8.20.2015

Collective Sunscreen Reviews



Sunscreen would be the one thing I use up fairly quickly. I feel proud that I can finish a 1 oz bottle or tube in about a month, because it means at least I follow the cardinal rule - apply the recommended amount a lot
I have gone through more than a few sunscreens since March and meant to do individual reviews on them. Well, that's not exactly happening, but here you will have four mini reviews. While not feeling so dutiful, this does good for my soul.



1. Sofina Perfect UV White Protect SPF50+ PA+++



This has been my holy grail sunscreen for many years. It provides a high protection with a pretty decent PPD, and most importantly it is cosmetically elegant. It sets to a velvety silicon-y touch which makes an excellent makeup base and controls oil quite well. This particular version, "White Protect" contains a brightening agent, and the effect is actually visible over time. I used to have no problem wearing this all year round, but this year suddenly I noticed it felt drying and my foundation wasn't sitting right on this. I managed to finish a small size bottle (25ml) back in April, but it was almost painful. I'm pretty sure I won't have any problem with this now since it is still humid and hot where I live. From now on, I will reserve this for summer time. It is still best of its kind in my book.







I love CeraVé moisturizing lotion and cream and use them all year long and their AM facial lotion has been a nice emollient sunscreen choice for my neck for a while, so I had a high expectation for this. I liked the sound of "invisible zinc" although I am not that naive to believe it would be actually invisible. Everything is subjective, you know. I don't really care if my face flashes white and looks different from my neck except for when I have to take selfies (and I do it anyway). On top of containing additional good ingredients like niacinamide and ceramides, it is water-resistant and doesn't feel oily. But alas, the texture is too gummy and sets too quickly that it could look patchy sometimes, meaning it is not cosmetically elegant at all. It was delegated to the neck area because the neck is very important, but the neck couldn't handle it, either.







I am usually skeptical about sunscreens with all chemical blockers, but this one is probably the best choice for my current skin condition. It is everything what its name suggests - light, hydrating and comfortable. I like that it is avobenzone free and requires no effort to apply the recommended amount. The UVA protection is supposedly great (PA++++). It does not particularly control oil well and does contain alcohol. Most foundations apply very well over this.







This one is a great domestic option if you're looking for an affordable sunscreen with all physical blockers. It feels light and stays on very well. I am glad I can find something like this easily from a local drugstore. Unfortunately though, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in this are not finely milled enough that it feels gritty nearly like rubbing some mild exfoliant on the face. It isn't a bad product at all and I will keep using this, but I won't repurchase unless I am in a pinch. Many Japanese baby sunscreens in liquid form are similar to the Neutrogena but have much more refined textures. I will have to plan ahead when I need all physical sunscreens.



In my view, the U.S. sunscreen offerings fall short being neither here nor there. It is still not easy to find an affordable photostable sunscreen that looks good on as well. 
My skin has been feeling much drier which would be another sign of aging, but I might as well take advantage of it and go for some European sunscreens with higher PPD (Ducray Melascreen, on top of my head) or keep exploring more hydrating options from Asian sunscreens.


Thanks for reading!
Which sunscreen are you currently using and how do you like it?






30 comments

  1. Oh this post was great to read through. Only in the last year I've taken sunscreen seriously, finished my first tube for my face/neck and am finishing another now. I've seen sofina products online and it sounds fabulous. I'm planning to buy one or two of the ones Lisa Eldridge recently recommended. I don't know if you've seen her very comprehensive over view of sunscreens, ingredients and recommendations. She has a video and a blog post and she pointed out how there are massive differences in sunscreens sold in the US and the rest of the world due to FDA and such approvals although the ingredients have been proven elsewhere. I think you'd really enjoy her post!

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    1. Hi, Sharlynn. I'm glad you find this post enjoyable. :)
      I've watched the video and I also hope we will have better domestic options soon. I also think the EU ones are more emollient even feeling greasy sometimes although they claim to be oil-free, because the chemical blockers could feel that way on skin.
      To me, the Asian sunscreens are still the best ones out there in terms of satisfying both protection and beauty aspects. Lucky you have better access to them. Sofina is a lot like Kao Biore but it stays better, I think. :)

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  2. Hey Lena, thanks for the collective review (it's great. Reading about ONE sunscreen, unless it's a very exciting one, is a little dull. For some reason once you put 4 in one post it becomes a little party)! It's interesting how the US options aren't quite as well made. Have you watched the Lisa Eldridge tutorial explaining the reason behind that? Apparently the US is very cautious when it comes to new sunscreen technology, so a lot of the new ingredients just don't exist there. I'm just about to give the Tatcha one a go! I tried a little on the back of my hand and the texture is great!

