As we head into Summer, I thought it might be fun to test out some new SPF products with a focus on facial sunscreens. This also seemed like an appropriate installment in the “Special Features” category, given that I live in The Bahamas and the sun is a constant feature of our daily lives. To give you an idea of the climate/weather during the summer months, temperatures range anywhere from 85°F (29°C) to 95°F (35°) with relative humidity usually above 70% and the UV Index ranging from 8 (Very High) – 11(Extreme). Now you can understand why I am obsessed with my sunscreen.
I recently purchased the Sephora Sun Safety Kit and it seemed like a great way to kick off this series. I also plan to include other SPF products, but first things first, there are a lot of products in this little kit. By now, we all know the importance of protecting our skin from the sun and the dangers of skin cancer. Not to mention wrinkles and sun spots, the latter of which is especially worrying for those of us with fairer complexions. But of course, everybody should practise sun protection and wear SPF regardless of skin tone.
Not all sunscreens are created equal. Concerns range from the relatively minor, i.e. how the sun protection product interacts with the other products we use like foundation, to the major, whether it offers broad spectrum protection, i.e. protection from UVA/UVB rays. And as the Skin Cancer Society warns, we are exposed to UVA rays year round, whether or not the sun is beaming high in the sky.
Back in the day, not as many products offered UVA protection, but thankfully, we now have more options. Companies have developed a range of products and ingredients that offer not only the protection we are looking for, but “bonus” benefits like moisturizing properties and anti-oxidants, some even claiming to be anti-aging.
Additionally, products compete to offer consumers comfortable wear in that ongoing quest for a product that absorbs easily into the skin and help us to avoid the dreaded “white-cast” or “ashy-ness”. Unfortunately, that “white cast” comes from the most common UV filters found in sunscreens, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which characterize many sunscreens, particularly the purely physical ones. The “white-cast” effect is often reduced in many chemical sunscreens as they contain a number of additional ingredients which absorb into the skin helping it to off-set the sun’s rays, rather than deflect them as a physical sunscreen does. These differences can influence one’s choice between physical and chemical sunscreens for the purposes of makeup application as well as photographs (avoiding the appearance of a “white mask” in flash photography). On the other hand, although chemical sunscreens may seem like a better option, they can contain ingredients that aren’t always the best option for those with sensitive and reactive skin.
The debate on sunscreen/sunblock requirements is quite an interesting one. The FDA’s announcement of new requirements for over-the-counter sunscreen products was a step in the right direction, but advocates of adequate sun protection remain frustrated by the FDA (lengthy) process of reviewing new sunscreen ingredients that could be more effective and made available to consumers. Without getting into too much detail, as I am sure you guys can find range of sources on this issues, I would encourage everyone to remain informed. There is a great article by Brady Dennis of the Washington Post which can offer more insight on this particular matter for interested readers.
If you’re look for more in-depth information on sunscreens, in general, and the importance of protecting your skin, also check out these great resources:
- Skincancer.org – The official site of the Skin Cancer Foundation
- Skinacea.com – A collection of skin panaceas and personal tips
Decent protection for normal daily activity; No white/grey cast; Wears well under foundation; Best for Normal Skin Types (May not be suitable for sensitive skin); Cost: High ($56.00 USD/£48.00 for a full size 3.3 fl oz); Available Locally: No.
Shiseido Ultimate Protection SPF 50: Extreme sun protection; Water resistant; Fairly thick coverage which leaves a major white cast – powder like finish; Best for: Normal, Oily -Combo Skin Types; Recommended for use during outdoor activities; Cost: High ($39.00 USD for a full size 3.3 fl oz); Available Locally: Yes.
Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer SPF 30: Overs Broad Spectrum (UVA/UVB) Protection; Very mild white/grey cast; Wears fairly well under foundation; Best for: Combo-Normal Skin; Not recommended for: Very Oily or Very Dry Skin; Cost: High ($42.00 USD for 50 ml / 1.7 oz); Available Locally: No (Check Sephora.com or Beautybar.com)
Stila Bronzing Beauty Balm SPF 30: An amazing mattifier! Hot Weather Approved! (in spades)l Best for: Oily/Combo Skin Types (or if you live somewhere like I do); Best for: Light, Medium to Deep Skin Tones with neutral, yellow or olive undertones (this may not work well for those with pink/red undertones); Cost: High ($38.00 USD for 1.3 fl oz.)
Ole Henriksen Protect the Truth SPF 50: Great smell! High SPF of 50 (UVA/UVB); No white/grey cast (may be a mild, temporary grey cast on darker skin tones); Oil-Free/Wears well under foundation; Cost: Moderate-High ($35.00 USD for full size 1.7 fl. oz); Available Locally: No
Clarins – UV Plus HP Broad Spectrum SPF 40: Moderate white/grey cast:; Absorbs quickly. light weight; watery, thin consistency, slight “powder” like finish; Cost: High ($41.00 USD for full size 1.7 fl oz); Best for: Normal to Combination Skin (Can cause oil to develop later in the day); Available Locally: Yes! (Check John Bull or the Beauty Spot, Downtown, Nassau)
Supergoop! Sun-Defying Sunscreen Oil SPF 50. Does not leave a white/grey cast; Consistency: Oil (Fully absorbs within 10-15 minutes); No adverse skin reactions experienced; Best for: All Skin Types (if used on body alone); Good for: A range of activities. Water-resistant for up to 80 minutes (after which you MUST reapply); Cost: Average; Available Locally: No (Check Sephora.com or Supergoop.com)
Origins A Perfect World Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 20. Leaves a slight white/grey cast in initial application; Consistency: Thick to Medium; Did not break me out; Foundation Approved (unless using a dewy foundation with oily skin); Best used for: Normal daily activities with limited sun exposure. Not recommended for use in situations of pro-longed sun exposure; Cost: High (Retail $41.00 USD); Available Locally: No (Check Origins.com , Sephora.com, Nordstrom.com and/or similar retailers).
Murad’s Anti-aging Moistruzier for Blemish Prone Skin SPF 20: Wears well under foundation; Hot/Humid weather approved; Feels light-weight and comfortable on the skin; Price: High (Retail:$47.00 USD); Available Locally: No (Check online at: Murad.com or Sephora.com)