I went through a brief yet crazy sunscreen phase a while ago. I lived on the skincare board searching for a highly photostable sunscreen that is also cosmetically elegant. It was a painful time, let me tell you. In reality, no such thing exists, so I had to compromise a little bit.
There are at least three things we should take a look at when it comes to sun protection - SPF, PA and PPD, which indicates the level of UVB, UVA protections and photostability.
Unfortunately, SPF is the only thing indicated on the surface (plus whether it is broad spectrum or not) in the U.S. No wonder even the educated beauty bloggers still measure their sunscreen by SPF numbers only.
I see I am already boring you, so let me just show you these three different sunscreens that I am currently using. They are all affordable and provide broad spectrum protection with decent photostability that are also cosmetically elegant and non-greasy.
My current sunscreens (from L to R)
Biore UV Aqua Rich Water Jelly Water Base SPF 30 PA+++
Shiseido FT Senka Mineral UV Gel SPF50 PA+++
Biore UV Perfect Face Milk SPF 50+ PA+++
There are many photostable sunscreens in the market that provide great PPD protection. I have tried them. But most of them feel heavy and greasy which is too much for my normal/combination skin not to mention it won't stand a chance in New York summer.
You can read about PPD in depth here, but basically the PPD number has to be greater than 8, otherwise it won't provide the "beauty protection" that you're looking for, although it may protect you from the UVB rays.
These three sunscreens are just okay in terms of the PPD number (around 8) but all have very light consistency and cosmetically elegant. In other words, they won't turn you into a greaseball in the name of protection.
Biore UV Aqua Rich Water Jelly SPF 30 PA+++
This comes in a watery gel formula that is great to use on body in the hot humid weather.
Since the blockers are chemical, it does not leave any white cast.
Despite of the alcohol content, it still feels hydrating and quite mild.
It also comes with higher UVA protection (PA+++) that is quite rare in Japanese sunscreens with lower SPF numbers.
It is scented with a very faint fruity fragrance that is barely detectable.
The price is affordable as well (under $15 for 3 fl oz.).
Shiseido FT Senka Mineral UV Gel SPF 50 PA+++
This is the sunscreen for my neck.
I wanted something that provides higher protection (a woman's neck is as important as her face, you know) yet not waterproof.
I need to be able to wipe off my neck clean with micellar water and toner and be done with it. (I don't know about you, but I don't wash my neck again with soap and water if I took a shower in the morning.)
Anyway, Shiseido FT Senka Mineral UV Gel fits the bill. The name is misleading since this is basically a chemical sunscreen with a bit of zinc oxide and it does smell a bit chemical, but it feels more hydrating than the usual waterproof ones that I use on my face.
Biore UV Perfect Face Milk SPF 50+ PA+++
This is one of my favorite sunscreens for face.
It doubles as a makeup base and long lasting.
I have used many of the pink bottle (reviewed) but tried the white bottle this time.
It supposedly has the whitening effect and brightens the complexion by just a little unlike the pink one that has more color to it, yet it provides a very smooth base for foundation.
This is a waterproof sunscreen, so you would need good cleansing oil or an equivalent to remove it properly.
If you have drier skin, you might be able to use sunscreens with higher PPD numbers without compromising. (here is a list for "legit sunscreens").
For my combination skin, these are quite ideal in terms of protection and affordability despite of the slight compromise in PPD coverage, and I would recommend them if you have similar skin types.
I have not experienced any adverse effect from using them, but please be advised that all three contain alcohol and silicones.
(FYI, none of these are officially available in the U.S. market. I usually order mine through amazon or eBay. )
Thanks for reading.
What is your favorite sunscreen for summer?
Do you use different sunscreens for face and body?