Annual Sunscreen Recommendation Request, Picky Edition
July 12, 2010 4:06 PM   Subscribe

Summer's here, let's talk about sunscreen . . . again. I've read all the other annual requests for recommendations, but I'm hoping there is something new on the market that will meet all my unreasonable requirements, detailed within.

I'm desperate to find a sunscreen that:

1) Uses physical sunscreens, not chemical.
2) Is unscented.
3) Is mattifying.
4) Won't make my ridiculously sensitive, acne-prone skin break out.
5) Won't make me look like a geisha.
6) Does actually screen the sun. I'm sick of getting burned straight through supposedly high-SPF sunscreens.

Sofina Perfect came close, but has to be removed with an oil-based cleanser, which eventually started giving me crazy dry skin. Since then it's been one dud after another. I know there are new sunscreens out all the time. Have you found a good one?
posted by HotToddy to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
How about a wide-brimmed hat?
posted by gyusan at 4:17 PM on July 12, 2010

I like BurnOut Eco-Sensitive Zinc Oxide Sunscreen SPF 32 (18.6% zinc oxide).

In my experience (I'm a very fair New Englander with a family history of precancerous skin lesions and normal-to-oily, acne-prone skin), the stuff has worked well. The manufacturer's website says "no chalky whitening," which is not 100% true, but the stuff is lightweight enough that blending it into one's skin doesn't take a huge amount of effort.
posted by virago at 4:19 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have seen recent reports that suggest that screen stuff with vit A is to be avoided becasue it attracts bad rays. Best advice: avoid the sun as much as possible, such as wearing wide brim hat etc.
posted by Postroad at 4:21 PM on July 12, 2010

6) Does actually screen the sun. I'm sick of getting burned straight through supposedly high-SPF sunscreens.

Are you sure you're applying enough? You're apparently supposed to use 1-1.5 oz of sunscreen for your body, which is a significant amount of your normal 8oz bottle. So if you applied it once every day, the bottle should be empty within a week. In addition, you're supposed to reapply after every two hours or after swimming or perspiring heavily. So it's entirely possible to use the whole 8oz in less than one day.
posted by meowzilla at 4:23 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hah, I came to recommend what virago recommended. Absolutely right, there's a little whitening, but it isn't terrible. Since it is zinc oxide, it's a physical rather than chemical barrier, and it produces well against UVA as well as UVB (since our SPF system is for dirt and doesn't address UVA at all). If your sensitivity is in UVA, a lot of high SPF sunscreens will not be particularly effective.

It's my light sunscreen. You can layer a Mexoryl-based sunscreen in the SPF 60 range over it for more fun. Combine with a hat, gloves, etc., as required.
posted by adipocere at 4:25 PM on July 12, 2010

I like Pola 1/f Suncut Milk which is 30 SPF and has both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. It sometimes leaves a slight white cast on me, but that's when I really slathered the stuff on. It protects well even when applied thinly. One problem is that Pola is a Japanese brand that is not yet widely available product.
posted by needled at 4:56 PM on July 12, 2010

er, "that is not widely available in the U.S."
posted by needled at 4:57 PM on July 12, 2010

I have similar sunscreen requirements, as I have developed an oxybenzone allergy and normal sunscreen literally poisons me.

I use Neutrogena Sensitive Skin, alternately in SPF 30 and SPF 60. (depending on whether or not I actually want a tan.) It works well, has little to no scent, and doesn't cause breakouts for me. It does require rubbing it in a bit, but it's not terrible. (Even their sensitive skin sunscreen for BABIES caused a skin rash for me, something in the inactive ingredients, so I'd steer clear of that.) The only con is that it's pretty expensive for a relatively small bottle, but sadly it's the only sunscreen that hasn't destroyed my skin.
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 5:18 PM on July 12, 2010

Response by poster: needled, does the Pola contain silicones? Does it have to be removed with an oil cleanser? I couldn't find an ingredient list on their website.
posted by HotToddy at 5:37 PM on July 12, 2010

I use Badger brand on my baby, and I think it meets everything you require, except maybe mattifying -- I admit that I don't know what that is.

Also, it is "unscented" but it has a distinct smell anyway.
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:04 PM on July 12, 2010

According to this Pola 1/f Suncut Milk ingredient list, yes, it does have silicones (cyclomethicone and dimethicone). I've never had to use oil cleanser to remove it.

I also have ridiculously sensitive skin as well as rosacea, but the Pola never caused problems.
posted by needled at 6:29 PM on July 12, 2010

I have delightfully manly alabaster skin, and I never use anything higher than an spf 4 or 8. Never a burn when I wear that stuff unless I'm sweating like hell AND wipe it off. But it might be chemical? I just use the crap at Walgreens. But to my point, at the same time I am burn free, my idiot friends with the spf 300 super sport nev'r run swim safe sunscreens, and less sensitive skin, always end up burning to a crisp.

Finally, there is no substitute for hats. That's why we invented them.
posted by gjc at 6:53 PM on July 12, 2010

I found this report and database to be very helpful.
posted by Good43 at 7:25 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Clinique's city and super city block. I haven't used either in years, but back in the day it fit your requirements.
posted by Neekee at 7:30 PM on July 12, 2010

The reason your coming up short is that your #1 and #5 and #6 are inherently at odds. Not chemical = zinc or titanium dioxide. The only way those minerals go on sheer at high enough concentration to be effective is if they're micronized (particles ground extra fine) and even then you still need to cake it on until you can almost see a film. Have you tried one of the powder sunscreens? They are hard to apply but the result for the face area can be superior to liquid. You can set them with water mist for a very matte look.
posted by slow graffiti at 7:40 PM on July 12, 2010

Yeah, agreeing with slow graffiti - if it's a proper physical barrier it's going to be at least in some way visible. That's what physical means.

I'm deathly pale and ginger and I swear by P20 - I don't know how it will affect your skin, but it's quite different to other suncreams in that it's alcohol based (alcohol evaporates, leaving all the sun-protection bits on your skin).
posted by Coobeastie at 4:22 AM on July 13, 2010

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