Spring is finally showing up on the East Coast, which means it's time for me to start thinking a little more seriously about sunscreen. I let myself get a little lax during the winter. Now I'll be out in the sun for the next few months, and I've realized that I don't have a go-to sunscreen on hand. Unacceptable!
I decided that I really want to find my HG sunscreen this year instead of just picking up whatever looks good at the drugstore. I put some thought into it and came up with a list of things that I want out of a sunscreen:
- Mineral sunscreen (meaning a physical shield that sits on the skin, rather than chemical filters that are absorbed by the skin)
- Minimum of SPF 30
- Broad-spectrum (meaning it blocks both UVA and UVB rays)
- No synthetic fragrances
- Not too dry or too greasy
- Can be worn alone (no white cast) or layered under makeup
Simply cutting out chemical sunscreens eliminates a lot of formulas on the market. However, since I have sensitive skin and rosacea, I've decided it's best to stick with mineral sunscreen because it's generally considered to be the gentler version of sunscreen. Just look for titanium dioxide or zinc oxide (or ideally both) in the ingredient list to be sure it's a mineral sunscreen.
The only thing I don't care about is whether a sunscreen is tinted or not; I feel that each has its pros and cons. I like tinted sunscreens because it makes my morning routine faster, but the tint has to match my skin tone, obviously. Non-tinted is fine, but only if there's no white cast, which can be a tall order when it comes to mineral sunscreen.
I tried a variety of mineral and narrowed it down to six favorites. Four are tinted, two are not. Also, not all of these are solely sunscreen, but I'm not about to dismiss a product for being a multitasking overachiever.
Non-Tinted Mineral Sunscreens
This one was the thickest of the bunch. That's actually not saying much, since all of these sunscreens are quite watery; perhaps tacky would be a better word. Still, I was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly and easily it blended into my skin.
It left no white cast behind at all, and I couldn't really feel it. It's not ideal for very dry skin, though. I tried it on a day when my skin was super-dry, and it emphasized a few dry patches. If you have normal to oily skin or moisturize well first, you should be fine. I doubt it will even be an issue for me in the summer.
What's really cool about this sunscreen is that it's made specifically for scarred and sensitive skin. If you just had surgery, recently got a tattoo, or simply have scars or sensitive skin, this sunscreen is a great option.
The thing that I love about this sunscreen is that it's so extremely light and watery, making it easy to blend. It does leave a slight white cast at first, but it faded soon after application (and it wouldn't be noticeable at all under makeup). It's fragrance-free and non-greasy.
I think this would work equally well on oily and dry skin; it felt fine on my dry skin, and it left a matte finish.
Tinted Mineral Sunscreens
This is the tinted version of the previous sunscreen. I included both versions because they're both great — it really just depends on whether or not you want a tint.
This sunscreen has a warm, light-brown tint. It comes close to being too dark and too warm on me, but I think once I have my fake tan this summer, it will be fine. For now, I'm just very careful to blend it all the way past my jawline to my neck.
Like the non-tinted version, this sunscreen is light and watery and has a dry, matte finish.
This sunscreen/moisturizer combo has a very warm, peachy tint. I was afraid it would be too warm for me, but after blending it in, it was fine.
This is a much more emollient, hydrating option than the previous sunscreens, so if you have dry skin, you're sure to love this one. I liked that it evened out my skin tone and gave my face a subtle glow without being too greasy or heavy.
The only thing I didn't like about this one was the fragrance. It made the list anyway because technically it's a natural fragrance; I'm only trying to avoid the synthetic fragrances. Some people might like the subtle, sweet scent, but I could do without it. It dissipates quickly, though, so overall it's not a big deal.
This sunscreen is light and watery like the La Roche-Posay sunscreens. It has a cool, light-brown tint that blended in with my skin easily.
This sunscreen lent my skin a matte, velvety finish that felt nice, if a little bit dry on some of my skin's thirstier areas.
This is a BB cream, but it meets all of my qualifications, so I'm including it. It has a cool, light-brown tint that's similar to the Kiehl's except with a little more pink. It's silky and light, easy to blend, and matched my skin well. I'd say this is most comparable to the Josie Maran sunscreen because it's very hydrating and lends skin a dewy glow while evening out skin tone.
Below is a swatch of all the sunscreens for your comparison. You can see how peachy the Josie Maran is, and how the Dr. Jart+ is probably the closest to my skin tone.
In the end, if I had to narrow it down to three, I'd say that the Josie Maran and Dr. Jart+ are battling it out for the top spot. I can skip moisturizer and foundation thanks to the dewy glow and flattering tint that these products give my skin. Plus, they contain both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which is ideal for the best sun protection; so does the La Roche-Posay non-tinted sunscreen, which wins the third spot for days when I just need a simple sunscreen without any added tint or extra bells and whistles.
There are tolerable sunscreens out there, and if I could find six that I liked (not to mention three that I loved), everyone should be able to find at least one.
- What are your requirements for your dream sunscreen?
- If you've found your dream sunscreen already, what is it?