My Favourite Sunscreens: 2021 Update (with video)

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As a sunscreen connoisseur who tries out a lot of sunscreens, it always feel premature to make a list of my favourites. I try a lot of sunscreens but I feel like I can never get through as many as I’d like, because unfortunately I have just the one face.

I did a list of my favourites at the end of 2019, but then a whole bunch of them were discontinued in the 2020 sunscreen crisis. So here’s an updated version! I’m sure some of these are probably going to test at a lower SPF at some point…

The video is here on YouTube, keep scrolling for the written version.

My sunscreen preferences

Obviously this list is limited by what I’ve tried and my personal preferences – everyone looks for different things in sunscreens, so please don’t just assume my favourites will necessarily work for you! I have oily skin that’s prone to acne, dehydration and hyperpigmentation, and that dictates a lot of my wants and needs in a sunscreen (if you want to work out what your skin type and concerns are, how to choose and use different skincare products, check out my eBook The Lab Muffin Guide to Basic Skincare).

sunscreen connoisseur

There are some honourable mentions at the end that didn’t quite make my “could happily wear this for the rest of my life” list, but they’re still great and they’re actually other people’s favourites.

I like high UVA protection because UVA can cause hyperpigmentation, so I look for a high UVAPF rating (where it exists), or a broad spectrum label if it’s Australian or European.

Related video: Why you should protect your skin from UVA (and how) (with video)

I really like the newer UVA filters since they tend to be more photostable and give high protection. While I know avobenzone and zinc oxide can produce higher UVA protection, without firmer UVAPF information it seems like a safer bet to me. I realise it’s a bit superstitious on my part, but if they don’t have newer UVA filters they can’t join my favourites list. I’m sorry but that’s the rules. (That means US sunscreens can’t be in my favourites list – if you want those, check out the honourable mentions.)

The most popular newer UVA filters are listed here along with the common brand names for them. There are a lot of different brand names for them now, so I’m going to start using the abbreviations over the brand names for them (e.g. diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate isn’t just Uvinul A Plus – it’s also in Silasoma EP(S), Silasome SP, Uvinul Easy, Mfsorb 512, Vida-Care SP-10 and Vida-Care USB-50+ – so it’s easier just to call it DHHB).

AbbreviationINCI nameINN/USAN/AAN names (if different)Common Trade Names
DHHBDiethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate-Uvinul A Plus
BEMTBis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine
BemotrizinolTinosorb S Parsol Shield
MBBTMethylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenolBisoctrizoleTinosorb M Parsol Max
TDSATerephthalylidene dicamphor sulfonic acidEcamsuleMexoryl SX
DTSDrometrizole trisiloxaneSilatriazoleMexoryl XL
TBPTTris-biphenyl triazine
-Tinosorb A2B

I hate white cast. My skin isn’t that dark (it’s in the light-medium NC20 range), but even then some sunscreens make me look like a mime.

I also wear makeup, so sunscreens need to not pill up on my skin when I put on foundation – this is when your skin starts looking like it’s peeling off. Pilling depends on skin type. Some sunscreens that pill up on me aren’t as bad on drier skin.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible Fluid (Shaka Fluid)

  • SPF 50+ (AU/EU), Broad Spectrum (AU/EU), no water resistance
  • UV filters: BEMT (bemotrizinol), avobenzone, DTS, TDSA (ecamsule), octyl triazone, octisalate

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible Fluid (Lookfantastic, Amazon AU) is the reformulated version of their old Ultra Light Fluid. Note: This is the version you get in Europe and Australia (labelled SPF 50+) – not the US version (labelled SPF 60), which is completely different.

I really wanted to like the old formula because the filters were great and La Roche-Posay have a reputation for really high protection sunscreens. But I have oily skin, and a lot of very runny sunscreens tend to stay on my skin like an oil puddle. They never dry down and shift around all day, making my foundation bunch up and go patchy, and coming off onto my fingers all day. This happened with the old Fluid, Krave Beauty, Ultra Violette Queen Screen, Anessa Mild Milk – these formulas tend to do quite well if your skin is dry, but I hate them.

So I was pretty skeptical about this new version, because when it comes out of the bottle it looks a lot like the old version.

