Tag Archives: sunscreen


One of the best things about hitting up the City Pharma in Paris is getting the ludicrous deals on Vichy sunscreen. On our honeymoon two years ago in Paris, we were only just starting what would be our three weeks of roasting in the July sun from the city of love right down to Positano, in the south of Italy. Continue reading VICHY // IDÉAL SOLEIL SUNSCREEN


It seems like everyone is wearing either a Nike+FuelBand or an UP by Jawbone to monitor their everyday movements and activity to manage their weight, help them sleep better and remind them when they haven’t reached their 10,000 step goal for the day. There are apps that analyze your sleep to wake you up at the perfect time based on Circadian rhythm, and calendar apps that determine when your period arrive. Continue reading NEWS // JUNE: THE BRACELET THAT MONITORS YOUR SUN INTAKE


Summer is here! Finally! And this weekend will be nice and long thanks to Canada Day. So to prep for all those days spent outdoors at the cottage or in the city on a patio, I’ve asked Dr. Sarah Gora, PhD, Scientific and Medical Relations Leader of Vichy Canada to answer all of my burning (ha) questions on sunscreen–from wearing it indoors, to the mysterious UVA rays, and how else we can protect ourselves against the sun.

Remember: Sunscreen is proven to fight skin aging–so unless you want to look like an old leather handbag by the age of 40, lather up and wear a hat!

Thanks again to Vichy and Dr. Gora for taking the time to respond to my questions.


What is the difference between chemical and physical sunscreen? Which ones should we use?

Sunscreen ingredients can be classified in two categories: organic (chemical) or physical. Organic filters have the ability to absorb the different UV rays, whereas physical filters, like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, work by reflecting the UV rays, with a less extend on UVA compared to some organic filters. So it is not necessary to choose one of the two but you can use a combination of both filter types that ensures a protection against UVA & UVB and adapted to sensitive skin, if you need so.

How often do we really need to reapply?
One should apply sunscreen 20 minutes prior to going outside to ensure the sunscreen has sufficient time to absorb into the skin and offer 100% protection. As a general rule, you should re-apply every 2 hours and of course, after being in the water or heavy heat/sweating.
Some people don’t think sunscreen is necessary on rainy or overcast days or in the colder months. Can you bust this myth?
Temperature is definitely not a good indicator about potential damage of UV rays exposure. Even if they are partly filtered, UV rays are not absorbed by clouds and neither rain (high cloud cover only stops the penetration of 5-10% of UV). Furthermore they are reflected by water and snow and that increases your exposure. It is good to remember that UVA (95% of UV rays), are present throughout the year contrary to UVB which is stronger in summer.

How much sunscreen should we be using per application?
You should apply a quantity enough to cover the uncovered area. The recommended quantity is about 30 ml for an adult’s body so the equivalent of a golf ball. For the new Capital Soleil InvisibleMist we recommend spraying the arms for 3 seconds, the legs for 4 seconds and the front and back for 4 seconds, then rub in with circular motions.
What is the minimum SPF everyone should be wearing?
The choice of the SPF should be oriented by the phototype (the skin tolerance to UV radiation and its ability to synthesis melanin) and sun condition. It is recommended to wear a borad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA & UVB protection) with a minimum SPF of 30, even for dark skin tone. For example people with very fair skin should use SPF 50 and more.
Why should we avoid alcohol in spray sunscreens?
A high content of alcohol in a sunscreen can leave the skin feeling dry (or even cause a stinging sensation) which can irritate people with sensitive skin.  It is also a personal preference, many people choose to only use products that are alcohol-free. And not to mention that accidents have happened in the past when an alcohol based sunscreen was applied too close to an open flame!
What is the importance of using a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays?
UVAs are the more abundant rays received and penetrate deeply through the skin. They are responsible for immediate pigmentation, skin ageing and skin cancer. Whereas UVBs cause sunburn, epidermal thickening and skin cancers.

I’ve read that sunscreen is just one way of protecting ourselves. What else can we do?
Sunscreen is a good way to be protected from UV rays but it is not enough and should be completed with other protection like clothing, wear factor 3 sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. We recommend to avoid exposure during the peak hours, i.e. between 11 am and 4 pm, when UV radiation–particularly UVB–is at its highest.

