Sunning Responsibly, With Helena Christensen and Camilla Staerk


Oh, the sun! A big burning ball of fire in the sky to both worship and be deathly afraid of. Particularly as we inch closer and closer towards meteorological summer when the sun (at least in this hemisphere) is at its strongest and longest. There's no time like the present to talk about suncare—or a better time to talk about suncare with your favorite supermodel and one of her best friends.

Helena Christensen and Camilla Staerk met years ago in London but are conveniently both from Denmark, where people have quite the on-again, off-again relationship with the sun. Given that it's sunny for an average of 8 hours a day in the winter and 18 hours a day in the summer, when substantial daylight finally breaks in the spring, "We're like, sun?!" Camilla says. "It's out?!"

"And then everyone takes their clothes off all over town and literally just sits out, even if we're talking 58 degrees Fahrenheit," Helena adds. "They're like 'Summer's finally here!'"

Sunbathing, whether you approve of it or not, happens. Camilla is not a fan, but Helena does it with both arms overhead. "I always keep my armpits up and open because that's the one place where I feel like the vitamin D really gets through and affects your vitamin levels," she says. Word up to Shailene Woodley who also has an unorthodox approach to soaking in the sun. Do what you will with that information, but do it wearing sunscreen—"I'm wearing it even when I'm in the car," Helena assures. "But there is something about that weather that just makes you want to be outside wearing a bathing a suit day and night." At the pool, yes, but as a body suit too, under a dress, with pants, with a scarf... And of course with sunglasses.

"Camilla was born in sunglasses," Helena adds. Chic, but also protective, they found out when the pair collaborated on a line of frames with the Australian brand Pared. "They have one of the biggest holes in the Ozone layer down there, so they really know how to protect themselves," Camilla says.

So once your eyes and your skin is covered, what about hair? Both Helena and Camilla are crazy for the Davines line, particularly the Su Milk with UVA and UVB filters to keep hair from drying out. "And I love the word milk for a beauty product," Helena adds, "because I love dairy. It's something that's full of everything that you need from birth. Put that in your hair!"

"And add a visor!" Camilla interjects. It's a product she wants to design next, to mesh with the sunglasses they've already launched. "I want an oversized one, with a gradient and a tone. It protects, but it's also smoky and chic." Physical sunscreen seems to be taking a very fashionable turn beyond a smearing of zinc and titanium dioxide. But people need all the help they can get and Camilla wants to help.

"I'm so lucky I didn't ruin my skin when we were shooting in the desert back in the '80s," Helena says. "Between takes the whole crew would set up these plastic chairs and sit in the sun smothered in 8 Hour Cream to make it even more efficient. Holding little light reflectors, like old people in Miami! And were like this, sizzling in the desert for years! Everything was so different! Now everyone is pale, protecting themselves, which is good!" Agreed.

Photographed by Tom Newton.