sun protection

How to Protect Your Eyes from UV Rays in the Winter

How to Protect Your Eyes from UV Rays in the Winter | Writing Between Pauses

I recently partnered with Visionworks to promote the new location at the Valley River Mall in Eugene, Oregon. That’s my hometown mall! I’ve been going to Valley River Center for as long as I can remember and having a handy place for all my vision care needs, alongside all my other favorite places to shop, is a huge bonus.

I’ve needed glasses since I was about 12. When I first got them, I refused to wear them for nearly two years—until I started driving and my mom agreed I could wear contacts. I wore contacts until around 2015, when my eyes became more sensitive while I was pregnant. I wear glasses all the time now, so keeping my prescription up to date and my eyes healthy is really important to me. As well, as a chronic migraine sufferer, keeping an eye on my, well, eyes is also hugely importance; how my glasses fit, how the lenses reflect light from my computer, and how tight they are can have a huge impact on my migraines!

One important aspect of eye health that we often forget is protecting our eyes from UV rays. We tend to think of sunglasses purely in terms of fashion or helping us see. I always wear sunglasses when I’m driving in the summer, but during the winter, I definitely lapse in that habit. The days can be so dark, we forget that UV rays can still damage our eyes and our skin. (Which is why you should wear SPF every day!)

I wanted to share a few tips for protecting your eyes from UV rays in the winter!

  • Even on cloudy or hazy days, UV rays can damage your eyes. If you’re going to be outside, wear UV blocking sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats (as well as SPF on your face and any visible skin).

  • Don’t forget your kids when wearing sunglasses and hats!

  • Snow and ice can reflect UV rays—which is why sometimes, even on cloudy days, it can still feel really bright! As well, these reflected UV rays can be even more harsh than usual. Wearing polarized sunglasses while driving in snowy & icy conditions, or while skiing or playing outside in the snow, can feel dangerous, but will help you protect your eyes and see more clearly.

You might be asking: why do my eyes need protection from UV rays? UV rays cause damage to your eye—just like your skin. This can cause cataracts to develop, as well as other degeneration issues.

And in terms of vanity, frequent squinting can contribute to both headaches and wrinkles. All that eye cream, just to squint while outside in the snow?!

Thankfully, there are lots of options for stylish and functional eyewear to protect your eyes. Different activities call for different protection. If you ski, a pair of polarized ski goggles can protect your eyes. If you travel frequently, a great pair of sunglasses fit the bill. Visit Visionworks to check out their selection—and visit your nearest location for an eye exam and to try on glasses and sunglasses!

Disclaimer: as indicated by the asterisk (*) in the title of this post, this is a sponsored post with Visionworks. All opinions, however, remain my own. To learn more about my disclosure policy, click here.

How to Get the Perfect Sun Free Summer Tan

How to Get the Perfect Sun Free Summer Tan | Writing Between Pauses

The last time I used self tanner, I was 13 years old. 

Needless to say, I didn't do a masterful job applying it. But I dedicated myself to having bronzed legs for a solid 6 months, to the detriment of all my school uniform khaki pants. I distinctly remember one of my legs being darker than the other and applying a "thin" layer to my other leg, only to end up with it being roughly the color of balsamic vinegar. It was a mess. At the time, I used the Neutrogena Sunless Tanning Foam, which was a new product at the time; my mom had been a Jergens sunless tanner user for years. 

All tanners back then smelled absolutely terrible. And honestly, they all looked so orange. But if you couldn't afford a spray tan and wanted to avoid sun damage, it was the only way to go. 

Thankfully, things have come a long way and there are a ton of great sunless tanners on the market now. 

Why Sun Free Tanning is the Way to Go

While I truly think most of us know better by now, the truth is a lot of people still aren't educated on the effects of sun damage--or what really constitutes sun damage. 

I'm in a beauty group and every few days lately, someone asks about base tanning. Base tanning is the idea that you lie in a tanning booth, get a small tan, and therefore are protected from burning on vacations. This is incredibly irresponsible and has been disproven by multiple sources. 

