Living in Arizona for a decade and commuting to work via bike automatically upgrades me to an expert sunscreen reviewer. I have tried so many of them over the years. I have been saving 2 years worth of product empties for this review. A few things to start off:
PHYSICAL Vs CHEMICAL :
Chemical sunscreens require to be applied 15 minutes ahead of exposure to sun, to react with the skin and create a protective barrier. They are seldom good for the environment or allegedly contain carcinogens. Physical sunscreens have particles that are reflective in nature. They usually are titanium dioxide based and could give a white cast on darker skin tones. But good for the environment and skin.
ALL NATURAL :
I am making a switch to find more of these in the future. Maybe next year when I leave Arizona for good, my product empty reviews could be of all natural ones. For now, still using the nasty chemical laden ones because I don’t trust them enough to make the switch as yet.
When you wash off your sunscreen, all the chemicals reach the earth again. And the containers end up in landfills unless we rethink it all. I am looking into it and don’t know enough about it. But researching it. Homework to myself: By next summer, find some good ones that I know how to dispose and are good for the environment.
Spray mechanisms are pretty ineffective in providing good coverage. Oil sunscreens may provide the spf factor but the oil burns you faster. Chemical sunscreens need to react with the skin and using a moisturizer before sunscreen dilutes its efficiency ( according to pharmacists who formulate them and dermatologists ). The dermatologists recommend waiting a few minutes before layering sunscreen with a foundation.
Ingestion and topical application of Vitamin C products aids faster recovery after sun exposure. I am a huge fan of Skinceuticals CE Ferulic products. Antioxidants from berries and foods rich in vitamin A like carrots and beets go a long way in protecting the skin from the inside.
There are many ways to protect the skin from the sun. I think eating well is paramount. None of my grandmothers bothered with products and have great skin in their 80s. They ate a balanced diet with lots of greens and colorful vegetables. Protective clothing, hats and sunglasses would reduce the dependance on products. Avoiding the sun during its peak and re-application of the sunscreen as prescribed also go a long way. If I need to spend very little money on skincare, I would pick a good sunscreen and moisturize/cleanse with organic olive/coconut oil. Here are a few good ones:
INSTITUT ESTHEDERM : This is called the Rolls Royce of sunscreens, endorsed by Lisa Eldridge. Its hard to find in the US, expensive and very very effective. Its rather thick, like a paste or mask. It goes on smoothly and acts like a shield warding off all the sun. But you can feel it on your skin, sitting heavy all day. I wear it when I run races, go hiking, bungee jumping, swimming, etc when I do not have the luxury of reapplication. And I always came back home without a sunburn. I dont even tan like the rest of my body does from sun exposure when I use this. The downside of it is the white cast. It does not work for my skin tone and is extremely hard to blend in. Chanel and Skinceuticals make one with very similar formulation and consistency that also gives me a white cast, but would work well for paler skintones.
DR. LANCER : Half of Hollywood and the LA crowd goes to him for skincare concerns. His products have a huge celebrity following. I really really like his sunscreen. It does not give me a white cast unless I am really tanned. Provides excellent protection. I would consider repurchasing it again for its merits.
SHISEIDO : This cult Korean brand makes high quality products and are easily accessible ( Sephora ). The SPF 50 is very moisturising making it dry skin friendly for the warmer months and cold weather friendly for normal skin ( me ). Its a chemical sunscreen and hence I needn’t worry about the white cast, which is a problem with most products for me.
PREVAGE : If i were to pick one to use for the rest of my life and to never try another, it would be the prevage. I found it on recommendation of FleurDeForce. It comes with a brush which makes it bike and hike friendly, keeping the dirty hands away from the face. No white cast on my skin tone and excellent protection. The technology behind it claims to have found something more effective than vitamin C. I have repurchased it multiple times and would do so again in the future.
LA ROCHE POSAY : This is my favourite drugstore brand. This primer sunscreen is transparent, gel like smoothing the skin and could not give anyone a white cast. Its highly effective and affordable. Its excellent value for money. I have never been disappointed with any product made by this brand. It ranks points on the echo friendly scale and the container can be recycled.
PRATIMA : Lately, when I look for products, my criteria have changed. I am looking for more natural, gentler and sustainable products. This ayurvedic brand meets all the criteria. Its a titanium dioxide physical sunscreen blended with traditional Indian oils like neem. The container is made of post recycled materials and can be recycled once done.
This year, I want to test a few sunscreens from Whole Foods. I have Juice Beauty, Coola, Yes to Cucumbers and the recommendations of EWG on my list. If you have any recommendations, please do let me know.