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    1. Haha Sunny ;D I think I should do more of collective posts from now on. It will serve me better since I tend to pile up things to blog and feel overwhelmed to individually write about them anyway. ;)
      I see the regulation thing is no joke here in the U.S., but I don't understand why so many companies still use Avobenzone and Oxybenzon because nobody seems to be happy with them plus they are basically irritants and very unstable.
      I got to try a bit of Tatcha last weekend and thought it was lovely! Very very elegant. :)

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  3. Great post lena, that Biore Aquarich sunscreen is my HG. I've used up more than a dozen tubes of that one , lol.
    It surprised me to read that you also notice that foundations apply well over that sunscreen. I thought I was imagining things xD.

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    1. Thank you, Pam!
      Yeah, I completely agree. My skin was very dry last spring and this one felt so soothing and hydrating despite the alcohol content. I guess it all depends. I still love using it. Actually I wear this first then layer with the Neutrogena. Hope this works for me and I'd have less freckles! ;)

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  4. I'm using Caudalie spf20 on days I just go to work, and Shiseido spf50 for days I'll be out in the sun a lot. I probably don't put on enough as I'm not using them up that fast! I heard such good things about CeraVe but unfortunately I had a bad allergic reaction to it when I tried the sunscreen last month, it was terrible and took days to heal, so I'm never going near that brand again just in case :(

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    1. I've read that wearing enough is more important than wearing something with higher protection, which is true since we're talking about a very small difference in protection yet how they feel on face is vastly varying.
      And sorry to hear about the CeraVe. They claim to be hypoallergenic but some people do show reactions to niacinamide, for example. ;-/

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  5. I used to use a sunscreen from Sofina but they discontinued it :( Sunscreen is a must but with my sensitive skin, it's had to find one that works well and doesn't irritate. Currently I am using the Biore but I feel it's a little drying because of the alcohol content. Right now with the heatwave it's been ok but I wouldn't dare use this in the winter time when my skin is more dry.

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    1. Yeah, my skin isn't that dry but I don't think I can wear the Sofina in winter. They do make lots of different kinds, though. Also, have you tried Hada Labo sunscreens? I hear they are quite hydrating and I want to try them soon for myself. :)

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  6. Sunscreen is a really important product for me and it's great to see what has worked for you Lena. I tend to agree with you on US sunscreens not being that great. I've been switching between Soleil Toujours Broad Spectrum SPF 20 and La Roche Posay Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 45 this summer. Both are good for sensitive skin and don't feel sticky or leave a white cast. I've also been using s sun umbrella more often. I really am becoming my mom ;p

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    1. Rowena, actually wearing hats or sumbrellas is much smarter idea than wearing sunscreens and naturally so much better if you do both!!
      I've tried some EU ones a long time ago but found them very greasy despite the oil-free claims. I think I didn't choose the right ones plus my skin was a lot oiler back then. I will keep experimenting but more carefully from now on. :)

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  7. I am still using (I buy multiple at once) my good old shiseido and don't want to switch (it covers a lot of the lighter hyperpigmenation I have). When I use up the current tube, I think I will switch to la Roche posay sunscreen serum (didn't remember the exact name). I like the texture a lot when I tried it in CVS and later I saw Eva Chen recommending it! Well, I hope I can get it with sale price since I don't like paying 30 bucks (if I can get it during sale).

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    1. I've used the liquid version of the Shiseido for a long time, too. They really protect, right? ;) My sister loves the cream version since she has drier skin.
      Everyone says LRP ones are light and lovely but they seem to contain avobenzone in general. I try to avoid the ingredient if possible, but the one I use on my neck currently has it and I'm okay. Do let us know when you try the LRP one. :)

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  8. Hi Lena, I've heard really good things about the Sofina sunscreen but I can't seem to find it here. We have an array of different Biore sunscreens here, and other than different colored bottles, I can't tell the difference in their formula or efficacy. LOL! I love to try different sunscreens just to see what's out there, but I always have a back up of the Shiseido one. Their newly formulated WetForce is now my HG, but I still rotate it with Biore, Avene and Hada Labo, just for variety's sake :-)

