Sunscreen that's doesn't smell, animal-friendly, and low-waste
July 14, 2021 5:18 PM   Subscribe

My current sunscreen now only comes in 4 oz tubes which works out to a LOT of plastic waste since I'm on my bike for a ton of hours every week. Can you recommend a sunscreen that meets my needs and comes in a big container?

I'm looking for:
- SPF 45 or up; broad spectrum
- non-mineral, non-nanoparticle
- reasonably water-resistant
- fragrance-free
- no animal testing (stated, not just implied)
- big container: I'm hoping for at least 12 oz / 300 mL, but honestly 8 oz would be a start
- lotion, not a spray (again, for waste reasons)

I've tried some sunscreens from local stores that meet some of these but nothing has hit all the marks. Usually it's the scent that breaks the deal. Please recommend me your favorites to keep my skin happy!

posted by introp to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I had a bottle of this before I went all mineral and it didn't smell like anything and had a nice texture iirc. It comes in a 8.4oz bottle and uses all chemical sunscreen ingredients. I didn't ever really work up a sweat while wearing this, so I can't speak to how water resistant it is.
posted by limbicdigest at 5:39 PM on July 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh and I remembered that for more leads on chemical sunscreens, the Asianbeauty subreddit is a good resource for reviews and recommendations.
posted by limbicdigest at 5:41 PM on July 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This is going to be on the pricier side compared to drug store brands, especially if you’re going through it fast, but Supergoop sells their Play Everyday sunscreen in an 18fl oz container.

I tried (and liked) some of their other sunscreens but haven’t used this one so can’t comment on the scent, but I think it meets your other requirements. Sephora stocks their stuff, so if you wanted to test it out before committing, you could sample it there.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 5:46 PM on July 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

^^^You can DIY sunscreen. There are recipes online. It's cheaper and customizable.

Michelle Wong (aka Lab Muffin), an Australian science educator who has a doctorate in chemistry, has a blog post and a video explaining why DIY sunscreen is not a good idea.

Seconding her are investigators with the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio; Consumer Reports; Prevention magazine, and even EWG, usually the capital of woo.

From Lab Muffin's post:
The SPF number on each commercial sunscreen is not determined based on the recipe. A scientist will take the sunscreen, spread it over a live human guinea pig, and measure how much protection it gives.

However, the vast majority of DIY sunscreen recipes have never been properly tested, beyond “I put it on little Jimmy and he didn’t get burnt”. Even if a DIY sunscreen recipe had been tested to be a certain SPF, there’s no guarantee that yours would also be the same SPF. Additionally, there’s no stability testing (or even stabilisers in most recipes), so there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the same results each time you use it.
posted by virago at 7:06 PM on July 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

Mod note: Couple comments removed. Asker is looking specifically for sunscreen product recommendations; please keep answers focused on helping with that question.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:11 PM on July 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Supergoop is a cruelty-free company, and though I've never tried any of their products, Play Everyday Lotion SPF 50 is one of The Wirecutter's seven choices for best face sunscreen in 2021 (three chemical, two mineral and two combination):
A lightweight, almost invisible sunscreen that includes an affordable bulk option ... This chemical formula is designed for the face and body. It rubs in easily and appears nearly transparent once applied. It has a light, pleasant scent and comes in four sizes, including an 18-ounce jug that’s very affordable on a per-ounce basis.
It's available in four sizes: 1 ounce for $10; 2.4 oz. for $22; 5.5 oz. for $32, and 18 ounces (with a pump) for $58, which works out to $3.20 per ounce. The active ingredients are avobenzone (3%); homosalate (10%); octisalate (5%), and octocrylene (7.5%).

Re: scent: Reviewers on the Supergoop website generally liked the scent of Play Everyday, saying it was "light and pleasant"; "not a very strong smell but nice"; "inoffensive"; "clean and very minimal"; "doesn't smell like sunscreen"; "nice clean smell"; "a citrus type of smell ... which does fade." One reviewer said, "It's not scentless" (which, in fairness, it doesn't claim to be). Another one called the aroma " strong chemical." (This survey was neither comprehensive nor scientific: I did a quick search of the 736 reviews for the words "smell," "scent," "chemical" and "aroma.")

Self-described "skin care obsessive" Rio Viera-Newton of New York magazine's review website The Strategist – whose skin is dry and sensitive and prone to eczema and cystic acne -- also likes Play Everyday:
Probably my all-time favorite Supergoop product ... It’s fast-absorbing as well as sweat- and water-resistant — I generally slather it all over my arms, legs, and shoulders. But somewhat surprisingly, it’s also a genuinely wonderful sunscreen for the face, as well. ... It’s nongreasy, doesn’t leave a white cast, and has never made me break out.
posted by virago at 8:51 PM on July 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Okay, this sunscreen is my holy grail skincare product. It’s just heavenly. Non-irritating, absorbs practically instantly, doesn’t make me look metallic like robocop or like a ghost. And it’s fragrance-free, safe for sensitive skin, and not tested on animals. Paula’s Choice—Youth Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid.

It’s magical.
posted by ferdinandcc at 9:35 PM on July 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I apologize. This is my third comment in a short discussion.

However, I couldn't pass up the chance to mention Ergodyne Krew'd SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion, which is marketed toward people who work outdoors (landscaping, logging, construction, house painting, etc.) but is available retail to anyone who spends time outside.

Krew'd SPF 50 Lotion costs $11.39 for an 8 oz. squeeze bottle and $32.99 for a 32 oz. pump bottle from WB Mason office supplies.

It's also available from the company website and Amazon (among others).

Krew'd SPF 50 Lotion is described as water- and sweat-resistant and having an "odorless, neutral scent"; it is made without parabens and phthalates. There's a little disagreement over whether Krew'd is greasy (most wearers say it sinks in quickly), but I found no complaints about Krew'd's sun-protection capacity or its running into reviewers' eyes.

Active ingredients: Avobenzone, 3%; homosalate, 10%; octocrylene, 6%.

Animal testing: None. (Ergodyne products are made by a cruelty-free Grand Prairie, Texas, company called Fruit of the Earth.)
posted by virago at 11:57 PM on July 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I am a big fan of Blue Lizard Sport or Active. I am *extremely pale* and while I do reapply, this stuff does not let me burn. It's reef friendly also! The larger package helps with not being so wasteful.

ACK nevermind I see you said non-mineral (I read too fast and missed it). Still love this brand tho.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:04 AM on July 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Consider the "All Good" brand of sport-focused mineral sunscreen. I see they're currently out of stock of their 16-oz pump bottle, but that sounds like what you may be looking for...
posted by Last_wave_by at 5:24 AM on July 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great recommendations! I now have a list of things to try. I also received some recommendations elsewhere, so for anyone on a similar hunt, add to the above list "Rocky Mountain Sunscreen," who seem to be well-liked.
posted by introp at 11:10 AM on July 17, 2021

introp, I'd love to hear about the outcome of your sunscreen search. (I checked out Rocky Mountain Sunscreen and noted that they sell their SPF 50 product in a gallon jug that has a pump, which truly meets the definition of "big container.")
posted by virago at 8:53 AM on August 6, 2021

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