This is the second installment to my original overview of (mostly unscented) sunscreens. I have so much to say about Asian sunscreens that I shall keep them for a separate post, but today I will cover a number of selections from American and European brands. Unlike the first selection, this group includes products I disliked or found lacking in one aspect or another. Many of them have received glowing reviews from leading skincare bloggers and dermatologists, but since skincare is never made to suit everyone, I thought that another perspective would help those looking for the best sun protection.
First, I should mention what I look for in a sunscreen. My skin is combination and a sunscreen shouldn’t irritate it. It should also leave a satiny, non-oily finish. It should be lightly moisturizing. It should allow for layering–I reapply sunscreen at least twice a day. I also prefer my sunscreen unscented. Finally, and this is the most important part, it should have full spectrum protection, UVB and UVA. I don’t have preference over the sunscreen being chemical or physical, but a mix tends to have the best results in terms of finish and protection. This is my ideal type, if you will, and yes, such a sunscreen exists (many of them were described in the first article.)
People often comment about sunscreen causing them to break out. Sunscreens are often formulated with ingredients that are non-soluble in water to make them sweat resistant, which can make them hard to remove. I solve this by using an oil based cleanser, followed by a foaming gel.
Clarins La Crème Solaire Anti-Rides Visage Très Haute Protection SPF 50+(Sun Wrinkle Control Cream for Face)
Clarins sunscreens are highly rated for their texture and protection. Like most others in the line, the SPF 50 is a chemical sunscreen based on octocrylene, tinosorb S and M, and avobenzone. On the plus side, it doesn’t leave any white cast. But it gives my skin a perfect mirror finish and peels off in bits throughout the day. Difficult to reapply without sporting a well-greased look. This sunscreen has a strong synthetic fruity-floral scent, another minus. It offers broad spectrum protection and is hydrating, so I use it up as a body sunscreen. 28,80 € for 75ml.
Chanel UV Essentiel Multi Protection Daily UV Care SPF 50
A moisturizing sunscreen with octinoxate and zinc oxide with a milky texture. Nevermind the promises of brightening from the licorice extract because it’s too far down the ingredient list. There is also a hefty dose of alcohol, which may be a concern to those with sensitive skin. For me the main two drawbacks are the price ($55 for 1oz) and the medium level of UVA protection (PA+++ as opposed to my usual favorites that offer PA++++.) It smells of tiare. On the plus side, the finish is non-shiny and reapplication is very easy.
Ducray Melascreen UV Light Cream Dry Touch SPF 50+
This is a high UVA protection sunscreen, and like most Ducray sunscreens it’s unscented. It contains chemical filters (Tinsorb S, Octocrylen, Ethylhexylmethoxycinnamate, Tinsorb M). Generally, the benefit of chemical sunscreens, especially the new, photo stable formulas, is that they don’t leave a white cast, but somehow this one does. The main reason I disliked it is because I find the cream hard to apply. Sunscreen shouldn’t be rubbed into the skin, but unless I do, the product appears streaky. On the plus side, the protection is broad spectrum, and the piping tube (pictured in the title photo) is brilliant, especially for travel. 12€ for 40ml.
Dior Bronze Beautifying Protective Creme Sublime Glow SPF 50
I don’t like the tanned look, which is just as well since my skin doesn’t tan. I also dislike the smell of self-tanners. When I was a teenager I simply decided to embrace the way my skin looks in its natural state and moved on. In other words, a product promising to give me a tan isn’t my first choice, but I received a sample and tried it out of curiosity. Not quite so sublime. First of all, it made me look shiny. Second, it peeled off my face halfway through the day, calling to mind the final scenes from “Death Becomes Her.” It’s impossible to reapply it without enhancing the peeling. I also would prefer higher UVA protection. Around $35 for 50ml.
Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35
Tatcha is a good sunscreen to consider if you’re looking for a primer to use under foundation. It definitely makes skin appear smoother, and unlike with some sunscreens, the finish is satiny. The formula is based on zinc oxide 15% and octisalate 5%. The addition of glycerin makes it gently hydrating. There are also nice additives like green tea (antioxidant) and licorice (brightening) extracts. On the other hand, at $68 for 2 oz, it’s much too expensive. The UVA protection factor is not high enough. Also, this sunscreen won’t reduce your pores, apart from giving a temporary illusion.
Emma Hardy Amazing Face Protect & Prime SPF 30
The herbal, lavender-like smell of this sunscreen is quite strong, and it lingers. It also made my skin tingle. (For the purposes of this review, I continued testing my sample on my arm.) It works well under makeup (although in principle, sunscreen should be applied last to guarantee protection). The formula with shea butter is moisturizing. The finish, on the other hand, is smooth and satiny. This is a chemical sunscreen with octocrylene and octinoxate. I can’t find much information on its level of UVA protection, but I can’t imagine it’s very high. £45.00 for 50ml.
Title image, photography by Bois de Jasmin