(Note that this is sunscreen for YOU, not your dog.)
It’s summer time, and the UV index is 11. For real. I am a pale person with a few skin cancer risk factors. Without Silas, I’d probably stay inside all summer. As it is, sunscreens are something I take very seriously.
Let’s start at the top, with your face. First off, ladies, do not be counting on that SPF 15 in your makeup. Go to your kitchen. Find the 1/4 tsp measuring spoon. Take it with you next time you put your face products on. Are you using that much of your foundation/moisturizer/what have you just for your face? If not, you aren’t getting the SPF that the bottle claims. And it isn’t proportionately less. An 1/8 tsp of SPF 30 is not SPF 15. I preach because I care.
Now, some recommendations. I can’t use chemical sunscreens on my face. (Sunscreen 101: chemical sunscreens interfere with the mechanism of sun damage on your skin. Most common in the US are Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Octocrylene, and Oxybenzone. Physical sunscreens, Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, block UV. Both are perfectly valid when properly formulated, although sensitivities to one or more of the chemical filters are common. This is an excellent resource for checking your sunscreen formulation.) There are lots of good physical/chemical hybrids out there, especially if you’re in Canada or Europe. Many of them are better than the ones I list here. If you need an all physical sunscreen, your life is sad in the summer, and I’m writing this post for you. I cast around for a while, hopelessly lost in a sea of sticky white physical sunscreens. By the time you put enough Zinc in a sunscreen for it to be effective, you’re left with an inevitable amount of white pastiness. Only a really well-done formulation can overcome it.
This is my skin salvation, BurnOut Ocean Tested. I get antsy when I have less than half a tube on hand. It’s not as perfect now as it was, thanks to a slight reformulation, but this is great stuff. Now, let me be clear–this sunscreen is . . . unctuous. My dry skin appreciates that. If you’re used to top of the line drugstore formulations for face, you will find it hard to rub in, although it is *much* better than its competition in the natural market. It will leave you with, in makeup parlance, “a dewy glow.” I like that, too. Quite water resistant, so make sure you remove it well. Cruelty free, and priced similarly to the better end of drugstore. I suspect that on people who aren’t pale, this might leave some white residue, but you’re basically always going to get that from a physical sunscreen. That’s why the high-end physicals tend to be tinted.
If you have more “regular” skin, BurnOut’s Eco Sensitive
will do much better for you. Not unctuous or dewy, easy to rub in, but it’s too dry for my face and less waterproof. Like OceanTested, this is an 18.6% Zinc Oxide sunscreen. This one competes with the best stuff from the drugstore. My go-to body sunscreen. You can click through these images to BurnOut’s site, or this is available from Amazon and in some Whole Foods Markets. (Not mine. 😦 ) Neither of these sweat down into my eyes and burn.
There’s also the Big Guns, Shiseido’s Ultimate Sun Protection SPF 50 Cream. For years I wore this every day, until my skin got too sensitive for it. My cost-benefit analysis still lets me break this out when I’m going to get serious sun. It’s amazing. It’s expensive. It is impossible to remove even when you want to. A quick google suggests that Shiseido is currently phasing out animal testing.
At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been pleasantly pleased with Bullfrog’s Quick Gel.
The excellent thing about this is not so much that it’s great as it is that it’s *fast.* If you are already out and kind of sticky, and you need a sunscreen top-off, rubbing in a cream can be pretty gross. This gel goes on like hand sanitizer and dries fast. Warning: because it goes on fast and dries fast, it is easy to miss places and to put it on too thin. My husband has freakish tan lines to prove it. Also, note that quick gel texture comes with some alcohol content, so watch out if you have sensitive skin. Not sure about the cruelty-free status here, as our tube was an emergency purchase.
Fine print: I only wish I could get PR samples of sunscreen. Everything here is bought, tried, and tested by me, on me.