If your skin changes color in any way, you are damaging your skin, whether it is a burn or a tan. And starting with a tan won't stop you from burning or from getting sun damage. In fact, your skin doesn't even have to react to have sun damage. I've never been sunburned or tanned on my face, but according to my dermatologist, I have sun damage on my face. 

There is no safe tanning when it comes to laying out or lying in tanning booths. 

Sun damage can cause a multitude of skin cancers--all of which are preventable by using sun protection. As well, sun damage causes accelerated aging, wrinkles, melasma, and more. Protect your skin & go sun less when it comes to tanning. And always, always wear SPF and physical protection when spending lots of time in the sun! (I'll cover SPF later in this post as well.) 

NKD SKN Tanner

1. Invest in your tanner. 

You can purchase a tube of sunless tanner at Target for less than $8, universally. But I highly encourage you to take this opportunity to go a bit more high end. 

On Mother's Day, I popped in to Ulta to treat myself to a gift and got the NKD SKN Tinted Tan Mousse in Medium*. It's $19.99 for a tube, more than I would really ever spend on something like this, but I'd heard good things about the brand. There are many high end sunless tanners these days though; St. Tropez is a tried-and-true brand as well. 

I was very nervous to try this tanner--my experience in middle school had left some scars, clearly--but from the get go, it was so nice. It doesn't smell at all and goes on so smooth and evenly. I put on one layer to start and it dried instantly. No stained sweatpants or sheets. The next morning, I took a shower and while the top layer did rinse off, I was left with a really great, light tan look. Not super dark, not super orange. It's very natural! 

So while $20 felt like an absolute luxury, I wouldn't ever pay anything less now. 

NKD SKN also has a Gradual Tan Daily Moisturizer that i am very interested in. 

*As a note, NKD SKN is a vegan and cruelty-free brand! 

2. Use a mitt. 

The best way to apply a perfect tan? A mitt! How did I never know about mitts before!? I'm convinced these are a new invention. I bought the Double-Sided Sunless Tan Mitt from Ulta Beauty for $9.99 (they were buy one, get one 50% off) and quite like it. Funny enough, St. Tropez sells a cheaper mitt for $5.99--and it actually looks nicer! There are also some great sunless tanner kits that include mitts, like this one from Fake Bake for $30 and this one from Tarte Cosmetics Braziliance for $39.  

A mitt helps you keep your application from streaking. It also keeps your palms and fingernails from getting stained orange! If you're planning to do a full body tan as well, a mitt helps you reach all those tricky spots--especially if you have to ask for help from your partner! 

NKD Skin Tanner and Ulta Beauty Mitt

3. Exfoliate & moisturize. 

It goes without saying that the smoother and more moisturized the surface of your skin, the better self tan goes on. The instructions on NKD SKN say not to moisturize immediately before. I had exfoliated and moisturized my legs earlier that day, so I just applied some moisturizer to my knees and ankles (to prefer going too dark in those dry spots) and it worked a charm. My ankle did end up a bit blotchy that first time, but a bit more moisturizer next time will do the trick. I did the same thing with my elbows and wrists when I did a full body application. 

4. Wear SPF. 

Keep your skin safe! When you've got the perfect summer tan, you know that taking care of your skin is important. Look for a high SPF to wear all over your body, as well as a separate facial SPF. I've used Sun Bum's SPF 30 for years and love it. If you spend a significant portion of the day in the sunshine, you need to reapply sunscreen every 45-60 minutes, covering your entire body and face; you should realistically use 1/2 to an entire bottle of sunscreen every 8 hours you spend in the sun. 

For facial SPFs, my favorite of all time is Coola's Mineral Face SPF 30. (And don't forget to put sunscreen on the part of your hair!) Coola also makes an amazing SPF 30 lip balm that's perfect for sunny days; your lips are particularly vulnerable to sun damage! 