Do we need to wear sunscreen in the shade or in a car?
You don’t need to wear a sunscreen when indoors but shade made by an umbrella is not good enough to block UV rays. But you should be protected if you are exposed through a window like in your car. As contrary to UVB which produces an immediate reaction (sunburn), UVA pass through glass and penetrate into the skin deeply to cause silent and invisible damage day after day.
What are the long-term effects of sunburns?
Sunburns are the visible sign of over-exposure, they are mainly causes by UVB rays. But even before sun burn, unprotected exposure to UV ray affect skin’s support fibres and rise the synthesis of oxidising substances. The erythema or sun burn manifests an inflammatory reaction and may also cause DNA damage. These damages build up and can cause in long-term photo-aging and skin cancer in epidermal and dermal cells.
How often should we replace our sunscreen? Can I still use my bottle from last year?
Sun protection products generally have a 3 year shelf-life, unopened! A product that you open this year should never be used next year, since the temperature variations to which it is subjected after opening can affect the stability of the filters it contains.
Does a higher SPF sunscreen always protect your skin better?
A high SPF index represents a higher level of protection but it shouldn’t be the reason to expose longer! And it is important to remember that SPF is only an UVB factor and do not represent the UVA protection. It is therefore important to choose a SPF (min 30) accordingly to the photype/sun condition AND to have a UVA protection.
Those who don’t have fairer complexions often argue that they don’t burn, so they have no need for sunscreen. Is that true?
Dark skin tone has a natural sun protection related to their high concentration in melanin but this is not sufficient. Sun exposure can cause skin lesions of varying severity, ranging from premature aging of the skin, sunburn, or melanoma (skin cancer). Dark skin has a lower risk to develop a melanoma than a fair skin but excessive exposure to the sun damages all skin phototype. 



This one is for all of you out there that don’t wear sunscreen because you’re scared of breaking out.

I have found your solution.

Not only does Elta MD’s Clear Sunscreen for Breakout-Prone Skin hydrate, but it also protects (SPF), calms skin, fades scarring and prevents breakouts (!!!) with the help of niacinamide (anti-inflammatory) and lactic acid (exfoliating AHA).

It’s a silky white cream that leaves no white residue behind. It completely absorbs into skin without leaving a greasy layer, a sunscreen smell, or pilling (my enemy no.1). Truly weightless and does not leave the feeling of wearing a sunscreen whatsoever. Really, the best sunscreen I have ever used (I know, I said it).

This cream uses the magic of zinc oxide to create a physical barrier from the sun, instead of chemical (which can irritate some sensitive skins or cause breakouts).

A must have for summer in my books.

EltaMD can be found at One to One Studio in Toronto. To find Elta MD at a location near you, complete BeautyNext’s store locator form.



Did all you Torontonians go to the Vichy Skin Health Centre this weekend? If you didn’t have your world shaken with your own UV damage photo, then I am here to help.

One look at my photo tells you all you need to know about places you are forgetting to apply sunscreen. Since this is the first (relatively) warm, sunny day we’ve had in months, this is the perfect time to start thinking about sunscreen again (though you really should be wearing it all year round, anyways).

So, anyone who takes a look at my photo can see that the parts that have darker freckles are obviously the places I am missing when I’m slathering on my sunscreen.

1. Edges of the face: Especially near my temps and my jawline.
2. Eyelids: Suncreen bottles will always tell you not to apply near the eye area, so be sure to pick up on of those sticks
3. Ears: Nobody remembers the ears, I swear. At least I never do.
4. Lips: Mine don’t look too bad, but I definitely don’t think about it. Usually the eye sticks will work for the lip area as well.
5. Neck: I really need to up my game on this one if I don’t want a turkey neck by age 30.

