When I was five years old, my two sisters and I thought our grandfather was hilarious. Any time he started a sentence with "did I tell you kids the story about....." we three munchkins dropped whatever we were doing and danced around his feet like hyperactive kangaroos, anticipating what was to come.  OF COURSE we had heard each story 1000 times before, that was precisely what made it so entertaining! In some cases we didn't even understand the content OR the punch line, but that fact made no difference. To us, hearing his stories over and over again was pure entertainment largely because Gramps unconstrained laughter was impossible to resist. He would start his story softly enough with a few chuckles, then he would add in some snorting noises (which is big fun to watch when you are five years old) and end with his chubby face beat red, tears of laughter streaming from his eyes. The final crescendo came when we all SCREAMED out the punch line in unison. Then we would dance around the floor like idiots, slapping each other in the shoulder while repeating the punch line over and over, which made us laugh even harder. Fast forward 40 years, and this same "humor anticipation phenomenon" is what makes us all laugh while watching stupid plotless classic movies like Caddie Shack and Blazing Saddles for the 59th time.

It's fun and entertaining to hear the same old story over and over again when you are five, but maybe not when you are 25 or 35 or 55. So as important as a good sun block might be, I understand that Truth In Aging readers just might want to hear about SOMETHING ELSE for a change. Therefore I promise that this will be my last posting for 2009 on physical sun blocks. But I just couldn't resist  this one last recommendation.... Clinique City Block Sheer Face Protector is a great chemical lite sun block, and you might want to try it.

A physical sun block works differently from the more common "chemical" sun blocks, and there are some benefits and as always in life, some disadvantages. The advantage is that the physical sun block sits on top of skin like a giant reflecting sun bonnet, shading you from damaging rays, vs a chemical sun block which is designed to seep into your actual cells, and alter their propensity towards sun burn. The majority of "sun rashes" that people get are caused by a reaction to the chemicals in the sun block, not the sun... so the non-invasive PHYSICAL block is a safer alternative. Not foolproof, but safer. The downside is that the "oxides" in PHYSICAL sun blocks are absolutely going to give your skin some degree of chalkiness.... from the bright white of the life guards nose to the almost invisible of the Clinique City Block Sheer Face Protector. Finding the PHYSICAL sun block which has the right combination of protection for your specific skin type, and a color/tint that works for you might take a little trial and error. Some are shiny, some are matte, and within those categories are great varieties of scent, texture, and price.

To date I have tried almost 20 different types.... and have so far recommended only the highly pigmented Abella product (available in a range of skin tones) and the almost invisible Murad Oil Free sun block.  The third physical sun block which I am recommending today falls somewhere in the middle in terms of coverage and sheerness..... and it is Clinique City Block Sheer Face Protector.   It comes in a light and a medium tint, blends in quickly and nicely, could be worn underneath foundation or in place of foundation on the weekends, and is not too shiny.  The tint is sheer enough that you could wear it on your hands, neck and chest without looking like a goof, although for the price it is really not intended to be a body sun block.  The SPF 15 is not going to give you the deeper protection of the Abella SPF 30 product, but the trade-off is a significantly more sheer look. Even my husband could use the Clinique product (although I would certainly have to hide the girly-girl label while he applied it) without it looking oddly like makeup.

There are some great physical sun blocks on the market today that will provide you with excellent protection without subjecting your skin and body to yet even more chemicals.  The trick is in finding the one that works well for you..... and the three I have recommended in 2009 might be a good place to start.

Clinique City Block Sheer Face Protector Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide

Ingredients: Water (aqua purificata) purified, trioctyldodecyl citrate, butylene glycol, cyclomethicone, titianium dioxide, tricaprylin, steareth-2, silica, tricaprylyl citrate, behenoxydimethicone, zinc oxide, lecithin, sorbitan tristearate, stearic acid, dimethicone, alumina, ceteth-2, peg-40 stearate, octyldodecyl neopentanoate, dimethicone copolyol, sodium phosphate, tocopheryl acetate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, steareth-20, disodium edta, pantethine, polyglyceryl-6 polyricinoleate, bisabolol, sodium stearate isopropyl titanium triisostearate, silver borosilicate, barium sulfate, xanthan gum, magnesium aluminum silicate, bht, iron oxides (ci 77491, ci 77492, ci 77499).