Now, what about wearing make up? Good thing for us, there are now SPF setting sprays we can carry outside with us to keep our makeup flawless and our skin protected. Using a foundation with SPF, like Wet'n'Wild's Cushion Foundation with SPF 15, can give you good base coverage alongside using an SPF moisturizer like Coola's. I really like Ulta Beauty's SPF 50 Rose Water Setting Spray and Coola's Classic SPF 30 Setting Spray with Green Tea and Aloe

Look flawlessly tanned and protect your skin! 

Beauty Tips: Protecting Your Skin from the Sun

how to protect your skin from the sun

During the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college, I got a sunburn. I refer to this sunburn as "the sunburn that changed my life." I still have sun damage from this sunburn. I still have a line on my chest and shoulders that is plainly visible from this sunburn. It was a doozy. I was sunburn from my neck to my hips, then all over the front of my legs. All because I decided to float in a pool for a few hours. 

Every part of my body hurt

The day after I got sunburned, my parents decided to go to the coast. Being that I was on break, I went with them. I have, honestly, no idea why. I was in so much pain; I couldn't wear real pants, so I wore sweatpants and a baggy tank top and, because my feet were so sunburned, flip flops that killed all day. I was miserable. 

When we got home, for the next two days, I lied in bed covered in damp wash clothes, trying out every single remedy from the internet I could find to end my suffering. Milk bath? Tried it. Apple cider vinegar? Yep. Aloe vera? Applied regularly. Cocoa butter? Did it. I coated myself in everything I could think of. 

By the time the sunburn stopped hurting, I itched all over. It was one of those sunburns: the itchy ones. I actually itched so much that I developed small blood blisters around my belly button, shoulders, and hips from itchy. It was misery. 

It was a solid week of misery. 

So this is my plea: don't get sunburned. 

I know! I know you'll tan if you get sunburned! I know it isn't always that bad! 

But every sunburn is literally one step closer to the big bad: skin cancer. The most easily avoided skin cancer out there. And as well, even if you don't end up with skin cancer after a lifetime of bad sun habits, sun damage makes you look older. Plain and simple, I know it's not nice, but sun damage gives you wrinkles earlier in life--and that includes tanning. 

So this summer, protect your skin. It doesn't have to be a drag, either. Here are a few simple pieces to protect that pretty skin of yours (and avoid a miserable few weeks like I had). 

1. Get a sun hat. 

Sun hats are some of the cutest summer accessories. Really. They look both vintage and really hip at the same time. Plus, they're in style so you have a ton of cute, affordable ones out there. Here are a few options: 

2. Wear sunscreen every single day, on your face and body. 

Listen, I know: sunscreen is a pain to put on. But in the morning, when you're doing your routine anywhere, here is my advice: keep a bottle of sunscreen (good sunscreen, like Babyganics SPF 50, which is what I use) next to your regular body lotion; mix a small amount in with your body lotion and apply to your arms, chest, shoulders, and any other body parts that will be visible (don't forget your feet!). It's the easiest way for me to get that original coat and still have my normal body lotion. 

Then, if you're out in the sun, reapply every 60-90 minutes. I know! That's a lot! If you're driving, make sure to reapply in the car because you can get sunburned in your car while driving. 

What about for your face? I personally love First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Sunscreen. I mix it with my Ole Henriksen Transformation moisturizer to use after I tone and before I put on my foundation. Remember, foundation is a physical barrier to your skin from the sun, but you still need to put SPF on! (Also, don't forget your neck and ears!) 

3. Consider long sleeves. 

Here's the thing: if you're going to be in the sun for hours, either at the beach or hiking, consider wearing long sleeves or a rash guard. Rash guards are not the fuddy duddy little kids' garments they used to be. Look at this one from Old Navy! That's cute. I'd wear that! 

A few options for long sleeved tops: this lightweight options from GAP is perfect for fun or while being active; this long-sleeved dress from Lulu's is cute without looking sweltering; and this long-sleeved peasant top from Forever 21 is great for work or play.