Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Finds: Sunscreens

I've gotten a few e-mails recently from readers asking for sunscreen recommendations, so I'm devoting this week's Friday Finds to a few of my favorite sunscreen products. As I've mentioned many times on the blog, I'm very fair, spent most of my childhood outdoors and sunscreen-free and I have a family history of skin cancer. After a long lecture from my dermatologist and getting involved in the Makeup Alley skincare boards, I realized a couple of years ago that I needed to start getting serious about sun protection and began wearing sunscreen daily and becoming more conscious about sun exposure.

As a result, I've tried tons of different sunscreens, and while I'm by no means an expert on the matter, I've learned a lot about the differences between different formulas and their protection level. The first thing you want to look for in a sunscreen is UVB and UVA protection. Both types of solar rays can cause cancer, but UVA primarily leads to photoaging (wrinkles, leathery skin, etc) and UVB rays give painful burns.

The second thing to consider is whether the product is photostable. A sunscreen is stable if it "doesn't appreciably degrade when exposed to sunlight". A sunscreen can provide great protection, but if that protection is nonexistent after an hour or two and you're not religiously reapplying, you're in trouble. I really don't understand all the science behind figuring out which products are photostable, but I find that if you do a search for whether a specific sunscreen is photostable, you'll usually find an answer pretty quickly. Asking your dermatologist for recommendations is also a great idea.

The third thing you want to do before buying a sunscreen is consider your skin type and what you're using it for. Some sunscreens are very moisturizing and great for dry skin while others work as a mattifier and help keep makeup from melting off oily skin. If you're going to be swimming or sweating a lot, it's smart to get a waterproof formula. And be realistic about how much you'll use it. I don't buy photounstable sunscreens because I know I'm too lazy to reapply it and I buy the spray formulas for my body since I'm too busy in the morning to slather lotion all over.

Sunscreen is the most important beauty product you can use, so my final advice is to make sure you're using a good one (high spf, photostable) and that you're using it as you're following directions carefully. And don't think that you don't need sunscreen because your skin is dark- while African Americans are less likely to get skin cancer than whites, they're more likely to die from melanoma.

On to my recommendations... all of these are products that I currently use or used for an extended period of time with positive results and all of them are photostable.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios SX Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15, $29 (available online, but I've also found in drugstores)

It's got the most protection of any sunscreen available in the U.S. and it doubles as a moisturizer. Though I initially didn't like Anthelios (my skin was particularly sensitive at the time), I've been using it regularly for over a month and really love it. You can read my full review here. I especially recommend it for those with dry skin, as it is a fairly heavy moisturizer on its own and does leave some shine (though it hasn't broken me out... yet).
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunblock SPF 45, $9.99 (widely available)

This is my go-to body sunscreen as it's easy and fast to apply and dries quickly, leaving no residue on skin or clothes. A bonus is that it's waterproof and sweatproof, so it's especially convenient for athletes or any outdoor activity.

Olay Total Effects Moisturizing Vitamin Complex with UV Protection, Fragrance Free, $17.99 (widely available)

It's my holy grail moisturizer (read the full review here), is the best thing in the world for my combination dry/acne prone skin and works beautifully under makeup. I'd recommend it for any skin type, as it's a great moisturizer but isn't at all greasy.

Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Face Cream SPF 50, $37 (available online and at Shiseido counters)

This sunscreen doubles as a primer/mattifyer and is a godsend to anyone with oily skin. It's actually the most effective mattifyer I've ever used, but as my skin has gotten drier in recent months, I've had to give it up. It keeps makeup from melting and is impervious to sweat and water.
Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer, SPF 15

Another sunscreen that is just as effective as a moisturizer, this product has great protection for a reasonable price and is available everywhere. It might be heavy for those with oily skin, but it works very well for normal-dry types.

What's your favorite sunscreen?


Deja Pseu said...

According to my dermatologist, anything under 30 SPF is pretty much a waste of time. I also have fair skin and a family history of skin cancer, so I've also been taking sunscreens seriously for the last several years.

I just picked up some of the Anthelios in 50+ SPF when I was in Paris earlier this month. I stocked up and bought 3 tubes at ~$20 each. I wish the FDA would go ahead and approve for this to be sold in the US.

I like the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer 70 (yes 70) SPF.

I use either one of these on both face and arms for everyday. When swimming or otherwise out in the sun, I use one of the 30+ sprays on my body.

Jessica said...

Though it's not a fancy, department store product, I really love the Ocean Potion sunblock in either SPF 30 or 50. I'm one of the rare people that loves the smell of sunblock, but I especially love Ocean Potion because it smells like orange creamcicle (I have a thing for creamy, foody scents)
Also, the Ocean Potion absorbs easily without having to rub it in for ten minutes, which is a rare feat among the cheaper sunscreens!

Allison Rae said...

I'm super fair and have already had some moles sliced off (none were too bad). I certainly don't want more!!

My daily moisturizer has spf 15 and I love Neutrogena's Ultra Sheer in 70. One of my friends thinks it's like Elmer's glue but I've not had a problem with the consistency. I rub it between my hands first and maybe that helps.

I use the Coppertone no-rub sprays in 50 for my body and 30 for touch ups.

I buy Hawaiian Tropic Kids spf 60 for my boyfriend and he loves it b/c it doesn't smell girlie and smells like the Ocean Potion products (which I also love!)

MeLizzard said...

Mexoryl, the active ingredient in the Anthelios products, was approved by the FDA last summer. I guess it's taking a while to get to market. Mexoryl allows the UV-blocking ingredients to remain photostable, as does Helioplex, which is the new ingredient found in the Neutrogena products. I, too, like both of these lines, anuwhere between SPF 50 and SPF 70. My skin is almost translucent(!), and simply cannot tolerate more than a couple minutes' sun exposure. I started wearing sunscreens in high school, as soon as they hit the market, around 1985. So far, so good, and an added perk is that I'm usually mistaken for a 23- or 24-year-old, instead of 37!

Anonymous said...

I have also been using sunblock since my childhood as I am a redhead with extrememly sun sensitive skin and freckles. So far it seems to have helped in the wrinkle department. I have just discovered that Anthelios has been sold in Canada for years and bought some with an spf of 60 online. It is definitely the most effective sunblock I have tried, it even prevents me from getting freckles! The name of the website was, good site!

Ereq said...

One thing I would like to ad is the recent development at the EU Consumer Affairs on Sunscreen labels to protect and care for your screen. It basically required all the sunscreen producers to be even more stricter and descreptive when labeling sunscreens, to clearly mark the level of sun danger.

Jeni said...

That Shiseido sunscreen is my favorite sunscreen too! I'm obsessed with it (because of its high zinc oxide content) and use it every day!!!!!!!
:) Jeni