The Part Of Your Body You Are Neglecting

“I hate My Neck”, or “my neck is making me look old”. These are some of the comments I hear from clients quite frequently.

Your neck and your décolleté (upper chest area)  will show signs of aging before your face, in most cases, because the skin there has less  oil glands, less elastin and thinner skin tissue than our faces. Women often overlook the décolletage and neck when it comes to skin care, not realizing they should be treating it with just as much care as their face

sundamage and loss of elatin on decollete

sundamage and loss of elatin on decollete

So just how should you be taking care of this delicate area?  The first step, the same way you cleanse your face.  Using the same cleanser start at the décolleté and work your way up your neck and then to your face in a gentle upward motion.  After cleansing you should then follow with a serum/moisturizer that is rich in antioxidants such as Pomegranate Oil, Rosehips Seed Oil, Borage Oil, etc.  Antioxidants fight free radical damage which leads to the breakdown of collagen and elastin.  These oils also help the appearance of sun damage.  Speaking of sun damage, you must apply sunscreen to your décolleté, neck and face anytime you are leaving the house, even on cloudy days.

It is also important to exfoliate your neck and décolleté to remove the dead skin so that your serum and moisturizer can penetrate the skin and not just sit on top.  Since this area is delicate as discussed above, it is important not to use harsh chemicals or scrubs.  Enzymes such as papaya (papain) and pineapple (bromelain) are perfect or gently massage a product that contains jojoba beads.

It is never too late improve the appearance of your skin and prevent further damage.  Starting today, treat your décolleté and neck with the same care as your face. Use products with ingredients listed above and use sun protection. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and is visible.  As I always stress, using the right products and taking preventative measures are crucial to good skincare regime that will keep you looking fabulous.

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How To Love Yourself

What are your Valentine’s Day memories? Sure I received flower and candy gifts over the years but I'm remembering those days when my Mom and I bought those little inexpensive Valentine's Day cards for my classmates. Did you do that? You made sure to get a card for everyone, even if you didn't know them, so no one would feel left out.

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As children, we are taught to love others, but we are rarely encouraged or taught to love ourselves. This has always puzzled me, since you cannot give  something that you don't have.

Recently, I read an article by Deepak Chopra with tips on how to love ourselves more. You can read it here https://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/love-yourself-unconditiona…

At RENEW BOTANICALS, we want you to love yourself too! ...In addition to the inner love you give yourselves as outlined in Deepak Chopra’s article, we feel taking care of yourself so you look and feel your best is also part of loving yourself.  We believe that our products can hep you do that in a very personal and positive way.  For an extra “love boost” for yourself may we suggest the following?

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1.    Get enough sleep.

Renew Botanicals organic and vegan body lotions

Renew Botanicals organic and vegan body lotions

2.    Take a few extra minutes after you shower or bath to apply some body lotion, butter or oil.  If you can spare even a few minutes more, slowly massage the product into your skin.  Our body lotions would be perfect.

Aging With Attitude Facial Serum by Rene Botancals Organic Skin Care

Aging With Attitude Facial Serum by Rene Botancals Organic Skin Care

3.    Add one luxurious but effective skin care product to your regime like our Aging With Attitude Facial Serum.  Handcrafted in small batches with the finest organic ingredients to give you radiant skin at any age.

It is our hope that you will find just the right combination of products  to complement the quiet space you carve out to show yourself the love, appreciation and acceptance you deserve.

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Question: How do you celebrate yourself? Do you carve out quiet time to reach inside and find and show love to the best parts of yourself? I'd love to hear about it -- and if any of our products help you do that, do tell!

Thank you for reading, and leave a comment below.

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Why I Am Begging You Not to Use Baking Soda On Your Face

I know I am going to get a lot of flack for saying this but please please please stop using baking soda as an exfoliator.  I know blogger after blogger and many DIYers seem to think it is the best thing to do but it isn't.  This isn't just my opinion based on 26 years of experience but on scientific fact.  It is chemistry and biology.

