Everybody's free to wear sunscreen. But what kind?
March 11, 2013 5:36 PM   Subscribe

I need daily sunscreen recommendations compatible with oily skin.

After four months living in Southern California, I can no longer chalk my failure to develop a daily sunscreen habit up to "getting rid of the New York pallor". I'm also far too vain about my youthful looking complexion and my beautifully inked custom-designed tattoos that I want to last forever.

There's only one thing keeping me from just running out to CVS and picking up some SPF whateverz -- my extremely oily skin. I don't use a daily facial moisturizer because I frankly don't need the moisture on my face. While I do use lotion on the rest of me, I find that combination lotion/sunscreen products I've used in the past are goopy, have a weird smell to them, and never quite feel like they absorb into my skin.

So friends, tell me what kind of sunscreen products to get. I probably need two different products -- one for my face which is compatible with oily skin, and one for the rest of me. Neither should have that goopy "day at the beach" residue going on.

In general, I have a low threshold for skincare bullshit. I'm not looking for anti-oxidants, retinol, vitamin E, anti-aging serum, or anything else. Just sun protection. I probably don't need some kind of crazy SPF 50 vampire control. In my old east coast Day Trip To Montauk life I used SPF 15.

I am willing to spend some money, but not necessarily department store beauty counter highway robbery money.
posted by Sara C. to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (33 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have super oily skin, but I do hate the way sunscreen (or even just moisturizer) feels on my face, so I use Bare Minerals Natural Sunscreen on my face. It works very well for me. I don't wear any other makeup (except eyeliner), so I'm not sure how it would work if you want blush or something over it, but I can barely feel it and I've been out in the sun with only this stuff on enough times to know it works (especially when I've burned the back of my neck or my shoulders, but not my face).

It looks like I bought it on 7/22/12 (thanks email order history!), I don't wear it every single day but I do wear it most days, and it's still going strong, so I'd say it has over 6 months of wear in one thingy worth.
posted by brainmouse at 5:44 PM on March 11, 2013

My skin is oily- I use Neutrogena Healthy Skin Face Lotion (SPF 15). Two pumps right after I wash my face in the morning. Rub down onto your neck, too!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:49 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, and for body- Eucerin Daily Protection SPF 15.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:51 PM on March 11, 2013

Best answer: SoCal transplant tip: you want one thing for your face, and something (probably less expensive/special but much, much more vampire-grade) for your chest and forearms. I don't wear especially low-cut shirts, but I really sun-damaged a V from my collarbones to sternum very quickly, and freckled my arms pretty good. It's taken all winter, being really diligent and covering myself with a kicky scarf if I was going to be out for any length of time, to at least reverse what looked like a permanent sunburn on my chest.

For that, I use CVS's version of Neutrogena's Ultra-Sheer Dry Touch.

I use a baby sunscreen stick on my face for yardwork and the like, but it's not what you're wanting for daily wear.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:54 PM on March 11, 2013 [5 favorites]

Do you wear makeup? Many mineral powder foundations are great for oily skin and contain Zinc oxide, which is an excellent sunscreen.
posted by tenaciousmoon at 5:55 PM on March 11, 2013

I used Aveeno's Natural Protection last year, which stuck around on my crazy oily face but with traces of mineral residue. I also have one of the Neutrogena sticks, which actually works pretty well, even if it's a bit weird to apply. I liberally spray the rest of my body in SPF 70 Ultimate Sport Sunblock Spray because I am both crazy pale and crazy lazy, and this is the easiest. It really does need to be rubbed in a bit, or you end up with really odd blotches where the spray didn't quite hit...I would say, you might need to up it from SPF 15, even if it's not quite to my vampire levels. I have never tanned and I got weird semi-tan/permanent burn lines around my athletic gear from one summer in Los Angeles despite religious applications of sunscreen. There's just so much sun, all the time.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:03 PM on March 11, 2013

Response by poster: I don't wear makeup, but I'm theoretically not averse to a powder form of sunscreen over a cream. Though specific brands of this are helpful, since I don't even know where to start with mineral powder foundations.
posted by Sara C. at 6:05 PM on March 11, 2013

Best answer: I use the Neutrogena Body Mist sunscreen stuff, it's a spray, and I never ever feel greasy at all. I spray a little extra on my hand and dab it around my nose and cheeks quickly before it dries, and then do the closed-eyes walk-through-the-mist thing for overall coverage on my face. It comes in SPF bazillion and just smells pleasantly light to me.
posted by Mizu at 6:09 PM on March 11, 2013

I use this Shiseido sunscreen. It's pricy, but a little goes a long way, it absorbs fast, isn't oily at all, and thankfully doesn't have that heavy sunscreen smell that which I find unpleasant. You can get it at Sephora.
posted by greta simone at 6:11 PM on March 11, 2013

Best answer: I love the Shiseido greta simone links to, but it is too expensive for me.

