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I’ve tried a couple more sunscreens that I’ve been really happy with! I’ve been on a pretty good streak with sunscreens so far, with some nice ones from Coles and Woolworths, and from Natio, Ultraceuticals and Canmake earlier in the year. This time I’m reviewing some sunscreens from Klairs and Mecca Cosmetica.
Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence SPF 50 PA++++
Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence SPF 50 PA++++ ($23 USD for 80 mL, Wishtrend) is a light water-based sunscreen. It has a really pleasant texture, much like Canmake Mermaid UV Gel, but a tiny bit heavier so it doesn’t feel like it’s quite as insubstantial.
Like Ultraceuticals Daily Moisturiser, it’s based on dicaprylyl carbonate. I’ve found that products with this ingredient have a silky silicone-like glide without the siliconey film that you’d get with an actual silicone product. It feels really lightweight, but it’s alcohol-free which is great news for dehydration-prone skin. There’s a very light scent.
The UV filters are DHHB (Uvinul A Plus), a photostable UVA filter, and octyl triazone, which protects against UVB. I’ve had a few people ask me if two UV filters are enough for full protection in a sunscreen. It appears to be:
- SPF and PA ratings are measured using the finished product, on human volunteers. This means the results of SPF and PA testing will be more relevant than any theoretical predictions, since the formulation of the sunscreen makes a huge difference to how the sunscreen filters will be spread, and how effective they are.
- DHHB and octyl triazone do actually cover the full spectrum of UV. Their absorbance spectra are in the graph below. Keep in mind that these aren’t the concentrations used in the sunscreen (there’s more DHHB than octyl triazone), and the “dip” at around 325 nm is actually covered by both, so the absorbance will be the absorbance of both filters added together.
- DHHB is a UVA1 filter. There are a few sources online that say that it only blocks UVA2, but that’s incorrect – if you look at the absorption curve, its UV absorption is at a maximum at 354 nm, which is squarely in the UVA1 region (340-400 nm). BASF market it as a UVA1 filter.
- BASF, the ingredient manufacturer who makes a lot of the sunscreen actives on the market, has a few sample sunscreen formulations that only use the two filters.
Since Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence is based on organic UV filters, they’ve managed to make it lightweight in texture and without any white cast.
Aside from the UV filters, there are a few skincare ingredients in the sunscreen as well. It contains seabuckthorn oil, which has lots of antioxidants (lycopene, carotenoids). There’s also soothing allantoin and beta-glucan, and niacinamide which is a jack of all trades in skincare.
Interestingly, it’s also “preservative-free”, in that it doesn’t contain any ingredients listed in regulations like the one from the European Union. But it does contain other ingredients that act to preserve the formulation (1,2-hexanediol and caprylyl glycol).
Water (Aqua), Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Butylene Glycol, Dibutyl Adipate, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, 1,2-Hexanediol, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Ethylhexyl Triazone, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Silica, Cetearyl Olivate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sorbitan Olivate, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Sorbitan Stearate, Panthenol, Beta-Glucan, Disodium EDTA, Citrus Junos Fruit Extract, Adenosine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tocopherol, Allantoin, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil.
Mecca Cosmetica To Save Face Superscreen SPF 50+
Mecca Cosmetica To Save Face Superscreen SPF 50+ ($40 AUD for 75 mL, Mecca) is an incredibly popular Australian sunscreen sold in the slightly more upmarket version of Sephora in Australia, Mecca.
It’s a little heavy compared to the Klairs sunscreen, but really not that heavy compared to every other sunscreen – I think it just suffered in comparison because the Klairs is so darn light! It works great under make-up and doesn’t feel sticky.
I personally don’t love silicones in moisturisers, but I like them in foundations, and this product felt fine (possibly because it was right under make-up). It’s mildly scented.
Filter-wise, unfortunately there aren’t any of the newer photostable UVA filters, although avobenzone is combined with octocrylene which should help stabilise it (I talk more about sunscreen combinations in The Lab Muffin Guide to Basic Skincare, which has a free sample from the sunscreen chapter – check it out here).
Active Ingredients: Octocrylene 7%, Oxybenzone 3%, Avobenzone 2.5%, Ensulizole 2%
Inactive Ingredients: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Glycerin, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Silica, Ubiquinone, Fragrance, Disodium EDTA, Linalool, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Sodium Hyaluronate, Benzyl Salicylate, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Limonene
Weirdly enough, the SPF 30+ version (same filters at different concentrations, lower price) didn’t seem to feel as nice as the SPF 50+ sunscreen – it’s possible that the sample I got (dispensed from the in-store tester into a little tub) might not have been a good reflection of the properly stored product.
These two sunscreens ended up getting 5+ and 5 respectively in my sunscreen mini-review spreadsheet. The SPF 30+ Mecca sunscreen got 4.
Osterwalder U & Herzog B, The long way towards the ideal sunscreen – where we stand and what still needs to be done, Photochem Photobiol Sci 2010, 9, 470-481. DOI: 10.1039/b9pp00178f
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