Recently, I’ve been watching and inspired by the gorgeous Renee Rouleau. Her ability to seemingly age in reverse can (presumably) be attributed to her life-long aesthetician studies and rigorous avoidance of UV rays. It’s well documented that Renee – and just about every other doctor, dermatologist and aesthetician swears by daily sunscreen use.
So, of course, as the weather warms up and I’m dreaming about road trips and sunny weather, I feel re-invigorated and energized to convince you all to wear sunscreen daily, too.
(If you need reasons why, try here or here or here.)
Often people grow up to develop a distaste for or complex surrounding sunscreen somewhere along the way. Usually, it’s because of the smell, or the texture, or the look. Something made them associate sunscreen with a negative experience and since, they’ve avoided confronting the thought of daily sunscreen use.
But let me tell you, sunscreen has CHANGED! If you’re thinking back to the feeling of slimy, zinc-laden childhood holidays at the beach with apprehension, worry not. Nowadays, there are sunscreen for every preference – think scent-free, perfumed, dry-touch, invisible and easy-off. And finding a sunscreen you enjoy wearing is KEY. It makes the difference between dreading daily SPF and looking forward to it, which is key in making any good skin care routine a habit.
So, to make things easy, I’m gonna give you some different options that mean you’ll have no choice but to protect your skin! Here’s what I take into account:
Though is some markets you’ll find sunscreens up to SPF 100 and beyond, there’s a reason why the Australian regulatory agency caps marketing at SPF 50 – because with the way sunscreen is measured and labelled, having a SPF of over 50 doesn’t really offer you much more protection. So, I’ll be recommending sunscreens with no less than SPF 50 but sometimes incidentally more.
On the other hand, one factor that’s non-negotiable is price; you need to be using a lot more sunscreen than you think, and it’s only economical to do so every day when the amount of product you get for the price is fair. As great as the reviews are for products like La-Roche Posay, I just can’t swing that price while also feeling happy to pour enough out every day. So depending on what you like, here’s the best affordable sunscreens as organised by their outstanding qualities.
Least greasy (matte/dry touch)
Arguably the biggest reason why many people don’t wear sunscreen is the grease factor. You can’t get over your association of sun protection with the feeling of sand permanently stuck to your skin. You know, the kind of sunscreen that rubbed off on your clothes and left you shiny for the rest of the day? And the idea of putting it on your face might send shivers along your spine. I get it.
Thank god we’ve come a long way since then. Now there’s no excuse, even for the oiliest among us, because there’s a heap of amazing dry-touch sunscreens that feel like absolutely nothing on the skin.
I’ve awarded two suncreens the title here, because they offer two distinctly different finishes:
Powdery matte finish: Biore UV Perfect Milk.
Barely-there hydrating finish – Missha All-Around Safe Milk Essence Sun Block.
Most cosmetically elegant
The second biggest complaint I hear about wearing sunscreen every day, especially on the face, is that it leaves behind a white cast: when sunscreen looks ghostly pale and chalky, especially on dark skin.
Many sunscreens, especially ones marketed as non-toxic, baby-friendly or for sensitive skin, use physical protectants. These minerals reflect sunlight. That means almost inavoidably showing up as white.
To avoid that, you need to avoid zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and instead reach for a chemical-only sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens absorb sunlight instead, and don’t reflect it back as a shiny white film.
There’s a ton of chemical-only sunscreens, but my favourite and current everyday sunscreen is Hada Labo Perfect UV Gel. RatzillaCosme states it’s discontinued, but I bought this bottle in July of 2020 in person, and it was still going strong then, so I’m not sure whether that’s true. If you find anywhere to purchase it, let me know!
That typical sunscreen smell is pretty offensive. Especially if you’re trying to get away with wearing it every day and not smelling like you’re off to the beach. But what exactly are you after? In my case, I love perfumed options for those days where I’m off to an outdoor event.
Perfumed: Naris Up Parasola Fragrance UV Essence. This is an awesome, super lightweight, clear gel with a light and fresh feminine perfume.
Some people might just be after a sunscreen that smells like nothing because of sensitive noses or skin.
Fragrance-free: Neutrogena Clear Face. This product thankfully doesn’t smell like typical sunscreen, or anything else for that matter! And it’s designed to be for sensitive skin, but isn’t thick and chunky like a lot of sensitive skin products.
Sometimes it just comes down to using sunscreen every day = a lot of money. If you’re using the right amount, you can go through a tiny bottle in no time. And if you regularly do activities that call for full-body sunscreen, well it just makes sense to look for the biggest bottle at the cheapest price.
That means finding what’s on sale near you, because I know for a lot of people my beloved asian sunscreens come with a hefty global shipping tag. For these situations, I really recommend looking at your local drugstores and supermarkets and comparing price per volume unit. What’s available will change drastically from place to place. If you need advice for what to look for an the bottle, check out my complete guide to SPF and sunscreen labeling.
In my case, living in Australia, I can vouch for Nivea Protect & Moisture. It’s got all the benefits of a well-formulated sunscreen that’s not too greasy, scented or thick, at a portion of the price point, and comes in a laughably massive bottle.
What is it that holds you back from wearing more sunscreen? I’d love to give more specific recommendations, so feel free to leave your comment below.