I use Neutrogena ultra (the Neutrogena sunscreen in the make up aisle, not the sunscreen aisle. I know, I know, but there is a huge difference). Found the rec on make up alley, and those ladies know their stuff!
posted by cestmoi15 at 6:21 PM on March 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

The Clinique oil free super city block is really good for my oily skin (just make sure not to get it too close to your eyes because sometimes it stings underneath them) and it has a good spf.
Another option is a bb cream like Dr Jart that is an all in one so you dont need an extra step.
posted by rmless at 6:25 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Neutrogena Ultra Sheer that cestmoi15 linked to is the bomb.

I have oily t-zone skin, and I buy that stuff in bulk over the Internet in factor 70.
posted by Salamander at 6:38 PM on March 11, 2013

Ok, so from my days as a patient at Philly's most appearance based, to hell with the effects dermatologist (he had me on steroids for ages and my skin looked amazing, everyone in his waiting room had supermodel skin, my derm when I moved was horrified), I recommend Eucerin Everyday Protection Face Lotion SPF 30. It's good for as much of you needs covering. I have to order it online cause I can't find it anywhere, but I've been using it for over 10 years and most people tell me I look like I'm in my mid-20's (I'm 37).
posted by twiggy32 at 6:51 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I use a for faces sunscreen made by a company called Banana Boat - hate the name, love the sunscreen, which is effective, and oil free for faces. Any sunscreen that is labelled for face use will probably be less greasy and heavy on your face (I'm the same way, hate the feel of greasy stuff on my face).
posted by thylacinthine at 7:09 PM on March 11, 2013

I have dry skin, but the La Roche Posay Antihelios line gets good reviews for a lightweight sunscreen, and it's not outrageously priced, I think.

Whatever sunscreen you do end up with, it's probably a good idea to make sure you put on the proper amount, about 1/4 teaspoon. Which is a fair bit - around the size of a dime - but not putting on enough reduces the stated SPF protection by more than half. Sunscreen powders aren't super awesome at protection because of this, generally speaking - you have to really goop it on to actually get the stated protection, and most no one's going to walk around looking like a powdery fluffball. YMMV, though. Sunscreen powders have done zilch for me.

If you're worried about protecting your skin, it's also good to buy a sunscreen that's broad-spectrum, covering both UVB and UVA (the aging radiation) and not just UVB (which is the burny sort). Here is a list of common sunscreen ingredients and what they cover - zinc oxide is probably your best bet: most coverage and it's most stable. Some of the chemical ingredients aren't as stable and degrade quickly - if you're interested I can dig up some more links on that.
posted by zennish at 7:33 PM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Trust a greasy-faced gal on this: Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense. It's a physical sunscreen, which means that you don't have to reapply every couple of hours, which is annoying when you wear makeup. But for a truly matte finish, you can't quite beat Japanese chemical sunscreens--my favorite comes from the Shiseido Anessa range, while the Urban Environment sunscreen can be easily found at your nearest Nordstrom or Sephora.
posted by peripathetic at 7:36 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: nthing Neutrogena ultra sheer for face and La Roche Posay for everywhere else (although my skin is oily, albeit less oily than yours sounds and I use it on my face as well).
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 7:54 PM on March 11, 2013

Since it seems like you're going to have a lot of recommendations to sort through, I just wanted to drop in and plug the (AskMeFi-recommended!) Environmental Working Group's guide to sunscreen, which is searchable and includes an overall rating and breakdowns of health hazard ratings by individual ingredients. There's some debate (including in the linked thread from the green) on whether all of the things EWG worries about are worth worrying about, but I found this a useful source when trying to decide between several different sunscreens that all seemed good a year ago.

I picked a somewhat expensive spray-on body sunscreen from MDSolarSciences, because I also hate the feel of goopy/slimy/oily leftover residue.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:06 PM on March 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

I use mineral makeup that has titanium dioxide and zinc oxide in it, so it works as sunscreen. I currently use Meow Cosmetics Flawless (I know, the website is messy, but the products are extremely high quality, and well priced. Plus you can buy samples), sometimes with a bit of Silk Natural's zinc oxide mixed in (you can also buy samples from them). It works quite well. Both companies' prices are far better than mineral makeup from Sephora, and their products are comparable, if not better.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:30 PM on March 11, 2013

Best answer: I've had good success with Cetaphil's moisturizer with SPF. It's the only sunscreen product I've tried that really stays matte and doesn't make me break out. It's about $18 but you get a lot. One squirt usually covers my face and neck.
posted by elizeh at 8:35 PM on March 11, 2013

I've never found a less sticky or greasy sunscreen than plain old Coppertone Sport in the blue tubes.
posted by nicwolff at 8:46 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just dropped back in to say - recommended amount of sunscreen is HALF a teaspoon for the face. Yes, it's a lot. Which is why you need it to be non-oily and not too pricey (because that will encourage you to skimp on application).

