Sunscreen, Botox, and Kim K's Latest Lie.
A pre-summer primer for all your burning skincare questions.
Hello, sun bunnies! Memorial Day weekend has come to pass, which means summer has *unofficially* kicked off. If you have been a reader of this newsletter for some time, then you know I’m rather pushy about the use of sunscreen. After two skincare guides and one newsletter dedicated entirely to SPF itself, I’ve saved up a few reader questions about sun protection and summer skincare as we move into the balmy days ahead.
Hey Jess! I agree that we should wear sunscreen every day but what do you think about the common advice that you should re-apply every three hours? That feels like a lot to me. Also, I never know if I’m using enough! I’m afraid if I am always applying it, then it’s gonna break me out. Thoughts? — Rebecca, via Instagram
Hi Rebecca! You will not shrivel up like a California raisin if you don’t apply sunscreen every three hours. Honestly, the only time I re-apply halfway through the day is if I’ve been sweating or if I’ve showered. If I’m inside at my desk all day in air conditioning thennnnn I probably don’t, sorry skincare gurus! And for the record, if where you work is dark, you may not need to wear indoor sunscreen, I just sit in front of a lot of HUGE windows. In terms of using “enough,” I like the two-finger rule, just two skinny lines up my index and middle finger. That’s usually enough for my face, neck, and ears. If you’re worried about it breaking you out, don’t! There are lots of great formulas out there for every skin type. La Roche Posay has many — I love their formula for sensitive eyes.
Hey lady! Quick question. Been looking at Sephora and feeling a little overwhelmed. Is the SPF in makeup enough? — Radhika, via email
Short answer: naw. It isn’t. You should definitely still start with a base layer of sunscreen. But using makeup with SPF on TOP of that definitely can’t hurt! I even have a setting spray with SPF! There are also powders with SPF if you get shiny. All of these are nice for a little protective boost but they can’t carry the sun protection load all on their own. Think of them as a supporting cast, not the main player. (Here’s a great video on how much powder sunscreen you’d actually have to use to get adequate protection.)
Hiiiiiiiii darling I keep getting pushed this beauty podcast called Stay the F*ck Out of The Sun. I have not listened to it yet and I’m sure it’s lovely but the title triggers me a little. Do we really need to just stay out of the sun completely?? — Lauren, via Instagram
Hiii yourself, darling. I don’t know about you, but I love the sun. It (quite literally) makes me happy. It staves off depression. It regulates my sleep! Vitamin D is good for you, science says so. Does that mean I think you should slather yourself in baby oil and sizzle yourself like a sunny-side-up egg? No! I know it’s not as sexy or catchy as the title of that podcast, but the OG — the American Cancer Society, that is — is still drumming the same beat you’ve heard since childhood: wear a hat! Take breaks! Find some shade! Sunscreen! The sun is not a villain, it is literally life itself. Please do not hide indoors because some self-appointed internet beauty guru’s made you scared of wrinkles.
Also, nobody asked, but I would like to take a moment to stump on the topic of Kim Kardashian’s skincare line. A quote from the New York Times write up:
Despite being late to the zillion-step regimens popularized by Korean skin care brands, Ms. Kardashian is hawking a lengthy routine. Her nine-step system “might seem scary to some,” she said. “That’s why I’m here — to break it down, to be like, ‘They’re all necessary.’” If any step is to be eliminated, it’s the exfoliators (there are two), which, depending on your skin, don’t require daily use.
Bih, what? NINE STEPS? First of all, that is ridiculous. You do not need nine steps, full stop. (If you bought all nine steps, it would ring up at around a grand, btw.) If you don’t believe me, simply ask literally any dermatologist with an actual medical degree. But what annoys me more than the clunky routine or even the astronomical price tag here is the lack of transparency.
We know Kim K’s entire value proposition is her look, and it absolutely makes sense for her to profit from it. She is one of the most famous people in the world. The pressure, cruelty, and scrutiny she’s faced are unfathomable to the average woman. So skincare is a natural brand evolution when her every pore has been zoomed in on for the last 15 years. And make no mistake, her skin is flawless.
I have nice skin too. Part of it is genetics. I never had obtrusive acne or rosacea, and my skin flare-ups can mostly be attributed to minor annoyances. And I certainly use skincare products! But my morning routine these days is usually three steps: splash water on my face, Vitamin C serum, and sunscreen. For a regular evening, it’s a face wash, and then either an AHA/BHA or Retinol, sometimes neither, followed by moisturizer. I drink lots of water! I use a humidifier at night! I do sincerely believe wearing sunscreen religiously and using retinol make a very significant difference!
But I also spent $3,000 two weeks ago on Botox in my forehead and brows, and filler in my cheeks and chin. Six months ago, I spent another $2,000 on the same. And later this month, I am scheduled for my third round of Morpheus 8, which is a micro-needling procedure that retails for around $1200 a round. Not to mention the lasers I go in for as-needed: Moxi, BBL, etc. Those treatments are the bulk of the reason my face looks good. Not a nine-step skincare routine.
And the same is true for Kim Kardashian. Her face is the work of the world’s best cosmetic surgeons, injectors, and laser-wielding facialists. But she can’t bottle that up and sell it to you, can she?
The “5-minute face” of makeup I put on — a little tinted moisturizer, a little dewy blush, maybe some lip balm, a quick sweep of bronzer (a.k.a “The Clean Look”) — I do feel I look better with it! And I looooove to play with makeup and skincare products. But let’s be real, the only reason my makeup takes me five minutes is because of the time and money I put in elsewhere, behind closed doors in the trusted hands of skilled women with needles and lasers. The 5-minute face is really the $5000 face, isn’t it? And it’s a MAJOR privilege to be able to afford it.
So Kim K, please stop telling people that a thousand-dollar skincare routine is going to produce your pores. Same to you Scarlett Johansen, Hailey Bieber, J.Lo… the list goes on. Celebrity skincare lines are a crock — because even if these women were using CeraVe from Target, their flawless faces would be (more importantly) meticulously maintained in a doctor’s office. Take care of your skin with stuff you can buy at Sephora? For sure, don’t skip it. Sunscreen and water are just good sense. But don’t be fooled, Kim Kardashian’s face isn’t in a bottle, it’s from a scalpel.
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