Sunscreen 101 With EiR's Jun Lee
EiR NYC founder Jun Lee spends many of her days on the water, ripping waves and soaking up many, many rays. The art curator and former Muy Thai fighter(!) created her line of surf-inspired skincare products after seeking holistic wisdom to nurse multiple extreme sports injuries. Speaking with professionals about the healing powers of essential oils and herbs opened her eyes to a natural solution to skincare, and she set out to create her own ideal collection of skin-saving salves, sunscreens and natural care products—EiR takes its name from the Norse goddess of healing. EiR's Surf Mud is the go-to for surfers chasing big waves on the pro tour circuit thanks to its highly effective sun-protection properties—the fact that it also enhances and hydrates skin is also a major plus. We asked Jun to dish on creating her iconic product and in the process she offered some of her SPF intel. Next up: getting her secret Mayan chocolate mask recipe!
BIKINI: When you were creating Surf Mud, what were you looking to create that the market didn't offer?
JUN LEE: I wanted something very simple with recognizable ingredients that I could wear while spending long hours in the sun and water while I was surfing. The zinc stuff I found in the market felt very dehydrating for my skin, and l felt like I was getting new sun wrinkles at the end of the summer. Surf Mud has only six, totally recognizable ingredients: organic coconut oil, organic cocoa butter, organic cocoa powder, beeswax, tea tree oil and zinc oxide, and it has tons of antioxidants, which help with hydration and gives the skin a perfect, sunkissed glow. It's inspired by traditional Mayan chocolate masks, since cocoa — pure dark, no sugar added — has antioxidant benefits, not only when eaten but also when we applied on the skin. It is known to fight free radicals that cause aging. Cocoa also helps promote cell growth and tissue repair, which can happen with spending hours in the ocean!
BIKINI: The sunscreen market is SO huge. How do you make heads or tails of it?
JUN LEE: There are very few products that feel clean and are clean. So many claimed "organic" sunblocks have chemicals in them. I think more people should consider oil-based sunscreens: Oil has a bad rep! But it is actually really good for you. Coconut oil especially (unless you are allergic to coconuts) is very similar to the oil our body produces. If we are used to using oil-free and chemical products, our skin may react to it at first, but let it detox and see how the skin loves the oils. This has been my experience. I have sensitive, oily, acne-prone skin, and I only use oil-based sunblocks. And I have perfect skin.
JUN LEE: Do you have an opinion on chemical versus mineral screens?
BIKINI: Physical sunscreens like zinc oxide and titianium dioxide protect your skin by deflecting or blocking the sun's rays. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun's rays. I believe physical sunblock is the way to go. That means that the mineral ingredient used in the sunblock (zinc or titanium dioxide) sits on your epidermal layer and acts like a natural sunblock. With chemical sunscreens, the UV rays are absorbed into the bloodstream—the idea of that is terrifying to me. With physical sunblock, you have to be careful to fully remove it — I prefer an oil cleanser, like Eir Sunblock remover, to make sure the pore doesn't get blocked by the minerals settling in, which can cause breakouts.