Everyday sunscreen?
July 9, 2009 2:43 PM   Subscribe

Recommend a daily high SPF sunscreen for sensitive skin?

I sunburn quite easily, so I probably should be wearing sunscreen every day during the summer, at least. I bought some Neutrogena AgeShield Face Sunblock (SPF 55), and dutifully wore it every day for 5 days or so, but my face started to sting when I applied it, so I stopped.

Any suggestions for good, non-greasy sunscreen that's suitable for the face for everyday use?

(incidentally, do you think there'd be any use in complaining about the other sunscreen? It wasn't cheap, but I don't really think I should be using something that was causing irritation.)
posted by leahwrenn to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
We've had good luck with Blue Lizard. It's got all sorts of good ratings from the folks who test for the nasty chemicals that a lot of sunscreens use. And yes, you should try to return the other one.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:58 PM on July 9, 2009

Here's a list that might be helpful.
posted by ook at 2:58 PM on July 9, 2009

I've had some success with Badger SPF 30 (link). It's all natural, which should help with the sensitive skin issues. However, one main ingredient is olive oil, so I don't know how non-greasy it is... Personally, my only problem with it is that sometimes it goes on a little thick, and takes some rubbing in.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 3:00 PM on July 9, 2009

Aveeno also makes a facial sunscreen that worked for my sensitive skin.

Failing that, have you tried sunscreen formulated for babies? Their skin is way more delicate than adult skin. It may help.
posted by Kellydamnit at 3:05 PM on July 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

Aveeno Positively Radiant SPF 30. My sensitive skin loves it.
posted by decathecting at 3:06 PM on July 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

This might not help if you don't want to stick with Neutrogena after that bad experience, but I really like their Sensitive Skin SPF 60 sunblock. For me, it's absolutely awesome, because it's fragrance-free; my skin is really irritated by scents. I'll put up with almost anything in an unscented product. However, it is heavy-feeling and definitely gives that chalky-white sunblock look, which could be a problem on someone less pallid than I. It has not irritated my skin in the slightest, and it's not greasy. Reviews are mixed on Makeupalley.
posted by lysimache at 3:27 PM on July 9, 2009

My very temperamental skin has been okay with the aforementioned Aveeno Positively Radiant, and also with Aveeno Baby which is either SPF 50 or 70.
posted by chez shoes at 3:50 PM on July 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you have sensitive skin, try sunscreens made with "physical" UV blockers (namely titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) instead of chemical ones (such as avobenzone, which is in your Neutrogena product). The physical ingredients stay on the surface of the skin (this is also why some formulas give that "chalky" look), while the chemical ingredients work by penetrating into the skin, which is why you might react to some formulas.

I'm a big fan of Dermalogica products. They have a sunscreen (with SPF 30) designed for sensitive skin. The downside is that it's on the pricey side for a small bottle.
posted by curiouskitty at 4:10 PM on July 9, 2009

I have terribly sensitive (plus acne prone and oily) skin and Shiseido's sunscreens have been good to me. Like you, Neutrogena sunscreens all worked well at first and then the stinging... the horrible horrible stinging.

The one I use is the Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion SPF 55 PA+++, but I've heard the others in the line are just as good, and the formulas with lower SPF cost just a tad bit less. The lotion form is super watery and you don't need a huge puddle to cover your entire face. Each bottle lasts a pretty long time if you're balking at the price tag.

(If you do decide to try this brand, be sure to use a make-up removing cleanser because this stuff is water-resistant and is a bit tougher to wash off than most drugstore sunscreens).
posted by wiretap at 4:22 PM on July 9, 2009

Also since you mentioned you didn't want a greasy sunscreen, the Shiseido sunscreen I recommended above is non-greasy and mattifying.
posted by wiretap at 4:24 PM on July 9, 2009

I have sensitive skin and rosacea. I've had good luck with Eucerin Everyday Protection Face Lotion SPF 30. It actually seems to help with the rosacea better than their rosacea-specific formula. It's got physical UV blockers, and my skin doesn't react to as it has done with some of the chemical UV blockers.
posted by needled at 4:27 PM on July 9, 2009

I've also had good luck with Pola 1/f Suncut Milk Emulsion Anti Soleil SPF 30. Wore it traveling in Southeast Asia and came back as pale as when I left. No skin irritation at all.
posted by needled at 4:35 PM on July 9, 2009

I really like this Peter Thomas Roth sunscreen. I have oily skin and it's the only thing that hasn't made my face break out. I've used the Aveeno sunscreen for awhile and found it too greasy.
posted by Evangeline at 4:45 PM on July 9, 2009

