How can I apply sunscreen without actually applying sunscreen?
November 18, 2016 2:14 PM   Subscribe

Reading various AskMe's has convinced me that I should protect my very fair skin from any (further) sun damage. Can you suggest a product that will add some sun protection without expanding my determinedly minimalist under-makeup regimen?

I've been using Missha Time Revolution, followed by Estee Lauder Idealist and then my makeup which, for my face, consists only of concealer (where needed) and powder blush. Anything more leads to breakouts, which look strange alongside the well-earned wrinkles of a 62 year old. I'm hoping someone can suggest an alternative for the Idealist that will serve the same function (i.e., provide a bit of moisture and defeat some of the wrinkles) and include a bit of sunscreen. I'm not really cost-conscious on this; a product that will work for me is worth whatever it costs.
posted by DrGail to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
I can't speak to wrinkles/retinol type products, but I hate putting sunscreen on my face. Last summer I discovered Dr. Jart Sun Fluid through a Birchbox sample, and I LOVE it. It feels like a lightweight moisturizer but has a nice SPF. Honestly feels like nothing going on, doesn't have a smell, and blends well with any other face products you put on (including tinted moisturizer, concealer, etc.). I feel weird if I don't layer it under my other products now, since it gives me a really good moisturizing base and means I don't have to worry about my other products containing SPF.

It's expensive, but I don't slather a ton on my face since it's a "thinner" liquid and spreads well. The samples I've gotten through Birchbox have lasted me quite awhile.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:26 PM on November 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

I don't wear makeup, but I use facial sunscreen that is meant to be worn under makeup. Biore UV Aqua Rich is my go to. It's totally non-greasy as well.
posted by ethidda at 2:29 PM on November 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

Jan Marini--pricey but worth it.
posted by lovableiago at 2:37 PM on November 18, 2016

Well, if you literally don't want to apply anything to your skin, there are always sunhats, parasols, and gloves.
posted by porpoise at 2:42 PM on November 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

I love the Biore UV Aqua Rich also. It is not at all like Western sunscreens and absorbs extremely quickly.

My non-makeup wearing husband slightly prefers the water resistant Biore UV Perfect Milk. I find it leaves a slight whitish cast on my East Asian skin, but he is very fair skinned and it's not noticeable on him, so it may not be a problem for you either.
posted by Diagonalize at 2:53 PM on November 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

CeraVe makes some products that are the least greasy (and least-oily-looking) sunscreens I've ever used. I believe they do sunscreen moisturizers too.

The sunscreen I have in my pocket is the CeraVe InvisibleZinc stick. CVS has it. Pricey, but covered by HSA without a prescription.

Hats are only SPF 5 (five) equivalent protection because of reflected UV not being blocked by the brim.
posted by zippy at 2:55 PM on November 18, 2016

According to the Paula's Choice Beautipedia entry, and this blog, Idealist is a mild exfoliant with niacinamides and some minerals (incl titanium dioxide, which is in lots of makeup to do a kind of primer thing, and in greater quantity can act as a sunscreen).

The Missha one is basically an antioxidant serum with hyaluronic acid & some yeast. (Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair serum is similar, I think.)

So if those products are giving you effects you like, and you want to deal with fewer products in the morning, you could maybe stop using the Idealist, and replace it with a separate chemical exfoliant in the evening (something gentle, maybe lactic acid or a low % alpha hydroxy toner). Would continue using the Missha in the morning (or, another serum with vitamin C & niacinamides - antioxidants have some protective effect against the sun).

And then use a very light sunscreen. I have sensitive skin and am OK with either Vichy Ideal SPF 50 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid or La Roche Posay's Anthelios Ultra Light Fluide. NB: they have similarly named products with different ingredients - these have Mexoryl in them and are pretty much identical as far as I can tell. (Mexoryl might be specific to Canada, not sure if available in the US.)

Then maybe look to a concealer and (finely grained) powder with the mineral finish (titanium dioxide etc).
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:04 PM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

(Sorry. The exfoliant in the evening should help with skin texture. Your morning serum would help with that also. That and the sunscreen would do any moisturizing. You'd still just be at two products in the morning with that combination. But if you don't want any sunscreen at all, not sure. Makeup with SPF in it doesn't usually have enough SPF in the amount people tend to use to be effective as sunscreen. You need like 1/4 teaspoon of *SPF* to cover your face, which is not going to happen with a minimalist application or anything that looks good cosmetically.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:16 PM on November 18, 2016

