The Crush Letter No 167: US vs European Sunscreen, Ask Dish Summer Fling Version, Other Summer Stuff

The Crush Letter No 167: US vs European Sunscreen, Ask Dish Summer Fling Version, Other Summer Stuff

. 13 min read

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Hello Crush,

You can argue that there have been times in our country’s history when it’s been as complicated to celebrate our country’s independence holiday with family and friends as this one was. The Vietnam era leaps immediately to mind. But this was certainly the most divisive Fourth of July I’ve spent as a sentient adult. (I was too young during that period to fully comprehend the context or events).

As you know, I don’t usually write about politics per se here, though we are exploring how they impact our relationships with family and friends during this election season in our series Political Hotbed.

Given that the Fourth so closely followed the presidential debate this year, there was an uneasy heaviness to this holiday week. At least in my family, where our individual views have never conveniently, collectively aligned around a single party or candidate, yet we have always openly expressed a range of opinions. Not so this year.

Conversation on current events was muted to non-existent. At one point I commented to my Mother that online everywhere the intra-party divisiveness had reached peak intolerance. She responded by sending me a look while shaking her head, as if to say, “don’t go there.” That’s a first. There was no way to avoid politics this year, but we could avoid discussing politics. And we did. Still they hung over everything like heavy smoke, stealing air.

So it wasn’t the national holiday we wanted this year.

It was good, still, to be around family and friends. There was a comfort in being around each other notwithstanding the void that arose on a topic where once there was lively debate.

I don’t know whether the political tension and attendant heaviness will let up this summer. My guess is that it won’t. But I know this. While I’m going to stay fully engaged in all the developments, I also intend to do my damndest to enjoy the summer. In fact, stealing moments of fun and laughter with friends and family feels as necessary as ever.

In This Letter. +Hello UVA Rays! Don’t Crash My Party Again This Year. Until last week, I was sleeping on the fact that sunscreens in the U.S. don’t provide full protection. +BITE. Early Summer Party People. By Ali Waks Adams I am a food = love person … +Three Things I’m Crushing On: Everyday, Reasonably Priced Summer Dresses. ASK Dish. Summer flings? I’m for that. +Social Media I Loved This Week. +Our Song of the Week Things are going to work out better if you only will

Hello UVA Rays! Don’t Crash My Party Again This Year By Dish Stanley

Until last week, I was sleeping on the fact that sunscreens in the U.S. don’t provide full protection.

PSA: Why I’m Wearing European Sunscreens This Summer. Every summer the same thing happens with my tanning situation. I apply and re-apply a “dermatologist recommended” sunscreen and still end up deeply tan by mid-July.

Last year I used the popular SuperGoop Play, which was and is on Wirecutter’s list of the highest recommended sunscreens for the face. My dermatologist likes EltaMD UV Clear, which I also used (and use).

But an increasing number of friends have mentioned that they follow the no-nonsense advice of NYC-based Dr. Ellen Gendler. Dr. Gendler says she sees the same thing that happens to me with her patients all the time—using sunscreen religiously, but ending up deeply tanned nonetheless. She says it’s because American sunscreens don’t include chemicals that effectively protect against UVA Rays. The reason is that the FDA hasn’t yet cleared the chemicals that European manufacturers use, though they are expected to. (Sunscreen isn’t a regulated “over the counter” substance in Europe and Asia and not subject to FDA-equivalent review.) She advocates buying sunscreen from European and Asian manufacturers instead, whose products include effective UVA protection.

UVA “causes skin cancer,” according to this article by the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas. And UVA rays “damage your skin, resulting in a tan … It causes almost all forms of skin aging, including wrinkles,” the article goes on to say.

After Dr. Gendler’s admonitions to go outside the US for sunscreen, I came across this piece published in Axios last month titled “Why Americans are buying European sunscreens,“ and the difference between US and European versions.

What are the sunscreens Dr. Gendler uses herself, and recommends to her clients? And how do we get them? She provides quite a few in this reel, but the GOAT, she says, is Anthelios UVMune 400 SPF50+. It’s made by LaRoche-Posay, a French company, but the versions distributed in America don’t include the UVA-protective European formulas. If you’re looking for the European versions, be careful where you get them. I found them online at The French Pharmacy and CaretoBeauty.

Watch it here.

Here’s Dr. Gendler’s list of ingredients in Anthelios that make it so good, and here are the sunscreens she does not recommend to her clients (the highly popular SuperGoop Unseen in among them).

Healthy sunny frolicking, CRUSHes.

