Sunscreen Diaries: The Stylist


Life is full of challenges and we're about to throw another one at ya: Wear sunscreen every day. Sunny, overcast, whatever. We don't even care if it's ours! (That'd be great, but hey—live your life.) Just make sure you wear some sun protection. Sound good? Great. To inspire you, we threw this obstacle at three of our favorite New York women—along with a care package full of some of the top-rated and most-talked-about sunscreens to grace this domain. (The list: Coola Classic Sunscreen, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer, La Roche-Posay Anthelios, Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream with SPF 25, Elta MD, and Glossier.) Then we asked them to keep a diary of the trial period. The first guinea pig is stylist Ilona Hamer—she's also one half Unconditional Magazine and Matteau Swim. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be protecting yourself from sun damage all over again. Shine on!

Monday, May 1

It's 13 degrees Celsius [ed note: That's 55 degrees Fahrenheit, America] and overcast today so it feels really strange to put on sunscreen. Coming from Australia, I'm used to wearing sunscreen only when I go to the beach. My facialist in Sydney, Melanie Grant, cannot believe that at 31 years old I don’t wear sunscreen on a daily basis, so perhaps this experiment will be the perfect thing to save my skin later in life. I don’t see much sun damage on myself yet, but I know I should start ASAP. Ahh, the joys of getting older.

My daily routine is to wash my face with Glossier's Milky Jelly Cleanser and then put on my SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. I've been using it for the last month and a half and cannot believe the difference it has made to my skin. Why didn’t I start using it earlier? Cate Blanchett is never wrong! Then I put on moisturizer—Aesop Primrose Facial Hydrating Cream, followed by Coola’s Classic Sunscreen. It's organic (which I love!) and is unscented (bonus points!). The formula is thin and moveable over my skin—one of my biggest pet peeves when sun protection is when it is so thick and leaves your face with a white/purple sheen. I put it on top of my moisturizer and it doesn’t feel like I’m wearing anything at all.

Tuesday, May 2

Washed with the last of my Milky Jelly cleanser and apply SK-II plus moisturizer. Trying the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 today—my husband uses this one for his face in the summer in Australia. It definitely has an added fragrance—kind of a synthetic floral. Not my favorite but nostalgic at the same time. It’s also quite thick, but has this really matte finish on the skin—I think it’s the “dry touch” they talk about... I am not a fan. It’s the kind of sunscreen that once you put it on, you feel like you have to wash your face again? Maybe that’s just me.

I was shooting in studio today and my face was feeling a little dry and tight in the air conditioning, so I used my absolute favorite Dr. Dennis Gross C + Collagen Perfect Skin Set and Refresh Mist to liven me up a little. I don’t know what they put in that stuff, but I LOVE IT!

Wednesday, May 3

Shooting outside on the roof for Victoria’s Secret today so I want to make sure I don’t get fried! I apply Glossier Invisible Shield after moisturizing in the morning and it’s great. It is clear and jelly-er than any sunscreen I’ve ever used. It’s kind of like aloe gel that you rub you use post sunburn. It has the slightest sunscreen fragrance to it, and leaves your skin with a nice, glowy sheen. Your skin feels really hydrated without being waxy or too thick. It actually feels like it stretches onto the skin.

I didn’t get burnt so it must be working?! Just finished a two-day job, so did a mid-week mask after an epsom salt bath. I try to take epsom salt baths with Dr Teal's Epsom salt soak at least three times a week. There is a one that is Pink Himalayan Sea Salt that smells like roses and bergamot that I love. And I try to do a mask once a week to get rid of all the New York dirt that gets in. I hate thinking about all the subway dust and pollution that must get into my skin from the city. I used the Mega Greens Galaxy Mask and then slept in the Moisturizing Moon Mask afterward. My skin is thankful =)

Thursday, May 4

Shooting on my roof for the last story for Unconditional today and it’s a sunny one! I used the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream sunscreen this morning—I really like the fact that this feels more like a moisturizer than a sunscreen. We were shooting Sophie Koella who’s used Kiehl’s diligently for years—must be good because her skin is off the charts. This one definitely has that sunscreen smell which is not my favorite, but says it works against UVA and UVB and has “Fountain Plant” extract—a crazy hydrating botanical—so I will take it!

Before I apply, I do a Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel set—I am a convert and try and do them twice a week. Usually I don’t like doing too much to my skin, but some mornings I wake up and it just feels like I need it to give my skin a bit more life.

Friday May 5

It’s raining cats and dogs and I keep getting flash flood warnings on my phone so it feels stupid to be wearing sunscreen, but I know it’s a habit I have to get into. I try the Elta MD UV Clear today—the texture is great and there’s almost no scent at all.

Had lunch at Café Mogador in the East Village with Fran Miller from F. Miller today and she said my skin was glowing—that might be a good sign on this one. We also talked about natural sunscreen for a while and how hard it can be to find just the right one. We have both tried a few and I recommended Coola to her. The formula speaks to her ethos so she is going to give it a go.

I have a dinner to run to with a friend and I am late again as usual. No time to wash my face so I add some Aesop moisturizer, dab some RMS Un Cover-Up on my t-zone, add a little brown Chanel Stylo Eyeliner, and curl my lashes. I add a generous spritz of my favorite perfumes (Sycomore by Chanel, L’ombre dans L’eau by Diptyque and sometimes a tiny bit of Fracas on my wrists for the extra strangeness...I always wear 1-2 perfumes, don't ask me why) and run out the door to the L train.

Half-an-hour late, half a bottle of red, two tequilas. OUCH.

Saturday, May 6

I got home late and didn’t take my makeup off =(. Have switched to Aesop Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser Oil as my Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser is officially empty. The gorgeous girl at my local Aesop said its a good time of year to switch up cleanser and moisturizers with the change in season anyway. I leave the Parsley Seed on for one minute in the shower before I wash it off—there's lactic acid in there to exfoliate. Afterwards, I feel cleansed and fresh despite my lingering hangover.

There are patches of sun and I head off for a walk. Before I go, I’m onto my last sunscreen—La Roche-Posay Anthelios! For some reason, the packaging of this one really throws me off—it looks like a packet of cigarettes with one pulled out at the top. But I do love the orange and blue feels really French and summery. The first thing I notice is the really strong alcohol smell that I do not love at all. It has a thin consistency and moves around on my skin easily, but when it dries it becomes quite waxy and matte. It feels like a barrier on top of my skin, rather than something that is moving with my skin and soaking in. This is why I was struggling with sunscreen in the first place! Forming the habit is only half the battle it seems...

Photos via Ilona Hamer.

Here comes the sun (content): Read more Sun Week stories this way.