Monday, May 14

My best skincare tip--and a love story

I'm often asked if my hair color is natural.  The answer is yes.  I'm a redhead through and through--red hair, green eyes, fair skin.  Luckily, my husband thinks red hair is beautiful.  He likes to take photos of me, like this one:

This was taken after a week at the beach, mind you.  Notice how my white top shows off my savage tan.  Ahem.

The truth is, my skin WILL tan if I let it.  But my very best skincare tip, which comes straight from the heart of an aging redhead, is this:

Make peace with light-colored skin.

Now, if we're truthful, most of us will admit that we think that everyone looks better if they have a bit of tan.  Pale skin reminds us of sickness; tanned skin makes us think of youth and vitality.  But there's something you should know:  unless you are naturally dark-complexioned, the skin that looks so pretty and bronzed today is not going to look good when you're my age.  

I'm 48 years old.  The photo above was taken when I was 45.  Obviously my skin isn't perfect; there are some crow's feet hiding behind those sunglasses, I have some freckling on my face, and I have lots of moles.  But I've watched as my sun-loving peers--the ones whose tans I used to envy--have developed skin that's really spotted. What was smooth, beautifully tanned, healthy-looking skin when we were in our teens, 20's, and early 30's is now, in our late 40's, covered in age spots.  The delicate skin of the neckline and decolletage areas are particularly susceptible areas, it seems. 

Believe me, I understand that you may prefer the look of tanned skin.  But that tanned look on fair-skinned people is actually sun damage, and it'll come back to haunt you.  I know that the risk of skin cancer often can seem awfully remote, and meanwhile, we all want our skin to have a healthy-looking glow.  Trust me on this, though: if you spend a lot of time in the sun or in a tanning bed, you can end up with unsightly spotting and wrinkling--not when you're 80, but when you're in your 40's!  If you really, really want the look of tanned skin, find a sunless tanner you like and use it.  Meanwhile, use your sunscreen and be grateful for your smooth skin.

Now for the love story part of this post.  The story has to do with that photo of me above.  My husband Jack took that picture at the beach in the summertime.  At Christmastime that year, he told me that he wanted something particular for his Christmas gift from me and that he would like to order his own present.  That was a  highly unusual request for Jack, but he promised me that what he wanted was a good thing, so I agreed to the plan.  I wondered what he could be wanting--a big flat-screen TV?  something special for his car?  I had no clue.  He ordered the mysterious item online, but wouldn't give me any hints about it.  A couple of weeks later, a huge box appeared on our front porch.  By this time my curiosity was really piqued.  When Jack opened the package, I let out a little scream.  Want to see what it was?

It's that photo that he took, turned into a Lichtenstein-style piece of art.  He ordered it from

This photo will give you an idea of its size--it measures 3 1/2 x 4 1/2 feet!

It hangs in our bathroom, on the wall to the right of Jack's vanity, where my image can inspire him (or haunt him!) every day.

Isn't that the sweetest thing?  God bless that man.  This year we'll celebrate our 27th anniversary, and he still likes to take pictures of me.  My hair now has a number of white hairs mixed in with the red,  but I still don't have age spots.  I'm really glad I learned to live at peace with my fair skin. 

Note:  There are lots of good sunscreens and sunless tanners available for reasonable prices.  For protecting my face, neck, and chest on an everyday basis, I particularly like Olay Complete moisturizer with sunscreen--it's a great moisturizer and the sunscreen is effective.  I have no affiliation with Olay, but I love their product--I'm living proof that it works!  I also wear big UV-blocking sunglasses (as you can see in the photo).  When I go to the beach, in addition to sunscreen, I lounge under an umbrella, wear a big hat, and wear a UV-blocking shirt when I'm playing in the water.  I also keep the sunroof in my car closed during the day--it's a "moonroof" for me.

So what about you?  Are you fair-skinned or a bronzed beauty?  Have any favorite products you'd recommend?  Please share!

I'm joining Beth at Home Stories A to Z for Tutorials and Tips.  