BITE. Early Summer Party People. By Ali Waks Adams

Ali Waks Adams, a chef and pop-up producer from NYC, living life the way it should be in Maine.

A bunch of friends are coming over to hang out in person—in real time. It’s been a long winter in Maine and in anticipation of this first social event of the season I’ve been cleaning for…I think a month. There were bras and candy wrappers in the couch cushions, spiders in the corners and quite possibly we found an extra cat that we didn’t know about.

There are several people I cannot wait to see and so, so many hugs I am dying to give and I am excited to feed all of them. I am a food = love person, I was born that way, raised that way and have the therapy bills to back it up. It is my mission to feed people and to feed them to the best of my considerable (if I don’t say so myself) abilities.

Planning a menu is like putting together an outfit: You need the basics, then you figure out the combinations and add accessories. A concert tee and tulle skirt works, just like peanut butter braised chicken wings work—but maybe not for every occasion.

My theme for this soiree is a sort of European tapas bar vibe. I think we’ve all had just enough warm, soft, fatty comfort’s time for vegetable crunchiness, spice and crispiness, juicy and colorful and maybe a little bit challenging, unexpected. We need lots of flowers, string lights and pitchers of cocktails and loud energetic music. I’ve designed this menu specifically to allow for easy prep—some dishes are store-bought ready. Easy and breezy…nothing that requires too many fiddly bits. One cocktail, a sparkling wine sangria (plus beer and sparkling water) and platters of lovely things that required very little cooking. The focus here is reconnecting with friends (and maybe a little focus on the Smoke Fish Dip, because it’s that damn good.)

Our Menu

Spanish Olives

Rustic Bread with Herb Olive Oil Dipping Sauce

Sparkling Sangria

Spanish Cheese Platter

Cabrales Blue, Manchego Cheese, Marcona almonds, Guava Paste (Membrillo), Blackberries, Dates, Chorizo + Rosales Rosemary Cracker + sourdough toasts

Smoked Fish Dip*

Steamed baby purple potatoes, string beans, halved jammy egg, endive spears, blanched purple cauliflower, red carrots, artichoke hearts & radishes


Have your Spanish olives and bread with dipping sauce waiting for your guests to arrive. You can buy all of this at your local store. If you choose to make your own dipping sauce, I would suggest pouring two cups of fine extra virgin olive oil in a bowl with Herbs de Provence, or picking an array of your favorite fresh herbs, if that’s how your garden grows.

Continue reading here

Three Things I’m Crushing On. By Dish Stanley

Everyday Reasonably-Priced Summer Dresses

I am really into wearing dresses for warm weather. I use to be a committed shorts and t-shirt girl for hanging around and bopping about but over the last couple of summers I’ve started preferring dresses for their comfort, and because they‘re non-binding and keep me cooler. Here are my go-to’s for everyday errands and etc.

For A Hang Out &/Or Run Errands Dress.

J. Crew Factory Outlet Cotton Knit Tank Dress I’ve replaced shorts and a t-shirt with this simple knit cotton dress as a staple for hanging around the house and running errands. It is just so comfortable and simple. It keeps me cool, is versatile, a perfect wearable length and forgiving. I wear it with sneakers or sandals. All in, I wear this dress more often than any other single summer clothing item. Also—I go up a size so that I can just throw it in the dryer without worrying about shrinking, which doubles its ease. There is a J. Crew factory outlet store near my parents‘ house, which is where I initially discovered it, but now I order online. It’s usually around $55 bucks but goes on sale periodically. I see that that they are out of a lot of sizes at the moment, but they’ll notify you when it’s available.

For A More Versatile Running Around Town+ Dress

Reformation Jessi Linen Dress

My friend Nina sent me a link to this dress a month ago, and I love her for that. I have it in navy and white and—as is plainly obvious—it is one step dressier than the J. Crew knit dress above, but just as comfortable. First off, note that this dress falls a few inches above the knees on me. The model below is 5’11” and wearing a size 0 so it’s much shorter on her. I wear it for everything except hanging around the house—in other words, for shopping, hanging out at a friends‘, going to coffee or lunch+. I wear it with sneakers, Birkenstocks or dressier sandals for dinner. In other words, it is endlessly versatile. I love linen and use the Downy Wrinkle Release Spray that a CRUSH Reader told us about a few months ago to keep it clean looking.