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Let us start with some facts.  The skin's pH is between 4.5 and 5.5.  So just what is pH and what does it mean?   Without getting to bogged down in the chemical jargon, simply put scientists have devised a scale of acid and alkaline properties using 0-14.  1 being the most acidic, 14 being the most alkaline and 7 being neutral.  The skin has a protective coating (made up of sebum, sweat) that creates the acid mantle.  The acid mantle keeps the skin healthy by protecting it from bacteria and fungi.  Here is an example, in case you are still unsure what the acid mantle is:  Have you ever washed your face and experienced a tight, taunt dry feeling?  That is the acid mantle being disrupted.

Drastically altering the pH of the skin by using a highly alkaline product such as baking soda, which by the way, registers about 9 on the pH scale, will disrupt the skin's acid mantle affecting the skin's barrier (outer most layer).  This allows our skin to be vulnerable to environmental assaults.  And it has a cumulative effect.  The more/longer you continue using a highly alkaline product the more damage. You may not see it at first but over time you will. One example is breakouts.  Skin that is too alkaline is susceptible to acne because bacteria cannot survive in an acidic environment.

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On the other hand it is important to note that if products are too acidic, they too will disrupt the acid mantle.  You then risk inflammation leading to free radical damage which can cause rosacea, skin irritation, aging and more.

So, just what should you use to remove the dead skin.  I recommend either using a gentle enzyme mask made up of pineapple/papaya enzymes or a gentle scrub made of jojoba beads, almond meal or chick pea flour.  When using a scrub it is important that you never rub your face hard with the product.  Gently massage the beads and let them do the work.

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Please make sure all your products are pH balanced.  If you are unsure you can pick up pH test strips at the drug store.

If you need skin care advice I am dedicated to helping you.  Please feel free to contact me 

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When Life Hands you Lemons

Life constantly brings changes and sometimes when least expected.  Recently due to circumstances that were beyond my control I had to move my skin care studio.  Not only did I have to move but I had two weeks to find new digs and that is no easy feat.

I would be lying if I didn't say I was worried.  A Massage Therapist associate of mine had downsized some time ago to a one room studio that she shared with an Acupuncturist and Esthetician.  Luckily, I remembered that the Esthetician recently left and I contacted her regarding the space....and the rest as they say is history.

I am back working with a fabulous massage therapist that I worked with  for many years. The space is lovely and very convenient for my clients.  So as you can see, life handed me some lemons but I made lemonade.  So what does this mean for my clients?  Well, except for different hours nothing will change.  Same facial services, same handcrafted organic skin care products. So if your are in Baltimore, come in for an appointment and share a glass of lemonade with me...seriously.
 

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SKIN NOURISHMENT: Showcasing Winter Squash and Pomegranate Seeds

The saying goes "we are what we eat"; and we are.  This is so true when it comes to our skin.  Since the skin is our largest organ it stands to reason what we eat will affect our skin.  We now know that an array of colorful vegetables and fruits are good for usMany are rich in antioxidants which help fight free radical damage (I will get into this in an upcoming blog post).  So with fall upon us, bringing an array of beautiful vegetablesI thought sharing a recipe for one of my favorite side dishes would be fun.

I found this recipe on Epicurious.com a few years ago and changed it up a bit to fit my likes. I replaced the Dandelion greens, which are a spring green, with the arugula; swapped out the delicata squash for the acorn and lastly switched the pine nuts for pumpkin seeds.  The change of the pumpkin seeds for pine nuts was done because I have found finding pine nuts that are not exported from China very difficult and costly.  The pine nuts from China seem to leave a metallic taste in my mouth.  Also pumpkin seeds seem to fit with the fall and are very rich in vitamin, antioxidants and protein.