(Source: 40-y-old woman with fair skin who grew up in one of the hottest, driest climates on earth. I slap that stuff on 365 days a year, and people are always shocked when I tell them my age.)
posted by Salamander at 8:59 PM on March 11, 2013

Best answer: I'm another LA transplant, and I strongly second Lyn Never's suggestion to be diligent about your chest and arms too - I am paying the price for not being good about this. You really have to do it every day. I wish I could go back and time and tell younger me about this. So you can be younger me for the purposes of this post ;)

My preference is also for Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Dry Touch. I have a two-pack of SPF45 on subscribe and save from amazon to save money. I really recommend going for something in the realm of SPF45 even for everyday use, because just ten minutes a day really adds up over time. I only get about 10 minutes a day of sun exposure, and I have the sort of skin that tans easily and very rarely burns, but my forearms and hands are really looking prematurely aged now.
posted by Joh at 9:03 PM on March 11, 2013

Best answer: I have oily skin, I use ALBA daily shade for my body and Epicuren Zinc Oxide SPF 20 on my face. You need the zinc oxide for real protection.

The ALBA is available at Whole Foods and Epicuren is from my esthetician but I see it on Amazon too. The tubes last forever, so it is worth it. You still put on your regular moisturizer underneath if you like. After trying many, this has been my favorite so far. No fragrance, no greasy after feel, no clogged pores.
posted by dottiechang at 9:26 PM on March 11, 2013

Best answer: Neutrogena. The face one (whatever it's called) for my face, Dry Touch for all over.
posted by anaelith at 9:56 PM on March 11, 2013

I'd just like to chime in that if you haven't spent a summer in the southwest U.S. yet, you will very likely change your mind on thinking spf50 is "vampire grade" crazy. Montauk =/= southern California. That is like comparing a warm bath to a volcano.
posted by celtalitha at 10:18 PM on March 11, 2013

Another LA transplant.

Nthing the arms and chest and neck comments.

Stay away from oxybenzone. Physical blockers are a better bet; they're generally more stable than chemical blockers. My daily moisturizer is Oil of Olay . It has zinc oxide in it.

If I plan on spending any time in the sun (e.g. walking around town) I put on this Eucerin on top of the other.

If I'm going to be in direct sunshine for more than 20 mins, I put on this La Roche on top of the other two. It has good chemical blockers that supplement the physical blockers in the other two.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 12:38 AM on March 12, 2013

I've been using this Garnier SPF 15 on my face and neck for about the last year. I've got combo skin but it never makes my face feel greasy. It's the first time in my life (I'm 33) that I've ever worn sunscreen on a daily basis and I'm actually noticing an improvement in fine lines/wrinkles. I use about 4-5 pumps per day and a bottle lasts me about 6 months. It's a really great product.
posted by jabes at 8:14 AM on March 12, 2013

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer is good, but irritates my skin. Anthelios is great, but not for people with oily skin. Check out Elta MD UV Clear.
posted by the jam at 8:57 AM on March 12, 2013

I love Elta MD UV Clear, which is what I use on my oily face. for chest/arms, I use Blue Lizard.
posted by vivzan at 10:31 AM on March 12, 2013

Response by poster: I think I'm probably going to try these various Nutrogena products everyone is recommending, and then if they don't do it for me, I'm going to go high end.

Today I remembered that I actually already own mineral powder with zinc oxide and titanium oxide as main ingredients, though the packaging makes no sunscreen claims. I tried it out just to see if wearing powder more often was for me. I wasn't a huge fan, but this could change. I may try again on an especially oily day.
posted by Sara C. at 10:27 PM on March 12, 2013

Dry touch. It was a minor miracle in sunscreen development.
posted by barnone at 6:33 AM on March 13, 2013

Response by poster: Hi everyone!

I ended up with Neutrogena's Clear Face broad spectrum SPF 30. It's more of a liquid than a cream (texture similar to liquid foundation), so it doesn't feel goopy on. It hasn't made my skin more oily, and feels perfectly fine on my face. It also doesn't have that sunscreen smell.
posted by Sara C. at 7:55 AM on April 16, 2013

« Older USian would like a job in Ireland   |   Boardwalk attractions in the Outer Banks? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.