Summer Goth – Avoiding the Burning Orb

Snarklings, it’s time for a seasonal column. By which the Lady of the Manners means that in the hemisphere she lives in, it’s summer; her least favorite season. ::shudders::

Forgive the Lady of the Manners her melodramatic turn, Snarklings. There are many goths who like, nay, even adore summer! Warm weather! Longer days! More plentiful outdoor activities! There are those who are kind of meh about the whole sunlight thing. Then there are those (the Lady of the Manners included) who thanks to genetics, illnesses, medications, or who knows what else, don’t deal well with prolonged exposure to sunlight. (As the Lady of the Manners has said before, eventually she’ll develop the fun symptoms of vampirism, like mind control.)

Dealing with summer is a recurring topic here at Gothic Charm School, but this time around, two different types of goths in summer letters landed in the Gothic Charm School mailbox:

Dear Lady of the Manners

I came into goth very late in life and have never really worn much make up. I like to stay as pale as possible (I am sorry to say that I went through a sun bed phase a few years ago….very very stupid I know), so that with my abundance of moles makes me terrified of that flaming ball of fire!

So I use 50spf sunscreen which is the highest I can get in UK but no matter what I just look an oily mess. Foundation doesn’t seem to solve it either. I am stumped. How do these beautiful gothic creatures manage it? I don’t know any goths so I cannot ask, and I don’t see any day to day either so cannot pluck up the courage to ask a stranger. I’ve scoured YouTube and everyone says wear highest factor sunscreen but no one mentions putting it on their faces when showing daily routines etc.

Please can you tell me how I can express myself without looking like a slimeball? I do have a parasol but get a lot of negative attention when I use it (sometimes from family members too). But I’m still scared to go without any sunscreen even if I have my parasol.

I would love to hear any advice you can give, sorry it’s such a strange question but I have no one else to ask.

Thank you


It’s not a strange question! The Lady of the Manners has spent a lot of time trying to find the best combination of sunscreen + makeup that doesn’t devolve into an oily mess. But first, to address your comment about your parasol attracting negative attention: darling, try to teach yourself to ignore any negative comments or glances you may get concerning your parasol. You’re being very smart about taking care of yourself, and what other people think about that is irrelevant. As for your family members, ask them how bringing your own shade with you is a bad idea. But if you don’t want to deal with the negative attention, get yourself a wide-brimmed sun hat. They’ve been in style — in mainstream fashion and NuGoth fashion — for a few years now, so it should be relatively simple to track one down.

As to the sunscreen + makeup question: You say that you’re in the UK, and you’re wearing the highest SPF you can get, but is it a mattifying sunscreen? That’s the big trick to not turning into a shiny-faced melting person. After a lot of researching and trying different products, the Lady of the Manners has found that the most reliable matte finish sunscreens are ones that are made for the Asian skin care markets. The Lady of the Manners is very fond of Biore UV Aqua Rich Smooth Watery SPF 50 Gel and Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Sun Milk SPF50 from Etude House, both of which are available from

Other matte finish sunscreens that the Lady of the Manners has heard good things about (but hasn’t yet tried) are La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid SPF 50, FrezyDerm Sun Screen Velvet Face SPF 30, and Nivea Sun Anti Age Face Cream SPF 50.

But it’s not enough to have a matte finish sunscreen! You have to know the tricks to applying it and putting makeup on top of it!

  1. Apply your sunscreen at least 10 minutes before you start applying makeup. You want to give your skin a little bit of time to absorb the sunscreen, or else any foundation, concealer, or powder you apply over it will probably not set properly and slip around.
  2. Don’t apply primer over your sunscreen. The Lady of the Manners knows there are makeup tutorials out there that say you should never skip using primer, but has never found a primer that works properly over sunscreen. (In fact, it’s been the Lady of the Manners’ experience that primer over sunscreen leads to the products pilling up into tiny little balls on your face, which is just ”¦ eugh.)
  3. With foundation, less is more. If you feel like you absolutely need a lot of foundation, apply it in layers, and buff it out (with a brush or cosmetic sponge) to make sure there are no streaky spots.
  4. Powder. Apply a light dusting of a sheer loose powder over your face makeup. The Lady of the Manners enthusiastically recommends NYX HD Studio Finishing Powder, which is available from AND Boots. It’s the best loose powder the Lady of the Manners has found, and is a perfect duplicate for HD finishing powders from more expensive brands.
  5. And finally, carry blotting papers with you! Because no matter how matte your sunscreen and how careful your makeup application, a shiny nose is going to happen. But if you have a package of oil blotting tissues or papers, you can soak up the oil from your face before you powder your nose. Again, Boots carries the NYX brand, and they offer at least four different types of blotting papers that you can tuck into a pocket or handbag.