  1. Gingers unite!

    I'm a redhead but my skin isn't red head pale. Mine is a bit warmer which always throws off makeup people AND I have dark brown eyes.

    I am a self-tanner since age 16. 25 years of self-tanning have run me through many products.

    I like the Jergens stuff now. Not full on tanner, just takes the glow off. My fave is the foam but if it isn't on sale, I get the firming lotion.

    Someone today stopped and asked me if I'm a natural redhead. People did it when I was 10 too. Always cracks me up.

    While I am a natural redhead, I add a little help now with some color and highlights since mine has dulled SO much in recent years.

  2. I grew up in the era of using baby oil when tanning in the sun--yikes! I loved my tan skin; however, you are correct when you say you will pay for it starting in your forties and fifties. The print is an awesome gift!

  3. Beautiful photo of you he took. And what a painting. I am a dark brown with a lot of auburn (natural) in my hair. My mother's side is almost all Irish. My mother was a strawberry blond as a child. Her brother has two red headed daugthers. I didn't get the red hair, but the natural red highlights (which are now sharing their spot with the gray creeping in). Anyway, dark brown hair and dark brown eyes like my Irish grandmother, along with the fair complexion (not quite as fair as yours, but fair) - I burn. I don't tan. Not that I have tried purposefully. I burn then it peels and goes away. My neighbor 8 years younger than me has a tanning bed in her basement. She looks old. Much older than my age (I will be 44 the end of the month).

  4. You are gorgeous, love that picture of you!

    I love Sally Hansen's Air Brushed Legs. I use it on my face, arms, chest, and it! ;)

  5. Very romantic and stunning gift.

    I have redhead skin ... but no red hair.

  6. OK You don't look a day over 30, no fair! I loved the sun in my teens and twenty's and it now shows on my chest. sun damage and wrinkles, so sad.
    love the picture, so pretty!

  7. You are stunning and the picture your hubby had made is beautiful. When I was younger, I use to lay out on the front lawn with my girlfriends and tan. Back then, my skin would turn at least 2-3 shades darker (thanks to my half mexican blood). Nowadays, at the age of nearly 46, I do not prefer to be uncovered out in the sun. I burn easily and well, I am getting wrinkle already. I am a firm believing in any exposed body part encountering sunscreen. Great tips!

  8. Sweetest thing ever and no wonder. You are gorgeous!
    I'm 63. Baked when I was young but taking good care of it now.

  9. What an awesome pic!! I was once a sun goddess when I knew I shouldn't have been in my teens and 20s and now in my 30's I'm paying for it- I've had 4 basel cell carcinomas and wrinkles on my face that I shouldn't. My dad died last year from melanoma at age 65. His sister died from it at age 70 and his father died from it at age 55. Stay out of the sun people!!! It's not worth it! I love Sonia Kashuk's tanning cloths at Target. I also get sprayed because yes, I still like the the look of some color but I won't ever go out and lay in the sun like I used to. My kids and family are too important to me. Thanks for this post, hope it encourages some to not bake in the sun.

  10. You look beautiful and I live the painting he ordered of you. Such a sweet gift. I have brown hair and used to tan easily. By the time I hit high school my tan faded to fair skin and hasn't changed yet. I have just embraced and hope to age gracefully.

  11. Pale and proud here! ;) LOVE that print.

  12. Yay for standing up for the pale redheads, Richella! My whole life, I've been unable to tan - and was often made fun of for it when I was younger. I am encouraged by how fabulous you look in your 40s. Mine are around the corner, and I appreciate this perspective that untanned skin is beautiful as we age. Thank you! And what a fabulous gift and love story!

  13. I'm fairly fair too (ha!), but if I really work at it, I can get a little bit tan. Plus, my skin is oily, so my 49 years look pretty good on me (or so I've been told). Very few wrinkles on this face, so far. Yea for fair- and oily-skinned people!

    What an amazing print! I love it!

