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Bonus: They’re all inexpensive because I don’t like spending more on a product I use so much of if I can help it.
Let me start off by saying I am not being paid to talk about any of these products. This post is not sponsored and I do not have affiliate links. I have tracked down images of every sunscreen to make your shopping easier, should my reviews make you want to try any of them.
But I am not trying to sell you anything (except on the idea that you should definitely be wearing sunscreen!). I’ve had an overwhelming amount of requests of people asking me to give them sunscreen recommendations, especially after my Skincare Basics Virtual Renew class. This is my attempt to answer that demand. This does not however replace my one-on-one service where we go into much more depth about your skin and what would work for you. This is me sharing what has been a fit for me in the hopes it can help you.
My Skin Type
For reference, these days my skin is dehydrated and can also be quite dry. If my makeup breaks up throughout the day it is more likely to be because my skin is parched and is sucking all the moisture out of my makeup, not an overabundance of oil that breaks up the makeup.
So what do I look for in a sunscreen? I want a product that is a pleasure to apply, so no thick, hard to spread textures; pilling; unsightly whitecast; or burning (yes, I have had sunscreens burn upon application and I’m not particularly sensitive). I like thin, lightweight textures that sit well under makeup. If the formula is hydrating that’s a plus. My non-negotiable: a sunscreen cannot break me out. I’m already prone to cystic acne so I don’t need any help there thank you.
So now that you know all the important bits, let’s review some sunscreens. Listed in no particular order.
Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Tinted Face Broad Spectrum SPF 50 89ml
This sunscreen is what I reach for when I don’t want to wear makeup but want to look a little more pulled together. It’s tinted and offers a smidgen of coverage but what it excels at is blurring texture on the skin. For this reason it also makes a great makeup primer! But it requires a bit of prep for it to work on my dry skin. As a mineral sunscreen it can feel a bit dry and can catch on any flakey skin which highlights those areas in an unattractive way. I combat this by amping up my hydrating skincare before applying and it works great for me. Since I purchased this sunscreen, the brand has released more than one color option too! Great UV protection, perfect for summer days where you’ll be in and out of water, this gets two thumbs up from me.
Make p:rem Defense Me Blue Ray Sun Fluid SPF 50+ PA++++ 200ml
The only other mineral sunscreen in this bunch, this sunscreen can also be a bit drying if I don’t prep the skin on my face well. Although this looks to be more expensive, the bottle is massive and it’s still quite inexpensive when you break it down to cost per ounce. It is a very thin texture -I’d say almost runny- and rubs into the skin easily, leaving no whitecast. It’s what I used on my body last summer because I couldn’t stand the cheap sunscreens that made me feel greasy and stinky and made my clothes stick to me. It’s worth noting it is not water resistant but I’m consistent about reapplying anyway so I don’t mind.
This is also what I put on my kid’s faces because it won’t irritate their eyes when they sweat/swim. Their little bodies require so much reapplying with all the water activities they do in the summer I do use the cheap stuff on their arms and legs. 😆
Innisfree Daily UV Protection Cream Mild SPF 35 PA++ 50ml
I purchased two bottles of the SPF 50 version of this sunscreen but when they arrived from Korea I realized they had sent one bottle of the SPF 50 and one bottle of the SPF 35. It was too much work to return so I used this on my more casual outdoor days and gave the other to my mom as we had planned. Our reviews are similar. I found this formula to be thin, hydrating, and rapidly disappearing. It does have a fragrance worth mentioning, not bad but very present. The aroma does fade though. This is invisible on the skin and gives a slightly smoother surface for makeup application.
Cosrx Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF 50+ PA+++ 50ml
Another highly accessible Korean brand, this sunscreen is hydrating and soothing with good UV protection all in one. The faint scent is fresh and very pleasant, but fades after a few minutes. It’s imperceptible on the skin once blended and leaves a slightly wet finish. It wears beautifully under makeup. I gifted this to my sister-in-law for Christmas a few years back and she said it actually made her excited to wear sunscreen for the first time in her life!
Skin Aqua UV Super Moisture Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ 80ml
This sunscreen almost feels like hydration going on and it leaves a glossy finish to the skin. It has no scent and it leaves the skin feeling plump and juicy. When mom ran out of her Innisfree I switched her to this and she has since repurchased it. The price bops around a bit depending on the site and market, but it ranks among the most inexpensive sunscreens listed on my spreadsheet. (Yes, I have a meticulously detailed spreadsheet just for sunscreens). It will take a lot to bump this off my favorite’s list.
And that’s it! 5 sunscreens I have done a gross amount of research on, purchased with my own money, and I enjoyed using! I did not purchase them all at the same time because I am not a review channel. But when I got down to the last bit in the package, I kept them in a drawer so I could sample them to relive the experience while writing this post. My hands feel amazing right now.
Thanks for reading! If you do end up purchasing one of these sunscreens, would you let me know and send me your review of it? I’d love that! 😃
This review didn’t go into the science portion of the sunscreen world with what filters were in each product at what percentage, etc. Honestly, because most people want to know that it works and that it’s a pleasure to use. The nerds like me who enjoy the deep dive on translating ingredient lists into English and then deciphering them are a rare breed of people. And I love you! If you’re interested in a video on all US sunscreen filters and why I buy my sunblocks mostly from Korea now, here’s a link to a video I made.