ARUGULA SALAD WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS, PUMPKIN SEEDS AND ACORN SQUASH

Ingredients

3 tablespoons pomegranate juice

1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoons butter, divided

 1 medium acorn squash, halved, seeded, cut intowedge

1 pound arugula greens, thick stems trimmed, leaves cut into 2-inch lengths (about 12 cups)

3/4 cups pomegranate seeds

1/4 pumpkin seeds, toasted

Preparation

  1. Whisk pomegranate juice and vinegars in bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper. Rewhisk before using.
  2. Melt 1 teaspoons butter in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/3 of squash wedges. Cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer squash wedges to rimmed baking sheet. Repeat 2 more times with remaining butter and squash wedges. Sprinkle squash with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)
  3. Preheat oven to 450°F. Transfer squash to oven; bake 20 minutes.
  4. Mix greens, pomegranate seeds, and pine nuts in large bowl. Toss with half of dressing. Divide among plates; top with squash. Drizzle with dressing.

If you are not Vegan adding some goat cheese or feta makes a nice accompaniment. 

Caring For Your Skin at Home: Pt 2 Using a Toner

First let us put aside the misconception that you need a toner to shrink your pores or to remove cleanser residue.  You cannot shrink a pore.  You can clean out a pore which will bring it back to it's original size but you cannot shrink the pore.  As for removing cleanser residue, that was true years ago when many cleansers were not water soluble.  Today, if you rinse properly you should have removed all traces of your cleanser. The only exception to this is if you are using the Oil Cleansing Method.  

So why do you need a toner?  Let me start off by saying there is no one toner for everyone.  Just like using the right cleanser and moisturizer for your skin type, the same is true for toners.  A toner is the second step to give your skin what it needs to become healthy and balanced.

Most toners will provide extra hydration which is important no matter what your skin type is.  In addition, many provide anti-inflammatory protection which is important in a variety of skin types such as acne, rosacea, and even aging skin. Some are more astringent which helps to balance an oily skin.  However, you must be careful when choosing the correct toner, especially for oily skin.  You never want to dry out your skin with a toner even if you have very oily skin.Stay away from any toner that contain SD alcohol, ethanol and isopropyl alcohol or acetone.  Of course, there should be no artificial colors, fragrance or other synthetic ingredients. 

Most toners can be used either as a mist or you can apply to a cotton pad and wipe your skin.  I love to include hydrosols also known as flower waters in my formulations.  They are distilled from plants, are pH balanced and smell lovely.  Like essential oils, each has different properties that can improve the appearance of your skin.  There is a hydrosol for every skin type.  Do you use a toner?



 

How to Prevent Dry Winter Skin

It may seem strange to talk about winter when the leaves are only just starting to turn, but during the past 26 years I have observed that if we do not take preventative action against dehydration in the early fall, it becomes a battle all winter long to try to undo the damage.

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Cooler temperatures, wind, and of course turning on the heat can wreak havoc on your skin; drying it out, causing flakes and even redness. Dehydration can cause premature aging, sensitive skin, rosacea, and congested skin.  Now's the time to take steps to prevent dry flaky skin.

Here are some tips to help prevent dehydration.

  •  Continue to drink lots of water...We tend to turn to hot drinks in the cooler weather, more coffee and tea, however, both of these act as diuretics and can cause dehydration.
  • Use the proper cleanser and moisturizer, and make sure your moisturizer twice a day.  Keep in mind the cleanser and moisturizer you used all summer may not be what your skin needs now..

  • Exfoliate once a week.  It is important to gently remove the dead skin build up so that your moisturizer can penetrate your skin.  Keep in mind that over exfoliating the skin will have the opposite effect.  This means no AHA in your cleansers
  • Get a facial.  If you haven't had one in a while now is a good time to. At the same time you can discuss your home care and make sure you are using the best product for this time of year.
  • To counter the dry heat indoors consider buying a humidifier for your home and/or workplace.

If you follow these tips I guarantee your skin will stay radiant, soft and beautiful all winter long.

10 Skin Care Mistakes Keeping you From Healthy Skin

Day after day people book appointments with me for facials.  Some have skin care problems such as acne, rosacea or pigmentation issues.  Others come to maintain healthy skin and slow down the aging process. But many come because they are having issues that can be quickly remedied by following these 10 easy steps.

