This is one of those posts that I’ve been meaning to do all summer long. Maybe in the back of my mind, I’ve been feeling like the season lasts forever. Lord knows July and August dragged on long enough. But all of a sudden it’s supposed to be over, the kids are back at school, magazines are talking about “new fall tones”, and every storefront window is changing for new cold-weather fashions.
As someone who comes from a two-season climate (rainy and dry), I object to this seasonal rush. I say, as long as it’s hot and sunny like summer, it’s still summer. Can you still get a sunburn walking across the mall parking lot where you are? Did you get baked and sweaty outside at all yesterday or over the weekend? Well then there you go, you’re still dealing with summer beauty issues. So again, sorry it’s taken me so long to review these — here’s some hair and beauty products loaded with SPF to keep those harmful rays at bay. Better late than never, right? Right?
The concept of hair products that offered sun protection was kind of new to me — I used to slather my hair with deep conditioner when I went to the beach back home, and I always bring a wide-brimmed straw hat or sun visor when I’m going to spend some hours in the sun. But recently, I was noticing that my hair looked… shall we say, extra crispy after an outdoorsy afternoon at Crandon Park. The highlights I got last Christmas are totally grown out, and when my hair gets dry, the blond bits look like straight-up tumbleweeds. Not cute. I jumped at the chance to try some hair products with built-in UVA and UVB protectors to help filter the sun’s rays. Between Miami and Trinidad, I can use them pretty much year-round!
Redken’s UV Rescue Shimmering Defense is a creamy, citrus scented potion that leaves a shiny shield on your locks to protect against color degradation and drying sun rays. It left my curls looking super shiny and feeling a little greasy, but I was cool with that because a.) isn’t all sunscreen kinda greasy? I have yet to encounter a sun protection product with a mattifying texture. And b.) I figured having a moist (but not TOO moist) product would help me keep my hands out of my hair. Seriously, I play with my hair all the time. I need to stop. The back of the package says “reapply throughout the day,” but I was fine with just one application, and I lay on the sand for a little more than two hours. When I rinsed my hair with sea water, it felt slick and thick and soft. I like this Redken stuff. Now the Fresh Curls line is on my radar, too.
I’ve got mixed feelings about Frizz Ease Thermal Protection. In general, I don’t do so great with John Frieda serums — they work well for bellas with more relaxed curls, I think, but in the past they’ve just given me a gloppy fro. The formula seems to be a bit lighter now, but it was a fresh spin on the ol’ Frizz Ease issues — hair that just felt coated but not moisturized and left my hand shiny with oil after running my fingers through my hair. I think it’s a texture thing — I have white and Latin friends who swear by the Frizz-Ease, because it weighs down their light flyaway hair. After wearing this stuff on a day at the beach, when I washed it out I found my hair to be tangled and I needed a second wash to be sure all the product was rinsed clean. So until Frizz-Ease serum comes out with a “just for naturals” formula that features more natural oils to moisturize below the surface, I’ll give this stuff a break. (I have different feelings about the Curl Around shampoo and condish and will review those soon).
Let’s talk skin protection. When I find a good suntan lotion I tend to stick with it, which is why I’ve been working my Kiehl’s Vital Sun Protection SPF 25 in the handy-dandy spray bottle. But life on Miami Beach is all about a “sexy tan,” and if that’s what you’re seeking, Kiehl’s might not give you what you’re looking for. If you’re heading on a romantic vacation for two, or you’re hoping to ask a sunbathing suitor to rub some lotion on your back, a spray bottle won’t cut it. Carol’s Daughter Gelee de Soleil Browning Oil will. This stuff is decadent, rich, moisturizing, sun protecting, and will leave your legs and arms with a luminous glow. It’s loaded with palm kernel oil, cocoa, shea, mango and avocado butters, and offers SPF 15 protection. Not to mention it smells divine, like coconut and mango. None of that traditional suntan lotion scent here! And I’m pleased to report my afternoon in the sun resulted in happy, brown, unburnt legs. This cheapskate says the bottle’s a bit teeny at $14, but the quality of the product excuses the price/size ratio.
When it comes to face protection, I tend to go for a higher SPF. My face is pretty much always exposed to the sun, and I know there’s truth in the adage “black don’t crack,” but I figure I shouldn’t take any chances. I already have teeny wrinkles around my eyes, and I don’t need to go for that leathery texture that so many Miami women seem to adore. Every day I use a moisturizer with SPF, and my recent favorite is Ambi’s Even and Clear Daily Moisturizer.
Growing up, Ambi was the one-word skin lightener that everyone talked about in hushed undertones. But now that hydroquinone is banned from over-the-counter products, Ambi’s put on a new face. Their Even and Clean line aims to even out skin tone and reduce discolorations with natural soy and antioxidant Vitamins C & E. The daily moisturizer is a thick white cream that goes on a bit heavy and takes some rubbing in, but leaves your skin feeling baby smooth and powder-soft. The Skin Cancer Foundation recently gave it a Seal of Recommendation for superior product technology and lasting sun protection. I’ve been using it daily for two weeks. First of all, the usual pore-clogging, heavy cream feeling that suntan lotion usually has, isn’t an issue. It rubs in thick but absorbs well, which is key to enjoying fun in the sun in any hot climate. You won’t have sunscreen sweating into your eyes with this stuff. With an SPF of 30, it’ll keep your face extra-protected, and I also started using it to protect my neck to good effect.
In terms of clearing up my skin… I’m not so sure. I’ve been sampling so many skin care products recently, that I can’t honestly pinpoint one mark-lightening cream and say YES, this was the stuff that helped reduce my hyperpigmentation. But I will say that Ambi has helped in my efforts to have a flawless, uniform-colored skin tone. So I definitely recommend it for bellas who are seeking a solid, reliable, daily sun protecting moisturizer.
Wanna try it yourself? Write in and tell me your favorite fun-in-the-sun skin or hair remede, and I’ll choose ten winners to recieve their very own Ambi Even and Clear SPF 30 Daily Moisturizer! Please make sure you’ve used your REAL e mail address — nothing’s more frustrating than trying to contact a prize winner and your e mails keep bouncing back. I’ll close the comments on Thursday and announce prize-winners over the weekend! Yay, Tuesday giveaway!