Here comes the sun

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I want to preface this post by explicitly stating that the contents of this post were not in any way sponsored. No products mentioned throughout the post were given to me for consideration. This post isn’t written with the intention of selling or recommending a specific product, although I have put an affiliate link in to Paula’s Choice in case you decide to check out the brand. I consider this post to be an opportunity to share something with you I feel passionate about, and encourage you to expect more from whatever brand of skin care products your prefer.

I’ve always had combination skin. Whilst I’ve never suffered from acne, I experience hormonal breakouts and have heavily congested pores in the most oily areas of my face. It’s not problem skin by any means but I’ve always been motivated to use products that fit my skin’s profile.

In Australia we’re lectured the importance of sun protection from a very young age. Slip on a t-shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat before going outdoors between 10-2 (although these days it’s more like 10-5 in the middle of summer). We’re taught that getting sunburnt is bad and can lead to cancer; but we’re not educated on “invisible” sun damage. Just because you didn’t get burned doesn’t mean your skin hasn’t suffered. “Invisible” sun damage causes premature aging. It’s only been in recent years that I’ve fully realised how much of an impact “invisible” sun damage can have. It effects people of all complexions but is exacerbated by the fact that I am very fair, so I’ve made it my mission to find skin care products that contain SPF.

My personal issues can be broken down into three categories; shine control, hydration, sun protection.

Many facial moisturisers on the market contain SPF but most of them are designed for normal – dry skin profiles and leave my skin feeling gelatinous and slimy. It was the same for sunscreens designed ‘for the face’. Meanwhile, shine control and hydration sound like an oxymoron but many moisturisers marketed as “mattifying” leave my combination skin feeling tight and flaky.

I wasted so much money looking for and trying products recommended by sales assistants with no intimate knowledge of my skin profile. Quite by random one day I found a facial moisturiser by Nivea Visage in the supermarket which claimed to have a mattifying effect and contained SPF 15. I couldn’t believe after so many years that this might be my holy grail moisturiser. I brought it home and fell in love with it immediately. I used it generously all over my face and neck every day; it was an absolute pleasure on my skin. But I had an uneasy feeling in my subconscious – somehow I had a premonition that because I loved it, it was going to be discontinued. I bought five tubes and by the time I made my way through them all I discovered my premonition was correct.

I began my weary mission again, and was disheartened that in that time nothing new had come out to fulfil my requirements. Eventually I found a sales assistant who said that just because stores weren’t carrying the Nivea facial moisturiser didn’t mean it wasn’t available and offered to order it in. I was beside myself with joy but after waiting two gruelling weeks where I tortured my skin with the awful oily BB creams and drying lotions I’d previously discarded in the back of my cupboard, I went back to the pharmacy to discover that Nivea had replaced the product with a different shine control facial moisturiser – that did not contain sunscreen.

Nobody in the store seemed to understand why I was so angry, and this is the crux of my rant and this post. In this day and age, with as much knowledge that we have about sun damage, how could this have happened? Almost every woman wants to prevent looking old before her time. Including sunscreen in skin care products is the most simple way to avoid western society’s biggest beauty hang-up. And don’t even get me started on the more serious health consequences of sun damage such as melanoma and other skin cancers. Yet skin care companies are STILL manufacturing products without any SPF content and even REPLACING products that did contain sunscreen with products that don’t. It’s fundamentally ethically irresponsible.

There’s no such thing as too much sun protection. Many foundations and other beauty products are also popping up with SPF content and that’s fantastic. But it doesn’t negate the responsibility that basic skin-care products such as moisturisers should contain SPF content. This extends across every category since it’s our hands and décolletés (upper chest/collarbone region) that often give our age away before our faces.