But on my skin it’s completely different! It’s lightweight and dries down nicely, giving a slightly dewy finish that isn’t too greasy or sticky. It also has no white cast and is fragrance free.

It also doesn’t sting my eyes. With eye sting, I think it really varies a lot for different people – I’ve heard people blame octocrylene and avobenzone and ethylhexylglycerin. But for my eyes, it seems like it’s more complicated than just looking at the filters. I’ve tried analysing the sunscreens that have and haven’t stung my eyes, and I can’t seem to find any sort of pattern. It might have something to do with the concentrations, or the overall formula of the sunscreen and how it travels with my level of face oil and sweat.

Mecca Cosmetica To Save Face Superscreen

  • SPF 50+ (AU), Broad Spectrum (AU), no water resistance
  • UV filters: BEMT (bemotrizinol), avobenzone, octocrylene, ensulizole

Mecca Cosmetica To Save Face Superscreen (Mecca) is the recently(ish) reformulated version of their super popular sunscreen, which was one of my honourable mentions last time. Whenever a favourite gets reformulated we all get really nervous, but it turns out the new version’s great.

It feels and smells and is pretty much indistinguishable from the old version – it’s lightweight and moisturising, with a texture that sinks in easily. It has the same moderate floral scent, and clogs my pores a tiny bit (my pores are super prone to clogging with sunscreens). The inactive ingredients in the old and new versions look the same.

The big change sunscreen filters that’ve been changed, and it’s an upgrade!

The new version sells itself on being oxybenzone-free. I don’t personally have an issue with oxybenzone, but if I had to avoid a sunscreen filter it would probably be oxybenzone. So many sunscreens in Australia have stopped using it already, so I get the decision. But the thing that REALLY excited me was that they added BEMT, a really nice photostable UVA filter – hence why the new formula has now been bumped up to holy grail status.

Bioré Aqua Rich Watery Essence (2019)

  • SPF 50+ (JP), PA++++ (JP), 80 min water resistant (JP?)
  • UV filters: BEMT (bemotrizinol), DHHB, octinoxate, octyl triazone

Bioré Aqua Rich Watery Essence 2019 (Stylevana, YesStyle) was a sunscreen I tried out for my video on cult favourite Asian products. This is really nice and light, with a mild floral scent and a generous sploosh of alcohol. It doesn’t dry out my skin, and doesn’t sting my eyes.

Related post: How Bad Is Alcohol in Skincare, Really? The Science (video with KindofStephen)

It claims to be 80 min water resistant. From what I can tell, water resistance claims aren’t officially regulated in Japan, and there are a bunch of different water resistance requirements around the world, so it’s hard to work out how water resistant it is.

For example, for Australian and US sunscreens, “water resistant” means that after dunking in water they have to have at least the labelled SPF. However, in Europe, they just need to get back to half the SPF. So a water resistant sunscreen that’s SPF 50 in Europe might get downgraded to SPF 25 in Australia and the US.

But regardless, this is one of the best water-resistant sunscreens I’ve tried texture-wise. Pilling is usually the main issue, and this only pills up a little when I put foundation on top.

The biggest downside to Japanese sunscreens is that they tend to reformulate them every year or two. This is great from a technology point of view, but sometimes it’s hard to work out which one you’re buying, and which one people are talking about. Based on their pattern they should reformulate this soon.

Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk

  • SPF 50+ (JP), PA++++ (JP), 80 min water resistant (JP?)
  • UV filters: BEMT (bemotrizinol), DHHB, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, octinoxate, octocrylene, octisalate, polysilicone-15

Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk (Stylevana, YesStyle) is another sunscreen I talked about in my cult Asian products video.

It took me the longest time to try this. It’s a bit difficult to get, and it’s expensive compared to the other Asian sunscreens. I’ve actually had friends raving to me about it since… probably 2012 (yeah I’m a next level procrastinator). But I’ve finally tried it and it definitely lives up to the hype!

Again, it’s 80 minutes water resistant, but I’m not sure to which standard. It also claims to be rub, sweat and heat resistant.

It feels a bit heavier than the Biore sunscreen, but there’s no pilling and no eye sting for me, and it looks nice under makeup.

All-Time Greatest Hits

Here are my favourites from last year I still love and haven’t been discontinued – check out the original posts for full reviews.

