There's nothing like setting off on a trip with a bag full of sunscreen and a head full of optimism that you'll come back with the porcelain skin of a new born babe. Luckily, this trip I didn't do too badly, and, finished up with three go-to favourites, and one unfortunate thumbs-down.
A few notes to start with, I'm only reviewing facial sunscreens at this point, I tend to think they're more important as they go on my face, neck and decollete while I just slap more generic product on arms and legs. All of the sunscreens I'm reviewing stopped me from getting burnt, so I'll focus on the other factors (feel, whiteness, packaging etc) than efficacy at being a sunscreen.
Also, To keep things brief, I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty on physical v chemical sunscreens, also because Zoe Foster-Blake does a terrific job here. For the record, I tend to use a mix of physical and chemical. I know physical is better and will defer to it when I'm in the sun for a long day, but I find that chemical is much more gentle and compatible with my skin. Essentially, I figure that some sunscreen is better than no sunscreen, although I try to use physical when I can.
Let's start with the good news, my front line favourite protection.
In no particular order...
Lierac Solaire High Protection Fact Cream- sadly discontinued but replaced by this
I feel a bit silly reviewing this, as it's now discontinued, but I have high hopes that they're just repackaged it, as I really like this sunscreen.
It's a physical sunscreen, so forms a barrier between rays and your skin. These are the most effective sunscreens, although they can be a bit un-glamorous as they're essentially zinc. For that reason, I'm very careful to double-cleanse thoroughly at the end of the day to take all of the sunscreen off.
For that reason, it's not surprising that this product is a thicker-cream type sunscreen, however it has a very nice, subtle smell and isn't too heavy, as you can see from my hand modelling.
After a few swipes, it blends in nicely, although it does leave a bit of a sheen. As a far as physical sunscreens go, this kind of blend-ability puts it up there with the benchmark product (Invisible Zinc)
The old-school tube packaging can be a bit of a draw back as far as mess goes, but it's easy to pack and less likely to leak. Overall, I give this product a solid 8.5/10 with points lost only for the slight residue, and packaging. As I said, discontinued but can still be found here if you're quick!
Now this is a sunscreen that you barely feel. It's not a physical sunscreen, so no zinc, but as far as chemical sunscreens go, it's absolutely top notch.
It says a lot that this is my second bottle of this, in as many years. There's nothing I'd rather put on my face, and I've tried a lot of different sunscreens.
The big selling point to me is the consistency, it's a milk! It's so gentle, watch it run down my hand! I love the feeling of this sunscreen on my skin, and I will always always return to it if a physical sunscreen has made my skin a bit cranky.
I didn't try very had to blend this, or there'd be a photo of just my hand. Believe me, it blends very easily, to an almost powder-dry finish. This is what it looks like after just one hand swipe. You can see that the centre of the swipe, where my finger probably applied the most pressure, has already become transparent.
If you're looking for a sunscreen that you can't feel at all- this is your best bet.
Finally, love the packaging. It's easy to shake, the little nozzle means you don't spurt out too much, and it's small and easy to pack. 9.5/10 only because it's a chemical sunscreen not a physical one. But seriously, I love this sunscreen. It's $28 for 50ml and in my humble opinion, worth every penny.
Over the past five years, I've bought at least three of these little bottles, to throw in my bag for a last minute quickie sunscreen. Again it's a chemical, not a physical sunscreen, but I still have a lot of time for my old friend Nivea.
Firstly, the consistency, light feel is the correct way to describe it plus it's a terrific consistency for a lower-priced sunscreen. (Retails for about $13 for 50ml- although I often see it reduced to $10)
It does have a slight scent, although I now love the scent as I associate it with being on holiday, quite a clean Nivea-typical smell. It goes on and almost instantly becomes clear- as you can see below. This is a great sunscreen for people who hate 'ghosting' or any kind of white residue. My only quibble is that it can be a little oily/greasy on the skin as it sinks in. I tend to be left with a small film, compared to the completely dry finish I get from La-Roche Posay
Packaging for this product is terrific, a small container with a blue screw off lid. Super unlikely to leak, not going to get messy means I'll happily toss these in my purse. While the slight film means I'm unlikely to use it as a first choice for face, it's a great economical go-to sunscreen, and one I tend to use all over my chest and neck, 8/10.
Switching pace for a minute, it's time for my sunscreen disappointment
Natural Instinct Micro Mineral Sunscreen
I really wanted to like this one, it's got aloe vera and vitamin E, and is a natural product, and a great price. (RRP $15.95) Plus I'm trying to apply mineral sunscreens when I can, as deep down I know they're better. But unfortunately from the first application, this didn't really work for me. As you can see, it's a think white paste.
....Which is a hellava lot of work to rub in. I managed to smear some over my face, but when it came to neck/chest area, I was seriously struggling. This is a heavy duty zinc, as you can see on my hand below. It's quite sticky and difficult to disperse into the skin.
If you're very concerned about ingredients, Natural Instinct might be the sunscreen for you. I have no doubt that it protects well, but I just couldn't get over the thick, sticky consistency, 4/10 from me.
That's all for my sunscreen instalment, feel free to comment if you've found a good one, as I'm always on the hunt for the sunscreen holy grail- particularly as we head into summer. Until then, here's Jim Gaffigan.