Thankfully, I have finally found a line of products that meet my needs. I’ve been using Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Cleanser for a few months now but recently discovered that founder Paula Begoun is emphatic about sun protection as I am. All of their daytime facial moisturisers has SPF 30 in it. They offer several skin care ranges that cover a wide range of skin concerns such as rosacea, redness and uneven skin tone, eczema, dryness, acne, congestion, enlarged pores, and other sensitivities – and still magically manage to include sun protection in EVERY SINGLE ONE (if it doesn’t have SPF it’s meant for night use).

I wrote an e-mail laced with bitter disappointment to Nivea Australia yesterday seeking answers. In the mean time I am enjoying going through the thirty samples I bought from Paula’s Choice, working out exactly which facial moisturiser and other line products my skin responds best to. If this is something you guys are interested in I will be happy to follow up on this once I’m done. But at the very least please consider switching your facial moisturiser for one that contains sun protection! Your skin will thank you.

(Of course, the other major factor that leads to premature aging is smoking. Like sun damage, smoking can give you cancer; but I have a feeling that if anti-smoking marketing was targeted to appeal to our vanity, the campaigns would be more successful. Smoking is damaging your beautiful face.)


These products sound great, but when I looked at the ingredients they are absolutely stuffed full of sulphates, which is a huge issue.

Cassie shared this comment on 04 March 2014 at 12:29 PM

@ Cassie – Actually only two of the products in the Skin Balancing range contain a sulfate ingredient; the cleanser and the toner. It is present as an emulsifier and according to Paula’s Choice this is a safe ingredient. There is an incredibly extensive ingredient dictionary on the Paula’s Choice website and none of the sulfates listed suggest that they are a dangerous ingredient. You can read more about those ingredients here: Can you give me more information on your personal opinion/understanding of sulfates? Is this something you personally react to or does it apply to your understanding of skin care ingredients in general? I would like to understand more so I can make an informed decision, obviously deriving all of my information directly from Paula’s Choice is bias so if you could point me in the direction of other information I’d be grateful.

Miss Ghost shared this comment on 04 March 2014 at 12:41 PM

Ah, I should have noticed that you were looking at a particular range. One of the moisturisers I was interested in contained a sulphate (Sodium Laureth Sulphate) which many natural skincare companies claim is safe (see: Aesop) but is not. I shouldn’t have just paraphrased by saying “sulphates” – there’s a lot more in her ingredients (and the Skin Balancing range) that are considered unsafe, namely Dimethicone which are in Paula’s Choice products. You can read a little more about that here:

I have been lucky with my skin, in that I have little reactions to any skin care, but I absolutely refuse to put anything on my skin that I wouldn’t ingest. Our skin is our biggest organ and many people forget that we absorb substances through our skin. Putting these kinds of “lab experiment” ingredients on our skin is in my mind, asking for trouble.

The only moisturiser I will use is made locally in Brunswick by Soap Club, and if I can’t get that I use rosehip oil or jojoba, applied sparingly. I wash my face with nothing other than water. Sunscreen is much harder, and I’m currently trying a brand I found at Naturally on High in Thornbury, but I’m still not too sure of it. I just make sure to wear a hat and generally stay out of the sun.

I understand that this won’t be for everyone (and some may label me as pedantic – so be it) but I feel like it’s only fair to apply the same consideration to my skin that I do the rest of my body. I don’t go (willingly!) ingesting chemicals, so why would I put them on my skin?

Cassie shared this comment on 04 March 2014 at 1:02 PM

although it has since come to my attention that the ingredients in the Soap Club moisturiser has changed to include phenoxyethanol (, so I’ll be on the lookout for a new moisturiser soon, or will just continue my use of roseship/jojoba, which works well.

Cassie shared this comment on 04 March 2014 at 1:06 PM

I have similar skin issues to you, though I had had acne before. The most pressing issue for me being pore congestion and general texture of my skin. Also, sunscreen is mega important and I’ve been wearing it daily without fail since my early 20s. It hasn’t stopped the sun damage from my years growing up in sunny Western Australia but I hope it’s slowed down any damage from the time I started wearing it.
Anywho – I use MD Formulations sun care (this one: ) as its inexpensive and doesn’t make my skin gross like all other products have in the past. Its really quite light in texture and doesn’t leave any film or residue or sheen. I then layer moisturiser on top – that way, I dont have to worry about finding a moisturiser that has SPF in it.