1.Use the right products for your skin type.  Following the advice from a DIY blogger may not work for you, since your skin may be very different from theirs. One size does not fit all.  Get your skin properly analyzed by a professional.   

2.  Cleanse your skin properly.  First make sure you are using the right cleanser for your skin type.  If you wear makeup, you must cleanse twice.  Once to remove the makeup, second to clean the skin.  After cleansing, your skin should not feel tight or taunt.  If so your cleanser is too drying.

3.  Moisturizer.  This is very important for everyone, even those with oily skin.  Not applying moisturizer especially to wet skin will cause the water to evaporate leaving your skin dehydrated.  Your skin will overcompensate for the loss of hydration which can lead to break outs, and the most common condition; dry cheeks and oily t-zone.

Renew Botanicals Organic and Vegan Moisturizer

4. Over Exfoliating .  This has become one of the biggest problems in the last few years because so many companies are putting exfoliants into their cleansers such as jojoba beads or alpha hydroxy acids.  Even products that say "gently daily exfoliant" should not be used every day. That is not to say exfoliation isn't important because it is, but once or twice a week is enough.  Once or twice a week you are removing the dead skin but more than that you are actually removing the protective barrier which can cause inflammation, moisture loss and sensitivity.

5.  Sunscreen.  Wearing sunscreen everyday should be part of you daily regime.  Besides protecting your from skin cancer, nothing will age you more than too much sun damage.  It is important to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 25-30 (more is not necessary).  If you are going to be out in the sun all day, reapply.  Avoid sunscreens with chemicals such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.  Stick with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as your only active ingredient, although I prefer just zinc oxide.

6. Drink Water.  Keeping hydrated is important for your inner health and outer beauty.  Your skin is your largest organ and if your skin is not getting the sufficient amount of water, the lack of hydration will present itself by turning your skin dry, tight and flaky which may have the same results and lack of moisturizing (see #3).

7. Picking at Your Pimples.   When you pick, pull, squeeze your pimples you are causing damage.  This can lead to scars, which are far worse than the pimple.  It can also lead to irritation and inflammation and most of all infection.

8. Eat Healthy.  As mentioned above, your skin is your largest organ so what goes in your body will reflect on your skin.  Eat lots of fresh veggies, fruits, lean meats, healthy fats and complex carbs.  Cut back on dairy, sugar bad fats. Choose organic and grass fed dairy and meats, whenever you can.

9.  Clean Your Makeup Brushes.  Obviously dirty brushes will introduce bacteria into your makeup and on your skin.

10.  Throw away expired products and makeup.  Most products and makeup have a shelf life.  Using products that have expired can introduce bacteria into your skin.

In addition to following these tips, treat yourself to a facial at least 4 times a year, if you can do it more often all the better.  Make sure you are using the right products for your skin and check ingredients.  Remember glowing skin is healthy skin.

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Please Say No To Palm Oil

Recently, I was on a quest to find some handcrafted soap that was free of Palm Oil.  It amazed me how few manufacturers, from the smallest to the largest are still using Palm Oil in the U.S.  I could find many handcrafted soap makers in Australia and Europe but not here.  I am happy to say I was able to find an amazing company, Unearth Malee.  Not only are their soaps free of Palm oil, but they use organic ingredients,  and no synthetic fragrance.   This is not a review of their products but I did want to give them a shout out. 

You may be asking yourselves, why are you so against Palm Oil?

Palm oil from the oil palm tree is a high quality versatile oil.  However, it grows only in the tropics where it has had a disastrous effect on the environment.  According to the environmental group Friends of the Earth, it is estimated that 87 percent of Malaysia’s deforestation was due to palm oil plantations.  Their researchers also estimated that if nothing is done to alleviate the rising rates of deforestation, orangutans could become extinct within 12 years.  The palm oil trade is destroying orangutan habitats, endangering other rain forest animals, contributing to the high levels of carbon emissions, and has placed Indonesia as possibly having the world’s fastest deforestation rate (Greenpeace sources estimate an area equivalent to 300 soccer fields per hour).  And according the the World Wildlife Fund "Large areas of tropical forests and other ecosystems with high conservation values have been cleared to make room for vast monoculture oil palm plantations – destroying critical habitat for many endangered species, including rhinos, elephants and tigers. In some cases, the expansion of plantations has lead to the eviction of forest-dwelling peoples."

