Beauty

Katonya Breaux with her dog

Hello, My Age Is: 54

The Secret to
This Glow Is a
Next-Level Sunscreen

Katonya Breaux |

founder, Unsun

As soon as you learn that Katonya Breaux, who has the most gorgeous skin, makes a beautifully textured, extremely blendable tinted mineral sunscreen, you’re going to scramble to order yourself some. But when you hear the way the fifty-four-year-old Unsun founder (and mother of singer Frank Ocean)
nourishes her inner beauty, prepare to be inspired.

“I feel most beautiful now,” says Breaux. “When I was younger, I was thinner and there was more elastin in my face and on my body, but I was clouded with insecurities. When you get older, there’s such a freedom. I can’t say that 100 percent, ‘Oh, I don’t give a shit.’ But it’s probably like 90 percent. This time in my life is the most free, and free turns out to be the most beautiful. These bodies are temporary, and we take care of them for as long as we have them, but we put too much focus on the things that don’t matter. The only thing that really matters while we’re here is how healthy we are, how good we feel, and what we do for others.”

Breaux has built her next chapter around that last sentiment: She is passionate about clean sun protection—and specifically educating women of color about it. “I grew up believing the myth that I didn’t need to use sunscreen,” she says. “Black people don’t get sun damage, right?” Breaux debunks that myth as often as she can. “Unsun is inclusive of all skin tones, from vanilla to dark chocolate. We refuse to participate in the game of exclusion that so many of us have suffered from for far too long. We all need to protect our skin.”

1

Wear clean sunscreen,
no matter your skin color

I first learned about sunscreen in my late thirties, when a dermatologist pointed out that the new moles I was noticing weren’t genetic but were instead caused by sun damage. All my aunts and grandparents had sun spots and moles, so I had figured they were inevitable. I ran out to the drugstore and started trying sunscreens, but the conventional ones just made my eyes water. Mineral sunscreens didn’t irritate me at all—they were awesome—but they were thick and pasty, getting into my hairline and eyebrows. It became work, but if it was going to stop more moles from coming, it was work that I had to do.

Still, I was convinced there was a better way, so I called a friend who knew a brilliant chemist. Eventually we came up with this beautiful sunscreen. My sisters tried it, and so did some of my cousins. We’re all different shades, and I was amazed at how universal it was, just within our group of skin tones. I was talking to my son one day, and I said, You know, I think I might try to build a business around this. My key focus is on educating women of color that yes, we, too, need sun protection. The consequences of my accepting that no-sunscreen-needed myth was only a few age spots on my face; imagine the harder lesson of finding a cancerous mole and not finding it until it was too late. That’s what drives me.

I created this hand cream with SPF 15 because our hands get so much sun exposure, and they’re very vulnerable to photoaging. They also get very dry—they’re a bull’s-eye for damage and aging darts. I made the hand cream with aloe, beetroot extract, and cucumber to coddle and protect your hands.

I created this hand cream with SPF 15 because our hands get so much sun exposure, and they’re really vulnerable to photoaging. They also get very dry—they’re a bull’s-eye for damage and aging darts! I made the hand cream with aloe, beetroot extract, and cucumber to coddle and protect your hands.

2

Care for your skin inside and out

I do the peel one night a week and wash my face in the morning, and the smooth, brightening effects linger. I don’t use retinol any more, but this is a good alternative—something that gives me that glow.

I’ve been drinking GOOPGLOW—it tastes so dang good. I started taking it a year ago and just started again. I just love it—it’s like healthy Kool-Aid.

3

Layer moisture, antioxidants,
and more moisture

I’m using this creamy bubbling cleanser from Alpyn Beauty. I like anything that’s thick and rich for my skin because as I’ve gotten older, my skin has gotten more dry. And then I put on the vitamin C serum from goop. It has hyaluronic acid in it, which is great for aging skin. I love this stuff—it gives me an instant nice glow. If I’m going out, of course I put on my sunscreen, which itself has a lot of nice moisturizing properties, and then on top of that, I use the Illuminating Moisturizer by Tata Harper. It gives me a little something, because I’m not using makeup too much these days.

I like creams that are heavier but not greasy. Light, airy moisturizers dissipate quickly and leave my skin feeling tight, but I love this one: It’s rich, but it absorbs nicely.

4

Healthy habits (both mental and physical)
show up on your face

Before I get up to do anything in the morning, I do a half-hour meditation. I’m vegan. I do yoga. I have two dogs, a 120-pounder and a 70-pounder, that I like to take out on the trails. I have a garden at home where I grow all kinds of cool, yummy stuff. I love the outdoors and nature. And of course, genetics plays a part. My mom died at fifty, but when I look at my aunts and some of the other people in my family, they all tend to age really well. I think it’s a total approach: the way you look at life and just walk in this world. If we have good habits in place, even if life forces us to fall off the trail for a little while, it’s like muscle memory.

goop picks

5

Clean up what you can

I’ve learned so much in the last decade about how our bodies respond to what we eat; I’m quite particular about what I put in and on my body. We can’t control everything—the air we breathe or (to some extent) the water we drink, but I’m determined to control the things within my reach. There is a great deal of confusion around reading labels and understanding complex or multisyllabic words on ingredient panels, but we have to invest the time to understand that some things are simply not good for us.

6

Make everyone you know protect their skin

I talk about sun protection all the time, especially to my (large) family: There are eleven of us siblings, and I have over 125 cousins. Some still hold on to that myth about sun damage, but I’ve been able to convince most of them. My son is diligent: Every so often, his assistant calls or emails me and asks for another six tubes, so I know he goes through it. At one point he asked me to bring a case, and he had it in his office for everybody on his team to have access to. I definitely encourage people to wear Unsun, of course, but if you can’t get ahold of my sunscreen, just find a mineral sunscreen that you like until you can get ahold of mine.

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