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    1. Honestly, I can't see too big of a difference between Biore ones and the Sofina. That's why I've used more than a few bottles of Biore for a while. The Sofina does stay longer so requires more thorough cleansing and I've seen the brightening effect in the past, which probably the reason to pay a bit more for the Sofina.
      Hada Labo sunscreen is another one I'd love to try soon. I'm using their skincare line now and I'm quite happy with it! :)

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  9. The Neutrogena doesn't seem gritty to me - how weird! Maybe I just am more slapdash in my face product application, LOL. I also have that Cerave and use it for gym days or when I'm not going to wear makeup. It is a bit thick, but I use a pretty hydrating toner before application, which I think makes it apply more evenly. Chemical sunscreens tend to break me out, so I stick to physical ones, but it is hard to find a good one when I want to add variety :P

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    1. I don't know. Maybe my bottle is a dud..? I shake it vigorously everytime I use it, though. Haha. I actually love how "whitening" it is on face and just apply some powder and go on a low key day.
      And thanks for the tip on CeraVe one! I haven't used it for a while but I should give it a try again since now I'm using a very hydrating toner and serum in the morning. :)

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  10. The Biore one sounds good. I just need something easy to apply(I don't want one which takes a few mins to blend in to be totally absorbed into the skin) and foundation easy to glide on top. I have been using the La Roche Posay for a few years and it is such an easy one. Very easy to apply since it is so liquid-y. But it is a bit pricey and I usually go through one every month and a half :(

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    1. Oh, the Biore is super easy to apply. No struggle to put on the recommended amount. I don't find it drying at all although it does contain alcohol.
      And I think you're doing a great job in the "putting it a lot" department judging by the speed you go through your sunscreen! :)

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  11. This was helpful! I think you have a very refined taste in sunscreen though. Thinking that I might be okay with the Neutrogena or maybe even the CeraVe. I'm using that untined chemical LRP with spf 60 right now and it's good but I sort of miss my old Neutrogena Water-Light! And Shiseido WetForce is too... forceful, lol! I don't like working to take it off my face at night so I've been ignoring it.

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    1. I'm glad! :) LOL at "a very refined taste" ;D I don't know..I guess I'm used to the Japanese ones. I actually hated every Korean sunscreen I tried in the past.
      Shiseido (the blue U.S. lines) generally feels a bit heavier compared to other Japanese sunscreens although they are serious about protection. I believe it IS forceful! ;-)

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  12. I've been looking for a new sunscreen, so this post was really helpful to read! I've been using Eucerin SPF 30 sunscreen for two years, but my skin has recently started hating it. It feels heavy, my face starts sweating immediately after I put it on, and I think it's been causing some of my breakouts this year. The Neutrogena sounds like it might be a good option for me.

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    1. Happy that you find this post helpful, AB! :)
      Some of the chemical blockers (especially avobenzone and its cousins) all make me feel the same way. They are known to sensitize skin over time as well.
      The Neutrogena is quite mild and great in protection, but it does leave a strong white cast on skin and you might need to use cleansing oil to remove it since mineral blockers can cause breakouts if they're left on skin. Ah, I guess nothing is perfect, but I do wish at least my sunscreen would be!

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  13. it's so weird, i have been using this neutrogena sunscreen for years. i absolutely love it and have noticed the last two bottles i purchased have been very gritty. it wasn't like that before! at first i thought my bottle was old, but then my most recent bottle was the same.

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    1. Oh, I see! So maybe they changed the formulation recently or something..? That's too bad, then!
      Japanese baby sunscreens are quite affordable costing even less than Neutrogena, I will just order them. Waiting sucks but I want my sunscreens go on smooth! :)

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  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Thanks for your input. Many seem to enjoy sunscreens from LRP. I might have to look into it.

      BTW, next time please do not include links in the comment. Thanks! :)

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  15. I used to love the blue Biore Aqua Rich one but as much as I loved it, I had to quit using it. It seems to lose coverage as soon as I sweat or become oily. :( And I do both when I'm out and about in the sun. I am now using the new Tatcha one and a few others that I bought locally. They're so great I'll never go back to Western sunscreens again. LOL. Asia is where you find the best sunscreen!! ;D

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    1. I am starting to feel the same way about the Biore sunscreen. There are more than a few opinions that it isn't that strong of a sunscreen despite the PA++++. I am currently layering this with Neutrogena liquid. Once I run out of these, I will probably purchase all mineral ones from Japan and Ducray for better PPD. :)

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