Other bonus areas not shown in photo:

Top of Feet
Top of Hands (they say your hands show your true age!)
Armpits (kinda gross, I know)

Since I already apply SPF 50 every morning, this year my sunscreen resolution is to try and remember these forgotten areas and force myself to reapply every time I go for a walk outside at lunch and to reapply again when I walk to the train. I’m definitely going to look into those sunscreen powders, cause I’m not sure I’m going to want to apply that much cream to my face when it’s that hot.

Also: fun fact! When you’re purchasing your ‘screen this year, be sure to check that the formula is “broad spectrum” (it should protect against both UVA & UVB rays). If you’re missing one, there is still a whole bunch of sun damage hitting your skin.

There are some really great sunscreens out there now that don’t leave a greasy finish and are super lightweight (my personal fave is Kiehl’s). I’ve included some favourites below.



If you’re in the Toronto area, you should make it a priority to drop by Vichy’s pop-up Skin Health Centre. For your skin’s good.

Regardless of whether or not you think you know what your skin type is, prepare to be a bit shocked. A Vichy expert will conduct four tests on your skin: they’ll do a patch test for skin type, measure hydration levels, look at your skin through a microscope and the most shocking one of all, the photo damage test.

My skin type was sort of what I assumed it would be: dry combination. Except, since I moisturize frequently, I thought for sure my skin wouldn’t still be dehydrated. Well, it was pretty darn low at 23.5. That surprised me. Looking through a microscope at my skin even grossed me out a bit–you can see every hair, freckle, and patches of yellow (oil). Yuck.

But nothing could have prepared me for the photo damage test. This quick photo shows all of the years of sun damage underneath your skin that hasn’t come to the surface yet. Now–I am someone who has always been pretty good about sunscreen. I’ve been wearing SPF 50 everyday for a few years now and before that I would usually get around SPF 25 in my moisturizer.

The photo on the right shows mostly my freckles and apparently my skin wasn’t bad at all. But it still really shocked me. Look at the dark spots on my neck and around my eyes! Sunscreen is important, people!

After your analysis, your Vichy expert will send your skin prescription to you and provide you with samples of the products recommended. Make sure there is a sunscreen in there (Vichy makes really great sunscreens, FYI).

The Vichy Skin Health Centre will be at the Toronto Eaton Centre until Sunday, March 30th. It is located on the lower level right outside of Forever XXI. 5 lucky winners will win their prescribed skin care routine!


Summer is coming (or shouldn’t it already be here?) and it’s time to lather up with some SPF (though you should really be wearing it all year round). Having SPF in your makeup is just not good enough. Most SPFs in makeup or tinted moisturizer can actually disappear and dissolve after application from rubbing the product with your fingers or with a makeup brush.

Since my facialist recommended that I stay away from heavy moisturizers and sunscreens, I decided I would see if I could beat my much-loved Kiehl’s. Thinking, what could be lighter than water?, I picked up Neutrogena’s Water-Light sunscreen. Really, what everyone hates most about sunscreen is:

1) applying it
2) the smell
3) how greasy it is
4) how shiny your face looks afterwards

With new formulations for sunscreen coming out all of the time, you really have no excuse to not be wearing sunscreen. Get with the times people. If you want to look like a gross leather handbag at 50, then be my guest and ignore this. Sun is the number one cause of aging. Why wouldn’t you stop it if you could?

This suncreen claimed to be extremely lightweight with a matte finish. I would say that this sunscreen is just as good as the Kiehl’s for a fraction of the price. They are equal in weight (or both “water-light” if you prefer) and don’t leave a greasy finish. They work perfectly under makeup so you really have no excuse not to use it. Neutrogena has an extra SPF factor of 10 compared to Kiehl’s but I’m still not sure whether or not anything above 50 is actually better than 50 (maybe someone knows more about this?).

In my opinion, it’s probably better to spend a little bit less on sunscreen if you’re going to be precious about applying a more expensive one. While not all drugstore sunscreens are equal (some of the cheap ones can cause rashes on some people), there is no point spending $50 on a sunscreen if you won’t want to apply it generously.

Remember to apply it a few times a day on your face, neck, decolleté and the backs of your hands. If you have any more doubts about why you should be using a separate sunscreen, Beautymouth has a great cheat sheet on SPF (all of her cheat sheets are great).