Just to clarify: I'm totally okay with putting two products on my face under my makeup in the morning. A standalone sunscreen to complement my current regimen is a non-starter for me because I know it would just sit on my dresser and never get used. Something that does what the Idealist does and also has an SPF would tick all my boxes to use after I apply the Missha primer. Does such a product exist?
posted by DrGail at 3:46 PM on November 18, 2016

Do consider the sunscreen's ingredients and opt for ones that don't contain oxybenzone.
posted by Thella at 4:02 PM on November 18, 2016

How about Olay Total Effects Pore Minimizing CC Cream with Sunscreen?
posted by zippy at 5:31 PM on November 18, 2016

I use It CC Cream. SPF 50, on top of a very light moisturizer. Most CC creams take the place of foundation, and if you're mainly inside all day, no need to reapply.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:18 PM on November 18, 2016

I am minimalist in cosmetics, but my fair and easily freckled skin requires sunscreen. After YEARS of searching for a product I really like I have finally settled on Origins Mega Defense which can be used on its own (just a few drops is plenty), but can also be added into a moisturizer, I favor Ole Henriksen's Sheer Transformation. Both absorb fully, and without any oily feel or lingering scent.
posted by AliceBlue at 6:28 PM on November 18, 2016

Biore UV Aqua Rich is super drying - you can smell the alcohol it uses to get that lovely finish.

I use Shiseido senka anti-aging sunscreen, which still contains alcohol, but is less drying and still has a good finish. I think looking for less-drying silicone-containing sunscreens is worth a shot to get priming + sunscreen together. I like the finish enough that I don't use a BB/CC over it, it evens out my skin texture and some unevenness of color.

I can't totally tell what your current products do - it sounds like the Missha is a moisturizer and the Idealist is a primer? Or maybe they're both supposed to be multifunctional? If there's enough lactic acid in the Missha that it's an exfoliant (rather than just adjusting the pH), then you might want to use that at night instead - exfoliants make your skin more susceptible to sun damage.
posted by momus_window at 6:45 PM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

I use Josie Maran Argan Oil SPF 47 moisturizer. It absorbs really fully and has a priming effect.
posted by mynameisluka at 6:48 PM on November 18, 2016

You might like the Missha line of sunscreens. They make a Mild Essence Sun Milk that doubles as a light moisturizer.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 8:26 PM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Kimberly Sayer Ultra Light Facial Moisturizer SPF 30 For Oily and Acne Prone Skin
posted by heyjude at 10:37 PM on November 18, 2016

I use UV rated clothes, wraps, hats, and scarves.
posted by tilde at 4:22 AM on November 19, 2016

Non-dedicated sunscreens ( moisturizers/bb creams/etc. which happen to have an SPF), are unfortunately not going to do much as far as actual sun protection. They are considered fairly useless in that respect. It's something to research before spending time and money seeking a product that works for you in other ways.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 4:23 AM on November 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

I use Mentholatum Skin Aqua UV Moisture Milk SPF50 PA+++ from Japan. No alcohol, no fragrance, dries smooth and clear without any greasy feel. Chemical sunscreen with some zinc oxide as a physical sunscreen. It's also got some nutritive ingredients in it (vitamin C, vitamin E, sodium hyaluronate, collagen, panthenol). It works great for me under any makeup and is not drying.

According to the Paula's Choice Beautipedia entry, and this blog, Idealist is a mild exfoliant with niacinamides and some minerals (incl titanium dioxide, which is in lots of makeup to do a kind of primer thing, and in greater quantity can act as a sunscreen).

There's no niacinamide in the Idealist, and neither of those articles say it's an ingredient; PC specifically says it's not included. The blog also points to a PubMed article that suggests that N-acetyl-glucosamine may be an exfoliant, but it's a study by Estee Lauder scientists so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ on whether Idealist actually works as an exfoliant. In which case you don't necessarily need any exfoliant to replace what's going on in the Idealist. Paula's Chice suggests that the pore minimizing effects of Idealist are down to silicones (first two ingredients), so a sunscreen with some silicone might have the same effect on your skin.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:47 PM on November 19, 2016

Lately I've been using Murad Oil-Control Mattifier SPF 15 PA++ on a recommendation from the Sephora folks. It doesn't have a strong SPF, but it does a really good job of serving as both a makeup primer, skin soother, and sunscreen. It's a little expensive for such a comparatively small tube, but it lasts a long time.
posted by helloimjennsco at 11:38 AM on November 21, 2016

Avene 50 Ultra Light, after BHA and/or moisturizer and before foundation or tinted anything. Very light, effective, not like any spf I have used. Nthing hats, scarves, long sleeves.
posted by RaeVaughn1958 at 9:03 AM on August 16, 2017

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