As for all those ‘natural’ products, I’ve always found them woefully deficient when it comes to looking after combo and congested skin. Natural doesn’t mean safe – so I tend to lean towards the medicine side of skincare rather than those marketed ‘organic’ (though there are brands that cross over like Dr Hauschka)

Esz shared this comment on 04 March 2014 at 1:38 PM

(please check your spam folder as I think my comment may have disappeared there because it contained a link to StrawberryNet) :-D

Esz shared this comment on 04 March 2014 at 1:39 PM

I used a moisturiser with a sunscreen in it for many years, but after numerous conversations while getting facials I was recommended that you’re often not getting the best of both the moisturiser and the sunscreen if they’re a combined product. So I now use separate products and don’t find it a hassle, and also feel like this sunscreen is probably working a lot better in protecting me
But I think the whole issue is tricky because different things work for different people!
This is also an interesting discussion:

Rachael shared this comment on 04 March 2014 at 1:43 PM

Ah, I’ve been using this particular range of products for roughly a year now and I’m very happy with it. I have combination skin as well, and ever since I swapped my old skin care routine for the Skin Balancing range (cleanser, toner, exfoliant, moisturizer + spf for daytime and moisturizer without spf for nighttime), my skin has been looking and feeling much better. I live in The Netherlands and we rarely have very sunny days here (we often joke about only having two seasons: spring and fall, since it doesn’t get very cold during winter or very hot during summer), so education on sun protection is severely lacking. We only get told to apply sunscreen when we spend a day outdoors in summer (and it happens to actually be sunny), but that’s as far as education goes. I’ve been religiously using my moisturizer + spf every single day for a year now though, and the changes in my skin are amazing. I used to have some very visible hyper pigmentation around my eyes, and that has now completely disappeared. Not only did this new moisturizer protect my skin from further sun damage, it also helped restoring damage already done! I did find these products to become a little drying on my skin after a while, so I just recently swapped the cleanser and moisturizer + spf for the Hydralight range which is a little more moisturizing. Not sure how I feel about the switch yet, as I find it does make my makeup last a bit shorter. Oh, I can also highly recommend the lip balm by Paula’s Choice. I’ve tried dozens of lip balms over the years, and this is the only one that really works for me.

Anita shared this comment on 04 March 2014 at 1:45 PM

@ Esz – Yes it did, thank you for letting me know, I’ve rescued it! x

Miss Ghost shared this comment on 04 March 2014 at 2:16 PM

@ Rachael – This is an interesting thought that maybe the sunscreen doesn’t function as well being mixed with a moisturiser. As yet I haven’t found a sunscreen that doesn’t make my skin feel greasy. I even found a “matte” sunscreen by Sunsense but even with primer my makeup is sliding down my face after only a few hours. Thanks for the fruity beauty link I will check it out!

Miss Ghost shared this comment on 04 March 2014 at 2:18 PM

I would be curious to try them too!

Fashion Musings Diary shared this comment on 04 March 2014 at 6:37 PM

i must support Rachael’s statement about using separate products. It often happens that the ingredients of sunscreen block the absorption of valuable ingredients in moisturizer. There is one excellent sunscreen out there, with beautiful and minimal list of ingredients, called Pratima. It is famous among die-hard skincare DIY-ers even, which are possibly the pickiest of all. Look for the reviews.
Cosmetic industry is full of lies. Once you do some research you’ll learn that the truth is much simpler than they try to present it. There are only a couple of actives and products with proven benefits: topical Vitamin C, retinol, sunscreen, AHA’s and BHA’s. I’ve spend huge amount of hours reading and researching, and it all boils down to these. I can point you to some articles, forums and products, if you are interested.
(i’m not selling anything, i’m just a very curious fashion designer)

dustUP shared this comment on 04 March 2014 at 9:11 PM

Wow thank you so much all for your well researched information and thoughtful responses. There’s a lot I didn’t know about sunscreen!

