I used to avoid applying sunscreen unless I was going to be sitting under the direct sunlight. But now that I’m getting older, I see the importance of finding the best facial sunscreen to wear every day. Not only does sun rays have the potential to cause skin cancer, it also causes wrinkles, dark spots, and reduce elasticity. I dislike the scent and feel of traditional sunscreens but technology has advanced and today I’ll be sharing the best facial sunscreens to use on a daily basis.
How Does Sunscreen Work?
There are two main kinds of sunscreen: chemical and physical. Both kinds protect from UV radiation. UV-A causes wrinkles and age spots while UV-B is the light that normally causes sunburns. When you see SPF on a sunscreen package, it actually only measures how effective it is against UV-B rays. So you’ll want to look for packaging that says broad-spectrum which means protection against UV-A and UV-B rays.
Should I Buy Chemical Sunscreen?
In a nutshell, chemical sunscreens are usually thinner in texture, easier to spread and better for every day wear. However, it can clog pores or cause irritation to sensitive skin. The ingredients in a chemical sunscreen absorbs the sun’s rays like a sponge. Common ingredients you’ll see are: oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate. These don’t leave a white residue, so if you need to apply makeup or be photographed, this would be the best bet.
After comparing a few research websites, Oxybenzone and octinoxate are the two more concerning ingredients. While octocrylene, avobenzone, and Mexoryl are the least concerning ingredients.
Should I Buy Physical Sunscreen?
The other type of sunscreen is physical sunscreen and usually contains zinc oxide or titanium oxide. These two ingredients act as a shield and reflect UV radiation. It is recommended for those who have sensitivity to sunscreen because these ingredients only sit on top of your skin and does not get absorbed. The downside is that it usually leaves a white cast, it’s heavier and more difficult to rub in.
However, while chemical sunscreen needs time to absorb, physical sunscreen is effective as soon as it is applied.
What SPF should I buy?
Generally, SPF 30 provides sufficient protection as long as you reapply. A higher SPF lasts the same amount of time so it doesn’t mean you can reapply less often. An SPF 30 offers 97% protection against UV-B rays. The CDC actually limits labeling to SPF 50 so no need to hunt down the SPF 60 or SPF 100 sunscreens.
This is the worst sunscreen I’ve ever tried. Don’t get tricked by cute packaging! I bought this in Curacao when we ran out of sunscreen!
Try a sunscreen with different chemicals if your skin reacts badly to the one that you are using. Not all sunscreens have the same ingredients.
Shiseido Ultra Sun Protection Lotion
Shiseido is well known for their skincare products and especially sunscreen. The Ultra Sun Protection Lotion Wetforce is a new addition to the brand and is suppose to be more effective when exposed to water. This is ideal if you are traveling, being very active, or doing water sports!
Available on Sephora 100mL for $49 CAD
This formula is very liquidy and light but sets into a powdery finish. It would be good for oily skin as it gives more of a matte feel. It dries down instantly although it makes the sound of dry skin which I don’t like (tell me you know what I’m talking about!). Unfortunately it gave me 2.5 pimples on the first day of use and a few smaller ones the next day of use as well. I’d say this is probably better to use on the body if you’re doing active sports. For an everyday sunscreen, their original Urban Environment sunscreen is probably a better choice!
Based on cross referencing with the other products, I think it is Octinoxate that does not work well with my skin. Which makes sense as it is one of the more concerning ingredients.
Amorepacific Moisture Sun Protector
I cannot believe I’m reviewing an $82 sunscreen but this is by far my favorite formula that I’ve ever tried! This luxurious formula includes bamboo sap, lotus flower, and green tea to protect the skin.
Available on Sephora 60mL for $82 CAD
First of all, the Amorepacific Moisture Sun Protector is in such an elegant package with a simple white plastic top but a rubberized pink and rose gold cap. There is a strong fragrance to this but luckily it smells like skincare and not sunscreen. The texture is similar to a night cream and I actually really love the hydrated feel it leaves on the skin. My skin feels plump and moisturized!
The formula of this sunscreen also avoids both octinoxate and oxybenzone! Definitely give this a try if you have issues with sensitivity to sunscreen!
La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion
La Roche Posay dominates the mid market sunscreen game with their Anthelios collection. I’ve actually been using this sunscreen all of last year and have only about 15% of this bottle left. The Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF60 is their best seller but they also have a physical (mineral) version and about 9 other textures!
Available on Beauty Boutique 50mL for $29 CAD
The formula is extremely liquidy and rubs into the skin like a serum. It does feel a tiny bit greasy at first but sinks into the skin pretty quickly. Also, while the scent is not super strong, it does still smell like sunscreen. I really like this when I travel because the packaging is so compact and it’s a breeze to rub into the skin.
Vichy Ideal Soleil Ultra-Light Lotion
The other brand at the drugstore popular for sunscreen is Vichy. The Ideal Soleil line is extensive featuring different textures and different SPF protections. Honestly, I used to get the two brands mixed up because the packaging is similar colors and both are French pharmceutical brands!
Available on Beauty Boutique 40mL for $25.95 CAD
I’ve always thought these two sunscreens were very similar and guess what, the active ingredients list is EXACTLY the same, even down to the percentage! Both the Vichy and La Roche Posay have very runny, liquidy textures. They even have similar smells as well. The only difference is that the Vichy one has more of a white color although neither leaves a white cast. Both are fantastic options for tossing in your bag when traveling.
Missha Essence Sun Milk
Anything Korean has my trust when it comes to skin care! Missha is one of the most well known brands in Korea and the Sun Milk is a very highly rated product. It’s a bit hard to find Korean products in Canada especially with shipping and duty costs. But recently I found out about Seoul Sunday which is a Vancouver based business selling very curated Korean beauty products!
Available on Seoul Sundays 70mL for $26 CAD
The Essence Sun Milk is best for dry skin according to Missha. They also have options for oily skin, sensitive skin, and normal skin. What is really unique is the watery consistency in this sunscreen! When you first squirt it out, it looks like it’ll be similar to a light face cream but it turns into a liquid consistency and even has a cooling feeling on the skin! After it absorbs, it leaves the skin plump similar to the Amorepacific I reviewed above.
Best Facial Sunscreens Recommendations
So overall, I would highly recommend the Amorepacific Moisture Sun Protector if you are able to splurge as they use better quality ingredients and a wonderful formulation. However, for most of us on the go, it is the easiest to pick up the La Roche Posay or Vichy at your local drugstore!
I’m sad that the Shiseido did not work for me as I’ve heard so many great things about their original sunscreen. The Missha Essence Sun Milk is amazing too but it s a bit more difficult to find.
I hope you learned something new in this post and have more knowledge to find the best facial sunscreen for your skin!