  14. I don't have (naturally) red hair but now have a number of (salon-assisted) red highlights to cover gray. But I am true Irish, and I have skin which seems to have no pigment. I am not kidding. Some say that there is an undertone to skin - olive or rosy. Mine is whiter than white. So, after sun poisening at 17, I learned my lesson and became an advocate of sunscreen. My moisterizer (also Olay) has it built in, my foundation (L'oreal) has it built in, but in the Carolina summer, I'll put additional sunscreen underneath.

    I recommend Banana Boat Ultra Defense Sheer Protect SPF UVB 50. Even the kids don't complain about it. I keep in by the front door, in the car, in the vanities, etc. so we always use it. When the 4 year olds don't complain, you know you have a winner.

    I can't say enough about using sunscreen. It helps prevent cancer and aging. People say I don't have wrinkles (perhaps they need an eye exam!) and they're pretty much right. I can't ask for more at 43.

  15. That photo and Huge print are awesome! You are so pretty Richella. I love natural red hair, and I think it is beautiful. We have a large family at our church and every single one of them has flaming red hair. I love it!

    I have so many brown "age" spots form my years in the sun. I don't do that any more...but growing up by the beach in Southern Calif. I was always in the sun.

  16. What a gorgeous natural color, Richella! I wish I was pale and proud, but I still love some color, so I use fake products~I really like the Loreal line. Jack is a keeper~what a beautiful, thoughtful gift. :)

  17. This was a really great post. I love the picture and the sentiment behind it.

    My youngest brother died from Melanoma. He was a bricklayer and spent all of his time in the sun.

    I hope your post helps people understand how damaging the sun can actually be. I lather up my grandchildren when they come to our pool to swim.


  18. Awareness is so important. Did you know that a common area for skin cancer to show up is on the feet and behind the knees of women and behind the ears for men?

    That portrait is SO COOL!!! Could I please get the name of the place he had this done?

    Thank you for such an eye opening piece and I hope people read all of the comments as these are just as educational.
    Peace, Anne WF

  19. Hey Hotty McHawtness! That photo is gorgeous and the artwork and story behind it are fabulous! I'd love to have the name of the company that did it.
    I totally agree with you about the sunscreen. I am olive skinned, tan very easily and almost never ever burn, but keeping out of the sun is one of my top beauty tips as well. I'll be 45 in July and I am aging much better than some of my fair skinned friends who were sun worshipers. If I need a bit of color, this Italian chick goes and gets a spray tan. :)

  20. That really is an unbelievably romanic gift! And is it weird to say I would never have guessed you are 48?? You look about 25! :)

  21. I am a natural redhead with blue eyes!
    My 40 year old son has red hair and my 33 year old daughter red gold hair. All so beautiful!


  22. Aww you are just newlyweds. Hubby and I have been married 41 years!

    Best Wishes!
    Pamela WV

  23. I'm half and half(black/white) with dark skin and do get sun burns! Not worth it! All skin colors are beautiful if properly taken care of, healthy skin rules! like anything else: Sun in moderation!

  24. Richella you are gorgeous! I love that picture of you. Your hair colour is beautiful too! x

  25. OMG! I love it, Richella! You look like a Duran Duran girl in that print! : ) I used to tan when I was younger and back when you didn't think ahead to your 40's {since it seemed so far away!}. I haven't for about 10 years now. Scary though is a neighbor across the road from us {at our new place}. She is older than me - 50-something and is outside every sunny day, all day, in her lounge chair facing the sun. She is dark now with her tan, but I have to say her skin looks like leather. She almost looks as bad as that mother that was in the news recently. If nothing else, they actually make me look good for my age {same as you, btw}!

  26. What a beautiful picture and matching artpiece. I follow your blog which is very inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us.


  27. I come from a family of read heads and I got more of an auburn color out of it but stil definitely red and I definitely fair skin!

    I am so glad I read this post because I am 21 and your post made me want to take care of my skin NOW so that I don't have to pay for it later.

    Thank you so much!! Great site!

  28. hello! you are so beautiful and I like your hair so much! I'm a natural brunette, but I plan of having my hair colored soon! Same as yours! :D Though I'm a bit tan skinned, but not really dark. Do you think it'd fit me? :(

  29. I clinked on the link. What a precious story!


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