I was never really the type to shy away from the sun. One of the phrases I remember most from when I was a child is “Kiana! Sunblock!” I’d spend hours and I mean HOURS in the ocean or in the pool, lying in the sand and hiking with my cousins. I started playing football in high school which meant spending even more time under the sun training or in tournaments. As I got older I got into surfing (no, I’m not very good) and hiking and well, all that sun took its toll on my skin.
A couple of years ago I noticed that parts of my face were whiter than usual and when I went to get checked I found out that it was something called hypopigmentation. YIKES! The sun had damaged my skin so badly that parts of my face weren’t producing melanin - the pigment that gives us our color! Although the doctor had reassured me that with the help of medical creams and time away from the sun my skin would go back to normal, I couldn’t stop thinking about all those times I heard “KIANA! SUNBLOCK!”
Since then I’ve been extra careful about my skin, so much so that I have a whole routine for when I’m at the beach or when I know I’ll be spending some time under the sun.
Because the skin on my face is still not in its best state,I start at night with my Marula Oil by John Paul Selects. The marula oil is actually something I use daily because it’s just the best at rejuvenating my skin. I just apply a few drops of it after I shower or wash off all the sun screen or makeup if I’m coming from work. It's fast absorbing and after a long day under the sun, or after wearing makeup for a long time, it deeply hydrates and restores my skin. I also sometimes use this as a makeup primer!
To protect my face, I depend on my Ultra Light Daily UV Defense by Keihl’s. It’s small so I can take it with me everywhere and it isn’t sticky on my face once it’s absorbed. I sometimes also use the Laneige Homme Sun Protection Stick. Yes, I know it’s for men, but it’s just so handy and I mean, it does the job! It feels a bit like a lip balm but not as heavy so this is what I usually reapply on my face throughout my day at the beach. ALSO, I LOVE HATS. Hats are my best friends.
My aunt just recently introduced me to her line of handmade spa products from Lemongrass House and I’m telling you, I could write a whole entry solely on the reasons why I love every single product she sends me (maybe I will). After a day in the heat, sunburn is usually my worst enemy. Sometimes, no matter how much I make sure I lather myself in sunscreen, the burns show up anyway. It used to be a huge problem for me until she gave me a bottle of her After Sun Aloe Vera Gel. It’s infused with Natural extracts of cucumber, blue chamomile and green tea and smells divine! It isn’t sticky, absorbs really quickly and cools down sunburn instantly.
I like to tan, but I am also traumatised by the damage the sun cased on my face. I used to embrace tanning oils and either run around the shore or lay down on a mat and soak up the sun. However, after the hypopigmentation I would hide under whatever shade I could possible find at the beach. These days I use Nivea Sun Protect and Bronze Sun Spray to shield me just enough without depriving me of a nice aftersun glow. Aside from this I like to use coconut oil as an extra layer of protection and also so my skin (and hair!) doesn’t dry up.
To rehydrate my skin after all that time in the heat I usually shuffle between my moisturising cream called Dexeryl, the After Sun Aloe Vera Gel from Lemongrass House and extra virgin coconut oil. Dexeryl is a lotion/ cream that another aunt of mine introduced me to when we were in Spain. My skin had started to dry up because of the heat and once I applied Dexeryl, my skin instantly absorbed it, I fell in love with it and brought home two bottles. Depending on the state of my skin, I’ll bring out my aloe vera gel and/ or coconut oil before I head to bed. Since coconut oil is fairly thick and stays really oily for a longer period of time, I prefer applying it on my skin when I know I won’t be spending much time outdoors or in the company of others. It really does wonders for dry, sunburnt skin though.
There you have it. The routine really does sound much more complicated than it actually is but the point is this: take care of the skin you’re in! I didn’t and I had to suffer the consequences! Don’t be lazy like how I used to be and protect yourself from sun. Start now and don’t just wait for the summer. Work on preventing the damage rather than trying to repair it later. It’ll save you so much time, money and effort, I promise.
Neon Island swimmers
Photography by Niña de Torres using a Fujifilm X-A3