Happy Summer Solstice! Aka the longest day of the year, aka official first day of summer. And I want to remind everyone to wear their sunscreen today, and every day! 🙂
If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know what I’m an advocate of sunscreen. No other anti-aging skincare is as effective as sunscreen.
There are 2 general categories of sunscreens: 1) chemical and 2) physical (or sometimes referred to as mineral). I personally prefer physical sunscreen (combinations of titanium dioxide [TiO2] and zinc oxide [ZnO]), for a number of reasons:
• much more photostable than chemical sunscreens
• less likely to cause skin reactions
• combined, TiO2 and ZnO covers the entire spectrum of UVB and UVA rays (and you want to protect well against both: UVB causes sunburns but UVA causes aging)
I’ve directed countless people to this handy chart by Coola:
(Note: UVC is mainly absorbed by ozone layer & atmosphere – virtually no UVC rays reach us)
How chemical and physical sunscreens differ in their sun protection is this: chemical sunscreens absorbs the sun’s rays and / or scatter them, whereas physical sunscreens block or deflect the rays (hence another name for them: sunblock). Another thing to keep in mind is that chemical sunscreens need to be applied 20 minutes before sun exposure to be effective – physical sunscreens protect immediately.
All that said, I’m here to showcase 3 physical sunscreens for the face that are currently in my arsenal:
I like to try out the latest offering of physical sunscreens every year since cosmetic companies are making great strides in improving the texture (they tend to be thick and difficult to blend) and finish (white cast on face).
Lise Watier SUN SMART Universal UV Shield SPF 30 – $39 for 30ml (Titanium Dioxide 4.55%, Zinc Oxide 3.5%) available at Shoppers Drug Mart and online
This is a Canadian brand that has gotten some brand recognition in the United States, especially this particular product. It is a silicone-y cream which works well under all my foundations, and acts as a face primer as well.
It does leave a bit of a white cast but nothing that a bronzer can’t fix (the above swatch isn’t well blended). It is completely scent-free. I’ve repurchased this many times and this was my winter sunscreen (due to the white cast) but I think it’s time to move on since I’ve found better physical sunscreens on the market now.
Consonant Skincare The Perfect Sunscreen SPF 30 – $45 for 50ml (Titanium Dioxide 6%, Zinc Oxide 10%) available at Consonant stores and online
This is a natural option for those who do not want any nasty ingredients in their skincare. It is also made without the addition of fragrance, however, it does not mean that this is odourless – I detect a bit of a “medicinal” (herbal?) smell that’s common among Consonant Skincare’s face creams.
This product is tinted to lessen the white cast and has a mousse-like texture – it reminds me of a light BB cream actually. It dries to a satiny matte finish – I’ve worn just this with a bit of powder on top and it’s sufficient coverage for me. I also really like the vacuum pump style bottle – very hygienic and pumps out the perfect amount of product. This is also a Canadian brand, and is my current favourite physical facial sunscreen. They just launched the travel size version of this sunscreen ($16 for 15ml), which I’ll be picking up for my vacation.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF 50 – $33 for 50ml (Titanium Dioxide 11%) available at drugstores
This is a new offering from LRP – also tinted. Unlike Consonant’s, this sunscreen is very liquidy, and requires the bottle to be shaken up to mix the ingredients prior to using.
The tint is a bit dark – I can imagine it would be too deep for anyone lighter than NC20. In the above swatch on the right, you can see how it looks blended out against my skin and it is slightly too dark for my NC25 skin tone. This sunscreen also only contain TiO2 as its active ingredient, which isn’t sufficient to cover the longest of the UVA rays. I do pair this with my BB cream which contains ZnO. (Interestingly, I’ve never come across a facial sunscreen that only contains ZnO; it alone, covers the entire UVB and UVA spectrum, whereas TiO2 does not. ZnO is very pasty looking though – think back to those white noses lifeguards sported.)
Other physical sunscreens I would recommend:
• Coola Face SPF 30 Unscented Matte Tint – $36 USD for 50ml (Titanium Dioxide 3.2%, Zinc Oxide 1.8%) – I’ve tried this before and it’s quite similar in texture to the Consonant one, which makes sense as they’re both organic products. This brand is a little difficult to find locally though.
• Skinceuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF 50 – $34 USD for 50ml (Titanium Dioxide 5%, Zinc Oxide 6%) – I’m really curious about this one, Paula’s Choice rated it 4 out of 4!
• Paula’s Choice Hydralight Shine-free Mineral Complex SPF 30 – $26 USD for 60ml (Titanium Dioxide 2.32%, Zinc Oxide 6%, ) – and speaking of Paula’s Choice, hers looks pretty good too. I’m going to try this one next, I think.
I won’t get into all the specifics on factors of protection for SPF numbers, but a good rule of thumb is to stick with SPF 30 or higher, which blocks out 97% of rays. During prolonged sun exposure, be sure to reapply often. I’ve showcased physical sunscreens but chemical sunscreens aren’t evil, just make sure to choose something that has both UVB and UBA broad spectrum coverage and recognized by a recognized governing body. Lastly, in addition to your face, don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your eye area, neck, ears, and back of hands!
I’ll leave you with this video:
What’s your favourite facial sunscreen?