The sun, it burns
October 17, 2020 8:07 PM   Subscribe

The low-cost high-SPF sunscreen I've been using has tripled in price for some reason, and I'm looking for a new one. Is there one you like?

I sunburn easily and am of an age where I'm feeling far more aware of sun damage at the base of my throat and age spots on the back of my hands than I'd like to be. The sunscreen I've been using (No-Ad SPF 50) has tripled in price since the last time I ordered it (now $24 for 16 oz, where it's in stock) which seems unreasonable.

If there's an affordable high-SPF/PA+++ sunscreen that you like (preferably unscented and non-greasy), I'd love to hear your recommendations.
posted by Lexica to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I don’t know if SPF30 is high enough for you, but I’m a fan of the Trader Joe’s fragrance free sunblock in the yellow/ orange bottle. It rubs in easily, claims to be waterproof, doesn’t have a smell, and is around $6 a bottle (6 oz). I use it daily in the summer.
posted by Maarika at 8:55 PM on October 17, 2020

This stuff is great! While it isn’t unscented, it has a really pleasant and faint smell, not that sunscreen smell. It has a thinner consistency and absorbs really easily. I’m very fair skinned and use it literally every day, but a small bottle still lasts me a while. Bonus: it works great as a base for makeup.
posted by cakelite at 10:29 PM on October 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 55 works well, isn’t greasy, and is available everywhere. You can pick up a two-pack at Costco, or online for under $15. I realize that it’s 3 oz per bottle, which does not make it cheaper than your No-Ad sunscreen. I do think each bottle lasts a long time even with liberal application, and that finding a non greasy, unscented sunscreen for less than that is going to be hard to find.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 11:55 PM on October 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

I really like Walgreens brand SPF 50 for Sensitive Skin. Not greasy, doesn't have that sunscreen smell, even gets compliments from people who borrow it. $8.50 for 8 oz, so 30% cheaper than yours.
posted by danceswithlight at 12:21 AM on October 18, 2020

I burn easily too and spend time out in the dessert. The Trader Joe's spray on SPF 50+ works as well or better than the No AD SPF 50+ variants I've used and consistently gets high ratings for both efficacy and having relatively safe chemicals in it.
posted by Candleman at 7:10 AM on October 18, 2020

The top 2 sunscreens for 2020 on The Wirecutter were the No Ad SPF 50 that's just gone up in price, and Coppertone Ultraguard SPF 70.

Because it's not sticky, it edged out No Ad SPF 50 among Wirecutter testers even though (at the time the article was posted) it was more pricy. Other pluses: "It doesn't make you look like a ghost or smell like a Bath and Body Works store -- in fact, it smells like nothing." (Amazon reviewers of color who'd been looking for a lightweight and effective sunscreen that blends into their skin also like Coppertone Ultraguard SPF 70.)

Depending on where you shop for things like deodorant and sunscreen, Coppertone Ultraguard SPF 70 costs anywhere from $6 for 8 oz at Walmart to $12.99 at CVS to $14.99 at Walgreens (where it's currently "out of stock for shipping").

But CVS sells a generic version of this popular sunscreen -- CVS Sunscreen Sun Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 70 -- for $8.99 for 8 oz. And the Rite Aid generic version -- Daylogic SPF 70 -- is $5.99 for 8 oz. (It might even be in stock at your local Rite Aid, assuming that you have one and that it hasn't been bought up by Walgreens.)

I use Purito Green Level Centella Unscented SPF 50 PA+++++, a sunscreen from a Korean brand that also smells like nothing and blends in well. And it includes things like centella and niacinamide that, respectively, provide hydration and prevent hyperpigmentation. It's essentially a sunscreen and a moisturizer. I didn't used to need the latter because combination skin, but now I am 55.

Things to keep in mind: Purito costs $15 for 3 oz., and it's available only online (except if you live in NYC and have access to retailers like oo35 that sell a wide variety of Asian brands and offer in-store pickup).
posted by virago at 9:41 AM on October 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

On review: My sunscreen of choice is Purito Centella Green Level Safe Sun Unscented SPF 50. I added a plus sign in my earlier comment, but the PA rating of Purito's Centella sunscreen actually is PA++++. Here's a discussion of the various systems of assessing the level of sunscreen protection, and their pros and cons.

And the New York purveyor of skin care products by Purito and other Asian, indie, and cult favorite brands (online and in-store pickup) is oo35mm.
posted by virago at 10:20 AM on October 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Finally, per the oo35mm website, in-store pickup of any prepaid purchases is necessarily of the minimal contact variety. (I apologize for not making that clear.)
posted by virago at 10:29 AM on October 18, 2020

I am allergic to UV rays and am always on the hunt for good but affordable mineral sunscreens (they have to have zinc or they don’t prevent a reaction). I’ve had overall good experiences with Coppertone in general, which tends to be affordable. My favorite is the Coppertone Kids Tear-Free 50 SPF mineral formula. It comes in a big bottle for like $8 and is not heavy or greasy. I recommend trying it since it’s affordable and it may not be for everyone (it has a faint sunscreen smell). I have to use zinc, which can be really heavy, but this one is one of the most wearable and affordable I’ve found.
posted by Kemma80 at 11:31 AM on October 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

I too am a No-Ad enthusiast, and I'm kinda crossing my fingers that the price hike is some temporary Covid-related situation, since it just started this year (as far as I can tell) and appears to be correlated with their sunscreens being unavailable at irl stores.

In desperation, I tried the Coppertone Ultraguard mentioned above, and I don't really like it. It smells fine and isn't greasy, but it's much thicker than No-Ad 50, so harder to apply. It also doesn't squirt out of the tube as nicely, but that's a minor complaint.
posted by gueneverey at 12:01 PM on October 18, 2020

Purito Centella Green Level unscented is my HG sunscreen. As others said, it blends in nicely and isn't greasy. I buy it from Yesstyle.
posted by smich at 2:42 PM on October 18, 2020

kemma80: I am always on the hunt for good but affordable mineral sunscreens ... . ... My favorite is the Coppertone Kids Tear-Free SPF 50 mineral formula. It comes in a big bottle for like $8 and is not heavy or greasy.

Another good mineral only (20% zinc oxide) face sunscreen is Sun Bum Baby Bum SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion. At $14 for 3 oz., it's definitely not as thrifty as the Coppertone Kids, but it's available in store at CVS and Target and it blends in reasonably well, though it takes a bit more effort than the Purito Centella, even on my fair to medium skin.

No fragrance has been added to the Baby Bum SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, though it has a very, very faint, agreeable and unidentifiable scent that is detectable only if you put your nose right up to your skin. I mention this because for about a year I wore Badger Clear Zinc SPF 30 Lotion -- another all-mineral sunscreen that had no added fragrance -- and I always picked up a (not pleasant) whiff of Elmer's Glue whenever I had it on.
posted by virago at 4:59 PM on October 18, 2020

+1 neutrogena dry touch 50SPF
Put it on the kids it absorbs so nicely and we were out all day no burns.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:11 PM on October 18, 2020

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