Three sunscreens you should try (and one you shouldn’t)
After years of thinking that I had found my sunscreen holy grails, this spring found me suddenly curious. What if there were better sunscreens around? What if I was missing out?! (Oh the horror!) That feeling coincided in a timely fashion with a few travels, and in came two new Western and two new Asian sunscreens. (New to me, that is. All of them aren’t newly released.)
I’ve formerly relied upon both Skinceuticals and Paula’s Choice for my sunscreen needs. I used to wear Skinceuticals Brightening UV Defense SPF30 during winter (reviewed here) and Paula’s Choice Resist Youth-Extending Daily Mattifying Fluid in summer (it even made it into my 2016 favourites!). But then, both are pricey and PC doesn’t fare that good with UVA protection. There was definitely room for improvement. All are formulated without or very little alcohol. Some contain fragrance, and some have chemical, some physical sunscreen ingredients and some have both. All contain silicones.
The best and worst sunscreens in 2017
Let’s start with both sunscreens I got in Seoul. Both are easily available online if you aren’t living in Asia. You can even buy them in-store in some areas of the US and Germany. (I’m sure there’re other physical Missha stores in the West, drop me a line if you encountered them!) So yeah, one of them is the famous Missha all-around Safe Block Essence Sun. Quick heads-up: Both Asian ones are significantly cheaper while they also come in 50ml packaging, while the Western ones come in 30ml.
Missha Safe Block SPF45/PA+++
Missha recently changed the packaging, but the sunscreen itself is the same. Which is good, because it’s a perfectly nice one. Its texture is on the thicker side, but sinks in quickly, and I couldn’t detect a white cast on me. Upon application, it has a ‘clean’ scent, a bit like those ‘clean cotton’ candles. It plays well with both liquid foundation (I use it cosmetics CC Cream right now) and powder foundation (my beloved summer foundation, MAC’s Mineralize Foundation Loose). I’ve worn it in hot and humid weather, and it holds up reasonably well. (By that I mean that I don’t feel like it’s melting off my face.)
The only thing I don’t like is that my eyes start to water if I apply it too close to the eye area. This one is a chemical sunscreen (ingredients). While Missha says it’s water-resistent, I haven’t tested that, it definitely holds up well to sweating. Missha also says the Safe Block Essence has some skincare ingredients that both nourish and protect the skin from environmental stress agents. While it’s marketed for people with dry skin, I – with combination skin – can wear it without any issues. Available for example at Amazon, at Missha online or at various Korean online stores.
A’Pieu Pure Block Natural Sun Cream SPF45/PA+++
This is for people who find the Missha Safe Block a bit too thick and lotion-like, and because I secretly like those ultra-thin sunscreens that sadly nearly always come with a huge amount of alcohol, I gave this a try.
For me, it’s a bit more elegantly formulated than the Missha which will get shiny after a few hours – this is both thinner in texture with a more satin-y finish. Upon application, it has a citrus-y scent that dissipates quickly. It’s a great makeup base (again, I’ve used it with both powder and liquid foundation). My eyes don’t start to water when I apply it near my eye area, and no white cast due to the chemical sunscreen ingredients (see ingredients here).
I can’t say anything about its water-resistant properties, but it holds up well to sweating. Again, this is marketed towards drier skin, but I found it very pleasant to wear, especially in an European climate(more dry, less hot). I like it better than Missha. Pricewise, they’re similar, but A’pieu might be more difficult to get because, outside Asia, it’s online only (for example here). You can also try Amazon.
The high-end one
I’ve written about the Clarins UV Plus Anti-Pollution Day Screen Multi Protection SPF50 before in my monthly favourites, and well, what can I add to that. It still reigns supreme in my sunscreen drawer. While I was initially drawn towards it because of its promise to protect against environmental dangers like pollution and ozone, that’s the only claim I still can’t verify. But it’s still a very, very good sunscreen, which has only one drawback – for its size (30ml), it’s exceptionally expensive.
It also contains alcohol, but it’s the seventh ingredient on the inci list. (Ingredients in Western cosmetics have to be listed in the order of the amount in the formula, and usually, after the 5th ingredient the amount is pretty small.) Speaking of ingredients, this has both physical (titanium dioxide in nano form) and chemical sunscreen agents. (Clarins reformulated this in 2016. I’m writing about the new version.)
I love the performance of it – the texture is thin and runny it sinks in immediately. It is the best makeup base of all sunscreens I tested. The formula isn’t great for dry skin, and I guess it would leave a white cast on darker skintones (it does on me, but it vanishes quickly). If your skin is fairly unproblematic and light and you’re living in a country that’s hot as hell with high humidity, this one is for you.
Formula-wise, my former favourite Paula’s Choice Resist Youth-Extending Daily Mattifying Fluid beats it – but ohmygosh, the performance is just stellar. (Get it at Douglas or Sephora – they have listed the old version, but really, you can get Clarins easily everywhere.)
The one you should never, ever try
Skinceuticals Mineral Matte UV Defense SPF 30 was a mistake from the start. I only bought it because I mistakenly thought it to be the Brightening UV Defense I mentioned above. When I realised my mistake, I was already back in Shanghai and decided to give it a try. Big mistake. Huge. While it claims on the tube that it’s an “oil absorbing base with a matte finish”, it’s actually none of these things.
Instead it sits on the skin, never absorbing, looking absolutely horrible. It’s also tinted, which makes it tricky to a) match it to your skintone and b) applying a sufficient amount of it because the tint and the formula make it super obvious looking on my skin. It’s also near impossible to apply a sufficient amount due to the formula. It just slides around on the surface of my skin. We don’t even have to talk about the “oil absorbing” properties now, right?
I tried it twice. It’ll go into the bin right after posting this. Don’t repeat my mistake, people!
Added bonus: Frozen posicle diy!
Oh, and if you’re curious about the popsicle in the pics: I made it myself, it’s super-yummy, quick, (quite) low-calory and low-sugar treat. Just mix freshly brewed and cooled down black tea with orange juice and freeze.