(For those Snarklings who are in the USA, most of these products are available from and directly from the NYX Cosmetics website. For Snarklings who are not from the UK or USA, put the product name into your favorite search engine and see what retail options are open to you. Yes, of course you knew to do that, but spelling things out never hurts.)

Another avoiding-the-sun question, from a reader who is pale and wants to stay that way:

This is perhaps a silly question, perhaps not. A product recommendation request, at its core.

I’ve always been teetering on the edge of goth, of the mindset but not really in a place where I was comfortable actively constructing a wardrobe. Even so, I like my skin pale (and it really IS pale, blinding-in-the-sunlight so when I wear shorts, at least) but tan quite easily, and it takes a very long time to fade. Any lightening creams you would recommend, and/or a good sunscreen that wouldn’t make me smell like a beach which would be suitable for everyday wear?

Right off the ”¦ bat (bats?), the Lady of the Manners wants to again stress that one does not have to be pale to be goth! Or goth adjacent, even! Anyone, of any skin color, can be a goth, and that includes people who tan easily and/or want to be tan. (Do any of you need to go reread the Goths of Color post?)

For wanting to stay pale (or to avoid damaging your skin), your best bet is a good sunscreen. (Well, avoiding sunlight all together is probably the very best way, but then you run the risk of having very low vitamin D levels, and then your doctor will make concerned noises at you. Not that the Lady of the Manners has any personal experience with that, no.) The first half of this post went over the Lady of the Manners’ recommendations for facial sunscreens; if you’re looking for a sunscreen to use on other parts of yourself, the Lady of the Manners has had good results with the unscented versions of sunscreens from Badger Balm, Alba Botanicals, and Neutrogena.
As for the lightening cream part of your letter, there’s a very simple answer:


All right, the Lady of the Manners will expand upon that. There is no product out there that will safely lighten or bleach your skin. Oh, there’s a gazillion different products out there that claim they’re able to do such a thing, but those claims are a (not so) gentle fiction. At best, the products are a moisturizer; at worst, they’ll damage your skin. This applies to various “natural”, DIY, or make-at-home skin lightening recipes.

Really, the only way to make your tan fade more quickly is to gently exfoliate the tanned areas every time you take a bath or shower, and then apply moisturizer. Will that make your tan go away like magic? No, but then, nothing will.

Again, the best way to keep your skin untanned and undamaged is to protect it from the sun: sunscreen, parasols and sun hats, and clothing that blocks the damaging rays. And speaking of clothing blocking sunlight, did you know there’s a wash-in UV blocking product?! It’s called SunGuard, and apparently it’s as simple as tossing a package of it in with a load of laundry. The Lady of the Manners hasn’t tried it yet, but friends of hers have, and say it works well. So, something to keep in mind!

Because the sun is setting in the Lady of the Manners’ area, she’s going to wander out into the backyard to enjoy the balmy evening. But what about the rest of you Snarklings? Do you have a favorite sunblock? A good way to avoid the sun? Because the comments are open! (Moderated, as always, but open.)

This entry was posted in Fashion, General and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Summer Goth – Avoiding the Burning Orb

  1. Eryn says:

    I use Neutrogena Age-Shield sunscreen, SPF 70 on my face, Banana Boat Sport SPF 50 on my body, and a UV-blocking parasol (from the company Carasol). My heritage is mostly Irish and I sunburn and freckle like mad. I’m not taking any chances re: skin cancer, even though I get catcalled for the parasol pretty often.

  2. Newt says:

    For protecting myself from the sun without turning into a massive lump of grease, I’ve had some quite good results with some of the newer sheer SPF50 sprays. They’re transparent and thin, so don’t make you look like you’re wearing greasepaint, and feel more like applying a moisturising oil than a tub of lard. They also soak in quite fast.

    But that said, my normal daily make-up look is none. Not a no-make-up look but just literally nothing on. So YMMV for how well that works.

    I do make sure that when I do wear make-up and it’s sunny out, I invest in high quality foundations that also come with SPF protection.

    Other than that, I also tend to continue wearing sleeves in the Summer. But I’ll opt for sheer georgette, chiffon, lace, mesh etc in floaty and loose-fitting styles. Breathable, light stuff.

