Maintaining Your Summer Glow

And by glow I mean blinding whiteness


On a recent trip out West I was asked on three different occasions which Northern European country I hailed from. Each person looked more baffled than the next as I replied in my flat-toned California accent, “I’m from here.”

In New York it’s typical to ask where a person comes from — it’s more or less assumed the majority of us are not indigenous to this island. When I go home to LA, however, I feel like I’m still a freshly-licensed high school sophomore living under my parent’s roof, so for a stranger to assume I’m from elsewhere feels borderline offensive.

It occurred to me, though, that maybe California has forgotten what pale looks like. I no longer sport a smattering of freckles across my nose and a sun-kissed glow that suggests “I live here!” I’m extremely fair — dare I say vampiric — seeing as I travel via underground transportation and sit in an office for the sunnier parts of the day. When I venture outdoors I fear burning and additionally, I am allergic to 95% of sunscreens.

I’m so unaccustomed to vitamin D that when I recently got burned for the first time in forever, I didn’t know what it was. My immediate conclusion was that I had contracted an allergic rash from sun exposure per an article I read in T Magazine. After frantically sending awkward selfies to my dermatologist-cousin with a detailed self-diagnosis, he responded, “That is a textbook sunburn.” Oh right.

Afterwards, I decided to opt out of the whole sun-thing for the rest of the summer.

I’ll never be able to fake Leandra’s Middle Eastern heritage like Amelia who tries by St. Tropez-ing her body. After an 8th grade spray tan incident (think Ross from Friends) I won’t be taking Mattie’s route, either. But summer is here, and though I can’t fully avoid the sun, I sure as hell can avoid the burn while embracing the reflective glow of my pale, pale skin. Are you with me?

A hat can do wonders to block sun rays from leaving splotchy red marks on the face, so throw some shade on yourself:

Additionally — and this sounds obvious by now — slather sunscreen on every surface of your epidermis. Think zinc-nosed lifeguards, Casper the friendly ghost, or a baby who can’t rub in his sunscreen yet. That is the kind of coverage I’m looking for.

If you are really committed, then in addition to the sunblock and hat, you will layer. I’ll never forget when an inhabitant of Colonial Williamsburg visited my 5th grade class on a 95 degree day to speak about life during the Revolutionary War. She was wearing long sleeves per her 18th century character and so naturally, I asked her if she was hot. “My dear,” she responded and yes I remembered her words verbatim, “long sleeves keep me cool in the sun! You are far hotter when the sun reflects off your skin than when it reflects off of fabric.” Game changer.

So don’t be surprised if you see me at the beach this weekend  sitting under a parasol in my long sleeved turtleneck moo moo. I’m just doing what our foremothers did. And it’s helping me maintain my summer glow.

Image on the left shot by Charlie Engman for Jalouse, Image on the right shot by Sean Thomas for

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  • GapToothedGirl

    That’s a fun advice!!

    I’ll try some…

    XOX, Gap.

  • Shelby Louise

    I can deeply relate to this, my nickname is Snow White (black hair, pasty ass skin). I’m so pale that even “light” self tanners streak and turn me the shade of bikini competition participants. I eventually had to give up the dream of a real summer tan after a little scare at the dermatologist and getting two questionable moles removed.
    Sunscreen is no joke, kids. Once you embrace the pale, it’s not so bad and certainly better than the cancer-y alternative.

  • I can understand where you come from. Although I’m Middle Eastern, I’m rarely in the sun due to a full time job. I have a base color going but I’m pale in comparison to my Mexican boyfriend who looks eternally tan. :] // ☼

  • gina

    you’ve literally described me! factor 50, hat, top, under a sun umbrella and still burning! ha

  • Sarah Hale

    I’m confused, Easyern Europeans are rather dark skinned?

    • Charlotte Fassler

      Woah good catch, I fully meant Northern! Fixed now 🙂

      • I don’t know, The Scandinavians actually tan with much ease. I was always jealous of my Swedish and Norwegian friends.

    • MSantos

      No, they are pale indeed, think Russia

  • Sarah Hale

    I’m confused, Eastern Europeans are rather dark skinned?

  • Amelia Diamond

    the pale looks good on you girl. my legs, not so much.

    • Amelia Diamond

      and the peeling sunburn on my legs, even worse. ok so actually you win.

    • You’re hot girl. I see da bikini pics on Instagram 😉 hawt hawt

      And I agree Charlotte’s fair skin is beautiful.

      • Charlotte Fassler

        Oh Emma, makin’ me blush

      • Amelia Diamond

        Emma you’re the knees to my bees

  • Maddie

    After exposing myself to the sun for the first time in years (keep in mind, I live in LA, so this is not normal behavior), I thought I had thoroughly covered every inch of my ghostly bod in 50+ SPF… I accidentally missed a small strip between my forehead and scalp, which resulted in a beautiful, red sunburn headband… to top it all off, the sunburn has now began to peel making it look like I have a bad case of dandruff. Back to the shade for me!

