Sleep is never optional. Do without and do damage to your face, your performance, your very health. Besides, all the concealer in the world isn’t going to hide those dark circles for long. There is nothing glamorous about subjecting the world to a tired you. Think of it: simply seven hours to a more beautiful you! A full night’s slumber can do wonders for your mood, not to mention your immune system and skin condition. Sleep is one of the best luxuries in life—and it doesn’t cost a thing.
Old Days and Arsenic Once upon a time, pale skin was a symbol of high society, since only the kept and wealthy could avoid the swarthy skin that resulted from long days toiling under the hot sun. But avoiding a tan reaped some near-fatal effects: Romans and Greeks applied chalks and lead paints to look whiter, putting them at risk for lead poisoning. While the alkaloids and acids in lemon juice and dandelion removed dead cells and, it was believed, bleached skin, another bleaching practice proved deadly. Arsenic and mercury are highly toxic to the blood, bone marrow, and liver. Don’t do as Madame Pompadour did. Stick to the sunscreen. Queen Elizabeth, I had it partly right. To give the effect of translucent paleness, the queen and her groupies would draw fine blue lines on their skin to suggest veins. They also began the fashion of carrying parasols. I have quite a collection, and some of my favorites cost a few bucks at the flea market or Chinese tchotchke shop. Prodigal Sun Pretty parasols, glamorous hats, and high SPF sunscreens are part of my daily sun protection. Basking in the heat on holiday, especially in an ocean as blue as sapphires and so clear you can see your coral-colored toenails, is a delicious pleasure. It can also be hazardous to skin tone and health. I never see the light of day not even a cloudy day without sunscreen.
Whatever the weather report, the damaging rays will inevitably make contact. Choose a sunscreen with either Mexoryl or Helioplex, chemical stabilizers that slow the breakdown of a sunscreen’s potency. Likewise, select a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. The higher a sunscreen’s sun protection factor, or SPF, the more insurance against ultraviolet rays that cause sunburn. There is a limit, as Dr. Cotliar points out. An SPF of 30 blocks 97 percent of UVB rays, but anything above that SPF rating will not block out 100 percent of UVB rays. During a long day outdoors, reapply any SPF consistently—at least every two hours. And always after swimming, since no sunscreen is fully waterproof. The one and only time when sunscreen isn’t necessary: after the sun goes down. After dark, wash away the sunscreen and use a moisturizer without it. If you’re heading out for the night, slather a cream without SPF ingredients under your makeup. So what’s my number? At the very least, a light moisturizer or foundation with SPF 20. For my face, I typically opt for the light, nongreasy texture and tinted formulations of Sarah McNamara Miracle Skin Transformer with SPF 20 or MDSolarSciences Mineral Tinted Crème SPF 30. A drugstore favorite is L’Oréal RevitaLift Miracle Blur with SPF 30; Rose is devoted to Eucerin Daily Protection SPF 30 Moisturizing Face Lotion.