Ultraceuticals Ultra UV Protective Daily Moisturiser Mattifying

  • SPF 30 (AU), Broad Spectrum (AU), no water resistance
  • UV filters: BEMT (bemotrizinol), avobenzone, ensulizole, octinoxate, octocrylene

Ultraceuticals Ultra UV Protective Daily Moisturiser Mattifying (Ultraceuticals) is still my absolute go-to sunscreen. This was actually the sunscreen that got me wearing sunscreen daily!

I never have any problems with it on my skin. The only issue is that it’s slightly lower SPF than a lot of the other sunscreens I’m talking about, but for everyday wear, I don’t really mind using SPF 30. Higher SPFs tend to break me out and feel heavier, so this is a compromise I’m willing to make. I can also put this on at the right amount without any issues, so the drop in protection probably doesn’t end up being that much.

Original review here.

Ultra Violette Supreme Screen

  • SPF 50+ (AU), Broad Spectrum (AU), no water resistance
  • UV filters: BEMT (bemotrizinol), octinoxate, MBBT

Ultra Violette Supreme Screen (Space NK) is a really lovely lightweight sunscreen that works as a moisturiser and primer as well, and it hydrates without being shiny and sticky like a lot of other hydrating sunscreens.

I love that Ultra Violette’s sunscreens were developed by women who have a lot of experience in developing products for women. Some brands seem not to properly take into account the fact that women often wear makeup over sunscreen. Their sunscreens have been tested to work well with lots of foundations with no balling. The pump top is really handy, it has a light scent, and it’s also recently been released in a larger 75 mL tube for just an extra $2, which is awesome.

Original review here.

Azclear Action Day Moisturiser

  • SPF 30 (AU), Broad Spectrum (AU), no water resistance
  • UV filters: BEMT (bemotrizinol), DHHB, octinoxate

Azclear Action Day Moisturiser (Chemist Warehouse) is the sunscreen I recommend to people in person in Australia who want to start wearing sunscreen every day. A lot of the time they’re hesitant thanks to their bad experiences with heavy, greasy, smelly sunscreens… and Azclear kind of blows their minds.

I think it’s really good to have a nice gateway sunscreen like this. It’s cheap, light, doesn’t have much of a scent, and has no white cast. Most importantly, it’s available in Chemist Warehouse which is everywhere in Sydney, so they don’t have to wait for it to ship and they’re not tempted to start using the chemical exfoliant I just gave them without wearing sunscreen.

It’s a little bit tacky on my skin but it doesn’t seem to be an issue for most people. The SPF isn’t the highest but as a sunscreen for when you’re not exposed to too much sun it’s fine, and most of the people I’m recommending it to aren’t wearing any sunscreen most of the time, so even SPF 15 would be a win.

Unfortunately from digging around the TGA registry, it looks like a reformulated version was approved a couple of weeks ago – apparently this is just the sort of thing that happens to every sunscreen I recommend. The new version doesn’t have octinoxate. My (rather wild) guess would be that it’s been removed due to the whole reef-safe marketing hoo-ha. I’m hoping the new version lives up to how great this one was, but the ingredient list looks very different, and there’s MBBT which tends to give a bit of a white cast. I guess we’ll find out soon.

Original review here.

Gone from my favourites

Canmake Mermaid Skin Gel UV has been reformulated – apparently the new version has worse white cast, seems to be a curse (although there’s apparently a version that doesn’t have a white cast, which I hope to review soon!).

Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence and Purito Centella Green Level Sun have been discontinued because they tested at lower SPF – this post discusses that and some of the reasons why so many sunscreens test lower than expected in post-market testing. I also recommend watching Odile Monod’s video about a loophole in Korean regulations that seems to have been exploited by one of the contract manufacturers for some brands.

Honourable mentions

These are the sunscreens that didn’t quite make it to my personal favourites since they didn’t tick some of my criteria. But I still really like them, and I think they’d be great for a lot of people – they might end up being one of your favourites!

Cancer Council Face Day Wear Moisturiser Matte

  • SPF 50+ (AU), Broad Spectrum (AU), no water resistance
  • UV filters: avobenzone, octocrylene, 4-MBC, octyl triazone

Cancer Council Face Day Wear Moisturiser Matte (Amazon) is probably my top honourable mention. Texture-wise this is very similar to Mecca and Ultra Violette, but it’s a lot cheaper and unfortunately it doesn’t have any of the newer UVA filters.