    • Charlotte Fassler

      Missing one spot around the edges is rough… One time i had a burn that wound up in a striped formation on my torso due to missing the strip of skin above and below my bandeau and bottoms. OH SpRiNg BrEaK in Miami….

  • thisgirlloveschic
  • I would be offended too if someone in California asked what state (that was not California) I was from.

    I’ll bet this plays every time you land at LAX, Charlotte:

    • Charlotte Fassler

      YA you can catch me in the terminal half-delirious blasting dem tunez from my jukebox.

  • Aubrey Green

    I would take it as a compliment. I always get asked if I’m European, Russian, etc. I love it. I was born in Preston Idaho (small town 5 hours outside of Boise), moved to California at the age of 5 and haven’t left yet. I love your coloring, hair, everything :).

  • Great advice 🙂 kisses from Croatia

  • I love to be outside (Austin, TX), but nowadays I HATE seeing myself with a tan. It’s just not attractive to me, anymore. I like the vampiric look 🙂

    I just did a post on the ten best (oversized) sun hats, if you care to look.

    Great post and excellent advice!

  • Mariah

    I know that feeling. Living in the South, it’s basically a crime when you’re not outside in the summer. But I am pale as all get out and burn so easily. So I will stick to inside and my skin cancer free paleness.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Does everyone have Central Air in the South? That’s my dream. That’s the world I one day want to live in instead of my hot box apartment.

      • Charlotte Fassler

        Me too. I am going to Atlanta next weekend and I am worried I may overheat…..

        • Mariah

          I actually live just outside of Atlanta. I promise everywhere has air conditioning. I think all of us would die otherwise. Fans and misters are your best friends in the heat though.

  • Ella

    I am constantly told I look “Victorian” which is the compliment for pale… I think?
    I guess with the sun constantly burning us (I live in Arizona) people think I look really old fashioned sans tan

  • Born and raised in California (but now in Berlin), I’ve always been pale. Mostly by heritage (English and Irish), I choose to keep my skin protected under daily face SPF, as I have done since I was 15. In my mid-30s, I now see the fruits of my labor in that I often look younger than friends still in their 20s. So I say slather it on and cover up! Your skin will thank you for it.

    • Charlotte Fassler

      Do you change up the products you use, or do you have one sunscreen you swear by?

      • I used different stuff when I lived back in the States, but for the past several years I’ve sworn by La Roche-Posay. I use Hydraphase UV Intense Legere on my face and I love it. Garnier Ambre Solaire is also the best drugstore sunscreen I’ve ever found. It’s now sold in a ‘sensitive expert’ formula with a super high SPF and without dyes, perfume or parabens.

  • starryhye

    Recovering tanorexic here. I just bought that Clarins Glow Booster stuff and I love it! It gives you a little, subtle glow without the hassles of full on faux tanner.

  • Angeles

    I FEEL you! I´m from the south of Spain and I´ve been asked my whole life from which nordic Country I´m from… Is it THAT hard to understand pale??? I don´t even tan, EVER. I can sunburn in 2 mins., what the hell is wrong with that! The happiest and more relaxed vacation of my life was the one I spent in Finland, I started to embrace and love my skin tone since then <3

  • I hate tanning in the summer because tanning means tan lines, which make me feel weird when I’m naked. The perfectionist in me would much rather be uniformly pale than colorblocked white and tan. My key to summer paleness has been searching high and low for a sunscreen I actually *like* the feel of — it’s worth the time and effort if you find one you can enjoy wearing (because it means you actually will!). My fave is the Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids version with a green whale on the label because it dries completely matte and smooth.

  • Sarah

    I live in Miami and am so pale I am often asked if I am sick or in chemo. My new favorite sunscreen is blocks the hell outta anything. P.S. The natives are never tan.

  • caylery

    i’m allergic to most sunscreens too – have you narrowed it down to what ingredients bother you? i recently realized the difference between mineral (zinc oxide/titanium dioxide) and chemical sunscreen (everything else), probably 20 years too late. on the bright side i no longer look like a burn victim as a result of my sunscreen.

  • Olie Biologique

    Great advice Charlotte — and we love your selection of hats!

    You may also want to considering using Huile Claire 006 Calming Oil to maintain your beautiful summer “glow” 🙂 “006” uses all natural oils including:
    – organic Calendula oil to soothe and heal inflamed, irritated skin
    – organic Marula oil known as a “super healer”
    – organic Chamomile oil to calm irritations, burns and problem areas

    It’s definitely one of our favorite summer sidekicks!

  • Great advice Charlotte. Thanks