Eco-Formula SPF 30 but they have a whole range, I also got the little EcoStick which is good for when you forget to put on your hands and neck in the winter (I am very forgetful), I just carry it around with me in my handbag.
This is the one I was given and it’s great, it’s light and it’s free of all the bad stuff. It’s not the most eco-friendly company, but I do think it’s also good bang for your buck as I’ve had mine for 8 months and still have yet to finish it.
Listen, I know what you’re thinking, is this bitch crazy? She wants me to spend that amount on sun creams when I can just get Banana Boat and be done with it? Well, you could, and that’s your prerogative. But I will say 2 things about that. I understand it’s pricey, and I baulked at the prices at first too, but for me, it’s an investment in my skin, that I won’t necessarily have to deal with anything down the line and that I can be confident that I’m using something that is non-toxic and I recognize all the ingredients in the products is a huge plus. The other thing is, this stuff honestly lasts forever, it takes me a good six months to get through my stash. If you work it out to PPU (pay per use), it’s actually reasonable. Buying the crappy stuff, in my opinion, is like cutting your nose to spite your face. You can also make your own, which is the best and cheapest option. For now, if you’re interested in any of these: go forth and fuel the global economy!