The best sunscreens in all the land
You're going to regret asking for my opinions about this
The daily use of sunscreen has remained a faithful practice in my life for nearly a decade. Rain or shine, winter or summer, indoors or out, I’m wearing 45+ SPF.
Accordingly, I have strong opinions about sunscreen and very high standards. After trying many, many things, here are some of the conclusions I’ve drawn, and a short list of my recommendations.
Western sunscreens? No, thank you.
I don’t trifle with American/European brands anymore. From my extensive experience trying a wide range of popular sunscreens (Neutrogena, Supergoop, La Roche Posay, Drunk Elephant, Elta MD, and so forth) they are:
cosmetically inelegant (e.g., difficult to apply, leave a white cast, don’t absorb well), and
Thoroughly disappointing. I have tried some sunscreens from brands I like and trust (Paula’s Choice, for one), but they’re still expensive per ounce when compared with my favorites. More on that below.
“Natural” sunscreen paranoia? No, thank you.
I also don’t bother with the anti-scientific/panic-induced freak-outs about “toxic ingredients” in sunscreens, which is something that rich moms who buy crystals from Goop and adaptogenic tea from Whole Foods are very worried about. Fellow moms, brush up on your science before buying in! Listen to dermatologists!
Short spiel: Everything in the natural world is a chemical. And just because an ingredient comes straight from a plant doesn’t mean you should put it on your skin or that it will protect you from skin cancer. Manufactured sunscreens have to go through rigorous testing procedures to ensure that they are safe and effective before they can be sold to consumers. The same cannot be said of that moldy jar of coconut oil that your sister-wife gave you to use for SPF instead.
Korean and Japanese sunscreens? Yes, please.
As with most of my skincare products, I look to the East.
Korean and Japanese sunscreens are vastly superior, in my experience, for the following reasons:
Superior sun protection (goes even beyond the standard U.S. broad-spectrum ratings)
Affordable (on a per-ounce basis)
Cosmetically elegant (no white cast! Excellent absorption! No pilling!)
Thoroughly researched and vetted ingredients
Caveat: I’m talking about the face here
In the summer, I do buy big bottles of drugstore sunscreen for our bodies and limbs.
When you need near-daily sun protection for your family’s entire dermis, the cheap stuff that’s at least 50 SPF is the way to go. I would never, however, put such stuff on my face. Horrid.
Now, for what you came for, if you’re still here.
Honestly, when I start running low, I just go to Yesstyle and sort by the most highly rated sunscreens and buy a few of them. You can’t go wrong. You’ll have to wait a few weeks for them to arrive, so stock up, but it’s worth it.
If you still really want to know some of my favorites, here’s a brief list.
Missha All-Around Safe Block Soft Finish Sun Milk
Lovely absorption. No white cast. Affordable and no complaints whatsoever.
Canmake Mermaid Skin Gel
Works especially well under makeup, if you wear it. Doesn’t feel like you’re wearing anything at all. This might be my current favorite. I just wish they sold it in bigger tubes; per ounce, it’s a bit expensive. It comes in three varieties, but I think they’re all… basically… the same.
Neogen Day-Light Protection Airy Sunscreen
Excellent. Perfect absorption. Just a bit too expensive for my taste.
My single favorite non-Asian sunscreen, which I still regularly use, is:
Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Tinted (SPF 50)
This stuff has light coverage and a matte, velvety finish. On days when my skin is looking decent, it’s all the makeup that I need. Added benefits of being reef safe and easy to find at CVS and on Amazon.
Bonus: Face Sunscreen Application Tip!
How do you know how much sunscreen should go on your face?
They say you need about a third to a half teaspoon to cover your face, but who actually measures that out? Not me. Skincare guru Jude Chao has figured out an easy trick for application: Three finger-lengths of sunscreen is typically the right amount of coverage for the face.
These are all of my thoughts on the matter. For now.
Let me know if you have a current favorite! I’m always curious to hear what fellow SPF enthusiasts are using and enjoying.