I was once the teenager and 20-something who slept in her make up and went to a tanning bed regularly. Fast forward and now all my fellow tan-aholic girlfriends and I are proactive about healthy skin and keeping our faces out of the sun- oh how times have changed.
I love the sun-kissed, dewy, highlighted look but I want to do it right. I’ve learned it all starts with SPF so today, I’m sharing my picks for the 2 best natural sunscreen options I’ve found and they’re great for those of us with sensitive skin. Then, stick around for how I achieve that “just returned from a tropical vaca” look without actually going anywhere haha.
WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SUNSCREEN
Here’s a little cheat sheet of what I will elaborate on…
Sunscreen is a nonnegotiable for protecting our skin against harmful ultraviolet rays emitted from the sun.
The sun emits radiation energy in 2 types of UV rays:
- UVA: these rays cause a sun tan and premature agains signs (wrinkles, pigmentation, age spots and sagging skin).; their longer wavelengths can penetrate two layers into the skin’s dermis
- UVB: these rays cause a sunburn; their shorter wavelengths penetrates the top layers of skin, causing surface burns. They also can interact with the skin’s DNA and are thought to be responsible for most skin cancers
*broad spectrum sunscreen blocks against both UVA + UVB rays
SPF = sun protection factor
Many of us are tempted to think the more SPF the better: “can I get SPF 100, please” Well, it doesn’t exactly work that way. First off, no sunscreen can block all UV rays.
- SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
- SPF 30blocks 97% of UVB rays
- SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays
So, the difference between 30 and 50 is about 1 percent. Most findings I came across pointed to SPF 30 as being the “best pick” and suggested reapplying every 2 hours as opposed to increasing the SPF.
MINERAL SUNSCREEN VS CHEMICAL SUNSCREEN
I really learned about mineral sunscreen when I asked my son’s pediatrician and my dermatologist about the best options… they both said a mineral suncreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the ingredients are best.
Both of those minerals sit on the surface of your skin to physically reflect sunscreen away from the face.
Side note + benefit: zinc oxide acts as an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory to treat and prevent acne breakouts
Why doesn’t everyone choose mineral over chemical?
Mineral sunscreens can feel thick/sticky, take longer to rub in and appear white on the skin. Chemical sunscreens are easier to apply which is why some women reach for them.
BUT chemical sunscreens contain compounds that absorb UV rays into the skin. The chemicals then transform the UV rays into heat and release them from the skin. To be honest – I only recently learned that and it freaked me out to know that was happening on my skin!
FYI – common chemical sunscreens are oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, and avobenzone
Negatives of Chemical Sunscreen:
- takes 15-20 mins after application to begin protecting
- the chemical reaction can increase skin temperature
- chemicals can cause skin irritation and breakout
- added chemicals are required to increase SPF (so many chemicals!)
- oxybenzone may be linked to hormone disruption
LOTION > SPRAY
This is a bit more of a preference and something to be mindful of when you’re really relying on sunscreen such as on summer days or on vacation.
I read that spray sunscreen may not provide a thick enough coating to achieve the SPF advertised. Also, some sprays may have harmful chemicals in order to allow them to physically spray.
MY PICKS FOR BEST NATURAL SUNSCREEN
These 3 are my tried and true picks for sunscreen and also work well with my sensitive, breakout-prone skin
1. EltaMD Under Make Up Sunscreen (here)
If you purchase any sunscreen from this list, get this first. All of the dermatologists recommend this one!
This is the sunscreen I wear every single day.
VERY IMPORTANT – wash your face, do your skincare routine, apply your moisturizer THEN put on this product. If you do sunscreen before moisturizer, it can dilute the SPF/effectiveness.
This sunscreen is mineral-based, SPF 46 (kind of a random number) and it’s literally weightless. I apply it under my make up and it’s as if I have nothing on yet I am protected all day every day.
Think of this as part of your make up routine- apply right before your primer. I’ve read a daily sunscreen is one of the best steps you can take for anti-aging, which is why I added this in.
WHEN I USE ELTAMD: everyday!
The EltaMD sunscreen I use:
This is my classic choice for both myself and my family. Just a note – they offer both mineral and classic sunscreen options.
I choose supergoop because of the quality, variety of product offerings and affordable price for natural sunscreen. The goal of Supergoop is to infuse SPF into products you’re using so that you remember to use it daily.
WHEN I USE SUPERGOOP: days when I need extra sunscreen, such as when I’m outside for long periods of time, at the pool, on vacation, etc.
I have the Supergoop:
- CC cream (my pick for no make up days)
- regular sunscreen (I use this for when I am outside/at the pool; oxybenzone free)
- sunscreen stick (I use this on Leo)
- lip balm (I always get crispy lips when I forget this)
- setting spray (I use this for reapplications after I’ve already applied sunscreen when I’m outside; it does make me feel a tad oily)
3. COOLA SUNSCREEN (here for face)
I can’t say enough about Coola! Coola has organic, mineral sunscreen options that smell AMAZING! The only downfall (literally the onlyyy downfall) is that the price point is pretty high in my opinion.
I have the Coola:
- Mineral Face Matte Sunscreen (if you don’t use SPF daily + just want occasional facial sunscreen – this is it! not oily!)
- Body Sunscreen
WHEN I USE COOLA: when I need sunscreen for a day where I still want to smell really nice (like a couple’s trip – not that I take many of those lol or when you’re meeting a friend for an outdoor lunch… that type of stuff)
TAN, DEWY, GLOWING SKIN
Finally, I want to direct you to THIS BLOG POST because it summarizes the facial tanning drops I mix into my moisturizer.
This past year, I’ve received more compliments on my skin than ever before – not because it’s perfect but because it’s improved so much.
I used to have really dull skin, large pores, regular breakout and now I really feel that my skin is radiant, smooth, clear, all those good words you hear on skincare commercials.
THESE tanning drops help give the sun-kissed appearance and I’ll be sure to share my skincare products in a post soon!