Are you a crispy critter in the sun ? What’s that song? The Best Is Yet To Come … The virtues and health benefits of sunscreens continue to be well documented and with good reason . But have you found a sunscreen that actually works as promised ?
A sunscreen that preferably does not turn you into Casper the ghost or leaves you slip sliding away ?
Crispy Critter Alert For Sunscreen
As you may have guessed I am a fair skinned soul paired with highly sensitive skin – not a great combination for sunscreens as I have discovered in my journey through the land of sunscreens. First a review of sunscreenology and then my top three picks for sunscreens that work and deliver as promised .
Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Is Essential
The most effective sunscreens are broad spectrum coverage; UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays can cause premature aging, wrinkling, age spots. UVB rays cause sunburn. Products labeled broad spectrum must pass the FDA Broad Spectrum Test.
Difference Between Chemical And Physical Barriers Of Sunscreen
Physical sunscreens protect your skin by deflecting and scattering the rays. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are physical barrier sunscreens; sunscreens frequently contain a combination of both. One of the benefits of a physical barrier sunscreen is their compatibility with sun sensitive skin; the sunscreen is not absorbed into the skin.
One of the negatives of a physical barrier sunscreen is the skin takes on a white cast; however the formulation and size of the minerals can reduce the Casper effect.
Chemical sunscreens are comprised of many chemicals which after applied to the skin disperse the UV rays. Common chemicals include: avobenzone, oxybenzone, octisalate, and ecamsule which is Mexoryl SX by L’Oreal.
Europe Leads The Way With Sunscreen Ratings
Europe has been ahead of the game for UVA sunscreen protection for many, many years. According to the Environmental Working Groups annual sunscreen report, Europe has approved 27 chemicals versus 17 for the United States. Many analysts agree many of Europe’s approved sunscreen chemicals are more effective than those found in the United States.
One of the issues for approval of chemicals in the United States was a delay by the FDA for considering the approval of new sunscreen chemicals. The delay prompted the Sunscreen Innovation Act under which the FDA has up to 300 days to consider the application and provide a recommendation. The passage of the Act should help that a broader selection of sunscreens will be available to the American consumer.
I would love to be able to recommend thrifty budget conscious sunscreens, but while I have tried what seems like every sunscreen on the market – I have to go with what works for my crispy critter skin.
My Top Three Sunscreens
1. Obagi Medical Sun Shield With Broad Spectrum SPF 50
The Obagi sunscreen was recommended by a dermatologist; it is a combination of a physical and chemical barrier sunscreen with 7.5% octinoxate and %10.5 zinc oxide. A zinc oxide sunscreen has many benefits for protecting sun sensitive skin.
- PABA Free
- Not greasy
- Quickly absorbs into skin
- No white cast
- Silky, creamy but still lightweight formula
- Price, expensive at $10.00 an ounce. Is it more expensive than its’ high end peers? No.
- Chemical ingredients could be a negative.
2. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist SPF 45 – 100+
The Neutrogena sunscreen is a chemical barrier sunscreen and comes in a spray and cream formula at varying SPF’s. I rate this a 10 in my subcategory of best clear sunscreen.
- Lightweight formula
- Easy to apply
- Good for sports. Convenient to reapply.
- Affordable. Easily found on the shelves, if you have access to a Bed, Bath & Beyond store, you can use the 20% off coupon.
- Chemical barrier ingredients could be a negative.
3. Clinique Super City Block
This is the best sunscreen I have used for my face to provide long term consistent protection. Clinique Super City Block is a combination physical and chemical barrier sunscreen. The price falls between my first and second choices. This sunscreen is my favorite sunscreen for sensitive skin.
- Oil free
- Rubs in quickly
- Can use under foundation or by itself
- Fragrance free
- While it doesn’t leave a white cast, it definitely leaves a slight pasty cast.
- Chemical barrier ingredients could be a negative for some skin types.
Throughout the summer I use a combination of all three sunscreens plus good ole pure zinc oxide. That is what works for me; however, as with trying any new product, test the product before liberally applying the product to ensure compatibility with your skin. It is wise to test the sunscreens on your skin annually as each year can bring a different adventure as to how reactive skin can be to any product.