Reformation Jessi Sleeveless Linen Dress in White at Nordstrom, Size 12

More Splurgy, But Worth It: Monica Nera Maya Dress

This dress is a little more splurgy, but it is so fun and comfortable and is made from the nicest Portugal cotton, and I never (ever) don’t get a compliment when I wear it. Monica Nera is a growing, word-of-mouth brand out of Poland. I learned about it a couple years ago, and now have a handful of their dresses, including the Maya (in three colors-navy, pink and baby blue (my favorite)). I wear my Maya’s to the farmer’s market, to the beach over my bathing suit, to lounge around a friend’s poolside terrace and on and on. I wouldn’t want to go through a summer without them. About $275.

Ask Dish

From the sublime to the ridiculous, I get a lot of random questions. I answer some of them here. Got a stray question? Submit it using this link.

Dear Dish:

What do you think about summer flings? I am spending four weeks this summer at a creative writing program in New York City. I haven’t had sex since my last break-up six months ago and while I’m not feeling like I’m relationship material yet (I am still hoping for a reconciliation with my ex), I‘m horny and up for giving and getting some deeply flirtatious attention. There’s an erudite, sexy guy in my program—he’s from Chicago, I live in Vermont.

I love The Crush Letter!

Fling Song

Dear Fling Song:

Wow, this is a slam dunk in my book. If “Sebastian” is into it. (Can we call him Sebastian? You didn’t give his name, but Sebastian sounds so sexy.) I feel like this set of facts sets up well for what could be the perfect “clean fling.” (As opposed to a ”messy fling,” which has a high probability of eeeking out damage on your respective lives before or after it’s over—for instance, there are professional complications or you live in the same small town.) In this case, you’re both away from home, and for a finite period of time, and then you live halfway across the country from each other.

But there are some things I’d want to think through if I were you.

First off, I’d want to be honest with him upfront that you are only looking for a short-term fling. I don’t think you owe it to him to tell him off the bat that you have an ex that you hope is waiting in the wings for you when you return home, but I’d want to tell him going in that you’re not currently in a relationship, and not looking—or open to—a relationship with him.

If it were me, I’d want to know his dating status. Is he romantically unencumbered? If so, are they in an agreed-upon “open relatinship?” I’d want to know that about somebody before I got romantically involved for a few good reasons, but foremost is that I wouldn’t want to be in a fling with somebody who had a romantic partner who could suddenly show up on the scene and disrupt my fantasy. Or, if that might happen, I’d want to know it.

Perhaps at some point, if it would make you or him more comfortable, you might want to talk about expectations for a fling over the period of the program: Do you want it to be similar to a cuffing arrangement? Be exclusive to each other over the term of the fling? Do you want to have more than have sex? It could be fun to have somebody to explore the city with.

Finally, if it were me I’d want to think through the risks I’m taking on. Not because I wouldn’t ultimately decide they weren’t risks worth taking, but because I strive to balance being an emotionally mature adult with my desires and fantasies. And I like to minimize damage (to myself and others) as much as possible. Like, there’s the risk that one of you might fall in love. And a long-term relationship between the two of you might have, at the very least, geographic constraints. There’s also the potential for one or the other of you to experience heartbreak. Also, this kind of short-term fling in a new, exciting city has fantasy written all over it. You don’t have enough time over the length of the program for it to go beyond the infatuation phase. When you do go back to your real life, there’s a chance that you’d be comparing this fantasy to a real-world relationship. (Or at least I would.) And an attachment to a fantasy can get in the way of fairly evaluating grounded, long-term relationships.

But. You’re feeling horny. And if, after being honest with yourself and with Sebastian, the possibilities are compelling, I say go for it.

Social Media I Loved This Week




Song of the Week

James Taylor: Shower the People (Live at Beacon Theater, Boston, 2013)

James Taylor is performing around the East Coast this summer. I saw him live last fall with a close girlfriend, and we walked out walking on air. He is charming and unpretentious, yet has a refinement to him. My friend and I both thought his particular brand of courtliness was sexy. He is a wonderful storyteller, and the music was terrific even as he has made adjustments through the years to less vocal range and power. The show was a hit of sunshine.

He played Shower the People that night, and it was the highlight for me since it’s my favorite of his songs. Here’s a wonderful version. The song’s refrain is something I truly believe in: showering the people I love with love.

Listen Here

Have a wonderful week, CRUSHes.

Dish Stanley XO,

{the men’s zits a poppin story, Political hotbeds, All Fours book review, the recent men’s style piece from Kraig …}

If you love me as much as I love you (and I really do love you!), then please help me grow by forwarding this {love} Letter to a friend! And I'd love to have you join us on instagram.

The Crush Letter
The Crush Letter is a weekly newsletter from Dish Stanley curating articles & intelligence on everything love & connection - friendship, romance, self-love, sex. If you’d like to take a look at some of our best stories go to Read Us. Want the Dish?


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