Do sunscreens that don't smell like sunscreen exist?
May 20, 2012 9:53 AM   Subscribe

What sunscreen smells the least like sunscreen?

I'm pale and should really wear sunscreen on my body during the day, but I hate the smell of sunscreen. I'm not super sensitive to smells in general, but the smell of sunscreen just bothers me inordinately.

I don't care about natural vs. chemical sunscreens, and I only need about SPF 15. I've been looking at body lotions with SPF, but the only ones I've been able to smell in person still smell like sunscreen (I bought this Eucerin because it smelled the least bad, but I never use it because of the smell).

What confuses me about this is that I've used SPF face products that don't smell like sunscreen- I'm currently using Olay Complete which smells kind of like almonds, but not like sunscreen. Using that on my body isn't practical because of the style and size of the bottle. I also just remembered that some sunscreens use fragrance to smell like coconut or whatever, but I'd also like to avoid that. Generally I don't want to smell like I just got back from the beach every day.

So, I'm turning to the internet, since I can't smell every product out there personally. I'm willing to pay up to maybe $25 for a product that really seriously doesn't smell like sunscreen. Fast-absorbing and non-sticky would be nice too. It also doesn't need to be a body lotion with SPF- a regular sunscreen would be fine too, since this is mostly just for using on my exposed skin in the mornings and I have a non-SPF body lotion I like already.
posted by MadamM to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Check the hand/body lotion sections. The Alba lotion I use is SPF 16. It has a smell but not a sunscreen smell.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:58 AM on May 20, 2012

And it wasn't in the sunscreen section. It's just regular lotion.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:58 AM on May 20, 2012

Banana Boat products have a distinct fake-banana-y smell that I love. It's the only kind of sunscreen I'll use.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:58 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I really like Trader Joe's brand of SPF 15 sunscreen/lotion. It says it's just for the face, but I use it all over. It's lightweight, not greasy, and doesn't smell like sunscreen to me. And it's only about $3.50 for a 4 oz bottle.
posted by book 'em dano at 10:00 AM on May 20, 2012

I use Eucerine face lotion (spf 30) for that very reason. It doesn't smell like sunscreen at all and is also 'unscented'. I use this on my face, neck, arms and hands. (Their body lotion is spf 15 but is a little too heavy for me to use on my face).
posted by marimeko at 10:19 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I find Neutrogena's to be pretty neutral.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 10:26 AM on May 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

A seconding of Neutrogena. And their Dry-Touch isn't oily as so many sunscreens are. The price and size are in the affordable range.
posted by vers at 10:31 AM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

I like the unscented Neutrogenas. I use the physical one that's SPF 60ish daily; it does have a whitening cast but it does not smell (I'm extremely allergic to scent). The face one that's 100 SPF (chemical) also does not smell (but does sting if it gets in the eyes). Neither is cheap, however.
posted by lysimache at 10:39 AM on May 20, 2012

I really like Episencial. It's marketed for kids, but really anyone can use it. Doesn't smell like sunscreen and is very fast absorbing. You can get free samples for the cost of shipping here.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 10:41 AM on May 20, 2012

I like Alba Botanica's Hawaiian Sunblock. It isn't greasy, it smells great (like mangoes, which might be too much like coconut/the beach for you, but every time I wear it someone says "you smell amazing"), it works great, and it isn't too expensive. It used to be available in SPF 15, but last year I could only find it in SPF 30.
posted by ezrainch at 11:48 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing Neutrogena. Good quality, practically no smell. It smells very very faintly like whatever goes into sunscreen, but you have to really stick your nose in it to smell it.

If you're looking for something that smells good without smelling sunscreen-y, I've heard raves about Ocean Potion products, which have an orange creamsicle fragrance. Never used them myself, though.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:03 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing others--Neutrogena doesn't have much of a smell.

Alternately, there are combination sunscreens/bug sprays. They mostly smell like bug spray, not sunscreen, which may not be an improvement.
posted by box at 12:38 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I find the CVS brand sunscreen to smell unoffensive and maybe kind of good.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 12:39 PM on May 20, 2012

Neither Anthelios SX or Alba "very emollient" facial sunscreen smell like much of anything (if I wear Neutrogena fragrance-free sunscreens, my husband always comments that I "smell like I'm going to the beach".)
posted by Ralston McTodd at 12:55 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Aveeno's spray-on aerosol sunscreen smells really nice, sort of floraly, like their face lotions. Not at ALL like sunscreen. I have had compliments on it by people thinking it's a perfume. It's also a little worrying how much it feels like you're not wearing suncreen (but as a really quick-to-burn person I can attest it totally works.)
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 1:06 PM on May 20, 2012

there are plenty of natural unscented mineral sunscreens. you may find this useful
posted by rr at 1:52 PM on May 20, 2012

I use a this Alba Botanica body lotion every single day, on my face and my tattoo and on other exposed skin when it's not long sleeves weather. It doesn't smell like sunscreen or the beach; just like a pleasant body lotion.
posted by linettasky at 1:53 PM on May 20, 2012

I find the Neutrogena Dry-touch sunscreens to have a pretty noticeable floral odor. It's not unpleasant, and it doesn't smell heavily of sunscreen chemicals, and it fades. But it does smell quite distinctly. A reason to consider them anyway is that they claim to use some technology that makes the SPF wimp out less quickly than that of other products.

Trader Joe's sunscreen is much less smelly to me, but there's no fragrance to mask the chemical-sunscreen smell, so that comes through.

I think in general that's the tradeoff you're going to be making in chemical sunscreens. Do you want to smell like the chemicals that block the sun, or do you want to smell like the artificial fragrance used to cover up the chemical smell?

The obvious opt-out solution is to switch to a physical sunscreen. Personally, I go back and forth on how much credence I can bear to give to the Environmental Working Group's sunscreen paranoia - I think part of what they are saying is right on, and another part of it is alarmist. I've used Badger and Loving Naturals non-chemical sunscreens, which are usually the EWG's top-rated products. My experience with them is mixed. An unscented physical sunscreen does not smell like a chemical sunscreen (it smells like whatever the carrier oil in the sunscreen is: the Loving Naturals sunscreen smells a little bit like almond butter, not at all unpleasant). But using a physical sunscreen is a different experience than using a nice, thin, easy-to-apply chemical sunscreen: they are MUCH thicker and tackier and whiter than what you are probably used to.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 2:52 PM on May 20, 2012

MD Forte. I am also pale and use sunscreen every single day. It's the only one I will ever use--zinc blocker, great rating re: toxicity from the Environmental Working Group, and it goes on just like a nice lotion with zero chalkiness or residue. It is also completely odorless. I cannot recommend it enough. You can get it on Amazon for under $30--look for the UV Lotion in a bigger pump bottle, not the tube.
posted by anonnymoose at 5:11 PM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

I got sunscreen from Origins once and it smelled absolutely amazing--not even remotely like sunscreen. I actually enjoyed putting it on, rather than seeing it as the gross annoying chore that it usually is. This was a good few years ago, but I'm pretty sure it was Sunshine State which you can get for $25 at Looks like it's all natural too which is good.
posted by désoeuvrée at 12:36 AM on May 21, 2012

It's expensive, but Riemann P20 sounds like what you are looking for. It's not creamy and formulated specifically to be pleasant to put on.

If you go to the UK Amazon site, where the product is more commonly bought, you can see a lot ofpositive reviews that sound like what you are looking for.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:04 AM on May 21, 2012

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