The biggest issue though is that it makes my eyes water but again, eye sting is pretty subjective, so it might still work for you.

Natio Daily Defence Face Moisturiser

Ombra Daily Defence

  • SPF 50+ (AU), Broad Spectrum (AU), no water resistance
  • UV filters: avobenzone, octocrylene, 4-MBC, octyl triazone

Natio Daily Defence Face Moisturiser (Amazon) and Ombra Daily Defence (from Aldi) seem to be very similar formulas to the Cancer Council sunscreen. They all have the same filters at the same percentages. The Cancer Council and Natio sunscreens have the same inactive ingredients, but the Ombra sunscreen isn’t listed on the TGA register anymore, so I can’t check. It seems like maybe Aldi aren’t planning on bringing it back anytime soon, and even when it was around it would appear for about 2 weeks every year.

Cancer Council Face Day Wear BB Cream

  • SPF 50+ (AU*), Broad Spectrum (AU*), no water resistance
  • UV filters: avobenzone, octocrylene, 4-MBC, octyl triazone

Cancer Council Face Day Wear BB Cream in Light (Amazon) isn’t technically a sunscreen, so this is a bit of a controversial inclusion, but I wanted to shout it out anyway because I love it and it’s pretty close. It’s not a primary sunscreen, so it’s regulated as a cosmetic which isn’t as strict as Australian sunscreens which are drugs (therapeutic products). But sunscreens in a lot of other countries are regulated as cosmetics anyway, so I feel like it’s valid here.

This seems to be a very similar formula as the Matte Moisturiser but it’s tinted, and it’s light enough that you can apply a full sunscreen sized amount but still look normal. And this actually makes my skin look really nice, and still very natural. But it stings my eyes – and I actually liked it so much I kept trying it for a full week, in full denial mode while weeping gently the whole time (but with very nice looking skin).

So for sunscreens like this, using a different product around the eyes might work – my favourite for this is…

Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Sunscreen Stick

  • SPF 50+ (US), Broad Spectrum (US), 80 minutes water resistance (US)
  • UV filters: zinc oxide

Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Sunscreen Stick (Amazon) uses zinc oxide as its sole UV filter, and most people don’t find that this stings their eyes.

I generally don’t love sunscreen sticks for the rest of my face, since they tend to feel a bit heavy and clog my pores, plus it’s difficult to work out the right amount to apply. I mostly use this one just around my eyes. It’s water resistant, and sticks are so waxy that they tend to stay in place and not get sweated off and into your eyes, so it’s not likely to sting much for anyone (I actually rubbed it in my eye right before filming (for science), and it was fine).

This stick also applies smoothly without chunks breaking off (always a risk with sunscreen sticks and lip balms), and it works under eyeshadow for me.

US sunscreens

One of the biggest questions I get asked is: what about US sunscreens? Well, you lot don’t have the better filters, so my holy grail sunscreens obviously aren’t approved in the US, but there are a couple of sunscreens that I quite like! (And of course, you can always import sunscreens.)

Both of these are Australian, but unlike a lot of other “Australian” sunscreens, they’re actually approved in Australia! The biggest difference between Australian and US approval that really matters (apart from the newer filters) is the “broad spectrum” label, which tells you about UVA protection.

In the US “broad spectrum” only means that it passes the critical wavelength test, so at least 10% of the area under the UV absorbance curve needs to be 370 nm or longer. But in Australia it’s stricter – on top of this, there’s the requirement that UVA protection is at least ⅓ of the SPF. A lot of sunscreens that are broad spectrum in the US aren’t broad spectrum in Australia. (In the EU they use the same standard as Australia, but they show this with a UVA circle logo.)

I should also point out here that a lot of international sunscreens are also approved in Australia so they pass Australian standards too – I think we sometimes forget this! This includes a lot of sunscreens from Neutrogena, Banana Boat, La Roche-Posay, Avene, Cetaphil and Nivea (I’m sure I’ve forgotten some brands too). So you might already be overlooking some “higher quality sunscreens” that meet Australian standards.

