Australia has two major supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths. They’re a duopoly, since they’re really convenient and have low prices, as well as the budget to develop their own sunscreens.
I’ve had a lot of requests to review these supermarket sunscreens, especially since the Coles Face Sunscreen has gotten top marks in a blinded consumer test by Choice. So to keep everyone happy I slapped Coles Face Sunscreen and Woolworths Clear Zinc on my face.
Coles Face Sunscreen
Coles Face Sunscreen SPF 30 ($6 for 100 mL) is the sunscreen from the Choice test. Ever since the hype, it looks like they’ve halved the size of the tube but upgraded the SPF rating: Coles Facial Sunscreen SPF 50+ ($6 for 50 mL). It means it’s twice the price, but it’s still one of the cheapest sunscreens available, only beaten by Woolworths and Sunsense Sport.
The actives have also changed:
Old active ingredients: Octocrylene 3%, Avobenzone 3%, Uvinul T 150 2%, Enzacamene 2%
New active ingredients: Homosalate 10%, Octocrylene 8%, Octisalate 4%, Avobenzone 4%, Uvinul T 150 3%
Both sunscreens have similar textures. They feel like moisturiser and dry down to nothing, and are super comfortable to wear all day and work great under make-up. The sunscreens go on really smoothly and honestly feel like they could be luxury products. The scent is minimal and just smells a little “like sunscreen”.
Both sunscreens come in ugly tubes that scream “budget”. I don’t know how they managed to make the second tube so different and yet even uglier – well done to their team.
Woolworths Clear Zinc
Woolworths Clear Zinc SPF 30 ($9.50 for 100 g) is a white sunscreen that’s designed for the body. It’s a little confusing because there’s also Woolworths Clear Zinc SPF 30+ ($9.50 for 100 g), which is the only version listed online, even though it seems to be an older formula.
The first one (SPF 30) is the one I’ve tried. From the name you’d think that it’s a zinc oxide-only sunscreen, but it actually has a combination of organic and inorganic filters, including zinc oxide (of course), and my favourite newer photostable UVA filter Tinosorb S, as well as Uvinul A Plus. There’s also enzacamene and octinoxate. The second version (SPF 30+) only contains zinc oxide at 22%, and since I have a terrible track record with zinc sunscreens I didn’t bother trying it.
Active ingredients: Enzacamene 4%, Octinoxate 8%, Tinosorb S 2%, Zinc Oxide 6%, Uvinul A Plus 2.5%
Although I prefer organic (“chemical”) sunscreens for lots of reasons, I think the name of the sunscreen is a bit misleading, and they’re underselling the fact it has Tinosorb S and Uvinul A Plus instead of avobenzone. A lot of people are sensitive to avobenzone, so it’s good to have this as an option (although Sunsense also have a bunch of budget-friendly sunscreens without avobenzone as well – we’re very lucky in Australia!).
The most annoying this about the Woolworths sunscreen is the texture, It’s a bit sticky and paste-like, but once the sunscreen’s been spread out, it dries down to a slightly greasy moisturiser-like texture. I’m not too upset by the texture since it’s a necessary trade-off for 4 hours water resistance, and it’s fine under foundation or powder. It’s fragrance-free.
AU SPF disclaimer: Always read the label and follow the directions for use. Limit sun exposure and use protective clothing, hats and eye wear. Reapply sunscreen regularly.