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5 Solutions to Sunblock Issues

You know that you’re supposed to use sunscreen. Daily. Rain or shine. And yet. Here are brilliant solutions for every type of stumbling block (real or imagined).

By Kimberly Goad
Hand holding sunscreenDanny Kim

The Excuse: They Feel Sticky

Not anymore. Tacky formulations have pretty much gone the way of the white-nosed lifeguard. Instead of the heavy oils required to block intense UV radiation in the past, “some chemical sunscreens now use ‘SPF boosters’—like a topical form of vitamin C, which helps prevent UV damage—to enhance the existing protection while lowering the need for older, heavier ingredients,” says Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, in New York City. As a result, formulas go on so light that they feel more like body lotion than sunscreen.

Physical blocks, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are no longer a thick white paste, thanks to new formulas. Researchers, for instance, have found ways to convert those ingredients into nanoparticles, which are microscopic and ultralight, so they appear sheer. Initial concerns that these particles could be absorbed into the skin and harm living tissue were laid to rest by research showing that they do not, in fact, penetrate the outermost layer, which is made up of dead cells. “Plus, any prior evidence of harm from nanoparticles has not been proven in humans,” says Robert J. Friedman, a clinical professor of dermatology at the New York University School of Medicine, in New York City. Try La Roche—Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Lotion Spray ($36, laroche-posay.us), which is a chemical sunscreen, or SkinCeuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF 50 ($34, skinceuticals.com).

The Excuse: They Smell

Certainly not all of us want to smell like a piña colada or, worse, like some strange blend of chemicals, but there are loads of options that don’t have either aroma. “Physical sunscreens tend to be naturally devoid of any smell,” says Friedman. If you opt for chemical sunscreens, look for those labeled “fragrance-free,” as opposed to “unscented,” which may use allergy-inducing masking fragrances. Or pick one of the mineral-based products that are made for babies; these contain physical blockers and are lightly fragrant, if scented at all. Try Coola Classic Face SPF 30 Unscented Sunscreen ($32, coolasuncare.com) for a chemical option or the Honest Company Sunscreen SPF 30 ($14, honest.com) for a physical block.

The Excuse: They’re Expensive

Er, try again. “There are expensive brands that offer excellent protection, but you can get the same level of protection from less expensive drugstore brands,” says Zeichner, who points out that the difference in price is often due to prettier packaging or added anti-aging ingredients, such as peptides or antioxidants. “The truth is, the active sun-blocking ingredients are probably the same,” says Zeichner. Try a chemical sunscreen like Sun Bum Shortie SPF 30 ($12, trustthebum.com) or a physical one like Yes to Cucumbers Natural Sunscreen SPF 30 ($12, yestocarrots.com).

 
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