Bondi Sands Sunscreen Lotion

  • SPF 50+ (AU), Broad Spectrum (AU), 4 hour water resistance (AU)
  • UV filters: avobenzone, octocrylene, octisalate, homosalate

Bondi Sands Sunscreen Lotion Fragrance-Free (Amazon) is super popular on social media at the moment. It has no white cast, and while it’s a little sticky for my skin, it’s fine once I put powder on. It’s pretty light as far as US sunscreens go, which is why I have it here. It’s also 4 hours water resistant, which is a big bonus.

There’s a Face and a Body version, and from the active percentages and the inactive ingredient lists they look like they’re probably the same formula – I haven’t actually tried the Face one yet though for comparison. Bondi Sands also have a few other sunscreens that I’m excited to try.

Everyday Humans Resting Beach Face

  • SPF 30 (AU), Broad Spectrum (AU), no water resistance
  • UV filters: avobenzone, octocrylene, octisalate, homosalate

Everyday Humans Resting Beach Face (Ulta Beauty) has a slightly lower SPF of 30, which is fine for an everyday sunscreen. The formula is really nice and light, and it comes in a handy pump top tube.

Zinc sunscreens I don’t hate

I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone, but zinc oxide and I don’t get along. I can always feel zinc oxide sunscreens on my skin, they’re usually quite thick and clog my pores and mess up my fringe. Sometimes they dehydrate my skin and make it go flaky while still feeling greasy (Top 10 Skincare Betrayals territory), and there’s usually white cast. They just don’t spark joy.

But I’ve found a few that I actually kind of like, which is a new and exciting experience for me!

Paula’s Choice Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense

  • SPF 30 (AU*), Broad Spectrum (AU*), no water resistance
  • UV filters: zinc oxide

Ultra Violette Lean Screen, Naked Sundays Collagen Glow Mineral

  • SPF 50+ (AU), Broad Spectrum (AU), no water resistance
  • UV filters: zinc oxide

I think a lot of brands have caught on to the fact that if you put a bit of tint into a zinc oxide sunscreen, it hides the white cast pretty well, even if the tint doesn’t quite match your skin tone. All three of these are invisible on my skin even though they look like very different shades out of the tube. I’ve seen people with darker skin complain about white cast from both Ultra Violette Lean Screen (Space NK) and Paula’s Choice Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense (Paula’s Choice) before, I’d expect Naked Sundays Collagen Glow Mineral Sunscreen (Naked Sundays) will also give white cast since the tint is even lighter.

Paula’s Choice Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense isn’t actually approved in Australia as a proper (primary) sunscreen. It’s also SPF 30. But the texture is really nice, especially for a zinc oxide sunscreen.

Ultra Violette Lean Screen and Naked Sundays Mineral Sunscreen are SPF 50+, which means that they’re more than double the SPF of the Paula’s Choice product (yeah, SPF 50+ means 60 or higher in Australia – things just work differently here, there was an emu war). The two SPF 50+ sunscreens are a fair bit thicker and have a more paste-like texture. I have to powder thickly on top so they don’t stick down my hair, but if I had to wear a high protection zinc oxide sunscreen it’d be one of these two.

Evy Daily UV Face Mousse

  • SPF 30 (EU), Broad Spectrum (EU) / 5 Star Boots Rating, no official water resistance claims
  • UV filters: BEMT (bemotrizinol), DHHB, avobenzone, octyl triazone, octocrylene

Evy Daily UV Face Mousse (Space NK) is a Swedish sunscreen. Evy sunscreens use a technology that gets the sunscreen into the top layers of the skin so it doesn’t rub off easily and lasts through immersion in different types of water, sweat, towelling etc. It’s very cool, and I’ve talked about it and the data that backs up their claims before.

Related post: Do They Work? Evy 6-Hour Sunscreen, Dermablend Drops in SPF

But this sunscreen felt quite sticky and uncomfortable on my face. Apparently with Swedish customers it’s considered very light and comfortable. It might be because I’m spoilt with light Asian and Australian sunscreens, or because it’s more humid in Australia. I use Evy on my body a lot though with no issues.