In 2004 The World Wildlife Federation and teamed up with the Palm Oil Industry and launched RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil).  Many manufacturers especially small companies proudly state they are using sustainable Palm Oil, however, this is not as benign as many of them think because the rules are riddled with loopholes. 

The environmental groups Greenpeace International and Wetlands International argue that such loopholes allows palm oil firms to join RSPO and improve their image despite the fact that very little palm oil has yet been produced according to the sustainability criteria. And The Jakarta-based Center for Orangutan Protection has directly opposed the certification scheme. The group said last year that it found two RSPO member companies clear-cutting forests that were home to orangutans, sun bears, and Borneo gibbons. "It has been six years after RSPO was put into operation but forests are still cleared and orangutans are continually killed," said Novi Hardianto, the Center's habitat program coordinator, in a press release. "All criteria on sustainable palm oil and certification process are merely public lies."

Because of it's versatility, Palm oil is used in so many products, ranging from margarine, cereals, sweets and baked goods, to soaps, washing powders and cosmetics. (If you are a vegan and use products by Earth Balance beware that they use Palm Oil in many of their products.) And you have to practice due diligence if this concerns you, because often times it is listed as an ingredient on product labels, with the term ‘vegetable oil’ often being used instead.

So, please practice consumer awareness and I hope that the next time you are shopping think about who and what will be affected by that product. 



The Truth About Antibacterial Products

Finally, after 30 years of sitting on a ruling the FDA announced that unless manufacturers can prove that antibacterial soap is safe and more effective than using soap and water it will have to be removed from shelves by 2016.

For those of you wondering what is wrong with antibacterial products here are some facts, the ingredient in these antibacterial products, Triclosan can:

  • They can create antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria - The World Health Organization calls it "a threat to global health security"
  • Some studies have found that, in animals, triclosan appears to interfere with the body's regulation of thyroid hormone.   If this is the case in humans, too, there are worries that it could lead to problems such as infertility, artificially-advanced early puberty, obesity and cancer.
  • It may cause allergies
  • It is harmful to the environment.  It is still found after going through sewage plants and has been detected in streams and other bodies of water where it disrupts alga's ability to perform photosynthesis.  
The bottom line is using triclosan as an antibacterial wash is really no more effective than good old hand washing with soap and water according the the Center for Disease Control...just use soap and wash for about 30 seconds...singing the alphabet song if you like.

The bottom line is using triclosan as an antibacterial wash is really no more effective than good old hand washing with soap and water according the the Center for Disease Control...just use soap and wash for about 30 seconds...singing the alphabet song if you like.

 

In my skin care practice and when I make my skin care products I never use any product or  ingredient that may harm humans, animals, or the environment and many like myself have been fighting long and hard to get these harmful products off the shelves.  So a small victory but a victory nonetheless.

Summer Skin Care

Most of us stay pretty busy during the summer. Many people take their vacations during this time and we tend to be out and about more.  Because of our crazy, hectic, having fun schedules we are more prone to neglect our skin. Yes, more and more people are remembering to use sunscreen but summer skin care is more than just applying sun protection.

The first thing to consider is your home care regime.  Are you using the same products you did in the winter?  Some skin types are not effected by seasonal changes,  however,  many people need to switch their skin care products for lighter weight cleansers and moisturizers.  That creamy cleanser that was perfect in January may not be what you need in July. If you are feeling a bit more oily you may need a gel or foaming cleanser.  Renew Botanicals has a cleanser that is a little of both.  Our Herbal Cleanser has some of the ingredients and properties of a gel cleanser but with additional lightweight oils so that your skin does not feel dry.  The addition of activated charcoal helps to detoxify the skin.  Same idea holds true for your  moisturizer.  Your current moisturizer may still be perfect the rest of the year,  but just as with your cleanser, you may need a moisturizer that is a little lighter.  You still need to use your moisturizer twice a day.  If you are feeling too oily do not stop using a moisturizer, this is a mistake many make.  Your skin can still become dehydrated in the summer.  Just lighten it up.

