A must-have for everyone’s travel bag is sunscreen. Man, woman, or child. Fair or dark. Young or old. EVERYONE should wear sunscreen every day including when you travel. Today’s post, if you haven’t guessed, is all about sunscreen. Specifically, those that I recommend or my doctor recommends.
Admittedly, I have not always been great about this despite my gorgeous grandmother extolling the virtues of her PABA-laced sunscreen back in the 1970s. I got serious about it in my late 20s and am now a bit of a nutter when it comes to making sure I have applied it. I have a lighter formula for my face and neck and a thicker version for the rest of me. I apply in the morning, whether I am going out or not and then, use a mineral make-up powder when I do leave the house. Overkill? Maybe, but I know too many people who have brushed up against skin cancer with varying results, myself included, so I am not taking any chances. Right now, I am working my way through several options on the quest for the perfect sunscreen. So far, I haven’t found it but of all the choices I have named below are good options.
First up, are facial sunscreens sorted by cost, highest to lowest.
- Cle de Peau Beaute Protect SPF 50 – $120 This is definitely a splurge but it is amazing! It is labeled as unscented, but it has a very light fresh scent. It goes on white but absorbs quickly and within 5 minutes I didn’t feel like I had any sunscreen on. I thoroughly enjoyed the sample I got and would happily accept it as a gift. A bit too pricey for me, though. Grade A-
- Elta MD UV Clear – $34 This is a doctor-recommended option which I enjoyed using. It comes in clear and tinted but I did find the tinted to be a bit off-color on my skin. For me, it is not a repeat purchase because it caused my eyes to water just by being used under them and it’s not fun to be teary all day. If you don’t have sensitive eyes, this would be a good choice. Grade C
- Coola Classic Face SPF 30 Cucumber Ladies and gentlemen, we have a WINNER! I discovered this the day after I originally posted this article as a sample was in my March Birchbox. This formula is amazingly light with a fresh scent. It goes on easily with no stickiness, absorbs almost instantly, and moisturizes my skin all day. Even better? This does not sting my eyes like almost every other brand I have ever tried. Where has this been for the past 30 years?? Grade A+++
- Kiehl’s Super Fluid UV Defense SPF 50 – $30 This brand has a cult-following and it is easy to see why. This is a smooth formula with no scent, didn’t make my eyes sting but was a bit greasy on me. If you are looking for a solid sunscreen, give this a whirl. Grade B-
- CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 – $15 This is a less-costly option readily available at the drugstore. It is a bit thick, but goes on damp skin nicely. The smell is a bit chemical-y but fades quickly. Grade B
- Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Faces SPF 30 – $8 This is the cheapest on the list and (up until my Coola discovery) was the one that works best for me. It has protected me on the beaches of Australia, lasted through the humidity of Southeast Asia in August, kept me from crisping while tripping across the Egyptian desert, and is my go-to on a daily basis in the desert southwest of the U.S. Cheap, effective, and non-greasy. Grade A
Other facial sunscreen options
- ColorScience Sunforgettable Loose Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 – $64 I have not tried this mineral version, but it looks interesting, especially the ease of application when away from the house. It is expensive, but if used as an addition rather than main sunscreen, it may be worth it.
Up next, my preferred choices for body.
- Neutrogena Beach Defense SPF 50 – $11 This is a stick, which means it doesn’t count towards your 3-1-1 bag and it works like a charm. I like how fast I can get covered with the stick, but the downside is that it is thick, which can be a good thing when you are snorkeling in the Gulf of Thailand for 6 hours. Grade B
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch SPF 30 – $11 This is a liquid and a little goes a long way. Also thick, I find it goes on damp skin easier than dry, so you may want to apply it after your shower. I don’t love the smell but it doesn’t make me gag, just a noticeable smell until I wash it off. Some would say it’s a clean smell, but with my sensitive nose it reminds me of paint and paint thinner. Grade C
After all that, I can tell you that the best sunscreen is….the one that you will actually wear. No matter which brand you prefer, if you like it enough to wear it, then it is the BEST sunscreen for you.
What do you think? Did I list your favorite brand or do you have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!