Monday, October 24, 2011

On the topic of sunscreen

I'm going to start by saying that I am an Asian American woman. I have olive skin and a sprinkling of freckles across my cheeks and nose that has plagued me since I was a child.  If I spend too much time under the sun, I sunburn.  I do not like whitening products. Moreso, I absolutely hate the pressure in Asia and elsewhere to beautify by whitening my skin and bleaching my freckles.

Even in Cambodia, where presumably there's less disposable income to throw at whitening products, the pressure to whiten remains in full force.  On my trip to Thailand two weeks ago, I received several requests from colleagues, who wanted this or that version of whitening lotion. It was hilarious actually, if not a little sad.

I've explain to my colleagues that their tanned skin is beautiful - hell, even the rage in the United States. I've also urged them to take care of their skin by wearing sunscreen, everyday.  But the notion of wearing sun protection, sans whitening, has not caught on.

Until recently, I've stayed away from sunscreens in Asia, most of which are whitening.  I brought two bottles of my trusted Jan Marini Antioxidant Daily Face Protectant SPF30 with me from back home. Though it worked wonders for me in United States climate, it began to feel greasy in this tropical climate. Since I spent a considerable amount of my time this year in the field, I also needed more sun protection.

Reluctantly, I made the jump to Japanese-brand Kanebo IC Impress Brightening Sun Protectant, with its whopping SPF50. I was hesitant because of the "brightening" tag, but I was assured that it is not a whitener. The texture, light and milky, was also ideal. Nearly five months into daily usage, I can report that my freckles have not faded (yay), and I have non-sunburnt, quite hydrated skin.

Perhaps I should look at other Asian market products after all. To be continued ...


  1. Finding a good sunscreen is difficult. And, yeesh, don't even get me started on the politics of Asian beauty culture!! :)

    What's the difference between whitening and brightening? I always thought that whitening products would help even out skin tone (rather than actually turn your skin whiter).

  2. Arghh, I don't even really know. I thought "brightening" in this product worked the way Vitamin C does - it evens out skin tone. I was told that whiten includes brightening. The counterlady said that's what it does. But maybe I have been duped!! If so, my brown skin is very resilient.

    Oh, I have been meaning to ask: I remember in a post way back you wrote about hyraulonic acid. Do you use it in a lotion form?

    Damn this Asian beauty culture. I cannot fight it.

  3. It's so confusing! Oh well, I guess if you're happy with the product's performance, that's all that really matters!

    The hyaluronic acid I use comes in serum form. From what I can gather, it's 100% hyaluronic acid. It comes in a small glass tincture bottle. I've searched online for it, but have never found the exact brand. I get it from my aesthetician in Taipei. I've also been using Aesop's Parsley Seed anti-oxidant serum and it seems to be a nice, more natural (and easier to find) substitute.

  4. Hmm, Aesop's Parsely Seed serum? I may have to give that a look when I'm home for the holidays. I made the plunge and bought a bottle of SK II at Bangkok International Airport... we'll see how it works as a serum. I do prefer the more natural path, though.

  5. I prefer the more natural path too, but SK II products are pretty effective. The Parsley Seed serum is pretty great. All the ingredient names are pretty recognizable. It's a little sticky going on, but absorbs really well. I used in place of cream moisturizer on humid days.


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