  3. Velvet Cat says:

    Hello, a goth in Texas here! I also have that pale skin that tans super quickly and takes forever to fade. I’ve found the worst places to get a tan is in the car. Also, there is the factor that “black keeps heat” making a burning feeling when sitting in the sun while driving.

    A few years ago, my BFF (also goth) went on a roadtrip and wanted to keep her sensitive freckled skin out of the sun. She was breast feeding a baby at that time, so she had this cover up that had a sort of arch made of wire that went around her neck (to be able to look down and see the baby). She put it on and draped it over her hands over the steering wheel and presto! It kept the sun off her arms and chest while still enabling her to see the road, the dashboard, and keep the cool air blowing on her from the air conditioner.

    I intend to make one myself soon out of white fabric that I can throw over myself while in the car and keep cool and covered.

    Good luck y’all!

  4. Margaret says:

    Personally, I use a Biodermal mattifying sunscreen designed especially for the face. Most sunscreens not only make me look like an oily mess, but also break me out and this one doesn’t do the latter and doesn’t make me look oily right away. With my skin there really is no stopping the oils from coming through eventually though, so I’ve learned to just accept that and blot when necessary on days where I’m wearing makeup.

  5. Fal says:

    Absolutely 100 % agreed on the superiority of Asian sunscreens! I’ve been using the Shiseido Senka in the blue container, unfortunately it’s terribly expensive. Fortunately a friend who just went to Japan agreed to buy me a few extra while there, yay! I also use some from Nature Republic. If you go to the Asian Beauty sub-reddit, there is a master list of sunscreens somewhere or other, you can search for it and get a lot of good recommendations.

  6. Nef says:

    I can vouch for the La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid. My combination skin gets so smooth and oil free for hours

  7. C'row says:

    I usually use Nivea but haven’t used a specific one for my face yet – I just use the normal one there and apply my makeup on top. Then a lot of setting powder and spray…
    As far as other tips: I usually try to put on thin flowy clothes when the sun is out annnnd, I make forts in the garden. Old school kids’ blanket forts. Only with dark frilly fabrics, cute cushions and maybe also some alcoholic refreshments. But it helps 😉

  8. Reby says:

    For those in the UK, I highly recommend Simple factor 30 moisturiser. It is incredibly light and works well, even with my oily skin.

  9. Hannah says:

    If you’re in the UK Superdrug do a mattifying suncream with SPF 50.
    I saw it in the spring and pounced on it! I have dreadfully oily skin which gets worse in the summer, but I don’t wear foundation very often so don’t know how well the two would go together.

    I carry a parasol that has a UV protective lining, and get a bit of hassle. I just ignore it.

  10. Mel Bat says:

    Im 13 years old. Im new to the Goth life, so I don’t have anything to keep me away from the sun. I usually stay under the umbrella at the beach but I love to swim. I have tried every sunscreen I can find but my skin still gets tan. What should I do?

  11. Aunt Mimi says:

    THANK YOU for the advice on wearing sunscreen with foundation! As a photosensitive Lupus patient, this is something I’ve struggled with.

  12. Infiltrat0r_N7 says:

    In regards to applying to your face, you could try Oil of Olay’s moisturising beauty fluid. They do a version that has a SPF 15. Nivea also do a couple of lip balms with SPF 15 (last I looked they come in blue and green tubes, avoid the yellow one it’s unpleasant). I then apply sunscreen to the rest of my body. Avoid Boots’ Soltan brand like the plague though as it’s really greasy.

  13. Bysshe says:

    Throughout the day your sunscreen breaks down and its best to reapply every hour or so, especially if you’re in direct sunlight. Of course, when wearing makeup its a complete hassle to have to reapply a sunscreen every hour. There’s a setting spray by Supergoop that is SPF 50 and you can spray it on over your makeup. It keeps your face matte! In fact, even if your face is oily before (I know mine always is) it’ll matte your face without drying you out.

  14. Chai says:

    The single best sunscreen imo is Bodyshops ‘Skin Defense’ in spf 50! Appearently there are now 2 different ones, I use the one in a smaller tub – it is a tiny bit lighter, but also slightly pricier than the larger one.

    All in all, it’s the most lightweight, perfectly matte sunscreen I have been able to find – I use it any day i leave the inside for more than my way to and from work (in such cases the spf20 from my foundation is usually sufficient)

    a ginger goth, plagued by sunburns since the age of 0.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.