Have you tried any of these sunscreens? What other great sunscreens do I need to try?

sunscreen-connoisseur

Many of these products were provided for review, which did not affect my opinion. This post also contains affiliate links – if you decide to click through and support Lab Muffin financially (at no extra cost to you), thank you! For more information, see Disclosure Policy.

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34 thoughts on “My Favourite Sunscreens: 2021 Update (with video)”

  1. I think you are right about the Evy. I’m in Scandinavia, and I loved it during Winter/Spring. But as soon as the humidity went up and the temperature crossed 20C, I hate it.

    Reply
  2. Hi Michelle,
    Question: can I pat out the excess oil off my face with a paper towel after applying sunscreen and letting it absorb after 10/20/30 mins or will that compromise the sun protection of the product? I live in the dreaded USA, so I have to purchase from overseas to get the good filters. Since I don’t do makeup, I just buy good, cheap SPF 50+ body sunscreens and use ’em for my face as well, and I put on a generous amount. So it can get quite greasy, you see, like an oil mine…
    I always look forward to your videos. Love that your content is backed up by your studies from school and continued research. Keep rocking 🙂 And injecting humor into your videos.

    Reply
  3. Thanks for compiling this list, I always end up learning something new. I personally love LRP invisible fluid for my face.

    Do you have any recs for body sunscreens? I just ordered Bioderma’s Photoderm SPF50 Spray (big ol 400ml bottle) bc the ingredients look good, but have never tried it.

    Reply
  4. I have been using FRUDIA – Ultra UV Shield Sun Essence – SPF50+ PA++++ and really like it. It does’nt leave a white cast and is really good under makeup. It is also under $12 and is often on sale at Stylevanna. Not sure how the ingredients rate but would love you to check it out and share your thoughts on it as I am also using tretinoin (prescribed through Software Prescription Australia) so I need to be using a good one.

    Reply
  5. I have been using FRUDIA – Ultra UV Shield Sun Essence – SPF50+ PA++++ and really like it. It does’nt leave a white cast and is really good under makeup. It is also under $12 and is often on sale at Stylevanna. Not sure how the ingredients rate but would love you to check it out and share your thoughts on it as I am also using tretinoin (prescribed through Software Prescription Australia) so I need to be using a good one but struggled finding one that wasn’t so expensive.

    Reply
  6. Hi Michelle,
    Question: can I pat excess oil off my face with a paper towel after applying sunscreen and waiting 10/20/30 mins after it has absorbed into skin, or will that compromise the sun protection of the product? I live in the US so I have to order overseas to get the good UV filters. Since I don’t do makeup, I just buy good, cheap SPF 50+ body sunscreens and apply them liberally on my face. So my face can look quite greasy, you see. Wash my face, apply lotion/moisturizer, then sunscreen and that’s my morning routine.
    I always look forward to your new posts–love that your content is backed by years of study and continual reading of current data. You rock 🙂 Keep up the injections of humor in your videos!

    Reply
  7. I have been really loving (and going through bottles way too quickly) the Skin Aqua UV Super Moisture MIlk SPF 50. My only concern is, after the Purito/Klairs/Keep Cool/Krave issue, I’m a little mistrustful of sunscreens that claim to be SPF 50+ PA ++++ yet they’re so light and elegant. Like if it’s too good to be true. . . it probably is. I haven’t had any problem with white cast from my Canmake Mermaid Gel, but now I wonder if my most recent order was not the latest version.

    Reply
  8. Hi, I am on the hunt for my holy grail sunscreen, however can’t find one that doesn’t turn my white tops yellow around the neck!, Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
  9. I loved Mecca To Save Face. Unfortunately, I do not buy it anymore. I cannot bring myself to support a company that actively promotes the Gwyneth Paltrow’s pseudoscience skin care and anti-sunscreen BS.

    Reply
  10. Cyberderm (The Sunscreen Company) sells Simply Zinc Lite, which is an all zinc oxide sunscreen claiming a UVAPF of 20.

    Any idea if they could really achieve this with mineral filter alone, or is it puffery?

