IT'S SUMMER! ALWAYS WEAR SUNSCREEN / by Nora Logan

I have always been predominantly Irish (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 in 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. 

 Just casually applying some sunscreen by a pond wearing a scarf in June with shorts to balance it out. Photo by  Lenny Kohlmayer

Just casually applying some sunscreen by a pond wearing a scarf in June with shorts to balance it out. Photo by Lenny Kohlmayer

But, yes, after transplant, I had the fear of god put in me about even stepping in the sun. I was on high doses of Prednisone (a commonly used steroid), and I still am today. This is the main medication that makes you very sensitive to the sun. So I would go outside covered up, wear a lot of long skirts and a LOT of oversized muumuus. I was, at the time, 200 pounds or 91 kgs (I had edema from surgery and being pumped with fluids). More recently, the same day the above photo was taken, I threw a bit of a wobbly about being in the sun. I was away with friends, for the first time since my most recent episode of rejection 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. 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 go mental. 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. 

 Genuine elation at stepping on grass for the first time after hospital, which was one of my goals. Photos and goals thanks to the incomparable Karina Geiger. Beautiful abaya covering my massively stretched body thanks to  Pitusa . Check the umbrella I'm holding, doubles as parasol.

Genuine elation at stepping on grass for the first time after hospital, which was one of my goals. Photos and goals thanks to the incomparable Karina Geiger. Beautiful abaya covering my massively stretched body thanks to Pitusa. Check the umbrella I'm holding, doubles as parasol.

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 aunty 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. 

Coola

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.

Raw Elements

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. 

Elta MD

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 for $10 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 balked 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. I have had both the Raw Elements and the Coola products since December 2015 and I still have a lot, and granted I didn't use the body cream everyday in winter, but a little goes a long way. 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. And it's mega easy. I'll post about making your own sunscreen another day. For now, if you're interested in any of these: go forth and fuel the global economy!