The only sunscreen that doesn't give me some kind of rash or breakout is MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Shield, which has an SPF of 28. It's not cheap, but the price is worth it for the fact that it doesn't smell like anything.
posted by corey flood at 5:02 PM on July 9, 2009

Clarins has a good range of skin products and their sun screen for men doesn't feel greasy at all.
posted by arcticseal at 5:33 PM on July 9, 2009

I'm a big fan of Ocean Potion products. It's cheap, non-irritating, protection that lasts for hours. And it smells like foot loops.
posted by 26.2 at 7:20 PM on July 9, 2009

Burt's Bees is my favorite company for skincare products because I'm super sensitive to some of the chemical additives that go into most things (sulfates and parabens specifically). BB has a couple of sunblock products, and they're pretty nice (but not super high SPF--I think only 30).
posted by so_gracefully at 7:59 PM on July 9, 2009

I also paid $12 for a 3oz tube of Neutrogena (not age sheild, "sensitive skin") and had the same kind of stinging sensation after a few days of use. The stinging goes away within a few seconds, and didn't make my skin red, or break out. I know I'll sound like the most frugal person ever, but I kept using it, and it actually doesn't sting anymore. I've never really had problems with the skin on my face (hands are another story), so you may be less willing to take risks with your face.

I've also tried and liked Cetaphil sunscreen, but it was a bit heavy/greasy for wearing under makeup. I can say that cetaphil is a brand that is actually dermatologist recommended, as all dermatologists I've been to, have.
posted by fontophilic at 8:48 PM on July 9, 2009

My skin is very sensitive too, and my usual SPF lotion stings. I started using my son's Coppertone for babies (in the pink bottle, SPF 50). It's perfect.
posted by oceanmorning at 10:05 PM on July 9, 2009

Seconding wiretap's recommendation for Shiseido's sunscreen. I've used their sun protection products (mostly their SPF 55 PA+++ Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion and SPF 55 PA+++ Sun Protection Cream, as well as all the stuff in their super sun set.

Shiseido's products use physical blockers, while Neutrogena's products (or, at least, the ones I tried) tend to use chemical blockers. I've found that Neutrogena's sunscreens might be marginally better than Shiseido's in terms of preventing tanning (but only very marginally), but Shiseido's products are kinder on the skin. They also leave less of a "white cast", compared to Neutrogena's products.

Anyway, Shiseido's sun protection cream is just thicker than the sun protection lotion. Both didn't cause any breakouts on my skin, even when my skin was super sensitive (my sensitive skin has since improved, but I think that's because I started using better quality skincare products in general). The cream's more suitable for drier weather and winter months, while the lotion feels better in more humid weather. I've been wearing the sun protection cream this summer, and so far so good, though. On the other hand, the lotion is more versatile in the sense that you can use it on the rest of your body as well - when I was more diligent about sun protection, I used the lotion on my body and the cream on my face, and that worked quite well.
posted by aielen at 10:07 PM on July 9, 2009

Check out the Environmental Working Group's list of top sunscreens. These are pretty gentle, and also contain more physical blockers than chemical blockers, which should be good to your skin.

I use Vanicream Sport SPF 35, which doesn't irritate my very sensitive skin at all. (Neutrogena's Sensitive Skin sunscreen made me break out in hives.) Vanicream makes a great lip sunblock, too. And people seem to like Keys products. Good luck!
posted by airguitar2 at 10:29 PM on July 9, 2009

If you phone Neutrogena and tell them it's irritating your skin, they will probably offer to send you another, more appropriate one from their line. I did that once with an eye cream (different brand).

I like Clinique Chemical Free, think it's 25 SPF, and Ombrelle 60. I use the Ombrelle in the stick form, it's more waxy than greasy.
posted by Penelope at 10:57 AM on July 10, 2009

I have very sensitive skin, burn in 15 minutes or less, and have been blessed with rosacea (not the icky bumpy kind, I just turn bright red for no apparent reason) since birth. I have tried damn near every sunscreen out there, all with the same results. Anything over SPF 30 on my face burns and stings. Period.

I do wear moisturizer with sunscreen in it every day, though. Most days it's SPF 30, but every 4-5 days it will start to sting a bit, so I back down to SPF 15 for a day or two until my skin can handle the 30 again.

I am being absolutely, 100% sincere here, with no trace of snark whatsoever. Use a lower SPF and buy a hat.
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 2:55 PM on July 10, 2009

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