The Friday Edit: my favorite sunscreen & more

Susan B's favorite sunscreens & best sunscreens under makeup. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Sunscreen update

I’ve received a few questions lately about sunscreens, so thought I’d update you on what I’ve been using and why. I’ve also had the opportunity to try some new ones, so will share my thoughts on those as well.

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High protection sunscreen

Moderate protection

For lower UV index days you may find that SPF 30 is as much as you need.

Reading list

Madame Fourcade's Secret War, a compelling portrait of one of the women leaders of the French Resistance. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I just finished Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler by Lynne Olson. I give it my highest recommendation! It’s an engrossing and gripping history of Marie-Madeleine Fourcade and the Alliance spy network, which was responsible for some of the most valuable intelligence against the Germans in France.

Due to post-war politics (and some bad old-fashioned sexism), for many years after the WWII, her contributions were overlooked. But she (and many women) were crucial to the Resistance and intelligence gathering effort.

All The Light We Cannot See cover. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Next up on my reading list is a novel, All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This one was highly recommended by my BIL and SIL.

And I’m still slogging my way through The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel. I’m finding this one a tougher go than the first two books. It’s a bit more ponderous, padded with a lot of rumination and flashbacks. It’s such an interesting period in history though, so I’m inclined to keep at it and finish.

What are you reading these days?

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  1. I love the Chanel and the Elta sunscreens. I use the Elta everyday and double up with the Chanel when I know I am going to outside a lot. Living in Florida and having a son who is a professional golfer, sun protection is a big must .

  2. Have you read A Gentleman in Moscow? It is one of my all time favorite books! Have read the first 2 on your list and agree completely! They were wonderful. Would love to read more suggestions.

      1. You can listen to Amor Towles discussing his creative process and “A Gentleman…” at the American Library in Paris’ FB page. He recently lectured there (via Zoom). He’s coming out with another book in the fall.

  3. I have been using Australian Gold sunscreen for several years now. It’s a non-greasy, mineral lotion that’s lightly tinted. It has a broad spectrum SPF 50, antioxidant rich protection. I do not believe that a certain dollar sign indicates the value of a product. This is a very affordable product and most days it gives me enough coverage that I don’t add more makeup. It doesn’t settle in my wrinkles and if I want to add more coverage it works as a great base.
    There are certain products that I love that I am willing to spend more on but when I find an excellent product at a reasonable price, that’s a win!

  4. I loved All the light you cannot see .You might like 3Hours in Paris by Cara Black.She writes a series of murder mysteries taking place in Paris,but this one is a stand alone about Paris in WW2

  5. Madame Fourcade will go on my TBR list! Two more WWII books, “A woman of no importance “, by Sonia Purnell, a biography of Virginia Hall, who also led resistance work in France, the CIA now has a building named in her honor. Also “The only woman in the room” by Marie Benedict, a fiction account of Hedy Lamar. She was a very interesting woman. It’s amazing what we women have accomplished throughout history with no recognition. Happy reading!

  6. Does the Chanel Sunscreen have a scent of fragrance? I’m very sensitive to scent especially on my face?
    I also Loved All The Light You Cannot See and loved it!

    1. There is a very faint scent, but to me it just smells like sunscreen and not added fragrance. It dissipates almost immediately.

  7. “Shuggie Bain” is an excellent book (it won the Man Booker prize and was shortlisted for the National Book Award). Very sad, but beautifully written.

  8. Firefly Lane is great. The Guest List by Lucy Foley is a great mystery, I highly recommend . Rules of Civility is very good. By the author of The Gentleman of Moscow but totally different.

  9. I like to use a tinted sunscreen that provides sheer coverage, and I avoid octinoxate (among other ingredients), so I’m intrigued by the Versed Guards Up. So hard to find the “right” facial sunscreen, and my current one was just discontinued. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Susan, I just want to say how much I enjoy your blog. Your style is beautiful and you have truly blossomed with your new coloring. Thank you for such a wonderful, quality blog!!