Don't forget to take your skin care products with you on vacation.  It is also a great idea when you get back from vacation to see your Esthetician for a facial.  It is a great way to replenish your skin.  And please keep applying your sunscreen.  Check out my last blog post on sunscreens

Speaking of dehydration.  It is so important to drink lots of water during the summer.  Remember iced tea (unless it is herbal) and iced coffee will further dehydrate, you as will any alcoholic beverages.  If you are not fond of water, try adding watermelon chunks, slices of orange, lime or lemon, cucumbers or berries.

Happy Summer!

What you Need To Know About Sun Protection

Summer officially starts next week and many of you are once again facing the conundrum of what sunscreen should you use.  For years we heard how important sunscreen is but there has been some controversy lately regarding using sunscreen and other reports that many ingredients are not safe.  So before you hit the deck (pool, beach, boat) I will try to shed some light.

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To Wear Sunscreen or Not, That is The Question

We need to get some sun exposure. Sunshine on our bodies produces vitamin D.  Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, immune function and blood cell formation. However, we don’t need very much sun exposure to meet our needs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 5-15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure a few times a week is all that’s required to maintain healthy vitamin D levels. So, the answer is YES, after your initial recommended time of unprotected sun exposure, apply your sunscreen and apply it often.

Why Suncreen?

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So as you just learned a little unprotected sun is a good thing, however, if you are trying to prevent aging (and who of us isn't?) or more importantly prevent skin cancer (which is on the rise) than you must wear sunscreen. The latest scientific studies tell us that we need a broad spectrum sunscreen.  Most sunscreens in the market protect you from UVB rays.  These rays are responsible for causing harmful sunburns and are most dangerous between 10 am and 4 pm.  However, most of the rays that reach the earth are UVA rays.  The UVA rays are present sunrise to sunset and penetrate the skin much deeper. UVA rays can cause free radical damage causing the breakdown of collagen which leads to wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and aging skin.  UVA rays can penetrate through light clothing, cloud cover and untinted glass.   That’s right folks, even on a cloudy day these rays can damage your skin.

SPF

It should be noted that manufacturers have mislead consumers by using words like waterproof/water resistant and of course SPF values.  Very often people mistakenly believe that using sunscreen with a higher SPF means that they can stay out in the sun longer and not have to reapply as often as lower SPFs.  Using between 20 and 35 SPF is all you need BUT you must apply 30 minutes before going out in the sun andreapply throughout the day.

Choosing Sunscreen

Although we must wear sunscreen, there are many scientists that believe that using chemical sunscreens may actually increase cancers by virtue of their free radical generating properties.  For instance, a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that 97% of Americans are contaminated with a widely used sunscreen ingredient called oxybenzone that has been linked to allergies, hormone disruption, and cell damage?  And according to the Holistic Health Library, “Organic chemists have long been aware of the dangers of compounds in chemical sunscreens, but this was ignored by the manufacturers of commercial sunscreens and most of the medical establishment”  The list of toxic chemicals in sunscreens does not stop at oxybenzone.  The list includes:  PABA and PABA esters, Cinnamates, Salicylates, Avobenzone, Fragrance, Parabens

So with all this “negative” information about sunscreens you are probably asking yourselves, what can I use?   The safest sunscreens are physical blocks made with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide which work as a barrier against sun.  Lately titanium dioxide has come under some scrutiny but as long as you check to see they are not nano-particles you will be fine.  In addition to using physical block sunscreen, I recommend your sunscreen contain antioxidants such as green tea extract. 

Additionally you can wear a hat to keep the sun off your face and sunglasses to protect the thin, delicate skin around your eyes. Keep in mind that is important to get Vitamin D3, so spend a little time each day out in the sun without sunscreen.

As they say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.