My Skin Care Routine & What's In My Bag After Melanoma
After having melanoma I’ve become extra vigilant about skincare. My skin is naturally very dry, bordering on reptilian in winter. So if I must slather myself daily in sunscreen it's a much easier job when my skin is smooth and moisturized. It also helps to prevent unnecessary worry.
A skin cancer scare
Recently I noticed two small dark round patches on my leg that I'd never seen before. I freeeeeaked out! I was about to call the dermatologist, practically picking out pyjamas to wear to the hospital, when I realised I was actually looking at two small patches of dry skin. That were only dark because I'd worn new black jeans that day and the dye had rubbed against them. Whoops.
A couple of other times I'd worried that a mole had changed appearance, but after slapping on some lotion realized it had just been dry skin. So yes, particularly for us lizard types, skincare is important business!
The specific skincare products I've adopted after skin cancer
For both face and body, I look for simple and fragrance-free formulations from dermatologist-recommended brands like Cerave and Cetaphil, or European pharmacy brands like La Roche Posay, Bioderma or Eucerin. These brands are reasonably priced and their gentle formulations always do the job without causing irritation.
I brush my skin with a body brush before showering to help brush off any dry flakes. I then wash with a moisturizing body oil rather than soap, as soap dries me out badly. I gently pat my skin dry after the shower then apply a fragrance-free body lotion.
My facial skincare routine
For my face, I cleanse my skin twice a day with a simple, fragrance-free cleanser. My favorite is Cerave’s Hydrating Cleanser with its handy pump packaging. The evening cleanse is essential to remove the day's makeup and sunscreen, whereas the morning cleanse helps me wake up and gets my skin feeling ready for the moisturizer and sunscreen that follow.
I apply moisturizer then give my skin a good five minutes or so to absorb properly before the all-important next step. That’s either an SPF50 designed for the face followed by a foundation, or a tinted sunscreen that does double duty as sunscreen and foundation. Right now I'm loving some Japanese sunscreens which offer broad-spectrum protection and go brilliantly under makeup, and also a bargain Eucerin sunscreen with a moisturizer built-in.
What skincare products are in my bag?
Most of the time I get around by foot and/or public transportation, so my on-the-go sun protection needs to be lightweight and compact. After much trial and error, I’ve narrowed down to this list.
1. Foldable wide brim hat - this cotton hat offers plenty of protection but it’s also lightweight and folds up neatly for easy toting.
2. Huge sunglasses - with 100% UV protection.
3. Light cotton scarf - while I use sunscreen and avoid lingering in direct sun, I like having this scarf as an extra cover for my neck and décolletage if I’m wearing a scoop or V-neck top.
4. Roll-on SPF50 sunscreen - rather than lugging around a huge bottle, this roll-on is easy to apply on the go and doesn’t take up much room in my bag.
5. SPF50 tinted facial sunscreen - this is my face base during summer. The sunscreen has a moisturizing tint so I can do moisturizer, foundation and sunscreen in one speedy step. Bam! I apply it in the morning before I leave the house but if I know I will be in the sun for a prolonged period, I’ll throw it in my bag and reapply as needed.
6. SPF50 facial spray sunscreen - I don’t ever use this as primary sunscreen, but rather as a way to “top up” my protection if I’m just popping out briefly without much sun exposure, such as grabbing lunch.
7. SPF50 lip balm - gotta protect those kissers too!
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