  11. I have been using Elta UV Clear every day for the past six years. Aside from the incredible sun protection it provides, I credit the fact that it includes niacinamide for the tremendous improvement to my rosacea prone skin. The trick to avoiding pilling of makeup is to allow a few minutes before applying makeup.

  12. Suzanne
    I’ll add ‘Madame Fourcade’s Secret War’ to my TBR pile as it sounds like reliable history vs. historical fiction; I’ve sort of burned out on WWII historical fiction. You might be interested in ‘A Woman of No Importance’ by Sonia Purnell. “The untold story of the American Spy who helped win WWII”. Comparing the experiences of the two women will be interesting

  13. A Gentleman never leaves my bedside table, a moral guide in these constrained times. He lead me to War and Peace, Anna Karenina (his favorite novel) and a study of basic Russian and the watching of several versions of W&P & AK.
    All the Light, very good.
    Versed, excellent.
    Not so much sunscreen needed with a mask, which furthermore covers any age-related mouth and jaw issues, much to my amusement.

  14. I also enjoyed Madame Fourcade’s Secret War. Another excellent read is: A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII. Several of the the agents mentioned in Madame Fourcade’s book where trained and sent to France by Vera Atkins. She searches post war Europe to find out what happened to all those who where unaccounted for. Two amazing books that highlight the work women did during the war that often wasn’t recognized until now.

  15. I use the Elta sunscreen – the UV Facial version. I also use the Australian Gold broad spectrum mineral lotion that your reader Jan mentioned, especially for arms and hands. My only regret is that I didn’t use sunscreen when I was young 🙂
    I love the book suggestions – I haven’t read either that you mentioned, but I will add them to my list. I did read Gentleman in Moscow and loved it. One positive thing about 2020 for me is that it was a great year for reading and discovering online bookclubs and author presentations!
    I’d like to recommend the “Remembering John Le Carré, British Spy Turned Best-Selling Novelist” interview on the NPR website, it was fascinating!

  16. My dermatologist also recommends Elta MD UV Clear SPF46. I have a lot of sun damage on my face from too many years of exposing myself to the sun without sunscreen because there wasn’t any such thing in those days (remember Coppertone and Sea & Ski?!!). The problem that I have with the Elta product is that it makes my face have a somewhat oily appearance. Do you have any suggestions on how to combat this problem?

  17. If your appetite for female spies in France is not sated, you might try The Alice Network, based on the true story of a ring of spies during WWI. It’s not the great literature that All the Light is, but it’s interesting and engaging and at times I couldn’t put it down. A friend passed it on after she and her husband both devoured it.

    1. I’m reading The Alice Network now and loving it. I read The Light and Gentleman several years ago and loved both of them. Another good woman based WWII spy/mystery story is The Lost Girls of Paris.

  18. Good morning Susan,

    I read the book ‘All the Light You Cannot See. a few years ago. Still remember some of the stunning metaphors. Achingly beautiful novel. Enjoy!

  19. Thanks for the great recommendations for skin care. I also really like Supergoop Unseen too. For WWII I am also reading A Woman of No Importance right now. Fascinating background on intelligence during WWII. Loved ‘All the Light You Cannot See’ too. Another good read is ‘Beneath a Scarlet Sky’. Based on a true story, set in Italy about Pino Lela & his experience working with the Italian resistance. These books are all on Audible too. Have a great weekend!

  20. “All The Light…” is one of my favourite books. And was so lucky to visit St. Malo/Brittany last year (pre-pandemic) and walked through the old city, visiting many of the spots mentioned in the book.

    Beautiful novel. And highly recommend Brittany – je l’adore!

  21. I’ve been using Elta’s tinted sunscreen with SPF41 for several years. My skin is still pretty good so this tinted version serves as my foundation.

  22. Are all these mineral sunscreens purely mineral? I’m allergic to chemical sunscreen and I don’t want to risk my eyes swelling shut. Particularly the Elta due to Karen’s comment above about it being good for someone with roseacea.

  23. Hello! Here’s another book rec (it may have already been mentioned, but if not …) “Code Name Helene” by Ariel Lawhon. Based on a true story. (Has anyone else noticed the profusion of WWII era books in the last two years??)