    Reply
  11. I really love your reviews and best-of-lists – so helpful!!! Just one question: I also am a great fan of Bioré’s Aqua Rich Watery Essence, which I order online since it is not sold directly in Europe. The sellers usually don’t state the year of manufacturing, so I am wondering how I could possibly know which version I am getting? Is it obvious from the stamp on the end of the tube?
    I noticed differences in the packaging before… I never noticed great differences in the product itself though, and wonder how much they change the formula at all…

    Reply
  12. I have yet to try a Zinc Oxide sunscreen that I don’t hate, but to be honest, I am not looking very hard. I prefer the newer filters, which are commonly available here in Germany, so there is really no need.
    Have you tried the Thank you Farmer Sun Project Light Sun Essence? It did pass the test and was recommended as similar in texture to the Klairs and Purito one. I found it more hydrating, but do like it quite well.

    Reply
  13. How do Korean sunscreens compare? I’ve heard CosRX and Dr G are good choices but how do they stack up with your recommendations?

    Reply
  14. I tried the Evy sunscreens – entirely based on your post – and I love it so much. Admittedly I only use it when exercising, so I haven’t tried putting makeup over it, but it’s held up brilliantly on long, sweaty runs. I really like knowing that the SPF stays high over two hours of sweat (sorry if that’s too much information, but it can get pretty humid in the Netherlands in summer). My only complaint is that I haven’t figured out how much to use (so just settle for using lots). Thanks a lot for your detailed analysis of the evidence.

    Reply
  15. Do you have any recommendations for sunscreens for kids that are available in the US? My toddler goes outside a lot at daycare and I want to make sure he’s protected, especially in the summer. Everyone seems to be using mineral stuff but I’m not sure how well that’s working; he hasn’t burned yet thank goodness but he still gets some color. Thanks so much for your help!

    Reply
  16. I use the LRP Shaka Fluid as my day cream now! Love it. I have oily, acne prone skin and it gives me no brakeouts. I live in Swden so I see a lot of EVY reviews. and have triez them all. I agree, the face mousse feels a bit sticky, but from what I’ve seen the general opinion here is that it works magic as a primer during summer, and that makeup stays on point despite hot weather. I hardly wear any makeup during summer, so it’s not for me. I however use their spf 30 or 50 for my body everyday, nothing beats it.

    Reply
  17. I’m in Canada so I don’t know if the LA Roche posay is closest to the US but I find it often stings my face, I like the Avene tinted fluid spf 50+, it does feel heavy but no stinging and no orangeness which I find with some tinted mineral sunscreens. I also like the Paula’s Choice youth extending daily hydrating fluid broad spectrum spf 50.

    Reply
  18. Hi Michelle,

    I’m from germany, and got a new favorite sunscreen: the garnier ambre solaire super uv 50+ series. I tried the one who since the first time is always sold out and the ant dryness one. Both soak in really fast and stay and stay. I love it! And there is no pilling with my makeup or bb suncreams which i put over. The one which name i forgot and that is always sold out would work great for oily skin, because it is soaked in in my normal to dry skin faster than i can spread it over my face. So i work partially.

    Have a nice day and tomorrow too

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  19. Wow, this is one of the most comprehensive review I’ve ever read especially you also pay attention towards the ingredients. I am also amazed that you still write blogs in 2021 while everybody else only jump into youtube video. Great thanks to you

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  20. This is so helpful Michelle! Do you have any recommendations for a sunscreen for surfing? I’m in the water for sometimes 2+ hours at a time in Australia!

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  21. I have a question about layering. I have a hydrating zinc-based sunscreen from Neogen that I like to wear in the morning. (They make a chemical product for the US too.) I don’t wear a lot of makeup. but i have a question about layering physical and chemical sunscreens.

    Could i use a spray mist sunscreen on my face that’s chemically based in the afternoon as a touch up, if i’ve used the zinc oxide in the morning? Smearing a cream on at work isn’t easy.

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  22. It’s funny how different opinions can be!