@dustUP – Paula Begoun was originally an author of books such as Don’t Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me, about the shady practices within the cosmetics/skin care industry. She didn’t start her line of skin care products until years later, so I have a certain element of trust that her skincare line only contains ingredients that actually work. My last order came with a book full of industry ‘myths’ and ‘truths’ which certainly ruin the marketing intentions of many big-name brands.

Again, relying on Paula’s information alone means my understanding is heavily bias but a lot of what I’ve learnt through her writing is validated by other things I’m turning up now and even what you’ve mentioned here. If you’re very interested you might want to check out her book!

Miss Ghost shared this comment on 05 March 2014 at 9:22 AM

dustUP – I would love to see those articles, too!

Cassie shared this comment on 05 March 2014 at 10:51 AM

Miss Ghost – thanks for answer! My quest started with Paula’s book and website which triggered me to go deeper and further into subject, they are both excellent source of references. I truly appreciate her willingness to educate and her products are good. There is something so odd with that industry and it becomes clear with further research, which point to a couple of simple facts and conclusions, which i mentioned previously. For example, you educated yourself enough to know the benefits of vit C, then you discover that there are many forms of it, some stable, some even phototoxic and that they all need to be in certain % to be beneficial. So now, you know that you want cream with vit C in form of MAP, for example, in min 15% and you know it needs to be in silicon free formula to be useful at all, but you still want it to be elegant and pleasurable to use, plus you want to be as organic as possible and packed with other valuable actives. The more you read, the more it becomes apparent that this simple point of view is not the starting point of cosmetic companies, your priorities and theirs are not the same. You might find cream that has vit C, but the percentage is not listed per default (complete formulas are proprietary and patented, but listing the % of actives SHOULD be the selling point!). Things like that.
Paula’s 2% BHA liquid is awesome and perfect and you’ll benefit from it the most, but in her moisturizers silicons Cyclomethicone and Dimethicone are listed 3rd and 4th, far above any active ingredients. They do make the cream feel elegant and make a nice smooth barrier on the skin making it appear moisturized. Dunno why she makes such choices, wish she didn’t.

dustUP shared this comment on 06 March 2014 at 1:44 AM

Just to add, silicons are not bad, they add necessary slip to your make up, for example, but in products like moisturizers, that are supposed to be beneficial and full of actives, they act like “make up” for skincare, making everything smooth and nice while not adding anything useful, quite the opposite.

Thanks for listening!

dustUP shared this comment on 06 March 2014 at 2:04 AM


Jane shared this comment on 06 March 2014 at 5:51 AM

A topic straight to my heart. In fact, I just posted about this!!! I was interested to read the comments around keeping sun protection and hydration products separate. I think I have to agree if you want/need serious sun protection. My two favourite SPF 50+ sunscreens at the moment are purely that (La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer) though they layer well with makeup. With all the talk of sulphates, it’s interesting nanoparticles haven’t come up. Almost all foundational sunscreens use these for the sheer effect and the research about harmful effect is inconclusive. My conclusion has been, better to prevent sun damage than avoid certain chemical ingredients.

Lucinda shared this comment on 14 March 2014 at 3:30 PM

I’ve used Paula’s Choice for about 6 years now and absolutely LOVE it. It’s made a huge difference to my skin and I’ve managed to convert a few of my friends. Great products, the latest proven ingredients and research and fantastic prices. I also like how transparent and informative they are – not only about their products but also everyone else’s. The US site has user reviews which are very helpful.

Luisa shared this comment on 18 March 2014 at 12:09 PM

Hi, I came across this brand quite recently and remembered that you were a fan of it! The only issue is, I can’t seem to find a stockist in Australia… Did you have any luck or are you buying it directly from the PC website in the US? Cheers.

Lana shared this comment on 11 May 2014 at 8:30 PM


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