I’ve been testing a number of sunscreens all summer long to see which ones hold up to heat, humidity and also are suitable for my ultra sensitive skin. I know a sunscreen roundup would have been more appropriate earlier in the summer – but it’s recommended you wear sunscreen all year round, not just in warm sunny weather. Here in Southern California we have sunny weather 90% of the year. I used to think sunscreen wasn’t necessary for everyday – especially for those who work indoors for the vast majority of the day. However, in a good portion of work places there are windows where your skin can still be exposed to sunlight. These days I’ve put extra effort on applying sunscreen regularly. I am not the most disciplined at re-applying but am trying to be better. I’ve split my testing into three categories: Face, Body and Men’s.
Face Sunscreens – Many of my moisturizers or foundations already have SPF in them so I used to not pay much attention to applying sunscreen as an additional step. These days I prefer moisturizers and foundations that don’t have SPF – it’s not something I actively look for, it’s just a coincidence that most of the foundations I really like do not have any SPF. The highest SPF foundation I own is the Chanel CC Cream (all shades swatched here) which comes with an SPF 50. For days where I don’t wear this I do layer on sunscreen over moisturizer.
Four I’ve tested over the summer:
- Clarins UV Plus Anti-Pollution Multi-Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen ($42 for 50 ml/1.7 fl oz) is a new formula that replaced the original UV Plus HP. I prefer the original version because it had a thinner formula and even though the liquid was white, it didn’t leave a noticeable white cast on the skin. The new one has a higher SPF of 50 versus 40. It’s also slightly thicker and more creamy – it does the job at covering the face and protecting it – I found it too heavy for my skin. It does have a lightweight feel but the formula covered so much of my skin it felt like it couldn’t breathe underneath. If you have dry skin this one will probably be ok for your skin type.
- Tatcha Pore Perfecting Sunscreen ($68 for 60 ml/2 fl oz) was launched in August. I had been waiting for this one for months ever since a reader e-mailed me with news that she saw a preview of this. This one comes with SPF 35 and is the one facial sunscreen to rule them all (at least all the ones I’ve tried). It’s a pore perfecting formula which really does smooth and blur out imperfections without making the face look matte or white. Many blurring products have a white or pink cast which makes my olive skin look ashy, powdery or flat. The Tatcha sunscreen is white but it blends out to an invisible finish. It makes the perfect primer for foundation too. It is on the pricey side, they have a Travel Size option for $13 to try. It helps control oil, it doesn’t break out my face, it covers the skin completely but allows the skin to breathe. It doesn’t clog pores and it doesn’t feel greasy. (PS, there is a promo with code CLEAN20 to receive a complimentary travel-size Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil ($12 value) on any order over $20, offer expires 9/30/2015.)
- Chanel UV Essentiel Anti-Pollution Broad Spectrum SPF 50 ($55 for 1 fl oz/30 ml) has been a go-to for years. It used to come in a more rectangular bottle with a different formula. I loved the original and love the new one. It’s an ultra lightweight formula that is a white liquid but disappears on the skin. What I love about this one is that it doesn’t break me out and also layers beautifully over moisturizer and under foundation (I’ve tried it with Chanel, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, By Terry, NARS, Laura Mercier to name a few). Many sunscreens have a heavy greasy feel and don’t work well with foundations, this is the one I’ve repurchased a number of times. My husband likes to use it for day. For working out or running though it’s not sweat proof. It runs into both of our eyes and stings. This one works for my sensitive skin but one of my friends found it created tiny little bumps on her cheeks.
- First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 40 ($30 for 2 oz) is one of the few moisturizer + sunscreen products that I like. It has a creamy texture and white color but doesn’t leave a white cast on the skin. This one is free of skin-irritating chemicals and has a soothing feel. It dries to a semi-matte finish and works really well alone or under makeup. For my ultra sensitive skin this is one of the most gentle sunscreens I’ve tried. I gave one tube to a friend (same one who broke out from Chanel) and she is completely obsessed with the First Aid Beauty sunscreen. It’s lightweight and has a silky finish.
Body Sunscreens are something I test with dread. I get irritation and red blotches from so many it’s really quite ridiculous. My husband can use any body sunscreen without any issues. His main concern is about texture. If it feels greasy or oily and doesn’t dry down then he doesn’t like it. Four we’ve tested over the summer below that passed my sensitivity test.
- Supergoop! Sun Defying Sunscreen Oil with Meadowfoam SPF 50 ($34 for 5 oz) is something I’ve been obsessed with all summer long. I bought in the mini size and brought with me to Europe in June. It’s an oil that absorbs quickly into the skin and makes the body glow but doesn’t feel greasy. If you’re not a fan of thick cream sunscreens this is a great alternative. It does a good job at preventing burns and when I use this I don’t get much of a tan. This is for face and body but I wasn’t brave enough to try it on my face.
- Supergoop! Everyday SPF 50 with Cellular Response Technology is something I received from Birchbox ($32 for 7.5 oz). I didn’t think I would like it because it has a white cream lotion texture. This one is even better than the oil and even though I have sensitive skin and both work for me, I think this has a more gentle feel. I tried this on the face and it stayed put, didn’t sting my eyes with sweat and didn’t get oily. This is hands down one of the best body sunscreens I’ve tried. It’s easy to apply and absorbs quickly into the skin. It has a lightweight non-sunscreen scent that fades after a few minutes. One of my biggest gripes about body sunscreen is the sunscreen smell. This one doesn’t smell like the usual.
- Coola Sport Continuous Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 in Tropical Coconut ($30 for the small 3 oz size) smells so amazing. I couldn’t find this one instores (my local stores had the unscented versions). It does have alcohol in it and you can smell it when you spray it on the skin, but the scent disappears and you’re left with the coconut scent. It’s lightweight and gives an even spritz of mist in a continuous spray. I like this one because it’s easy to apply all over – you can sunscreen your back easily and reapply quickly. It’s non-drying and non-irritating. I love that it’s not messy like creams or oils can be.
- Korres Sunscreen Face and Body with SPF 50 is made with Greek Yogurt. You can’t find this one in the US unfortunately – we bought this in Athens and loved it. It’s a liquid spray but applies like a lotion. It’s creamy and soothing and completely covered the skin. There were a couple times we saw a dramatic difference on our skin on spots we missed. Areas covered with this sunscreen didn’t get dark or tan.
Last but not least, three men’s sunscreens my husband has liked enough to repurchase. He’s been a long-time Jack Black user. The one facial moisturizer he uses regularly is the Double Duty Face Moisturizer with SPF 20. He uses this almost daily – if he’s going to be indoors at his office most of the day he will use this alone. He likes the lightweight texture and it keeps his skin soft and prevents it from getting oily. On days he think he will be on the road or outdoors, he will layer on the Jack Black Sun Guard Very Water Resistant SPF 45 on top. This one is light enough that it doesn’t feel heavy. With sweat or water it doesn’t sting his eyes. He likes this for the body as well – it prevents burns when he’s been at the beach. Another one he likes is the Kiehl’s Facial Fuel UV Guard Sunscreen with SPF 50. This is his preference for high SPF – it’s lightweight and doesn’t leave a white cast on the skin. It’s similar to the Chanel UV Essentiel in terms of texture, but this one works better for his skin. It doesn’t bead up when he sweats.
I hope you found this roundup helpful. My top picks: Tatcha and First Aid Beauty for the face, Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen (white tube) and Korres for the body. What are your favorite sunscreens? I’m always open to recommendations – I often learn about awesome skincare items from my readers.
Press samples include items from Clarins, Tatcha, First Aid Beauty and Supergoop! Everyday SPF50. All others purchased by me.