    I think I’m just allergic to sunscreen 🙁 My quest for an AB sunscreen has not been going well. Three sunscreens in and I’m still getting red, irritated, and itchy bumps in certain spots on my face (albeit tiny so thankfully it can be covered up by makeup). I did a huge spreadsheet that compared the three I used against the Western sunscreen I was using before and I found three common ingredients that were not in the Western sunscreen: ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, and sodium hyaluronate. The first two ingredients, when inputted into CosDna, is sunscreen itself (the latter is an humectant). So maybe I need to go with a physical sunscreen that doesn’t leave an obvious white cast 🙁 It’s a huge bummer because I’ve been wearing greasy Western sunscreen my whole life and was really looking forward to the miracles of AB sunscreen sob

    For those curious, the 3 sunscreens that broke me out are:

    Biore UV AQUA Rich Watery Essence SPF50+ PA++++

    Sunkiller Perfect Strong Moisture SPF 50+ PA++++

    Allie Extra UV Gel (Mineral Moist NEO) SPF50+ PA++++

    In the meantime I’ll be thankful I work in an office in a basement so I never see the light of day.

    answered by someone – Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate is octinoxate by another name and is very commonly used in Western sunscreens. Check again against your list because it’s likely on there.

    Diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate is uvinal A plus.

    Sodium hyaluronate is hyaluronic acid, not a sunscreen ingredient, but a hydrator frequently used in cosmetics (i.e. the Hada Labo toners).

    So, assuming the culprit is uvinal a plus, which unfortunately is in a TON of Asian sunscreens. You could try browsing around ratzilla to try to find one without it? It could also be something else (or multiple other things) in the sunscreen you’re sensitive to as well.

    uvinal a plus ? is causing redness?

    Avobenzone does not cause any hormone problem unless you are actively eating it or injecting it into your blood stream and sulisobenzone is a water soluble compound which doesn’t get absorbed into the skin when topically applied. And oxybenzone hormone disturbance is not yet proven in humans , it was found to be a hormone disruptor when injected into a mice and on cell culture assays(meaning cells in a tube ) , so . As the mod said , cite your source and research papers.

    https://www.cancer.ca/en/prevention-and-screening/reduce-cancer-risk/make-healthy-choices/be-sun-safe/can-the-chemicals-in-sunscreen-cause-cancer/?region=on

    Cite your sources. The part about bad filters is full of misinformation. Please don’t fear monger.

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  23. Hi Michelle,
    how do you apply the NEUTROGENA SHEER ZINC SUNSCREEN STICK to your eyes? Do you rub the stick directly over your eyelids or put it on your hands first? I thought that this would be too rough for the eye area if I use the stick directly, but not enough protection if I put it on my hands.

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  24. Do you put the Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Stick underneath your eyes as well? It doesn’t make your entire eye area look whiter than your face, does it?

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  25. I bought the Neutrogena Sheer Mineral Stick sunscreen, and I was shocked at how minimal the white cast was on my light brown skin, particularly for a product that has a whopping 21% of zinc oxide! Then I checked Neutrogena’s Australian site, and noticed that the zinc oxide is listed as “Nano”! (https://www.neutrogena.com.au/sun/sunscreen-protection/sheer-zinc-mineral-stick-spf50)

    Bravo, Neutrogena! This is the first mainstream drugstore brand I’ve ever heard of that uses nano-particles. I’m thrilled to finally find a zinc-based sunscreen I can actually use on my skin, and I hope the anti-science nanoparticle-hating crazies don’t find out so they can’t bully Neutrogena into changing the formula!!!

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  26. Hi! Thanks for your blog and vids 🙂
    I’m an Aussie expat and I live in a super hot and humid climate. I also have oily blemish-prone skin.
    I really relate to wanting something that’s light, but my experience of chemical sunscreens (and even some mineral ones) is that they break me out. So even though my skin is darker than yours (NC 25-30), I have been using sunscreens that give me a white cast (I like REN best overall so far). Sometimes I put some mineral powder foundation over the top to correct the colour. It’s fine… until I sweat or rub my face.

    I recently tried the Bioderma Photoderm Max 50+ Aquafluid because it says it’s for sensitive skin and anti-shine. Unfortunately, it was not anti-shine on my skin and I got a TERRIBLE breakout from it. Pretty disappointed.

    I asked a friend who managed to get to Aus and back to bring me the Wotnot naturals Prime and Protect untinted BB cream. I’m curious to know if you’ve tried it and what you thought. For a zinc oxide sunscreen, it feels relatively light to me and the white cast is minimal. It still feels kind of oily if I touch my face, but maybe that’s just something I can’t avoid? At least it doesn’t look shiny… Oh and the smell bothers me. It’s not strong but I wish it was fragrance free.

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