I don't know if it's like this where you live, but here in Toronto, we don't really have a spring. They just flip a switch and suddenly, it's summertime. (I mean, I even got a mild sunburn in April.)
So, it's time to pull together a summer suncare plan tout de suite, lest you suffer my same fate and get caught outdoors without protection.
Here's what's new and notable in sunscreen for 2015:
Garnier Ombrelle 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 50+ for Kids
Just ignore that it says "for kids." There's no reason why you can't use this, too—after all, kids' sunscreens have long been a great place to find more natural ingredients lists. This one is 100 percent mineral and gives you broad-spectrum protection, with a 15 percent concentration of the active ingredient titanium dioxide. It's also hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
The texture is a thin, spreadable lotion that's white at first, but not so much when you rub it in. (Still, I'd probably skip this one if you have medium to dark skin, as it could leave you with a white cast.) It feels moisturizing but once it dries down, leaves no trace of greasiness. This would be a really good choice for sensitive types—face or body.
Where to buy: Well.ca
Tarte Tarteguard 30 Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
Tarte just launched its first-ever sunscreen (for the face), and the purple and red packaging is beyond cool. This, too, is a non-chemical formula, using 3.36 percent titanium dioxide and 4.13 percent zinc oxide for broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection. It also contains brightening and moisturizing agents, making it a pretty sweet skin treatment at the same time.
The initial texture here is similar to the Garnier Ombrelle one (white and liquidy), except the whiteness disappears as soon as you start blending, leaving no trace behind at all. So darker complexions shouldn't have any problem with this. It has a subtle ocean lily scent, and feels fairly rich on the skin even after dry-down. I would probably skip this one if you're oily, but for normal-to-dry skin, it's perfect!
Where to buy: Sephora
Chanel UV Essentiel SPF 20
I know what you're thinking. SPF 20's not enough! And you're right. But this formula also comes in an SPF 30 and a 50, so pretend that's what you're looking at here instead. (I only got a sample of the 20.) You might recall seeing this product in summers past, when it was limited-edition. Now, Chanel has made it a permanent part of its lineup. Probably the most elegant sunscreen formula of all time, it offers broad-spectrum protection for the face, neck and décolleté. The active ingredients in the SPF 50 are octinoxate (7.5 percent) and zinc oxide (19 percent).
This stuff is a translucent, watery liquid that spreads very easily, almost like a dry oil does. But there's nothing oily about the lightweight finish, which just leaves your skin nicely hydrated. I don't love that it's lightly fragranced, but at least it's a subtle, classy, Chanel-esque scent. If you're looking for a sunscreen you'll actually want to use on your face everyday, this is gorgeous.
Where to buy: Nordstrom
Shiseido Ultra Sun Protection Lotion SPF 50+ WetForce
Shiseido's big innovation this year is a line of sunscreens that actually get more effective (not less) with water. Imagine that! Dubbed WetForce, they contain a polymer that reacts with the minerals in water (or sweat) to form a stronger layer of broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection over your skin. The claim is that you can spend up to 80 minutes in the pool or ocean without a burn! You can use these on your face or body; active ingredients include 7.4 percent octinoxate, 3 percent octocrylene, 1.4 percent titanium dioxide and 16.4 percent zinc oxide. Shown here is the lotion but there is also a cream format.
This one barely has any fragrance to it, which I appreciate, and while it goes on white and liquidy, there is no ghostly cast left on your skin, making it appropriate for all skin tones. What I like most about this one is that it's oil-free and super-lightweight; it's definitely one of the least greasy choices here. Give this a go if you're on the oily, acne-prone side... or, of course, if you're going to be spending some quality time in the water.
Where to buy: Sephora
Avène Mineral Lotion SPF 50+ For Intolerant Skin
Another mineral option (can you tell I prefer minerals?), this time specifically formulated for what Avène calls "intolerant skin". You get water-resistant SPF 50 protection courtesy of 16 percent titanium dioxide in the formula. I also like that it has pre-tocopheryl, a photostable precursor of the antioxidant vitamin E, and soothing Avène thermal spring water.
They say it has a light tint, and it does, but it's still quite white and creamy. With some blending, the white disappears better than the Garnier Ombrelle product, but could still be problematic for darker tones. There is no scent and it's quite moisturizing. I like this one for people with reactive or sensitive skin.
Where to buy: Shoppers Drug Mart
Neutrogena CoolDry Sport Sunscreen Spray SPF 30
If you're active and hate feeling suffocated by heavy, greasy, sticky sunscreens, then Neutrogena has a new option for you. The CoolDry Sport line contains breathable "micromesh" technology that allows perspiration and moisture to pass through the sunscreen, without compromising its strength. Shown here is the SPF 30 spray, but it also comes in an SPF 60 spray, as well as SPF 30 and 60 lotions. The ingredients are 8 percent homosalate, 5 percent octisalate, 5 percent oxybenzone, 4 percent octocrylene and 3 percent avobenzone.
Honestly, this one feels the best, i.e. virtually non-existent. It's also a bit cooling upon first spray, which would feel real nice on a sweltering day (the scent reminds me of antiperspirant, but it's not offensive). The spray format is fast and convenient, but just be careful about getting on your hands, as it can feel a bit drying. This is a good pick if you do sporty stuff outdoors.
Reversa Anti-Wrinkle Cream SPF 30
If you're less into sports and more into your skincare regimen (in which case, I identify!), then look no further. This newbie from Reversa has both sun protection and anti-aging benefits. The suncare part is broad-spectrum SPF 30 from 7.5 octinoxate, 5 percent oxybenzone, 5 percent octisalate and 2 percent avobenzone. But the really exciting ingredient is 8 percent glycolic acid, plus the peptide arginine. It's also oil-free.
This one feels really fresh on the skin. It's not at all whitening, the fragrance is barely there, and it's moisturizing but not oily. I did experience a bit of pilling, so take extra care with any makeup you put on top (pat, don't rub).
Where to buy: Shoppers Drug Mart
René Furterer Solaire Protective Summer Fluid KPF 90
Surprise! I had to sneak a hair one in here to keep things interesting. KPF to the hair is what SPF is to the skin. And if you dye your hair at all, then it probably needs sun protection. Otherwise, the colour could fade faster and all that cash you spent will be wasted! René Furterer recently reformulated this line, which includes both this spray and an oil. While the latter gives a wet, shiny look, I like the spray for a more natural finish.
You're meant to spritz it through damp or dry hair, and my God, the scent (which is also new) is so good. I would use this as hair perfume alone! It's lightly moisturizing but doesn't weigh hair down.
Where to buy: Salons
Have Your Say
Have you checked out any of these sunscreens? What's your go-to SPF?