Ah sunscreen, white goop filled with unpronounceable ingredients slathered liberally over those of us with particularly pale skin. The debate over eco-friendly sunscreen still rages, with some respectable websites recommending to cover up rather than use any sunscreen at all. That’s all well and good, but wearing long pants, a long sleeve shirt and floppy hat to the beach can be a bit of a bummer. And have you tried playing beach volleyball while wearing a full getup? Yeah, not so much.
The Environmental Working Group, whose Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a personal go-to of mine, has come up with a balanced approach to sunscreen. They note that it should be a last resort, but don’t dismiss it out of hand. If you’re going to be in the sun for a period of time and covering up is just not practical, sunscreen is still better than bare skin. (Especially if you’re pasty white like I am and tend to burn to a crisp within minutes with peeling and blistering following shortly thereafter.) My quest for the perfect sunscreen includes the following criteria:
- broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection
- at least SPF 50
- low-toxicity rating
- no animal testing
The problem is, while EWG rates the ingredients, some brands are just unpleasant to use. Think Sport SPF 50 gets the lowest toxicity rating at just a 1 (on a scale of 1-10), and it is very effective. I used it all last summer while marathon training, and I must admit, I didn’t burn once. However, it is a pasty mess that would remain white long after I’d rubbed it in and would get in my eyes as I started to sweat. It had a very mild scent, though, so it might still be a good option for some folks.
I’ve also used Badger Sunscreen Cream, which comes in an unscented version for those that prefer no scent. Again, it has the lowest toxicity rating at just 1, and is very effective. It only has 5 ingredients, which is pretty impressive, but I’ve only seen it in SPF 30, which isn’t high enough for me most of the time.
Like my trial and error with Deodorants, sunscreen is one of those things that I’ve spent a lot of money on to get products that I haven’t really liked. So this summer, I was out and about and needed to pick up some sunscreen without having my trusty EWG database with me. I’ve used a number of products from Kiss My Face, so I figured that would be a good bet. I got both Kiss My Face Cool Sport SPF 50 air-powered spray and Face Factor 50. The Cool Sport SPF 50 is the most convenient thing I’ve ever used! It goes on super easy, no mess, no pasty white stuff. It has a strong, but pleasant coconut scent. It’s not really practical for the face, but the Face Factor turned out to be light and easily absorbed. I absolutely fell in love! I’d found my permanent sunscreen!
Unfortunately, once home, I learned that my newly beloved Sunscreens weren’t as safe and natural as I’d hoped. Sigh. The Cool Sport comes in at a whooping toxicity level 5, while the Face Factor rates a 3. Kiss My Face has an air-spray version, Bare Naked Air Powered Body Mist, that rates a 3 toxicity with an SPF of 30 (which I have since purchased and likely equally well as the Cool Sport for limited time outdoor stints).
With the summer almost over, I’m probably done experimenting for this year. How about you? Have you found a light-weight, non-pasty, high SPF, low toxicity sunscreen that you just love? Please share. I’ll put it on my shopping list for next summer.