Cheap, non-oxybenzone, lightweight sunscreen?
March 7, 2016 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Okay, I would like a sunscreen or sunscreen/moisturizer that 1) does not feel like Crisco 2) does not have oxybenzone or parabens and 3) is cheap. I'm willing to sacrifice cheap first, then parabens, but not the Crisco feel.

I've read the other sunscreen questions, but basically what I'm looking for is a sunscreen or sunscreen/moisturizer for daily use that I can glop on in the morning without worrying about expense or parabens.

The pump-tubs of Lubriderm or even Oil of Olay from the drugstore would be fine, but they feel like someone slathered butter on my face and challenged me to sweat through it. (And I think they have parabens, but I can't remember.) The most important thing is that I can't feel it, second-most important is that it doesn't have parabens or oxy, and third-most is that it's relatively cheap.

My current solution is nothing + a hat on ordinary days and Neutrogena helioplex ultrasheer or drytouch stuff for summer outings. The Neutrogena is the best I've been able to do in terms of not feeling it, but it has oxy, and while not expensive isn't really cheap either.

Any ideas?
posted by pipti to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
I've been using the Eucerin Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion SPF 30. It's lighter than the Olay dialy moisturizer, and only about as expensive as drugstore moisturizers are to begin with. The skin on my body is a little less sensitive, it turns out, so I've been using Coppertone Clearly Sheer for Sunny Days SPF30 on my chest and hands for daily use. (I used to use Neutrogena Dry Touch but it got very drying.) That has avobenzone in it and some light fragrance, but it feels all right on the skin once you've put it on. BUT it separates very quickly and curds up, so I think it spoils pretty fast. It's great when it's fresh and smooth, but I think I'm in the market for a new body sunscreen.

My *favorite* sunblocks are the light-as-water Japanese style, like Biore Perfect Face Milk or Sun Bears Super SPF 50+. It's a little spendy -- $10 for a 30ml bottle on Amazon -- but it goes a longer way than American sunblock. You're only supposed to use 1/4 teaspoon on your face, for example. If you have Amazon Prime it might be totally worth it to you.
posted by Andrhia at 11:05 AM on March 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've been using Aveeno Ultra Calming, which I'm recommending because it doesn't have that greasy feel, but I'm not sure if it has parabens; you can check the ingredients at the link.
posted by bleep at 11:09 AM on March 7, 2016


It's $16, feels light, great under makeup. I use it daily and a tube lasts about 4 months. It's genius.
posted by jbenben at 11:14 AM on March 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

Badger zinc sunscreen is what we use for our sensitive skin. I can't attest to the daily sunscreen, but the plain zinc sunscreen and anti-bug sunscreen work great for us with our sensitive skin.
posted by jillithd at 11:15 AM on March 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

After trying the lightweight sunblocks from Korea and Japan, I will never look back. This is my main squeeze: Missha All Around Safe Block SPF 45. Semi-pricey, but a little goes a long way, and I can't feel it on my skin at all. This is my second favorite: Hada Labo UV Creamy Gel SPF 50. I like these because my very-dry very-sensitive skin seems to prefers them to others. But there are lots of other good options too.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 11:23 AM on March 7, 2016 [9 favorites]

Elta MD SPF 30 is another great translucent zinc oxide option. I've been fine using the "full-body" version on my face, and ounce-for-ounce, the larger bottle is priced pretty similarly to most drugstore options.

I did not have great luck with Badger fwiw -- I love their sunscreens for the beach, but the face lotion felt heavy to me.
posted by veery at 11:32 AM on March 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

I use this Shiseido from Japan.
You will get the bottle.
You will put it on and be amazed.
Do yourself a solid and buy Asian sunscreens. They're light, very well formulated, don't leave a weird white cast, and aren't greasemongering ridiculousness.
posted by Lemmy Caution at 11:44 AM on March 7, 2016 [7 favorites]

I too have jumped on the Asian sunscreen train. Biore Face Milk is my jam. The websites CosDNA and RatzillaCosme are pretty good about listing ingredients in English.
posted by nicebookrack at 12:03 PM on March 7, 2016

I use Trader Joe's Enrich Moisturizer with SPF 15. It's less than $5 (in my town anyway) and has improved my skin immensely.
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:04 PM on March 7, 2016

My second recommendation after the Mychelle Sun Shield was going to be an Elta product, but I did not read the ingredients list to double check it meets your criteria. Nthing the Elta for performance if it meets your criteria on ingredients.
posted by jbenben at 12:21 PM on March 7, 2016

I have been using the previous iteration of the Shiseido listed above, the Essence rather than the gel, and plan to upgrade to the gel on my next tube.

Japanese sunscreen really does come in teensy bottles that last, TARDIS-like, approximately forever. Most of the Biores I tried were too alcohol-y (like, make my eyes sting fumes) to accomplish their remarkable dry-down, and one of them (the Perfect Milk) was startlingly chalky white (I use it on my arms and chest, where it doesn't look quite so strange), but I love that Shiseido SENKA.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:22 PM on March 7, 2016

La Roche Posay anthelios mineral fluid. It is wonderfully lightweight and has a matte finish. No chemicals! And best yet, you can buy it at Target and many drugstores.
posted by joan_holloway at 12:37 PM on March 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

MF turned me onto Japanese sunscreens and I haven't looked back. I haven't found a great waterproof version yet (the first one I ordered has a crazy tingly, tight sensation) but for everyday wear I've been gloriously content with the standard formulations. Feels like nothing and zero white cast (I'm not white so physical blockers always show through on my skin).
posted by serelliya at 2:57 PM on March 7, 2016

Nthing Elta which is what my army of dermatologists recommends as well.
posted by getawaysticks at 3:11 PM on March 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's often obfuscated in marketing by brands that don't have it but UVA spectrum is important.

What you want to look for on the bottle is Mexoryl (ecamsule) or Tinosorb. The FDA took forever to approve it and for awhile you had to order from Canada to get it. But now you can find it in some drugstores for usually under $20.
posted by four panels at 9:11 PM on March 7, 2016

If you're not going to the beach, Cosmedix is one of the best. For everyday it's very non-shiny and matte.
posted by four panels at 9:26 PM on March 7, 2016

The best non-chemical sunscreen I've found is the Hydralight Shine-Free Mineral Complex SPF 30 from Paula's Choice. I am severely allergic to chemical sunscreens no matter how good the formulation is and they sent me this one as a replacement after I had a bad reaction to the chemical kind from their line. This one is mineral-based and non-greasy and has worked perfectly for me. All of her products are packed full of proven antioxidant ingredients and fragrance/color free. I swear by them. It's worth the price and only takes a small amount. It's paraben-free and has gentle preservatives.
posted by a knot unknown at 7:16 PM on March 13, 2016

Thanks everyone! I've started my experiment with the Mychelle Sun Shield and will try others if needed. Will report back!
posted by pipti at 5:42 AM on March 24, 2016

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